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Monday, June 19, 2017

Father's Day Sermon - A Father Blesses His Son

Behold The Only Thing Greater Than You
photo credit:  Nyah Lynn
This is the manuscript of the sermon that I preached at Church of Divine Guidance, Los Angeles, CA June 18, 2017

Introduction:  History of Father’s Day
Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.
Father's Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd.  Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there.  After hearing a sermon about ' Mother's Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them.
It did not have much success initially.  Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother's Day.  
In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents".
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972

Dad Quotes:

• Mark Twain said - When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.

Here is, something I found in a 2012 entry from Annie’s Mailbox which was written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.  The title was There’s a big difference between what makes a ‘father’ and a ‘dad’
Dear Annie: Last year, you printed a column on Father’s Day about what makes a dad. There is a huge difference between what makes a “father” and what makes a “dad.”
A father is someone who believes that by donating his sperm for your creation, he has done his duty in life. A dad is someone who gets up every day and does whatever he can to put a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on your table. He might have to dig ditches, flip hamburgers, deliver pizzas, work in a factory — or all of the above. He might not own a suit and tie. He teaches the value of hard work not because he’s looking for help mowing the lawn, but because he knows idleness leads to trouble. He realizes his job is to make his children productive citizens, and to do that, he can’t always be his child’s friend.
When I graduated from high school, I realized I had a dad I respected and with whom I could talk about anything. He taught me to remember right from wrong, no matter where I was or what I was doing. He set the bar and let me go out into the world to make my own way. To me, there is no greater man than a dad. — S.
Any male can be a father but it takes a man to be a dad.  Today what we need is more dads.
Something I overheard the other day in the 99 cents store.  A young lady was saying that she was going to give her male employees the day off on Sunday in honor of Fathers on Father's Day. One young man said he didn't want the day off because he didn't have a father and it wasn't because he was dead so he doesn't celebrate Father's Day.  She thought it was funny but I thought it was really sad, but I realized that it wasn't the young man fault it wasn’t just the fault of his father either,  but the fault of all the men in his life.  The future for him could go one of two ways, if he has children.   They could experience the kind of hurt that he is obviously feeling or he could make sure that his children celebrate Father's Day because he becomes a Dad.   
Once a father always a father.  From the day a child is born you are always their father no matter how old they are or wherever they go.
Being a father is the best of jobs. It’s the most difficult of jobs. It can bring you the greatest joy. It can cause the greatest pain. There is nothing as fulfilling and exhilarating. There’s nothing so depleting and exhausting. No area of your life can make you feel more like a success when everything is going well. No area of your life can make you feel more like a failure when things go wrong.
We try to do the best we can raising our children. Then, just when we think we’ve got it figured out, something new happens, something we’ve never seen or heard.   Sometimes we sail through smoothly. Sometimes things are a mess.  Sometimes we get so tired that we just want to give up.    
That’s why fathers need to pray without ceasing
Praying for your children is not a privilege it is a necessity. Without prayer our children will not be able to stand against the insurmountable odds they will face from childhood until they leave this world.
  • No one else knows our children as well as we do so no one else can pray for our children like we can.
  • No one else but you may be praying for you children, so if you do not pray for them who will?
It doesn’t matter if the child is three days old and perfect, or thirty years old and going through a third divorce because of an alcohol problem. At every stage of their lives our children need and will greatly benefit from our prayers. The key is not trying to do it all by ourselves all at once, but rather turning to the expert parent of all time—our Father God—for help.
When Jesus gave His disciples a model to use when they prayed He said that they should start their prayer by acknowledging God as their Father.
Matthew 6:9 (NLT)9  Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
One of the most important creeds in Christian history “The Apostle’s Creed  begins with the phrase, I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God....This simple affirmation about God the Father Almighty  carries several important truths about fatherhood   
  1. Father is the source
Our earthly fathers are an important source of our genetic makeup. But God is the ultimate source of our lives. He knew us before we were conceived and formed in the womb.  
Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NLT)4  The LORD gave me this message:5  “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
2.  Father provides
Fathers find joy in giving to their children. That's because a chief role of fatherhood is to provide. Jesus talked about God the Father as a provider.
Matthew 7:11 (NLT)11  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Philippians 4:19 (NLT)19  And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
3.  Father corrects
Children don't like discipline, but they can feel secure  knowing that father loves them enough to correct bad behavior.
Hebrews 12:6 (NLT)6  For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”  
4.  Father shows unconditional love
When a father looks into the face of their newborn baby, they know they will love the child no matter what. That's exactly how God feels about us.
1 John 4:8-10 (NLT)8  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9  God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.10  This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Our Father, God, is our source, He provides for us, He corrects when we need it, and most of all He is love.  Those are also characteristics of a man who is not just a father but a dad.  
God,  our Father, blesses us a parents and He wants us to bless our children.  It doesn’t matter how old our children are God wants us to continue blessing them as He continues to bless us.  
Genesis 49:22-28
Jacob blesses Joseph
This passage is part of the blessings that a dying Jacob spoke over his sons, before he died in Egypt.   He spoke a blessing over each of them but the passage we are going to read is the blessing that Jacob spoke over his favorite son Joseph and his brother Benjamin.  We all know Joseph’s story of how his brothers sold him into slavery because they were  jealous because he was his father’s favorite.  We know that after several years, first as a slave and then as a prisoner, Joseph interpreted some dreams for Pharaoh, and became second  only to Pharaoh in Egypt.  Later, his entire family including his father, all his brothers and their families came to live in Egypt to escape a famine and now Jacob is dying and as was the custom of Jewish fathers he was speaking blessings over his sons.  
This scripture gives us four ways we can bless our children.  We can also look at these blessings as Joseph’s prayer for his sons.
Genesis 49:22-28 (NLT)22  “Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey, the foal of a wild donkey at a spring— one of the wild donkeys on the ridge.23  Archers attacked him savagely; they shot at him and harassed him.24  But his bow remained taut, and his arms were strengthened by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.25  May the God of your father help you; May the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, and blessings of the watery depths below, and blessings of the breasts and womb.26  May the blessings of your father surpass the blessings of the ancient mountains, reaching to the heights of the eternal hills. May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, who is a prince among his brothers.27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, devouring his enemies in the morning and dividing his plunder in the evening.”28  These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he told his sons good-bye. He blessed each one with an appropriate message.  

