Summary: This sermon deals with the price of being a good father by looking at the father in the parable of the prodigal son.

The Price Of A Good Father

6/15/97 Eccl 3:1-8 I John 4:1-8 Text Luke 15:11-31

Today we celebrate Father’s Day in tribute to our fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers, uncles, brothers and friends who have been there for us in our time of joys as well as difficulties. Men who have shown us that there is some good in the world. Men who have taken the time to invest a portion of themselves back into our lives. Men who have made sacrifices on our behalf.

Let’s suppose for a moment, that God had arranged it so that instead of being assigned a father at birth, you had the opportunity to purchase one. God gives you $500,000 and takes you down to the Dad department of the store. Now the ideal Dad who is just perfect is going to cost a million dollars so nobody is going to be able to purchase him. But you could get a really great dad for $500,000 or a very poor one for $250,000. Any money left over could be used to buy things later in life, but you’re stuck with your choice forever.

What price would you be willing to pay to get a good father? Would you give up the possibility for things, in exchange for a great relationship? Men, everyday we need to be asking the question, what price am I willing to pay to be a good father?

Being a father or a parent is one of the jobs in the world you cannot really quit. You can ignore it, run from it, neglect it, but you cannot completely get away from it. Jean Kerr said, "The thing about children, is that after you have them, thereafter you have them" We may look and see a grown 40 year old lazy rusty neck man, but there’s somebody somewhere saying, that’s my baby or that’s my boy.

There were two times in my life when the world disappeared and time stood still. The first was on my wedding day, when the preacher said, I now pronounce you man and wife. The second was on the day of the birth of our first child. My daughter was less than a day old, and she and I were in this room together, all alone. I held her in one arm and was amazed at what God had done.

She had done absolutely nothing, but I was so proud of her. In an instant I forgot all the trouble she had caused her mother and me the previous nine months and felt this incredible sense of love and commitment toward this little person. That experience gave me a new understanding of the verse about God in which it says we love Him, because He first loved us.

My daughter didn’t do anything for me to start to loving her. I simply did, and where the love came from, I do not know. I just know that it was there. And so began perhaps one of the most difficult journeys in my life. Of the many roles I have in life, trying to be a good father is one of the toughest of all. I don’t think I am alone in my struggle, because as I searched the scriptures for a message this week, I could find very few men who were good fathers to their children, beyond merely providing for their physical needs.

Urgent demands are made simultaneously upon us by our jobs, our schedules, our wives and our friends and often time there just isn’t enough energy to go around so something has to give. Unfortunately, our children are almost always the losers in the competition for that limited resource. We simply assume they know we love them.

I have found though, that our neglect of them does come back to haunt us. In those early years, they are constantly pulling on us, and wanting to be with us, and wanting to do this and that with us. Blessed is the person who realizes that this is a blessing from God. Woe to the ones who believe, they are just too busy to take the time for the kids.

Teens especially, even though we may not tell you as dads, we delight when you take the time to give us a hug or to simply spend some time with us. Even when we seem to busy. We forget that verse which says, there is a time and a season for everything which is to be done under the sun. There is a time in which we need to say no to things, and yes to investing in our relationships with those God has given to us. God is calling us to balance in our lives.

It doesn’t matter if we live in Chicago or Chesterland, Montana or Mozambique, Ireland or India, Nigeria or New Zealand, every family deserves the best father it can possibly have. As men, we have been blamed for a lot of the world’s problems today and the problems we see in our community. But the problem isn’t men, the problem is sin. Every man has the possibility of having his life changed by the power of Jesus Christ

Jesus told us a story in Luke 15 about a man who had two sons. Let’s call the man Mr. Joshua Heart. In the story, his wife is never mentioned so it’s possible that he was a widower and a single parent with his two boys. What can I tell you about Mr. Heart. Well he was a hard working man, who had earned a good living for himself. He had quite a bit of money in the bank. He was a religious man, very committed to the old testament Scriptures. He loved his two boys Dave and the younger one Joshua Jr. very much. He had a huge heart of compassion and was a forgiving man. Mr. Heart was an excellent role model for his boys.

Now we are told today men, that if we are simply good role models for our children, they are all going to turn out to be real good children and follow in the way of the Lord. But don’t forget its not just a men problem we have in the world, we have a sin problem. Our children also have a choice in choosing to sin. The bible does not guarantee that if a man walks with the Lord, his children will walk with the Lord.

