Monday, June 21, 2010

To Build Up Fathers

Preached at Northwest Christian Church

David P. Kautt

Sunday Morning, June 20, 2010

Ephesians 6:4 – “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

I think I can speak for most of the fathers and sons here this morning in saying that, so far, our Father’s Day weekend has been a good one. What, with the kind greetings many of us have received this weekend, the enjoyable meals prepared, and maybe even the cards and phone calls some of us have received or will receive today – all in all, for most of us, this Father’s Day will go down as a good one in our minds and memories… Thank you to all of you for allowing God to use you to make it so.

Father’s Day – and, for me, a Father’s Day sermon, a message to, for and about fathers – you may be realize it in quite the way I do, seeing that you are sitting out there, and I’m standing up here; but to preach a sermon on this day, related to the uniqueness of this day, can be quite an assignment. Let me show you what I mean.

Father’s Day, for me at least, it seems, the tendency is to go to one of two extremes in what I could say at this time. For example, if I wanted to so, I could make this ‘Brag on Daddy Day’ – I could, we all could, find ourselves doing like the three little boys did, when they were comparing notes about their daddies. The first one, whose daddy worked in a factory, said to the other two, “My Daddy, when he gets paid, he comes home with a wallet full of money…” “Ah! That’s nothing,” exclaimed the second little boy, whose daddy worked in one of those high-rise buildings in downtown Dallas – had his own office and everything, an executive-type – “Ah, that’s nothing,” he shouted, “why MY daddy gets paid, he has to use his BRIEF CASE to carry it all!” Finally, the third little boy couldn’t restrain himself, he HAD to chime in, too! So he said, “Ah, that’s nothing, fellows,” he piped up! “When MY daddy gets paid, it take 4 grown men to carry all his money!”

By the way, the last little boy’s name is ‘Jaden’ and he happens to be the preacher’s son!

Brag on Daddy Day’ – going to the extremes that those three little boys, especially my little Jaden went to, to boast in this fathers – that’s one direction I’m tempted to go in with the message today.

But, then there’s the other end of the spectrum. Instead of engaging in DADDY BRAGGING, I – we could get cranked up in some old fashioned ‘DADDY RAGGING’. We could spend from now, maybe on into next week BASHING fathers – and, in particular our fathers, or the fathers of our children, and, maybe seemingly for good reason. But, let me ask you to wrestle with a question I had to wrestle with: “What would be the purpose of it? What good would it accomplish to RAG on Daddy?”

Well, beloved, for some of you, this message may be a huge disappointment – although, I’d suggest you keep your ears open, yet. And, for others of you, this message, or, at least this introduction to the message, may elicit in you a big sigh of relief. But, again, I urge you to stay with me.

My plan, my goal, my purpose for this message, the Lord-willing, with His strength enabling me, is not to BOAST in fathers so much, nor to BASH fathers. But, rather, to do something that I think is or will be more balanced, more fitting and proper, and, especially, more Biblical – and that is, I’d like for the next 20-20-25 minutes or so, to be a time to BUILD up fathers, and a time to challenge fathers, every last father in this room, to build up their families.

First a little spade work, a little filling in of the background, before we get into the heart of God’s message to and for and about fathers, today.

First of all, I think it is absolutely essential to remind all of us that the word ‘father – or, perhaps the more intimate and affectionate term ‘Daddy’ – these words don’t merely refer to a male who can produce a child! No! My, how we need to get a hold of this concept – not only in our culture, but in the church, too! Beloved, the term ‘father’ in the Biblical sense, doesn’t merely mean a child-begetter! Rather, the word ‘father’ implies what? ‘Mother,’ right? And, not only does it imply ‘mother’, but it also implies or assumes another someone or group of someones – ‘children’. In other words, in the Biblical sense, from our Creator’s point of view, “father” is not simply a ‘biological’ term, but a relational term – a word that, as far as God’s grand design for His universe is concerned, is linked inextricably with the term “family”. This truth, I think is crucial – it is foundational!

But, let’s go a few steps further, shall we? “Father”, “Daddy” - “Abba” is the way that Bible word is pronounced – did you know that, from the Bible’s perspective, Daddy is the one God has shaped and set apart for some very interesting, challenging and important roles and duties. Here’s a key list for you – Daddy, from God’s point of view, he is the family Director, Commander, Instructor and Corrector. He is not only to beget the children, with the loving assistance of his wife, he also is to lead them, teach them, rebuke them, love them, care for them, and bless them! And, to the degree that he does these things, and his children respond, as Ephesians 6:1-3 exhorts them to respond to those things, honoring, obeying and loving Daddy – He, Daddy, will either rejoice over his children, or he will grieve over them.

Secondly, a question for all of us to consider, but, one that we fathers must especially evaluate. And the question is this: Ephesians 6:4, our theme text, says, “fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath…” Literally, “do not be, stop being that cause of anger and bitterness in the lives of your children…” Now, here’s the question: “how does a father go about provoking his children to wrath? What is it that he does or fails to do that can arouse these thoughts and feelings in his children?”

I’m not sure any of us can totally and completely answer that question, but I’d like to suggest to you that a provoking-to-wrath kind of father - besides being disobedient to this explicit command of Scripture – most likely he is arousing anger in his children, because he also is a harsh father, a hyper-critical father, an angry and bitter father, a distant inattentive, absent father, an unprotecting father, a selfish father, and/or a hypocritical father, a father who refuses to admit his wrongs, repent of them, and seek restoration with his children. To all of those kinds of actions and attitudes that are UN-like our Heavenly Father, the word of God says, “STOP!” Men, we must, “stop provoking our children to wrath!”

