Grace For The Journey
Sunday is Father’s Day. The first Father’s Day in the United States was observed on June 19, 1910, in Spokane Washington. The day was proposed by in 1909 by Mrs. John B. Dodd, who wanted to honor her father, William Smart, a civil war veteran who raised six children alone after his wife died in childbirth. Clearly, Mrs. Dodd took seriously the Lord’s instruction, set forth in the fifth commandment, to “Honor your father.”
I know that not all of us have had the blessing to have a father like William Smart, who seemed worthy of honor. But the Commandment does not tell us to honor our father if he is honorable, we are commanded by God to honor . . . period! We all know – those of us who are fathers are painfully aware – that no father is perfect. We all have our weaknesses, blemishes, blind spots, and flaws. There are many examples throughout sacred Scripture of godly men who were flawed fathers. Two who immediately come to mind are Eli and David; both men pursued God with all their hearts, yet were badly flawed in their roles as parents.
My dad was a great dad. He went home to be with our Lord on March 26, 2009. But if he was here today, as far from perfect as he was, I would tell him one more time how much I loved him and thanked God for him.
So . . . to all of you who still have dads on this side of eternity, take a moment to honor him today. And to all of you who are dads, here are six pillars of parental encouragement, which I offer to help strengthen your resolve to live intentionally as the spiritual head of your home and the father of God’s covenant children.
- Pillar #1: Keep Leaning
The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths straight.”
God is infinite and we fathers are finite. As often as we think we have it all right, we frequently have much of it wrong. Just ask their mom! And that is why we must be willing to lean not on our own understanding, but rather on the wisdom of the Almighty. James instructs those of us who lack wisdom (which, of course, is all of us) to ask God and He will give that wisdom to us (James 1:5). The father God is calling us to be is the father who keeps leaning on the Lord.
- Pillar #2: Keep Leading
The Bible says in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seems evil (out of place, undesirable) to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Fathers are called to be thermostats who set the temperature in the home, not thermometers who simply record it. The biblical definition of leading – serving the Lord and serving others – is the foundation upon which a godly home is built. Remember, it was Jesus who said He did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10:45). God is calling us to be is the father who keeps leading his children toward the Lord.
- Pillar #3: Keep Listening
The Bible says in Proverbs 1:5, “Let the wise will hear (listen) and increase learning.”
Being blessed to have had four beloved daughters (Cathy Jo; Stacy; Lindsay; and Ashley), I have learned, often the hard way, why we have two ears and only one mouth. The Bible makes it clear that we are to be much quicker to listen than we are to speak (James 1:19). God is calling us to be the father who keeps listening and learning along the way.
- Pillar #4: Keep Lighting
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of you house and on your gates.”
In this dark and depraved world, it is the function of the father to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6), which means we are to light the way for our children through the Word of God. God is calling us to be is the father who keeps lighting the path for his children through the Word of God in every aspect of life.
- Pillar #5: Keep Looking
The Bible says in Ephesians 6:18, “Be alert and always keep on praying . . .”
Every father is to be the “lookout” for his children, watching for signs of the enemy approaching. Remember, the enemy will look for any and every way into the hearts of our children: smart phones, music, movies, video games, the Internet, friends . . . everything! The devil “walks around like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), looking to devour our children; it is our responsibility to keep him out by any means necessary. God is calling us to be the father who keeps watching over his children and praying for them continually.
- Pillar #6: Keep Loving
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
All of the above categories, when lived out by faith, this truth is the foundation for the father to demonstrate love for his children: It is important to note here that the best gift of love we can give our children is the love we demonstrate for their mother. God is calling us to be is the father who keeps loving their mom as Christ loves His church.
There you have it: six pillars of parental encouragement. Some of you fathers may be thinking, “I have been messing it up big time!” Well, as Bruce Willis said in Die Hard, “Welcome to the party, pal!” We all mess this up every day, and that is why we so desperately need the truths of the Gospel to live by each day. We are great sinners in need of an even greater Savior on a moment-by-moment basis.
The Bible says, “In view of God’s mercy . . . offer your bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1). We make this offering in view of the mercy God has shown us in Christ, not in view of our merit – and that certainly includes any merit in the area of being a father. Without the Gospel, we can remain imprisoned to our painful past parenting mistakes.
But God has so wants so much more for us. The apostle Paul encouraged us to take this view: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Learn from the past,
Look forward to your promised future,
Live in the present,
Knowing that you are unconditionally loved and eternally forgiven.
This provides the power to press on into these pillars of parenting, knowing that you go not in your own strength, but in the strength of your Savior.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”