In the Old Testament, some of the best righteous kings had sons who became kings who were extremely wicked, and some of the worst kings, were followed by sons who were extremely righteous. Now the good news in this, is just because your father was not what he should have been, is no reason for you to accept being less than all God intended for you to be.

Mr. Heart was a good father who loved his children, was there for his children and disciplined his children. Dave the oldest son, never gave his father a day of trouble and resentment. If dad said "Dave, will you cut the grass today?" Dave was ready to do it. But Joshua Jr. was another story. To Joshua nothing was fair. Why should he have to work as hard as Dave, after all Dave was going to get more than him in the inheritance. You see back then, the Jewish laws said, the first son was to receive twice as much as the other sons at the death of the father. Joshua Jr. also didn’t like the rules at home. He didn’t need a curfew. He couldn’t wait until he was old enough to get out and move out on his own.

Joshua and his father were constantly at odds over seeing things. Joshua knew everything and you couldn’t tell him anything. He didn’t appreciate his father or what his father was trying to do for him. Now Joshua’s problem isn’t that he didn’t have a good home or a father that cared. Joshua was just plain selfish and thought the world owed him a living.

Now Joshua learned just enough of the law to realize that a father could distribute his wealth to his children during his lifetime if he wanted to do so instead of waiting yntil his death and doing it by a will. Now here is this hard headed, unskilled young man, who lives only for the day going to his father and saying. Dad, I’ve decided I don’t want to wait until you die, before I get my inheritance, so just give me my share of the inheritance now.

Now a young man could ask for his inheritance in advance, but it was not considered a loving thing to do. It was almost the same as saying, "I wish you were dead now." How do I know Mr. Heart was loving and compassionate? Because he didn’t pick up a four by four and hit his son upside the head. The father knew his son was about to make a mistake, but he was willing to let him go. A parent can not be free from the constant pain heaped upon them by their child, until the parent is willing to let the child go, and the child knows the parent will let him or her go. Remember the verse this morning, there is time to search and time to give up, a time to embrace and time to refrain. There is a time to stop a person from leaving, and a time to let the person walk out the door.

Josh Jr. didn’t think about how he was hurting his father or his brother. But I can tell you his father was hurting. What loving father doesn’t have dreams and goals for their children. Josh Jr. was thinking only of the present. His father was thinking about him 10 years down the road. It hurts to let go of your dreams for your children. One by my one you begin to realize this isn’t going to happen for them because of a choice they made. One of the things which makes being a father difficult is that we often think we have to cry alone over the failures and bad choices of our children.

Josh Jr. took the money and didn’t look back. He didn’t just want to leave the city, he left the country. He wanted to get as far away from his father’s rules as possible. He didn’t want anybody knowing his business. He was going to have friends and bring a new meaning to the word party. He didn’t need his father and he didn’t need his brother. Josh Jr. was living it up in the land.

Word got back to the family, of how Josh Jr. was spending the family’s money on wine and prostitutes. You see Josh wasn’t interested in things that really mattered like loving one’s family. His definition of love was a new woman in bed each week. How do you think the father felt getting these reports about his son? The talk of the town, is whatever happened to Josh Jr. Do you think Mr. Heart ever shared any of his pain with his older son Dave? Probably not. Way too often men, we are too proud to admit we are hurting because of our children. The message others receive is that we don’t care, which is usually so far from the truth.

Mr. Heart had done the best he could. No doubt he had made some mistakes along the way with Josh Jr., but he couldn’t go back and undo the past. Each day, he’d look in the direction of the horizon where his son went off into the distance. He probably wondered if he should have ever given his son the money.

Josh Jr. thought he had it all. Money, women, friends and parties. As long as you have money, women, friends, and parties will be close by. But Josh Jr. hadn’t bothered to pay attention in math class. After all, his father had always taken care of him. He didn’t pay attention to his bank account getting smaller and smaller. What seemed like a whole lot at the time, didn’t seem like so much money now. The money ran out. When the money ran out, so did the women, the friends and the parties. He began to be in need. I bet he was thinking, "dad knows where I am. As soon as he finds out what’s happened he’ll send a check. I’ll just wait a little while"

Word got back to Mr. Heart that Josh Jr. had fallen on hard times and the country he was in was going through a famine. Mr. Heart simply waited. He probably felt there was little he could do to help his son. After all the money his son had left home with, a check now was not going to make that big of a difference. Each day Mr. Heart would look in the direction of the horizon where his son went off into the distance.

