Video Transition: Men of courage!
Series: Extraordinary Men of Faith
Thesis of Series: Extraordinary is defined as very unusual or remarkable – not ordinary or normal! Yes, the opposite of extraordinary is normal! We were created by God to live and do extraordinary things in our lives with His power and presence. Do you want to be normal or extraordinary?
Scripture Verse: 1 Cor. 2:9 “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Intro to sermon and to Father’s Day:
In the Bible the word “father” is found more than 1,100 times. The Bible stresses the importance of the Father in a family.
But America which once held the father in high esteem has now changed its position of the Biblical family and it is becoming increasingly harder to find a father in the homes of Americans today. There has been an all out attack by the enemy to separate fathers from their children.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America — one out of three children — now live in a home in which the biological father is absent. Increasing father involvement in their children's lives is one of the most important ways to address material and spiritual poverty in this country. One way we can do that is to reiterate the importance of fathers and the difference their presence makes. Almost every study conducted in the social sciences confirms what the Bible teaches — fathers matter. Do you believe this?
Here are 25 facts from social science research on the effects of having a father in the home taken from https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/25-facts-on-the-importance-of-fathers
1. Children living with fathers in the home tend to fare better on cognitive achievement and behavioral outcomes.
2. Adolescents living in intact families tend to report closer relationships with their fathers.
3. Among urban fathers, those who frequently attend religious services tend to be more engaged with their children.
4. Close relationships between adolescents and their fathers are positively associated with adolescents’ psychological well-being.
5. Adolescents with more involved fathers tend to exhibit lower levels of behavioral problems.
6. Adolescents who report having more positive relationships with their fathers are less likely to engage in delinquency.
7. Adolescents who report having more positive relationships with their fathers are less likely to abuse substances.
8. Individuals whose fathers showed more involvement in their lives early on tend to attain higher levels of education.
9. Growing up without a father appears to be associated with greater likelihood of incarceration later in life.
10. Fathers’ religiosity is linked to higher quality of parent-child relationships.
11. Fathers’ engagement in their children’s activities was linked to higher academic performance.
12. Among adolescent girls, those who have a strong relationship with their fathers are less likely to report experiencing depression.
13. Close father-adolescent bonds protect against the negative influence of peer drug use.
14. Adolescent girls who have a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to delay sexual activity.
15. Adolescent girls whose fathers were present during their childhood are less likely to become pregnant.
16. Adolescent males who report a close relationship with their fathers are more likely to anticipate having a stable marriage in the future.
17. Men who become fathers outside of marriage are more likely to be poor.
18. Fathers of intact families spend, on average, more time with their children.
19. Children raised in intact families by happily married parents tend to be more religious in adulthood.
20. Children raised in intact families are more likely to have stable and healthy romantic relationships as adults.
21. Intact families are more likely to provide a safe home for children.
22. Adolescent girls who have never lived apart from their parents are less likely to report sexual abuse than those who have.
23. Girls who experienced a parental separation during childhood are more likely to engage in early sexual activity.
24. Among teenage boys, those from intact families with frequent religious attendance average the fewest sexual partners.
25. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.
I actually shared something similar to this about 16 years ago in a Father’s Days sermon in Amery Wisconsin. When the service ended a mother and grandmother aggressively came up to me – obviously upset with my message – she said to me I don’t believe your statistics about Father’s – she was upset with me because her children all had divorced and she said her grandchildren would be fine without their Father’s because Mothers are the most important figure in the kid’s lives. She even asked me to recant my sermon on the importance of Father’s – I lovingly and graciously told her I stand behind my message and I would not recant what I shared about the importance of Father’s in children’s lives. A few years latter this lady passed away and I watched her grandchildren all crash and burn with drugs, alcohol, crime and eventually all walk away from God. I thought how sad that a person did not see the value of the Father in a child’s life!
