Summary: Through the heart of Jesus, fathers can follow 3 guiding principles to touch their children’s lives for eternity.

The Great Life -- The Heart of a Shepherd

June 15-16, 2002

Matthew 9:35-38 (New International Version)

35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, ¡§The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.¡¨

INTRODUCTION: The 4 Stages of Father.

According to one expert children go through 4 stages of dealing with their fathers. In stage one, they call you da-da. In stage 2 they grow and call you daddy. As they mature and reach stage 3 they call you dad. Finally in stage 4 they call you collect.

I wish I could stand before you today as an expert father. There was a time when I was an expert at being a father, but then I had kids. I do have a world¡¦s greatest dad trophy at home, but then if you are a father perhaps you do as well. What I do know is that our world and especially our children need strong role models as fathers and those who act as fathers with the heart of a shepherd. Living the great life is more than being a father, it is sharing the heart of a shepherd. Jesus reveals such a heart in these closing verses of Matthew 9. I come to you today not as a father expert, but as a father practitioner who loves his 2 daughters very much. What I do well as a father is based more on the love of my wife, the great kids I have, and the grace of God. What makes me want to be a better parent and role model not just to my kids but to other kids of all ages (and that would include you) is something James Dobson observed, ¡§Most children ¡¥see¡¦ God the way they perceive their earthly fathers.¡¨

Today let¡¦s look at 3 guiding principles of

Living Out the Heart of a Shepherd that Christ Gives

Jesus reveals these 3 principles in how he deals with people, and how he challenges us to follow him in reaching out to others with His love. In other words, you don¡¦t have to be a father to follow these 3, just one who has been touched by the love of God to share that love that transforms lives with others.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE 1. SHOW unconditional love that forms the heart of a shepherd into the heart of a child. Jesus modeled before us what he¡¦s asked us to do in showing such unconditional love. We are told in Matthew 9:35, Jesus went to every town and village. He taught in their meeting places and preached the good news about God’s kingdom. Jesus also healed every kind of disease and sickness. -- (CEV)

The disciples watched what Jesus did. They saw him teach and touch others. They heard what He said and made the connection between what he said and what he did. As fathers quickly learn, children will not always do what we say, but often will do what we do.

A woman lay dying of AIDS. The visiting priest attempted to comfort her to no avail. ¡§I am lost,¡¨ she said, ¡§I ruined my life and every life around me. Now I go painfully to hell. There is no hope for me.¡¨

The priest saw a framed picture of a pretty girl on the dresser. ¡§Who is this?¡¨ he asked. The woman brightened. ¡§She is my daughter, the one beautiful thing in my life.¡¨

¡§And would you help her if she was in trouble, or made a mistake? Would you forgive her? Would you still love her?¡¨

¡§Of course I would!¡¨ cried the woman, ¡§I would do anything for her! Why do you ask such a question?¡¨

¡§Because I want you to know,¡¨ said the priest, ¡§that God has a picture of you on His dresser.¡¨

Do you believe that? I guess it depends on what kind of God you have.

A man frequently dreamed that God ran after him with a paper in his hand. All his life he ran from God, for he believed that paper contained a warrant for his arrest. After accepting the Christian faith, the man said that now, looking back on his dream, he realized the paper was not a warrant for his arrest, but a pardon for his sins.

God comes to each of us with his unconditional love and offers forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He comes as He expects a father to come to a child. David put it this way in Psalm 103:13-14, 13As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. -- (NIV)

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