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Borrowing God's Title (Matthew 7:9-11)

Rev. Dr. William A. LewisRev. Dr. William A. Lewis, June 18, 2017

There is a proposal to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day in favor of “Guardians’ Day” because both holidays assume a parent is male or female. I don’t think Guardians’ Day will upend Mother’s Day, but I am worried about Father’s Day. After all, 46% of kids get mom something, but only 30% of kids get dad something. In fact, Mother’s Day has the highest numbers of calls made during the year; Father’s Day has the highest number of collect calls.
Fatherhood today has become difficult because manhood has fallen into some confusion over the last few decades. What makes a man? The ideal is he’s strong but never a bully. Tough but tender. Vulnerable yet holding convictions. The macho domineering guy who bullies others is not a man, but neither is a young man who has not grown up emotionally and is simply an insecure, selfish boy.
Men and fathers are heroes and role models, or at least they always carry the potential to be. Sadly, our society has a tendency to magnify a person’s flaws and dismiss the person altogether. George Washington, an incredible, selfless man, has been re-cast as a wealthy landowner who hypocritically owned slaves. Never mind the fact that slavery was an accepted fact of life and he treated his slaves with great tenderness, he actually freed them all and provided for their kids’ education.
Being overly critical of otherwise good men has a harmful effect. Men today are opting out of marriage. Why? Men are reacting rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be fathers, husbands and providers. The feminist quips that “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle indicates society no longer values the man in the home.”
Throughout history, men have been willing to work, sacrifice, sweat and bleed for the respect of their woman and peers. But when society demeans them, men are walking away from this God-assigned role.
An English professor wrote the words, “Woman without her man is nothing” on the black board and directed the students to punctuate it correctly. The men wrote, “Woman, without her man, is nothing.” The women wrote “Woman: without her, man is nothing.” Actually, God made her to need him and as God stated, “It is not good for man to be alone, so I will make a companion for Him.”
The problem is men have not been angels, causing a shift in how masculinity is defined…away from the self-centered, abusive tendencies to a more balanced person. However, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. It is not wise to emasculate men, pretending there is no real difference between men and women. The differences were God’s idea.
Don’t make the mistake of transferring your earthly father’s weaknesses onto the heavenly Father. Regardless of how strained your relationship with your earthly father was, it can be a heart to heart connection to your H=heavenly God. We can be healed from a broken earthly father experience through Jesus. Don’t assume the heavenly Father is bad. Again, males and females need to look to the perfect father to get our perception of manhood healed. The Christian father has the challenge and responsibility of carrying the primary title of God.
God made men strong so they would use their strength to protect women, children and anyone else. It is a gift to be used to bless others who are weaker. The knight in shining armor who does all he can to protect others is a gentleman; Jesus said those who lead must be a servant of all.
When there was a shooting at a movie theatre, three young men died protecting their girlfriends from the mad man’s bullets. Their instinct was to selflessly use their strength to protect others.
This was a courageous decision. The word “courageous” comes from the Latin which means “heart.” To have courage is to have heart. This is different from the macho man who sees emotions as weakness. Godly men give of themselves for others when it costs to do so. That’s because godly men surrender to a higher purpose.
This leads us to being a godly father. The Bible has numerous character portraits of good and bad dads. Some were good men who were bad dads, like King David, a man after God’s own heart. He never disciplined his kids; one ultimately tried to kill and steal his kingdom. The priests, Aaron and Eli, dishonored God so the Lord killed the kids. Isaac never made peace between his sons and their rivalry almost destroyed the family.
Then there is the model of Joshua who stated, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Phillip raised his four daughters to be prophets. Paul calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and told fathers not to exasperate their children. It is hard to be a Christian, then add on the influence we have on our wives and children… fatherhood is not for wimps.
I saw a cartoon with a man yelling to his wife, “Honey remember when the real estate agent said the people next door where angels?” In the background, you see the neighbor’s “Hell’s Angels” vests! Sometimes things get misrepresented. Right now, it’s difficult to discern how to be a father. I was brought up with a tough model; others had a “Mr. Rogers” affirming presence. Many had no father so they had to figure it out or worse had a bad father figure and had to undo what they learned. Again, men carrying God’s title as father means we should follow in His footsteps.