1. To bless your children, help them interpret life in light of God’s perspective.

We’ve been talking about prayer this year and the fact that prayer causes us to see the world and life from God’s perspective and not ours.  

Genesis 49:22-23 (NLT)22  “Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey, the foal of a wild donkey at a spring— one of the wild donkeys on the ridge.23  Archers attacked him savagely; they shot at him and harassed him.

A foal is a colt.  Jacob was referring to Joseph as the offspring of a wild donkey.  That wild donkey was Jacob.  If you read the entire story of Jacob's  life in Genesis you’ll understand why he describes himself as a wild donkey.  

Jacob uses the metaphor of Joseph being by a spring to describe his present situation as a ruler in Egypt.  Then he uses the metaphor of an archers attacking him  to describe Joseph’s past trials. The two metaphors are tied together by showing that the reason for Joseph’s present place of honor was that he had endured past trials in the strength of God, who he describes in verse 24 as the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, and in verse 25 God as Almighty.
Jacob wasn’t telling Joseph anything new. Years before, while going through these trials, initiated, by his brother’s jealousy Joseph had realized that even though his brothers meant evil against him, God meant it for good.  You remember the story of Joseph's brothers selling him to Midianite traders and taken to Egypt. They were afraid that Joseph would take out his revenge on them.   Here’s what he said to them
Genesis 45:5-8 (NLT)5  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.6  This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting.7  God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.8  So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.
Even when Joseph was falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten, he knew that God was sovereign. Here Jacob affirms Joseph’s interpretation of his life from God’s perspective. He is saying that Joseph was promoted because he had endured these trials in God’s strength.
He saw his life from God’s perspective.
Genesis 49:24 (NLT)24  But his bow remained taut, and his arms were strengthened by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
He uses the metaphor of a boy whose father is teaching him to shoot a bow and arrow. The boy isn’t strong enough to pull the bow back all the way and hold it steady on the target. So the father wraps his arms around the boy, puts his strong hands over the boy’s hands, pulls back the bowstring and aims it at the target. The boy is a strong archer because of his father’s strength. It’s a beautiful picture of being strong in the strength of God our Father.