So today I am making a case again to each of you about how important it is to have godly father figures in your families lives! Listen to me father’s you matter to your children and to your grandchildren! Men you were created by God to invest into your children and grandchildren – God designed you to do this!
I shared these new and updated statistics and social research observations to remind all of us here today that - “Father's Matter” Spiritually connected Father’s and Grandfather’s make a difference in a person’s life know matter how young or old they are.
T.S. - So today I am going to highlight a father figure from the Bible to remind us of the importance of fathers and how they can make a difference in their children's lives, in the spiritual lives of their children and in your family’s lives.
Sermon: Jethro’s Story
Thesis: Jethro is a fatherly figure who made a difference in a young man’s life when he needed encouragement, guidance and spiritual direction. He was placed in the path of Moses when Moses was at his lowest point in life. Jethro embraced a young man on the run and helped him renew, refresh, refocus on his divine calling and He also helped him reconnect and be restored with God.
15When Pharaoh heard of this (Moses killing the Egyptian), he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. 18When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?” 19They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20“And where is he?” he asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.” 21Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become an alien in a foreign land.”
18Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law (after the burning bush experience with God) and said to him, “Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” Jethro said, “Go, and I wish you well.” 19Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”
20So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.
1Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become an alien in a foreign land”; 4and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.” 5Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the desert, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.” 7So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them. 9Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
13The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.” 17Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.
19Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” 24Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves. 27Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.
So, we hear, observe and listen to Jethro’s story a extraordinary man of faith. A father figure discovered in the Old testament account of Moses and the Exodus. Jethro (who is non-jewish) name means “His excellency” he is also known as Reuel most likely his Midian name. Why excellent most likely because he has a reputation of being wise and spiritually discerning.
It’s important to note here that Jethro was a descendant of Abraham! Let’s look at Genesis 25:1-2: “Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.”
This genealogy shows that the Midianites were descendants of Abraham which includes Jethro. Notice they are not in the lineage of Isaac and Jacob the chosen lineage but they would have a knowledge of God through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As a whole the Midianites worshipped all gods and were into idol worship but this does not seem to be the case for our hero of the faith Jethro. Something is different about him! Maybe this is why he is called Jethro which means “His excellent one!”
It seems he was originally an idol worshipper being born into the Midianite clan but somewhere in his life he becomes a friend of God. At this point he recognizes the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. He develops a relationship it seems with Jehovah in the desert. This appears very obvious in Exodus 18 when we see how He reacts to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt!
T.S. – Let’s look at how Jethro renewed a weary hearted Moses after being on the run from killing an Egyptian.
I. Jethro helped Moses get renewed when he was at his lowest point in his life (Exodus 2:15-22).
a. Story line: Jethro took Moses in after he defended his daughters at a well from other shepherds shortly after he flees as a fugitive out of Egypt into the wilderness. Moses ends up marrying his daughter Zipporah and they have two sons (Gershom – means “a sojourner there”) Then he has another son named Eliezer whose name means “God is my help!”
i. Moses tended sheep for Jethro for about 40 years until God appeared to Moses in a burning bush telling him to return to Egypt and deliver his nation of Israel from bondage.
ii. Jethro is a priest from Midian. He was known as a priest and prophet for God who spoke wise words!
1. I believe God lead Moses to him for spiritual and soul renewal to prepare him for his task.
b. Jethro helped guide Moses through his failure and his mistakes.
i. I am sure many discussions happened around the camp fire at night between Moses and Jethro.
1. Jewish history paints Jethro out to be a prophet and priest – one who had connection with God in a tribe that was engulfed in idol worship.
a. Did God speak through Jethro to Moses?
b. I think He did!
ii. I think Jethro was a father figure that Moses needed at this point in his life.
1. Maybe Jethro highlighted to Moses that failure in life happens but you have to learn from it and get up from it!
2. Maybe they talked about Abraham and how he made mistakes but yet got back up and learned from them?
a. What do you think?