There was no way Josh Jr. could have seen that famine would strike the country he had chosen for himself. But there was no emergency bail out check coming from Dad. So he went out to get a job. Well, Josh had gotten a bunch of D’s & F’s in school and then quit his senior year because he was old enough to quit. So his resume was pretty weak. He though he was going to be able to get a good job, but the only job he could get was feeding hogs

. It paid below minimum wage. He wasn’t earning enough to buy food to eat. He tried eating some of the food he was feeding to the hogs but was afraid he might get caught. The Scriptures said, "But no one gave him anything." Where were the women who said they loved him. Where were the guys who came to the parties and drank with him. Where were the people he had loaned money to when he was on top. Where were the basketball buddies. My friend, who are you going to be able to count on when you lose it all. That’s where you need to be investing yourself today.

Josh Jr. couldn’t get much lower than he had gotten. It’s interesting that at this moment when he has nothing, that the scriptures say, "then he came to his senses." Sin keeps us from coming to our senses. It’s also at this moment, that the years his father had been a good role model came back to him. You see fathers, it does matter how we live before our children. The memory of our actions will be with them in places where we cannot.

Josh Jr. said, "my father’s servants are eating food and throwing some of it away. Here I am starving to death. I’m going to go back to my father, admit that what I did was wrong, and ask him to just give me a job, he won’t even have to treat me like a son. The moment he thought it he got up and left. We need to be careful how far away we run. The further we run, the longer the way back home is.

How many of us ran away and are still stuck in the pig house trying to eat slop because of pride. How many of us have said, "Ill never give him the satisfaction of apologizing? Spiritually speaking, how many of us have run away from our heavenly father. We’ve told God, forget all these rules and commandments, I’m going to have a good time with my life. Only you’ve discovered the good time has you in a moral pig pen. You’re doing things you’re ashamed of. Your mouth can be so filthy at times its disgusting. You know you need to get up and come back to God. The good news this father’s day is that, today is the day you can get cleaned up and get out of this mess Jesus Christ specializes in getting rid of the mud and slop that finds its way into our lives and our hearts.

What’s the price of having a good father. Sometimes it means we as children admitting we were wrong and asking for forgiveness. Josh Jr. was on his way home. Each day as the day before the father looked over the horizon where his son had disappeared. But this day, he saw something different. He saw Josh Jr. coming up the trail. Now in the east back in the first century, it was not considered appropriate for old men to run. But when Josh Sr. saw his boy, he ran out of compassion and out of necessity. You see, when a son disgraced his family, upon his return, the others in the village could stone him to death. By Josh Sr. running and embracing his son, it would not be possible to throw a stone and hit his son without hitting the old man as well.

As soon as Josh said, "Dad, I’ve done you wrong and God wrong. Look, I know I’m not worthy to be called your son." His father said quick, bring this boy the best ring you can find, give him a new ring on his finger, put some good shoes on his feet. Tell everybody we are about to have this biggest party around here that we have had in years, For this son of mine was dead and is alive again. They began to celebrate big time.

What’s the price of being a father. Sometimes its accepting our children with open arms when they admit they were wrong. Just like we can’t change the past, neither can they. This father was able to see all along, Josh Jr. wasn’t the problem, it was the sin within Josh Jr. When Josh was ready to deal with the sin, Josh Jr. was capable of being restored in the family. Too often we look at our children, and keep seeing the sin, and we fail to realize they have emerged from the sin, and need our support and encouragement to go forward. Any man or anybody can hold a grudge. The sign of maturity is the ability to extend compassion and forgiveness.

The other son Dave had been working hard in the fields just as he had every day since Josh Jr. had left. When he came and heard the party going on he didn’t know what to make of it. When he found out it was in honor of his brother who had just come back home, Dave got extremely angry. He refused to go into to the party.

When the father found out that Dave was angry and didn’t want anything to do with his father’s celebration for his brother, the father went out to his son. It’s interesting the father never went out after Josh Jr. but he did go out after Dave. Part of being a good father is knowing how to treat each child according to the personality of the child. The father could have ordered Dave to come into the party, but sometimes the price of being a good father is being willing to say I’m sorry that you were hurt by what I did, but here’s why I did it.

The Scriptures state that the father begged his son to come into the party. Dave told him, all the times I’ve worked and scrubbed for you, you never once gave me a party for my friends But this son of yours who wasted your money on drugs, prostitutes and other things gets the royal treatment. Why did you do it for him and not for me?

The father had assumed that Dave knew how he had felt inside about Josh Jr. But he had never told his son, "each day I looked over the horizon, I was praying for your brother to come to his senses." Dave just assumed his father was looking at the horizon only to remember the grief his younger son had caused him. If the father had of shared his feelings with his son earlier, this could have been a great day for them all. Men we need to talk to each other more than just about sports.