So, let’s see how God fathers us. “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son….” (John 3:16).
To be a Godly father is to love your kids. The moment your kids are born, you love them. In fact, we loved them in the womb. I remember talking to my children while in my wife’s body. They didn’t have to do anything to earn my love; I just loved them because they were mine. So it is with God and us—we are His.
It’s important to tell them you feel this way. Numerous times I have been at the bed side of someone passing who said, “I never heard my father tell me I love you.” Men assume they know we love them because we fed and cared for them. But actually, we tend to have conditional love: “If you are good, I’ll take you to get something to eat.” They grow up thinking our love is conditional. When Adam and Eve sinned, God took care of them making clothes for them. Realize He kicked them out of the garden so they wouldn’t eat of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever in a sinful state.
God shows His love by giving His son to die for our sins. Sometimes love means sacrifice. To have children is costly. One man was hanging out with his best friend and said, “There goes the big boat I was planning on having,” while pointing to his kid. His friend asked, “What do you mean?” “The braces coming, the car I’ll need to get him, the college tuition; then it will be too late for a boat.” He wasn’t complaining, just realizing sacrifice was part of parenting.
We love others by giving the most precious commodity we have: our time. To be a good father is to invest time into the relationship. What would your wife and kids say is the most important thing to you? You job, your golf clubs, your house or your faith? It is measured by where you invest your time. Little Becky worked on her class project, a picture of her family that was going to be imprinted on a plate to be taken home and cherished forever. Becky drew her mother and the family dog standing right next to her. The picture of her family was etched and imprinted on a plate to take home. The only problem is Becky’s mom wasn’t divorced, nor was she a single mom. But that is how Becky saw her family because dad was never home. He was working so many hours in her mind, he wasn’t even in the picture. Her father kept the plate at work to remind him to be intentional about his relationship with her.
It is what we give that indicate the depth of our feelings for another. Jesus clarified the heavenly Father’s disposition toward us in Matthew 7:9-11. He will not give us a snake when we ask for help, or a stone when we ask for food. He gives good things. In Luke, it says that He gives us the Holy Spirit; He gives us Himself!
When God lead the Israelites through the desert, He provided His presence as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Can you imagine the presence of God visible to you at all times? We romanticize this, but the Israelites had no trouble grumbling instead of asking. God has taken His presence a step further with us, placing His very self within us.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referred to God as our Father fifteen times. He was obviously trying to drive home a new perspective, a fresh understanding, inviting us to a personal relationship with Almighty God. He also uses the term “Abba” which means “Daddy.”
When my son was learning how to crawl and talk, he crawled from my pillow onto the night stand with half of his body on the bed and the other half on the night stand. He realized he was in an insecure situation and cried out “Daddy?” I slipped my hand under his body so he was firmly secure, and he said “Daddy.” Then he said “Daaaaddy” with an attitude.
He went from fear to recognition to confidence. It’s the same cycle we go through: cry out to the Father--Daddy in fear. Then Daddy, as we recognize His love and power and commitment to us. Then it’s Daddy with confidence. Throughout the Bible, our heavenly Father promises to protect us.
After coming back from a business trip, a man thought he would get his wife a small gift. “How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $90.00. He said, “That’s a bit much.” She returned with a $60.00 bottle. He complained, “That’s still a bit much.” Growing annoyed, the clerk brought him a $30.00 bottle. He said, “I want to see something cheaper.” So she handed him a mirror.
The God we belong to is not a minimalist when it comes to His love for us. “He who did not withhold His own Son, will He not freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32). This is the extravagant manner in which God loves you.
Ephesians 3:20 states, “to Him who is able to do beyond what we ask or imagine…” I tell you this, not to make you feel entitled, but to show you the vastness of God’s commitment to you.
Talking about giving to our kids, one of the primary ways to do this is to give praise, encouragement and affirmation. Words of affirmation are a measuring tool on relationship tests. There is power in your words. “The words of the reckless pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). Don’t underestimate the emotional impact you have on your children.
