The father of five children had won a toy at a raffle. He called his kids together to ask which of them should have the present. "Who is the most obedient?" he asked. "Who never talks back to mother? Who does everything she says?" Five small voices answered in unison. "Okay, dad, you get the toy."
Today is the day that we honor fathers. That’s me! Honor me! Yea!
In all seriousness, we are to honor our fathers, and our mothers, and this day in June is set aside for us to honor the fathers in this country. But we are to honor our fathers, not because it’s a holiday, not because it’s a tradition, not because there are sales going on all over the country, but because God said so.
In fact, he said so very specifically. The bible tells us in Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Notice that it doesn’t say, honor only good moms and dads. It doesn’t say, honor them if you like them. It doesn’t say, honor only the right ones. It says, “honor your father and mother.” And so, today, we ought to honor all fathers.
But I want to speak directly to the dads here today. And if you’re not a dad, don’t check out, because we all need to hear this. You see, we are involved in a war today, and the battleground is not in Iraq or Afghanistan. The battleground is in our homes. And what’s at stake is not our land, our property, our freedoms. It’s more important that than. What’s at stake are our children.
And believe me—it’s a war, it’s an important war, and in this country, we are losing the battle. Children are turning from the faith in record numbers. It’s as if as soon as they leave home and go to college they leave the church. And if you don’t believe me, look here this morning. And lest you think that its only a problem here, it is true all over this country. Children in record numbers are turning from God.
But it’s nothing new. It’s the same as been happening over the course of time. I want to tell you a brief Biblical story this morning that’s going to be our guide for the remaining time we have today—and I’ll be brief. It’s found in the book of Judges in the Old Testament. Genesis, exodus, Leviticus, numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges. In the pew bible it’s found on page _______________. Judges 2: 6 -12
Let me give you a little background here today. The nation of Israel had just marched into the promised land, and they were settling into the land. Now, it wasn’t a complete victory, because when they went in, they didn’t always follow what God desired, and instead of conquering all of it, they instead settled into some of it. And just before what we’re going to look at, they were instructed that they didn’t do what God desired, and they repented of it. With that in mind, let’s read this important passage this morning. Judges 2:6-12.
After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heresa in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them.
Once Joshua and his generation passed away, the next generation turned their back on God and worshiped the gods of the peoples around them. Today, in 2004, they don’t wait for mom and dad to pass on. They turn away immediately, and worship the god of television. They worship the god of fashion. They worship the god of convenience. They worship the god of this world. They worship the world. What is the world, 1 John 2:16 tells us. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. (NLT)
In your notes is a passage from Romans 1:28-32 that closely parallels what is going on today in America. Let’s look at that together.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Do you realize we live in a culture that approves of turning its back on God? From court cases to tv to popular movies, it’s okay to make fun of religion, because it’s not important, it’s not relevant. It worked for mom and dad, but it’s not for me.
Well, can I tell you this morning, moms and dads, you are at the front lines. This is a war, and we are called to be a part. This morning, I want to give you your marching orders to tackle this important task of saving the children, and we are going to look briefly at a few steps that will help us to do so. How can we win the war? Three suggestions this morning.
1. With our words.
Deuteronomy 6: These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children.
You need to talk to you children. Be involved in their lives. Tell them about God, and tell them about the Bible. Remember last week we talked about your story. What God has done for you, so that you can share it with others. Are you sharing it with your children, what God has done for you? You need to, you ought to.
A study was done recently to determine the amount of interaction between fathers and their small children. First, the fathers were asked to estimate the amount of time they spent each day communicating with their child. The average answer was about fifteen to twenty minutes. Next, microphones were attached to the father so that each interaction could be recorded. The results of this study were shocking: The average amount of time spent by these middle-class fathers with their small children was thirty-seven seconds per day. Their direct interaction was limited to 2.7 encounters daily, lasting ten to fifteen seconds each!
Look back at Deuteronomy 6 again with me. Can that be accomplished in 37 seconds a day? Do you want to know how much time the culture has with your children? 37 seconds does not come close to meeting the job. Communicate with your children; tell them about God and about the Bible.
Proverbs 1: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Don’t let the schools be the only thing that instruct the children. Don’t even let this church be the only thing that instructs your children. And that’s not an indictment on the teaching ministry of this church, but mom and dad, we are not responsible for raising your kids. We will help you, but when the bible tells us to Trainu a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it—that’s not to the church, that’s to parents.
Dad’s, how are you doing with your words? Are you fighting?
