June 19, 2016
Text: Isaiah 65:1-9
A Father’s LoveIn the gospel lesson this morning, Jesus is met by a man possessed with demons- running nakedlike a wild man, and living among the tombs-like a dead man. We aren’t told how long he hadbeen this way, only that it had been a long time. Long story short- Jesus cast the demons out andhealed the man, restoring him to a right mind – and when the towns people came, they found theman clothed and sitting at Jesus feet.The man was unrecognizable. Being thankful for having been given a new start in life- hebegged Jesus to let him go with him. The man no doubt would have been a faithful and devoteddisciple- but Jesus told him no- go home and declare how much God has done for you there.Ever wonder why? Think of the powerful testimony he would have had and of all the people whowould had been witnessed to if he had gone with Jesus.I believe the reason Jesus told him to go home was because the Great Commission begins athome, and because of that, home was where he belonged. It is a reminder to us who are fathers aswell as mothers- that our first responsibility as a father and husband and grandfather, is to firstdeclare at home how much God has done for us.If the gospel has no witness at home, if there is no evidence of God’s power to change lives athome, if there is no forgiveness, or love shown at home, how can we ever hope to convince theworld of God’s transforming love to the world around us who are watching? “Return to yourhome”, Jesus said, “and declare how much God has done for you.” Pray.Happy Father’s Day to everyone! In my preparations for this message, I came across a readingentitled: “A Father’s Day Benediction”. It goes like this:Fathers- May you introduce your family to a loving God.May you find your identity in being a son of the only perfect Father.May you love your children like God loves His childrenMay you make it impossible for your daughters to find a husband as good as their dad isto their mom.May you lead your family as a servant who protects their hearts.And may you lay down your life for your family as Christ loved the church.Like the words to the song we just sang a few minutes ago, there are a lot of opinions of whatGod is like-some true, but many distorted or down right wrong. As our children leave home andgo to school and hang out with friends, they too will hear countless stories of what their friendsthink God is like. It is important that they know the truth from us. As fathers and grandfathersand great grandfathers, may we introduce our family to God- a loving God. May we teach them
that regardless of our circumstances, regardless of the emotions we may be feeling at any onetime, God is good- all the time; all the time- God is good. His love is never changing.The world’s view of love is broken and distorted. As a result, our love as Christians is not perfecteither. We need to know the Father God’s perfect love. He is our example. Before we can share itwith our family, we need to know his love ourselves- and then live it.Fathers- may we find our identity in being a son of the only perfect Father. We all makemistakes. There are times when all we might see is our mistakes. The world has a way ofreminding us of that.But as a child of God, our identity is not in our brokenness- but in knowing who and whose weare- that we are a child of God. When Jesus met that demon possessed man, he did not condemnhim- he saw him as a person he came to die on the cross for- and he healed him. There is noname we or society can label us with that the blood of Jesus has not been shed for. God has notcalled us to make a home in our brokenness. You are a child of God and loved by him. We allneed to know that- and fathers need to teach our children that truth.Fathers- may you make it impossible for your daughters to find a husband as good as their dad isto their mom. At first that might sound a little self-centered and ego driven. But what it means isthat we as fathers need to teach our children by example how to treat woman with honor andrespect.One of the most important messages we can make to our children is that we as fathers, love andcherish their mothers. Fathers are watched, copied, and mimicked. Growing up in a society thatsends conflicting messages of how to treat a woman- it is our responsibility to teach our sons anddaughters how a godly man should treat woman in all purity and honor.Fathers- may you teach your family as a servant who protects their hearts. There is nothing astender and fragile as the heart of a child. The world can be a hard place to grow up and it is ourjob as fathers to protect their hearts from danger while at the same time encouraging them to beconfident and bold. They can only learn to be confident when they know someone they can trusthas their backs.Consider learning to ride a bike for the first time. At first, your heart is pounding with fear andexcitement- and you are hesitant to try- but knowing your dad is there- knowing your dad isrunning alongside you- holding you up, shouting words of encouragement- your fear is overcomewith the trust you have in your dad.Christ is our good shepherd, who guides and protects us through the valleys of the shadow ofdeath and have no fear- we too as dads- are to be a shepherd to our families through whatevermay happen. Fathers- protect the hearts of our family.Fathers- may you laugh at the little things. Life is a serious thing. Sometimes we are overcomewith the responsibilities and the weight of life. But the joy of the Lord is our strength. May we be
overcome with His joy and learn to laugh. The preacher in Ecclesiastes encourages us toremember that there is a time for everything- let us not forget to laugh.Fathers- may you lay down your life for your family. The love of God is not fluff. God showedhis love for us through His blood, sweat, and tears on the cross. Love is sacrificial- willing to laydown our own wants on the family altar. The king of kings and Lord of Lords came as a servantking. He chose to suffer for our sake. We can do no less.But you say- I want to be all that- I’ve tried my best and failed. No one has the strength, wisdom,or love to be the kind of father we have been called to be every minute of every day- day in, dayout. To you I want to say- remember- we are not only saved by grace, but we live by grace. It isGod’s strength, God’s wisdom and God’s love living through us that will make the difference.Our father God has our back- holding us up, shouting words of encouragement and love. Victoryis not the result of trying harder, but in resting in God’s completed and complete work on thecross.Writing to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul said this: “I thank my God in all myremembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now- and I am sure that hewho began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”Go home and have a Happy Father’s Day!
The parable known as the parable of the prodigal son, the word prodigal probably has a negativeconnotation to most of us. But look the meaning up in the dictionary and you will find thisdefinition: reckless extravagant, having spent everything. The son in the parable took hisinheritance from his father and spent it recklessly- all of it-and not until he had no where to turndid he decide to come home. The father also spent everything for his son- not only giving his sonhis material wealth, but more importantly, his love also, running to meet his returning son,embracing him and then throwing a welcome home party. It would have appeared reckless, tosome, extravagant to others- but that was the father’s love for his son. That is the love of ourFather God for us. Pray.Fathers- we have a responsibility to do- with a purpose- but it is not just a responsibility to do,not just a purpose he fulfills, but a legacy he leaves to his children. What we do has lastingimplications- eternalFrom an article by Morris VaagenesI grew up a devout believer concerned with personal piety. However, the approach to theChristian life ingrained in me focused on what I must do- I must be more holy, more surrendered,I must pray more, read the bible more, witness more, etc. But the harder I tried, the more I failed.Who can set me free from my bondage? Romans 7;24Ii Corinthians 15:57- but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus.Victory is not a self-effort or will power, but a gift form Bod. He gives us Christ’s victory.Victory come not through striving, but by receiving Christ’s victory through faith. The prayer offaith is just this; thank you God.Victory is not a result of trying harder, but of resting in Christ’s completed and complete work.We do not strive for victory- we start from victory. The Christian life is not so much a changedlife as an exchanged life. God exchanges our life with Christ’s life and our unrighteousness withChrist’s righteousness.