2. The second way to bless your children is to walk in personal reality with God

There’s nothing that turns children and others away from the Lord more than someone  who doesn’t practice what they preach.  The best way to convince somebody that Jesus is the way is for us to exhibit a personal relationship with God. I’m not talking about being perfect but showing a humble faith that relates God to every aspect of life.  Our children know exactly who we are so if we want to really bless them you must be the same way at home as you are at church, or at their grandparent's house.
Jacob was far from a perfect father. His relationship with God had its ups and downs.  He conned his brother Esau out of his birthright.  He and his mother tricked his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that should have gone to his brother.  He got conned himself when he ran to his uncle's house to get away from his brother.  He got tricked into marrying the wrong daughter, had his wages changed over and over, his uncle took advantage of him.  
Genesis 31:42 (NLT)42  In fact, if the God of my father had not been on my side—the God of Abraham and the fearsome God of Isaac—you would have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen your abuse and my hard work. That is why he appeared to you last night and rebuked you!”
Yet in spite of his problems, Jacob knew God personally.   He even had a wrestling match that resulted in his name being changed from Jacob to Israel.  
Genesis 32:24-28 (NLT)24  This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.25  When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.26  Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”27  “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”28  “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”
That’s how Jacob was bold enough to call God  “the Mighty One of Jacob,” “the stone of Israel”, “the God of your father” in other words my God.  
Jacob knew that God was not only his help, but also the One who could help his sons. When you realize that God is the God of your children as well as your God then you can entrust them to His care.   
Genesis 49:25 (NLT)  May the God of your father help you (meaning may my God help you); May the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, and blessings of the watery depths below, and blessings of the breasts and womb.
In verse 25 Jacob said May the Almighty bless you.  God Almighty, or in Hebrew “El Shaddai”  the all-sufficient one.  May the God of all sufficiency (the God of everything) bless you.
Jacob was dying and he wanted his son to know God as the Almighty who would bless him with all that he needed in the future.

3. The third way to bless your children is to observe their strengths and point them out to them.

Jacob saw that Joseph’s strength was his trust of God throughout his suffering.
Genesis 49:22-24 (NLT)22  “Joseph is the foal of a wild donkey, the foal of a wild donkey at a spring— one of the wild donkeys on the ridge.23  Archers attacked him savagely; they shot at him and harassed him.24  But his bow remained taut, and his arms were strengthened by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.
In verse 27 he talks about Joseph’s brother Benjamin's strength
Genesis 49:27 (NLT)27  “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, devouring his enemies in the morning and dividing his plunder in the evening.”
Benjamin’s strength was his fierceness against his adversaries, and he compares Benjamin to a ravenous wolf.
This was not intended as a put-down but he was referring to Benjamin being like a wolf who is persistent and fierce in defeating his enemies.  Earlier in the chapter as Jacob was blessing his other sons he compared some of them to animals also.
He compared Judah to a lion
Genesis 49:9 (NLT)9  Judah, my son, is a young lion that has finished eating its prey. Like a lion he crouches and lies down; like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
Issachar to a donkey
Genesis 49:14-15 (NLT)14  “Issachar is a sturdy donkey, resting between two saddlepacks.15  When he sees how good the countryside is and how pleasant the land, he will bend his shoulder to the load and submit himself to hard labor.
Dan to a snake
Genesis 49:16-17 (NLT)16  “Dan will govern his people, like any other tribe in Israel.17  Dan will be a snake beside the road, a poisonous viper along the path that bites the horse’s hooves so its rider is thrown off.
And Naphtali to a doe
Genesis 49:21 (NLT)21  “Naphtali is a doe set free that bears beautiful fawns.
Each of these metaphors focused on the particular strength of that animal. The lion is powerful; the donkey is a strong worker; the snake, through its subtlety is able to fell a powerful horse; and the deer is graceful and free.
While each of these blessings was prophetic, they were also based on Jacob’s careful observation of each of his sons. He could see their strengths and he built a word picture for each son.
Yes you should bless your children by pointing out their strengths.  But also make them aware of any weakness that you see and warn them about those.  
Often, a person’s greatest strength is also the source of their greatest weakness. A strong leader can also be very stubborn. An organized person can be too rigid. A compassionate person can be gullible. Benjamin, for example,  the fierce wolf of a warrior must guard against being too combative. This was proven to be true if you read chapters 19-21 of the book of Judges.
We need to encourage our children by pointing out their strengths, but we also need to correct them when necessary. These can be in the form of preventative warnings, based on our observations of their strengths and weaknesses. When you do have to correct, make sure you do it to help them, not just to vent your frustration. Don’t ever correct by putting them down, but rather from the standpoint that you want to help them become all that God wants them to be.