3. Maxwell stated in his book “Failing Forward” the following:
a. “In life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with your problems. If the possibility of failure were erased, what would you attempt to achieve?”
i. Truth is many of us learn more through failure than success.
b. “The essence of man is imperfection. Know that you're going to make mistakes. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does. Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.”
c. “Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures. But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.”
i. I think the same works in ministry too sometimes.
d. “When achievers fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic.”
e. “Procrastination is too high a price to pay for fear of failure. To conquer fear, you have to feel the fear and take action anyway. Forget motivation. Just do it. Act your way into feeling, not wait for positive emotions to carry you forward.”
i. Moses had to do this in answering God’s call to Go back to Egypt.
f. “Recognize that you will spend much of your life making mistakes. If you can take action and keep making mistakes, you gain experience.”
g. “Life is playing a poor hand well. The greatest battle you wage against failure occurs on the inside, not the outside.”
i. Jethro could see Moses struggle so he guided him through his failure to help him renew the vision God had placed in Moses heart – to deliver his people from Egypt!
ii. Jethro knew his vision – what Moses felt he was called to do – I am sure he encouraged him in it.
iii. Jethro helped renew the heart and spirit of Moses by inviting him to live with them giving him a job and eventually also his daughter’s hand in marriage.
1. Helping him to overcome his failure and see that it’s not over yet!
a. Jethro showed Moses acceptance and forgiveness and even love by offering him his daughter in marriage.
2. We know from what Moses names his first child that his heart was for his people in Egypt. He knew he was foreigner in another land not were his heart was in Egypt with his people Israel.
3. Jethro would have seen that and sought to renew him – encourage his soul – renew the hurt of his soul and reiterate his divine purpose and calling.
T.S. – Jethro was placed in Moses path to help renew his soul and spirit from his recent failure. Jethro was also used by God refresh Moses heart and vision from God.
II. Jethro was used by God to refresh Moses soul and spirit (Exodus 4:18-20).
a. It took 40 years but in the midst of shepherding and conversations with his wise father-in-law Moses started feeling refreshed.
i. How do I know he is being refreshed in the house of Jethro the naming of his second son!
1. Eliezer whose name means “God is my help!”
b. In the midst of a new life and new start in Midian Moses’ soul is being refreshed.
i. It took time but God was there using Jethro and others to refresh our wounded hero of the faith Moses.
1. He was being refreshed in Jethro’s household and challenged to be open to connecting with God even in the wilderness.
ii. God shows up ministering to Moses in the hills and mountains of Midian – Mt Sinai area (Exodus 3:1-4:17).
1. I am sure Moses was challenged by Jethro to use his time tending the flock to be alone with God.
a. The question can be asked if Moses had stayed in Egypt in the palace of Pharaoh would he have heard the voice of God?
b. I find it interesting that most people connect with God through hardship and wilderness experiences than in comfort or luxury.
2. The wilderness the quietness prepared Moses heart and soul to hear God’s voice – I assume Jethro encouraged him to take advantage of this time.
a. After all he was a prophet and priest!
iii. Times of refreshing are important for all of us – by the way that is what Sunday is designed for by God – it’s a day to honor God – to slow down and listen to His voice - a day to rest refresh and renew for the rest of the week!
1. To many people fail to take time with God today and the result is burnout and depression.
c. Look with me in Scripture to what Moses does after the burning bush experience and the call from God to go back to Egypt to deliver his people.
i. He goes to Jethro his father-in-law and says, “Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.” Jethro responds, “Go, and I wish you well!”
ii. Pause for a moment here with me – think, pray ask God to show you Jethro’s heart – Jethro knew about Moses call to deliver his people and how his first attempt failed. He had tried to deliver his people with his talents, skills and strength and failed miserably. Jethro most likely had been speaking and guiding Moses into the importance of connecting spiritually with God – remember he is a priest and prophet – according to Jewish history – I believe he challenged Moses on what he did wrong – he spoke into his heart and soul – to the point that Moses has the burning bush experience and hears God’s voice clearly!
a. Was Jethro an instrument of God to train Moses for his future task?
b. Was Moses in the wilderness with Jethro the YODA of Midian – a wise sage and influential leader – a person known to have great insight and connection to the God.
d. Jethro sees that it’s time for Moses to fulfill his divine destiny even if it means him leaving and taking his daughter and grandkids with him!
i. Jethro knows Moses has to fulfill his calling – his purpose and he refuses to stand in his way. He sends him off with blessings!
