One Sunday, a pastor was delivering a particularly long sermon. A father with a fidgety seven-year-old finally got his son to sit down and be quiet. About half-way through the sermon he leaned over and whispered, “If you don’t be quiet, the pastor will lose his place and have to start over again.”         It worked.

Psalm 127: 3-5 says that God's gift to a man is his children.
•    A father is the first authority figure in a child's life.
•    A father is the protector, the authority figure in the family.
•    Fathers are needed for the physical act of conceiving a child and for the spiritual act of rearing a child.
•    The father is the spiritual leader of the home (Deuteronomy 6:4-7).
•    The Hebrew family was designed as the basic educational unit (Deuteronomy 11:18-20).
•    Throughout the Bible are instructions for fathers (Proverbs 3:12; Proverbs 22:6; Proverbs 23:22; Proverbs 23:24; Ephesians 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; Hebrews 12:7; Hebrews 12:9).

Every Christian father has an awesome influence on his child’s understanding of God. The first idea of the Heavenly Father begins with the earthly one. A loving, attentive, and affectionate parent helps his child to know the God with those same attributes (2 Kings 22:1-2). If they witness a loving and godly example in the home, they will want to submit to God's sovereign authority. It is the father’s duty to make sure his children know how to be saved and how to walk in the ways of the Lord.  

Ask yourself these questions:
•    If your children are walking in your footsteps, will they receive Christ early in life?
•    Is your legacy one that will teach your children to live a life of faith?
•    Will your children be industrious and ambitious?
•    Will your children have the wisdom to live today with tomorrow in mind?
•    Will your children be good and wise stewards of their finances?
•    Will your children make prayer a priority in their daily life?
•    Will your children have a hunger for the Word of God?
•    Will your children personally lead others to Christ?
•    Will your children faithfully serve the Lord in the local church?
•    Will your children treat their physical bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit?
•    Will your children live and work in the power of the Holy Spirit?
•    Will your children spend eternity in Heaven with God?
You provide godly guidance but trust the Lord to mature children into men and women who have a heart for Him.

Christian dads can be godly role models by nurturing qualities outlined by Paul:
•    a cleansed life (2 Timothy 2:21a)
•    a sanctified life (2 Timothy 2:21b)
•    a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22)
•    a discerning mind (2 Timothy 2:23-24)
•    a humble and compassion spirit (2 Timothy 2:25-26)

The normal pattern is for children to be raised with a  father and mother. Single parents will testify to the multiplied difficulties when one parent is gone. To single parents: Please don’t despair that your children are beyond hope because their father is gone, or their mother is gone - that s NOT the case. God is SO gracious. Single parents, we salute you. We honor you. God bless you for your diligence with those children!

You are probably familiar with parables, the teaching method  Jesus used. Luke 15:11-32 is usually referred to as “The Prodigal Son” or “The Lost Son.” I believe Jesus would call it “The Forgiving Father.”

Hebrews 11 lists heros of faith, many of whom are fathers. Hebrews 11:7 describes Noah based on Genesis chapters 7 and 8.
•    He accepted his responsibility for the spiritual life of his family.
•    He spoke for his family; he declared their intent.
•    He listened to the Word of God, and he acted on what God said.
•    God told Noah what was going to happen and what preparations he should make. Noah followed God's instructions and built an ark to save his household, a family involving project. Noah's family knew what he stood for and what he was trying to accomplish.

Another role model was Joshua, who trusted God when others would not. Joshua didn't care what other fathers were doing (Joshua 24:15).

The child Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary “by the Holy Spirit.” A miracle took place, so there was no need for a man to be involved in the conception. But a man WAS still needed to fill the role of father in Jesus’ childhood. Joseph is a father who is very often overlooked. Remember, God called Mary AND Joseph as a couple to raise His beloved, only-begotten Son into manhood. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about Joseph, but we know from Matthew 1 and 2 that
•    He was in the line of David (Matthew 1:16)
•    He was a loving man in his relationship toward Mary (Matthew  1:19).
•    Joseph was a devout man, a man who was obedient to God. When God spoke to him in a dream and told him to wed Mary even though she was pregnant, he obeyed. When God spoke and said: “Take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt for safety” he immediately obeyed. He closed up his business and left. When God said: “It’s O.K. now, head back to Israel,” again he did as he was directed. He was a man of obedience and FAITH. It takes FAITH to pack your bags and head off to another place simply on the basis that God said so.
•    He was a man who was faithful in spiritual duty. He set an example for his family going to the Temple, attending the feasts.
•    It seems that Joseph had a shortened life as we don’t read of him after Jesus’ childhood. Joseph used wisely what time he was given. He provided for his family and raised them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.
•    Joseph reared other sons and daughters for the Lord. We know that two sons were greatly used by God. James and Jude wrote books of the Bible, and James was leader of the church in Jerusalem.
•    Leaders in Nazareth recognized Jesus as related to Joseph (Mark 6:3).
Joseph adopted Jesus as his own. He nurtured Him, cared for Him, and protected Him from the hatred of Herod. We assume he taught Jesus his own trade of carpentry. He adopted the one whom the rest of the world would reject.