2. With our time.
Robert Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, once said that he chose to fail so he could succeed. He said, "I chose to fail at golf, because I wanted to succeed as a father." Though he loved golf immensely, he knew that he could never devote adequate time to his job, his hobby, and his family . . . so he gave up his hobby.
How are you doing with your time? We looked at Deuteronomy 6, but let’s look again at verses 7 and following: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Dad’s, do you want to know what is important in your life today? Look at your daytimer, your palm pilot, your schedule, and where your time is devoted to, that’s what is important. Unfortunately, many dads say that by their time they love their jobs. They love their hobbies. They love their entertainment, their comfort. If you asked them if they loved their children, they would swear to you that they do. But their time doesn’t match up.
And some of you have bought into the thinking of this world. I’ve got to keep working and working and working so I can provide for them the finer things of this world, and providing for family is important and biblical,
8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
but I think that we sometimes go beyond what is necessary.
There’s a story told of a man asking his daughter if she would want quality time with her dad or quantity time with her dad. She replied, “Quality time, Dad, and lots of it!”
I read about a little girl who drew a pretty picture. She went in her dad’s
office. Crawled on his lap. And said, "Daddy, come and see my picture."
And the dad said, "Not now, honey. Dad’s busy."
About 10 minutes later, she came back again. Crawled on his lap. And said,
"Daddy, will you come see my picture now?"
And the dad got frustrated. And said, "Can’t you see I’m busy? Don’t bother
me right now. I’ll come and look at your picture later. When I’m ready."
A couple of hours later, the dad came out. And he said to the daughter, "Can
I see the picture now?" And the girl said, "Sure." And it was a picture of
her and her brother and her mom standing on the lawn. With the family dog.
With big smiles. On a sunny day. But the dad noticed that he wasn’t in the
picture. And so the dad said, "That’s a nice picture, sweetheart. But how
come I’m not in the picture?"
And the girl said, "Because you’re working in your office, daddy."
Time is a gift you give that you can never get back. You can give money, and always make more. You can give gifts, because you can always get new things anyway. But once time is given, it never comes back. Time reveals the priorities in your life. And if you want to win the war with for your children, you’ve got to invest time.
3. With your lives.
Genesis 18:18-19 is a revealing passage—we even looked at it last year as our prime text for father’s day. And I want to remind you of what it says to us today. Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just.
The way you live your life will be a direct reflection of how your children will grow up. There’s a song, I even sang it last year, called, “I want to be just like you.” It goes like this—I want to be just like you, cause he wants to be just like me. I want to be a holy example for his innocent eyes to see. Help me be a living Bible, Lord, that my little boy can read. I want to be just like you, cause he wants to be like me.”
I can see that now, in my son. 17 months old, and he desires to be like me. He’ll repeat words I say, he’ll repeat things I do—he loves me, and at this point, he wants to be just like me. I’d better be the right kind of dad, because he will mirror me.
It’s kind of like this situation—A little boy was caught swearing like a sailor. "Young man, where did you learn to talk that way?" said the boy’s mother. The boy looked at his father and said, "Well, Dad, should I tell her?"
2 Kings 14:3 speaks of a king of Israel named Amaziah. “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD…. In everything he followed the example of his father Joash.”
What kind of example are you setting for your kids? You words may say some things about you, but your life declares who you really are. Are you fighting the war with your lives?
As we wrap up, let me speak to the kids here today. Life isn’t always what we want, and it isn’t always what’s best, and it isn’t always pleasing to God. There are some of you here this morning who have fathers who aren’t all that great, or maybe not even there? How can you honor your father, even when it’s difficult? How can you go through life without a good father?
Let me suggest to you something this morning. God calls the church his family. And here this morning, there are lots of good, godly dads. I would suggest to you that you go and adopt a dad. Not literally (Can you be my dad, and move in with us), but you know, go up to him and say, “I need a dad, someone I can look up to for advice and help, and I think you’d be a good dad.” And dads, if someone comes up to you and asks that, you know how you are to respond.
Well, it was a typical scenario of young boys debating whose father was the best. This discussion highlighted who their fathers knew. The first boy started the debate by claiming his father knew the mayor. He was soon topped by the second boy who said, "That’s nothing. My dad knows the governor." The stakes were getting pretty high, and the eavesdropping father wondered what his young son would say about him. The little boy shot back, "So what! My dad knows God!" Would your son say the same thing? May our children always be able to say, "My dad knows God!"
How are you fighting the battle? Maybe you need to start today, by apologizing to your kids, and starting anew. Let’s pray.