1. He has invested in him for 40 years preparing him through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
2. He knows Moses is headed into a battle for the soul of Israel and he wishes him well. He trusts God! I am sure Moses told him about the burning bush – I am sure Jethro could see it in his face – the shekinah glory of God.
ii. We know some time later Moses sends his family back to Jethro for their protection as things in Egypt heat up and the 10 plagues come on Egypt. Moses most likely sent his family back to Jethro shortly after the battle for the soul of Israel happens between Moses and Pharaoh. Not sure when he did. Bible does not say. He sees that things are going to get worse not better so he sends his family to a safe place. Under the care of Jethro.
1. The faceoff between Pharaoh (and the Devil) and Moses (and God) begins – there is hardship, persecutions, blood, plagues, killing, natural disasters, destruction, darkness and death. Pharaoh overwhelmed with grief releases the nation of Israel and around 2.4 million people leave Egypt with Moses leading the way!
2. They head triumphantly into the desert have another encounter with pharaoh at the Red Sea get delivered again and then on into the wilderness.
T.S. – Jethro was placed into Moses life to replenish his heart, soul and spirit. Jethro also shows Moses the importance of honoring God for the great deliverance.
III. Jethro taught Moses to honor God through offerings and sacrifices and to make sure he spent time in God’s presence which would refresh him (Exodus 18:1-12)!
i. How do I know?
1. After the final battle at the Red Sea Moses leads them toward his homeland of forty years and meets up with Jethro and his family.
2. It had most likely been about year since Moses had sent his family off but now they are reunited.
a. There is excitement as Moses goes off to meet his returning family?
3. Notice what Moses does when he meets Jethro he bows before him and kisses him Exodus 18:1-7.
a. A sign of respect and honor!
b. He knew Jethro assisted him in preparing him for the battle for the soul of Israel and for deliverance!
c. He knew Jethro was used by God to train him to be who God wanted him to be!
ii. How else do I know Jethro was in tune, in touch with God look with me in Exodus 18:8-12.
1. Notice what Jethro does after hearing Moses testimony about the miracles and the deliverance of Israel.
a. He is the first to offer burnt offerings and other sacrifices to God – the first to do so after hearing of all the miracles and salvation from the Lord.
i. He is the first to say to God thank you for delivering the people of Israel with an offering to God for his goodness.
ii. Shortly after this God sets up the Tabernacle to offer sacrifices from the people to Him.
b. Jethro wanted to honor God for His deliverance of the people. He even said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who treated Israel arrogantly.”
i. Amazing if you think about it! His heart for God – his desire to honor God! His desire to be in God’s presence.
c. After he said this he then brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Jethro in the presence of God.
i. Pause: After reading the story of Moses I see how God placed a father figure in Moses life after his initial crisis of crashing and burning in his life.
ii. I suspect from their relationship Jethro invested into this lost man for 40 years as he tended his sheep, married his daughter and bore him grandchildren.
iii. Jethro had for forty years spoken into Moses life and Moses appreciated it and honored him for it in their initial meeting.
T.S. – Jethro had spoken into Moses life for forty years so what happens next in the story is not surprising. He observes how Moses is governing the people and says this is not good Moses.
IV. Jethro was a father figure to Moses and helped guide his son-in-law from burnout in leading his nation and helped him stay restored and connected with God (Exodus 18:13-27).
a. Remember they most likely talked about spiritual things, leadership things and divine destinies for 40 years.
i. I read through the lines of this story and here are some of my observations:
1. Jethro was impressed with Moses – not just in defending his daughters and flock but his willingness to do so! He saw greatness in Moses when Moses most likely did not!