Now, to the heart of the message, the second half of Ephesians 6:4, and the opportunity I have to BUILD UP fathers, and to urge them to BUILD UP their families.

Ephesians 6:4 – As we have already observed, the Word of God says, “Stop – fathers you must stop provoking your children to wrath…” But, notice that’s not the end of the verse! Rather, the apostle Paul likes with this crucial prohibition, “STOP,” an equally crucial admonition. “Start… start and keep on going – start bringing up and continue to bring up your children in the training and admonition of the Lord…”

In the course of examining this text, and in particular, looking more closely at the idea of “bringing up” children, as Paul puts it here, I discovered some very interesting, and I believe potent insights that will indeed help, instruct and inspire every father here today. Let me show you what I mean…

The word translated, “Bring-up” is a word that literally means to “feed, nourish, support, and care for…” It’s a word that I found located in several interesting places, including Luke 12:24.

In this passage, Jesus is instructing His disciples, and urging them not to worry, but to trust in the gracious, faithful and generous provision of their Heavenly Father.

Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?” Luke 12:22-24

As I said a minute ago, in this context, Jesus is urging His disciples to trust in their Heavenly Father to feed them, to nourish them, to “bring them up”, so to speak. Now, here’s the crossover point. Fathers – all my fellow Dads out there, for just a moment transfer all that Jesus says or implies about our Heavenly Father and His relationship to His children, to yourself and to your relationship with your children.

This passage, Luke 12:22-34 – what does it have to say to the Daddys among us?

Number one, fathers, when we feed our children, when we nourish them, when we care for them and bring them up with a nurturing that, by the way, as verse 30 points out, that flows out of our knowledge of our children and of their needs – when we do for them what our Heavenly Father does for us, what happens? What results? What takes place in the live of our children?

Verses 22, 29 and 32 – Our nurturing them, it calms them! When they know we’re going to do our best to meet their needs, they won’t fret or worry, they’ll be at peace!

Secondly, fathers – when we commit to “bringing up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord,” when we diligently take part in this Heavenly Father-like care for our children, we open up the way for them to go higher to look ABOVE and BEYONG us, to the one we’re looking to, to meet our needs! Verses 27 and 28 – Jesus says it this way, talking about the unsurpassed beauty of the lilies of the field, and yet also, their relaxation, as it were, in the fact that their Creator and Sustainer is making and will make them that way – Jesus says, “If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He cloth you, O you of little faith?”

Do you see it, my brothers? When we are faithful in carrying our the responsibility of nurturing our children like God nurtures us, in the long run THEY will learn to trust God, like we trust Him!

Furthermore, when we set the example to our children, yes, by allowing God to use us to feed them, to fill their stomachs and clothe their bodies – but, more importantly, by showing them by our stewardship, by our sense of priorities that our lives are MORE than food, more than clothes and cars and houses and jobs and education and status and so – when they see US, like Jesus did before His disciples, partaking of a ‘food’ they know nothing about, when they figure out by our habits and our open-book lives that we DON’T live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of God’s mouth -- then what?

Then, God will use us to call them to go… farther, higher, deeper, as Jesus says here, to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” to “lay up treasures in heaven,” to “take up their cross and follow Him.”

But how will this come to pass? What is required and required of us, if we’re going to nourish and care for our children the way God, our Heavenly Father, is bringing up us?

One more passage of scripture – Hebrews 5:12-14.

As I mentioned at the outset of this sermon, one of the primary duties of fathers, in their caring for their children is the duty to teach them. Hebrews 5:12-14 – Look at this text to see to whom it is addressed. Verse 12 – it is addressed to teachers, or, at least, to those who ought to be teachers.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

What is required and required of us, fathers, if we are going to feed, to bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord?

My brothers, think about it this way: there are a lot of fathers in our world, who, like Esau are, “bread-only” men. Guys, who, un-like Jesus, think that man CAN live by bread along. Here’s a question for all of us “bread-only” men (and women, too), “How will we ever be able to feed and nourish our children with spiritual food, if we aren’t eating it ourselves?” “Bring them up, feed them, nourish them, in the training and admonition of the LORD,” the scripture says!

To feed them, to spiritually nourish our children, we must be eating from the Word of God, too! We must! But, that’s not all! Notice how this passage in Hebrews goes one step further! Verse 12 – “By this time, you ought to be teachers,” doing what fathers are supposed to do, “but instead, you need someone to teach you!” How so? Oh, they are eating, alright. Good and faithful fathers that we are, we are taking in spiritual nourishment alright… But is that enough? Is that sufficient to make us strong enough, healthy enough, wise enough to teach and feed our children? Verses 13 and 14 – Not if all you and I are eating is “milk”, “baby food,” so-to-speak! So, what’s the point?

Right here, fathers – yes, my beloved brothers, no matter what your age is, if you plan on nourishing and continuing to feed your children, yes, even up to when THEY have children and grandchildren, then you – I – we must continue to grow spiritually. We must move from milk, to Gerbers, to steak and mashed potatoes – so that God can use us to feed and nurture them!

One more time, Ephesians 6:4 – a passage intended not to bash fathers, or brag on fathers, but to build up fathers.

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Let’s go for it, brothers!

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