4. Most importantly, bless your children with spiritual blessings

Genesis 49:25-26 (NLT)25  May the God of your father help you; May the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, and blessings of the watery depths below, and blessings of the breasts and womb.26  May the blessings of your father surpass the blessings of the ancient mountains, reaching to the heights of the eternal hills. May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph, who is a prince among his brothers.
At first glance it may seem as if Jacob is wishing material, not spiritual, blessings on Joseph. He mentions the blessings of heaven above, which refers to the rain and sunshine; the blessings of the deep, which refers to springs and rivers; the blessings of the breasts and of the womb, which refers both to many children and to the multiplication of flocks and herds.
But the implication is that these blessings would not be temporary, but as everlasting as those ancient mountains.
Joseph probably had all the material wealth he could want, so you can see that Jacob was praying that his son would have the unlimited blessings of the covenant promises of God, in contrast to the riches of Egypt which he now enjoyed. He is saying, “God’s promised blessings are greater than anything the world has to offer.”
Our Father, God Almighty wants to and continues to bless us and he wants us to continue to bless our children no matter how old the are.   We bless our children by helping them interpret life in light of God’s perspective; we bless our children by making sure that we walk in personal reality with God; we bless our children by pointing out and emphasizing their strengths while at the same time warning them about their weaknesses; the biggest blessing that we can give to our children are spiritual blessings.

Dads, make no mistake what becomes of our children’s lives is, a spiritual matter.  And God  our Father says our spiritual hope is in Jesus Christ, or there is no hope at all.

John 10:10 (NKJV)10  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)27  To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Mark 14:32-36 (NLT)32  They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.”33  He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.34  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”35  He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.36  “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Jesus was a Son, and this was His prayer to His Father in the garden before His arrest, trials, and crucifixion.   Understanding Jesus’ relationship to his Father is essential to understanding who Jesus is. When Jesus prayed he used the word “Abba,” which is the Aramaic word for “dad.” When Jesus uttered his Father’s name in both terms, Abba, Father it revealed a love both in his heart language and in the common language of the day, and it represents Jesus talking to God in the most personal of terms. Jesus talked to his Father as a loving son would talk to his dad.

In Jesus’ suffering, we discover a wonderful truth about God’s love. Our heavenly Father works everything together for the greatest good in the long run, even if that good requires difficulties some time.  The presence of pain and suffering does not negate the goodness of God as a Father to his children. Instead, God’s presence is what helps carry his people through pain and suffering. Believers can look to God and call him “dad”.

Romans 8:15 NLT So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

None of us will ever be the perfect dad, but there is no way we will be complete fathers without God as our example:

  • We can’t have a living relationship with God, for our children; but we can certainly live that relationship before them. 
  • We can’t live a righteous life for our children- but we can certainly plant the vision of one in them. 
  • We can’t stop them from every mistake- but we can certainly believe in their potential as God has designed them- if we take the care and time to plant God’s seed in them.

If the seed you are planting now has its full effect- What will it cause your child to become –Not in a few years, not even by the end of life…but a thousand years from now- a citizen of heaven or hell?

Dads, we are winners when we follow our heavenly Abba Father, as His children.  We can then lead our children to do the same.  Being a dad is an awesome job.

Faith of Our Fathers by Frederick W. Faber written in 1849 in memory of the Catholic martyrs from the time of the establishment of the Church of England by Henry VIII.

  • Faith of our fathers, living still,
  • In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
  • Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
  • Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

    • Refrain:
    • Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
    • We will be true to thee till death.

  • Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
  • Were still in heart and conscience free;
  • How sweet would be their children’s fate,
  • If they, like them, could die for thee!

  • Faith of our fathers, we will strive
  • To win all nations unto thee;
  • And through the truth that comes from God,
  • We all shall then be truly free.

  • Faith of our fathers, we will love
  • Both friend and foe in all our strife;
  • And preach thee, too, as love knows how
  • By kindly words and virtuous life.

    • Refrain:
    • Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
    • We will be true to thee till death.

PRAYER:  Thank you, Abba Father, for dads, for their tough care, their determination in  providing for us, their wisdom, their tough and their tender love. Where dads have failed, forgive them. Lift up dads, encourage them in their role, and lead them to be spiritual heroes of faith and men of valor to their own children. In the name of Jesus Amen.

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