2. Jethro invites Moses – who is on the run and alone to eat with them and from this connection Moses is ushered into the family of Jethro! Jethro, I believe knows this is the right thing to do – God has a plan for this young man!
3. Jethro had insight -intuition and a good feeling about Moses to invite him to eat with him and work for him and especially when he allowed Moses to marry his daughter. It has now come to fruition.
ii. I am sure they had many conversations about Moses call, His people and his actions. It seems to me God placed Jethro into the path of Moses to mentor him, train him, help him and guide him. Why do I say this? Look at what happens next!
1. It did not take Jethro long to assist Moses in his great leadership task and point out a better way to lead and judge for the people. Jethro was good judge of character, had good intuition, knew systems, and had insight about Moses wanting to do to much. Do a respected loving father figure speaks into Moses methods. Moses heeds his father-in-law’s advice. Look at what Jethro words did for Moses: Moses listened and made revolutionary changes in what he was doing. He moved from ministering to leading to doing everything himself to releasing others to do the work. The government of Israel grew expanding – empowering others – Moses empowered others like Jethro empowered him – Notice what Moses changed from Jethro’s wise words: This comes from John Maxwell Leadership Bible page 89:
a. He became a man of prayer Exodus 18:19
b. He committed himself to communication Exodus 18:20
c. He laid out the vision Exodus 18:20
d. He developed a plan Exodus 18:20
e. He selected and trained the leaders Exodus 18:21
f. He released them to do the work Exodus 18:22
g. He did only what they could not do Exodus 18:22
b. After things with Moses were implemented Jethro heads back home to govern his people but His imprint on Moses is huge as you look through Scripture – he became a father figure to a broken young man and helped him through the process of renewal, refreshing, refocus and reconnect with God and Restored to His God ordained position.
c. In the end, I believe Jethro rode away smiling, “I knew that young man was going to do great things for God.” He saw Moses restored and achieve his eternal purpose for God. HE WAS A PROUD FATHER as he rode away!
A caring father will help their children with good sound wisdom and advice for their sake – it’s what God called us to do.
Jethro became the father Moses needed after his crash and burn in Egypt. God placed him in the path of Moses.
He found in Jethro acceptance and respect.
He found in Jethro a man with wisdom, compassion and insight.
He found in Jethro a second chance and a family to belong too.
Remember He had lost everything after killing the Egyptian.
He lost his home, his job, his status, his direction.
But God lead him to fatherly figure who helped Moses be refreshed, renewed, refocused and reconnected and restored with God. He saw His son-in-law restored and a nation delivered as God used his son-in-law!
What do we need to know?
Father’s, Father-in-laws, grandfather’s, spiritual fathers you matter to your children!
Why do we need to know this?
If we know this we will not allow circumstances, failure and the enemy to get us to abandon our kids - we will stay and fight for their souls.
What do we need to do?
We need to help our children, grand-children, spiritual children – be renewed after failures and refreshed in the Spirit and in their hearts, at times we will have to help refocus them in life, other times we will need to assist them in reconnecting with God and being restored in Him. But in the end we will see them achieve their divine destiny and purpose for the Lord and we will be proud.
Why do we need to do this?
Because you kid’s lives matter and God has placed them in your life for you to help them be what He wants them to be!
I PLEDGE TO BE AN ACTIVE (Godly) FATHER!
I will love you, teach you and take the time to know what matters to you.
I will be available when you need me, even when it is not convenient.
I will play with you, listen to you and help you.
I will leave you memories of a father who values your health, spirituality, education and self-esteem.
I will be a responsible father who considers your well-being in ALL of my actions.
I will be a spiritual healthy father for you so you can achieve your divine destiny in God!
Happy Father’s Day!