Zebedee’s sons James and John were two of Jesus' disciples (Matthew 4:21-22). Zebedee was a fisherman by trade and probably a very good one.  Sons often follow in the footsteps of their fathers. Zebedee and his grown sons earned a living from their business. But more importantly, the gospel accounts show that he was a successful father.
•    It's easy to imagine two boys climbing aboard the sailboat with their dad as he taught them about the oars, sails, and nets.
•    He certainly shared all he knew about wind and storm and how to find catch.
•    Fishing requires tremendous patience, persistence, and determination. James and John would have observed these traits in their father as they worked alongside him.
•    I grew up fishing with my father.

Zebedee spent many hours developing a strong relationship with his sons and teaching them the lessons he had learned. Zebedee didn't have a special knack or secret method for it. He just followed his heavenly Father faithfully. He never realized that by preparing James and John to provide for themselves, he was really getting them ready for a great ministry. His example and involvement built character qualities that enabled them to respond immediately when they heard Jesus call, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." James and John followed Christ without reservation. This father had raised his sons to be upright, confident young men. His reward was in witnessing them wisely step out from under his authority in order to serve the Son of God. And Zebedee watched them walk away, knowing he might never see them again.

I believe most fathers really do try to be the kind of men their children can be proud of. The lack of such a figure can be seen in today's society, often leading to suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism, and sexual promiscuity by teenagers. As the family unit breaks down in the Western world, more dads need to realize the importance of being a father.

A fathers' son or daughter should be his utmost and greatest concern.
•    Sons learn from their fathers about male responsibility, achievement, suitable assertiveness, and independence. A father’s authority and discipline in rearing sons, particularly teenage sons, is difficult for a mother to achieve.
•    When a daughter enjoys her father, she experiences a healthier femininity, she feels love worthy, and she is able to trust. Daughters who are able to trust men normally marry trustworthy men.

Too many people think they have failed as parents if they don't produce a "Miss America” or a "Mr. Baseball." Dads need to make it their first priority to make men and women out of their kids and let God do the making of kings and queens. Parents are often involved with the child’s social life and ignore the spiritual. They send children to a cheerleading clinic, football or baseball camp but not to church camp. The priority is wrong. When we teach our children that the true value of life is not wrapped up in awards or titles but in the person of Jesus Christ, we are giving them something this world cannot take away.

Some parents  see their children as a liability. They get in their way. They are a bother. Too many homes today have parents who ignore love and values. If love is absent, so are proper values. Love is the main root for all values. Dads should teach their children to love, and teach them godly values. Teach them to earn money and use it wisely. Teach them to support the church. Teach them to be good citizens.

What are you communicating? Whether we realize this or not, we are constantly sending messages verbally and nonverbally to one another.
•    Our words are packed with power, and they can be used to motivate or tear down someone else's self-esteem.
•    Children are especially vulnerable. While they may not understand all we are saying, they can pick up on the emotional intent of our words. Voice inflection communicates a lot.
•    A sincere "I love you” or "Dad is proud of you" means more than we will ever know.
•    Heartfelt compliments help to shape a child's thoughts so that when they grow up, they know their parents care deeply about them and they are accepted. This builds security and a healthy self-esteem.

Seek the Lord's wisdom on how to communicate acceptance to your children. When you do this, you will be paving the way for your son or daughter to receive Jesus Christ at an early age. You will begin to build a solid foundation for your children. Then one day, they will thank you for what you have given them: the gift of acceptance by both you and God. Love fosters love. You can't go wrong if you love your children and accept  them for who they are.
•    speak words of encouragement and support.
•    show willingness to accept child even when you didn’t share their interests.
•    never drew a comparison between children.
Your children need to know that regardless of what they do, you will love them.

No one knows how much time you have left with your children. One year? Five years? Many years? Only God knows how long! Fathers, your responsibilities are awesome. The Heavenly Father wants to enable you to be the father you should be, so commit yourself to him today.

★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
              Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.


    Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   June 21, 2015