Summary: A very serious subject all Christians have to deal with is - what are our mark and the way to the mark? Because only when we truly see the mark, can we have the strength to run toward it; only when we know the way, can we reach our mark.
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at email@example.com with your request - #254.)
(This sermon is largely my adaptation of an excellent sermon by Dennis Slaughter, now Minister Emeritus of Valley View Christian Church, Dallas, TX.)
TEXT: Luke 15:11-31
Well, today is Father’s Day, as you have been reminded several times already. So once again, “Happy Father’s Day” to all you dads who are here.
ILL. The Telephone Co. tells us that Father’s Day is not the most popular day for long distance calls. Mother’s Day wins that prize hands down. Father’s Day doesn’t even come second. Christmas does. Father’s Day come third, & a distant third at that.
But Father’s Day is their greatest moneymaker because on this day more collect calls are made than on any other day of the year. So Happy Father’s Day!
In church, I guess, it’s almost the same way. Mother’s Day is a big day. Lots of people come. On Father’s Day the crowds are smaller. On Mother’s Day preachers usually preach wonderful sermons about mothers & their sacrifices & all they have done for their kids. And everybody leaves with a warm fuzzy feeling.
ILL. But on Father’s Day some preachers tend to unload on dads about not fulfilling their responsibilities. In fact, one dad went to church on Father’s Day & when he left the service said, “Wow, if this is Father’s Day, then the first day of duck season ought to be called ‘Duck’s Day.’” Think about it.
Well, that’s not my intention this morning. I don’t want to make this a bad day for dads. So let’s talk about the positive aspects of fatherhood. And to do that, I call your attention to the familiar story of the prodigal son, & especially to the father of the prodigal son.
He’s a good father. In fact, he’s a perfect father, because as Jesus tells the story, he is picturing our Father who is in heaven.
PROP. So let’s notice 4 characteristics of this father as Jesus tells us about Him. Turn with me now in your Bibles to Luke 15:11-31.
I. HE PROVIDED FOR THE BASIC NEEDS OF HIS FAMILY
First of all, “He provided for the basic needs of his family.” The father in the story of the prodigal son was fairly well to do. He had an estate. He had an inheritance for his son that was large enough so that his son could enjoy an extravagant lifestyle for a period of time.
We have always recognized, especially on Father’s Day, that part of a father's job is to provide for his family – to make sure there is food & shelter & clothing.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 5:8, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, & especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith & is worse than an unbeliever.” So it is our job, as fathers, to provide.
ILL. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture conducts a yearly survey to determine the cost of living. In it they study the spending of 5,000 families to find out how much it costs to raise children in this country. Their findings are interesting.
The latest figures (for 2015) state that if you’re a middle income family making between $60,000 & $107,000 a year & raising 2 children, it costs you about $12,980 per child per year. And as they get older, it gets more expensive. By the time your child is a teenager, he or she will be costing you over $14,000 per year.
Now add that up, & by the time a child reaches 18, & allowing for inflation, the USDA says that you will have spent $284,570 per child, & that doesn’t include college. If they go on to college you will have spent nearly $400,000 on that child. And if you have 2 children, it will be almost double that amount.
That’s a lot of money. No wonder it is said, “Dad’s the guy who has a wallet full of pictures where there used to be money.” ("Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015" by USDA)
SUM. So if you’re critical of your dad because you thought he didn’t provide enough for you; or you thought you didn’t have all the opportunities other kids had; or you thought you didn’t have the clothes you wanted, or you didn’t go to all the places you wanted to go, you may want to pause this Father’s Day & say, “Thanks, Dad. Thanks for being a good provider.”
II. WAS GENEROUS BEYOND WHAT COULD REASONABLY BE EXPECTED
Secondly, this father “Was generous beyond what could reasonably be expected.” Listen to vs’s 11 & 12. “Jesus continued, ‘There was a man who had two sons. The younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”