He said Dave, "everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate because your brother came to his senses. He was dead, and is alive again, he was lost and now is found." Part of the price of being a good father is having one’s actions misunderstood by others, but having the strength to celebrate God’s answers to our prayers.

The challenge before us is the willingness to pay the price of either having a good father, or being one. Some of us need to forgive our fathers and some of us need to forgive our children for this process of healing to begin to take place. Some of us still hurt today because our fathers were not there for us as we grew up, and some even abused us. Forgive them. Some of us hurt today because we want our children in our lives, but they don’t want anything to do with us. Forgive them. No matter what wrong has been done, all forgiveness needs to be put into the context of how we have sinned against God, yet God has so graciously forgiven us in Jesus Christ. God has been willing to pay the greatest price to become a Father to us all.

For The Scripture says in the International Children’s Version, John 3:16 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. He who believes in God’s Son is not judged guilty. He who does not believe has already been judged guilty, because he has not believed in God’s only Son.

Sermon Outline--Pastor Rick

Fathers, What’s the Price Of A Good Father

6/15/97 Text Luke 15:11-31 Eccl 3:1-8 1 John 4:7-18

I. We Celebrate The Men God Gave Us.

A. What If We Could Purchase A Father

B. How Much Would You Spend

C. Father Relationship vs. Things

II. The Challenge Of A Parent

A. No Way Out

B. The Children Are Here To Stay

C. Twice The World Stood Still

1. At Wedding -- At Birth

III. A Man’s Toughest Challenge

A. The Demands Which Are Made

B. The Losers In The Struggle

C. The Price That We Pay

1. Give A Hug Once In A While

D. What Every Home Deserves

IV. Jesus Tells Us About A Man & Two Sons

A. Mr. Joshua Heart Sr.--A Good Man

B. Widower? Single Parent, Loved His Children

C. Good Role Modeling Is Not A Guarantee

D. Problem Not Men, But Sin

1. Fathers Sin & Children Sin

2. Good Fathers May Produce Great Children

3. Good Fathers May Produce Poor Children

4. Poor Fathers May Produce Great Children

5. Poor Fathers May Produce Poor Children

E. Can Be Greater Than One’s Father

V. Meet Dave and Joshua Jr.

A. Dave Is Appreciative & Patient

B. Josh Jr. Is Selfish & Wants It Now

C. Older Son 2/3rds Younger Son 1/3

VI. The Battle In The Home

A. Who Needs Rules & Curfew

B. Just Wait Till I Turn 18

C. What About Giving Me Money Now

VII. A Mistake Waiting To Happen

A. Insisting On Getting One’s Way

B. The Willingness To Let Go To Find Healing

C. Not Asking Who Is Hurting

D. Dreams That Fall By The Wayside

VIII. On My Own

A. Getting Away From It All

B. Doing What I Want To Do

C. Party, Women, & Friends

IX. Back Home In Pain

A. Father Doesn’t Admit Suffering

B. Looking Over The Horizon

C. Second Guessing One’s Action

X. A Plan Starts To Crash-- Not Expecting The Unexpected

A. Money Running Out

B. An End To Women & Parties

C. We Are Not In As Much Control As We Think

C. Waiting For The Bail Out Check

XI. When Bad News Gets Home

A. Love Is Tough

B. Resisting The Bailout

C. Looking To The Horizon

XII. Life Can Get Very Hard

A. Unprepared For A Resume

B. Good Jobs Are Hard To Find

C. Living Foolishly Can Get You With The Hogs

D. No Help From Familiar Sources

XIII. Coming To Our Senses

A. Sin Blinds Us.

B. Be A Good Role Model Anyways

C. Confess & Leave Your Mess

D. Swallow Your Pride

XIV. The Road Home Is Shorter Than You Think

A. Forgiveness Asked

B. Forgiveness Given

C. A Banquet Is Prepared

XV. More Pain In The Family

A. Dave Is Hurt By Misunderstanding

B. Father Comes After His Son

C. That Which Was Dead Is Now Back Alive

XV. The Price Of A Good Father

A. The Price To Get One

B. The Price To Be One

C. The Willingness To Remember God’s Forgiveness.

For The Scripture says in the International Children’s Version, John 3:16 "For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son. God gave his Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. He who believes in God’s Son is not judged guilty. He who does not believe has already been judged guilty, because he has not believed in God’s only Son.