A psychologist at Cal State Fullerton found that sons who have fond memories of their fathers were more able to handle the day to day stresses of adulthood. You are creating memories and shaping behavior.
A woman came home from shopping with her hands filled with grocery bags, she kicked the door open. When she stepped into the house, she noticed the house had been cleaned and the rug vacuumed into nice patterns. She looked at her husband and asked, “Who did this?” Her husband said, “I did.” She immediately dropped all the grocery bags and started to smother him passionately with kisses and hugs; they broke the chair!
The husband, reflecting on the event, said, “I learned a valuable lesson; love is expressed in more than words.” You have to admire the woman’s ingenuity on how to get the floor vacuumed and house cleaned more often!
“…that whosoever believes in Him…” We have expectations for our children to believe in Him. But this requires we leave a spiritual heritage. Rick Warren, author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” writes about his father, who in 50 years of ministry built 150 churches around the world. In the last week of his life, dying of cancer, he kept repeating one phrase: “Got to save one more for Jesus.” One night near the end, he put his hand on Rick’s head and said, “Save one more for Jesus.” Rick Warren saw this as a commissioning from his father for his own life. I’d say Rick has brought a few to the Lord since that moment!
We need to speak faith into our children’s lives. A lackadaisical approach to our spiritual life is obvious to our children at home. Un-surrendered areas in our lives are going to indicate to our children how unimportant God is to us.
“…will not perish, but have eternal life.” Godly fathers have a vision for their kid’s future, a life that will benefit them. God has a vision for your future… to live with Him forever. There was a dog that lived for the UPS truck’s arrival. He would hear the truck coming down his street and then run through the doggy door out back. He would sprint to the front yard, break through the fence, and chase the truck down the street. This was the highlight of his day. Then the dog got pancreatic cancer and had to be put down. The owner took the dog to the vet, and as they sat in the waiting room, a UPS truck pulled up. The dog had become so weak, he couldn’t respond to any food or petting, but he raised his head when he saw the UPS truck. There was his life’s purpose parked right outside the door. The owner carried the dog outside, who immediately started wagging his tail and smelling all the tires he never was able to catch. The driver let the dog into the truck to explore. The last thing the dog got to do on earth was experience the one thing he always wanted.
This is what it’s like walking with Jesus; He shows us the God we want to know. He makes God accessible to us and prepares us for an eternity with the heavenly Father that is awaiting us: our life’s pursuit and dream.
Jesus said, “Call no one father for you have one Father in heaven.” Apparently, God has shared His title with us and we are to follow His model for those under our charge.
The County Commissioner, Melissa Chivers, responding to the violence in Tifton, Massachusetts, said three things. 1) Law enforcement is doing what they can 2) Churches should go to work in the community 3) Men need to step up. She understood that men play an important role in righting what’s wrong in society.
Sometimes we feel like a carton of milk that’s expiration date has passed. We’ve blown it; our opportunity is past. But God’s grace reaches out to us when we are at our expiration date. In fact, God redeems our spoiled milk. God extends the expiration date by His grace.
Sadly, Mannassah watched his good father Hezekiah at the end of his life when seeking and serving the Lord was not his top priority anymore. Hezekiah didn’t end well and it ruined his son’s life as his child became the worst, most evil king in Israel’s history.
Manasseh should have been treated as the most precious thing to Hezekiah, depositing his faith into his son. It is important that our kids know they are a priority and worth fighting for.
Guess what? Josiah was Manassah’s child, the kid of the worst king in Israel’s history. He decided to break the cycle of sin and became one of the very best kings in Israel’s history. If you have had it tough, then break the cycle and activate the Lord now with your kids.
A son shared, “I gave my father $100 and told him to buy himself something that would make his life easier. So he went out and brought a present for my mother.”
There’s my Father’s Day advice for you men!

Sources: Eric Metaxas, Dave Stone, Carl Kolb, Ken Henson

About Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis: Rev. Dr. William Lewis has been the Senior Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration since 2009. Whether at a traditional service, praise service, or the more casual Thursday night service, you’ll find that Pastor William’s preaching brings the Word of God to life D.Min. McCormick Theological Seminary Th.M. Princeton Theological Seminary M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary B.A. University Colorado
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