Fathers Day 2017

SCRIPTURE: 2 Chronicles 29:1-2, NLT

1 Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he became the king of Judah, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah.
2 He did what was pleasing in the LORD ’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.

INTRODUCTION

If you do a study of the kings, you will notices something rather strange. There are no good kings back to back with one exception–Asa was succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat and that is as close as we come to having two good kings in a row. Even more amazing: Hezekiah and Josiah, the best two morally [David was the greatest but not necessarily the best] had evil fathers. Actually the best two had the worse two fathers. Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz, a vile man who was dedicated to the worship of Baal. He had his sons and daughters sacrificed the Molech and eventually closed the door of the Temple, outlawing Yahweh worship.

Josiah succeeded his father Amon who was so bad that he was assassinated by his own cabinet after serving less than two years. So you could say, Josiah followed his grand father Manasseh who has always held the distinction as being the worse of all of Judah kings. Manasseh was a cruel man, prone to violence and he filled the streets of Jerusalem with the blood of the innocent. He had the prophet Isaiah sawn into: put him in a hollow log and then sawed him into.

So the question I pose this morning is: How did these two good kings come from such sorry father’s. It doesn’t make sense until you study the habits of ancient Eastern kings.

  1. First of all, these kings had harems. They did not have one wife, they had wives. King David had 8 listed in scripture but everyone believes there were more. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Rehoboam, Solomon’s son had 18 wives and 60 concubines. Rehoboam’s son Abijah had fourteen wives and had twenty-two sons and sixteen daughters. If my math is right, that is 38 children. Fathers, it stands to reason, if you have 38 children, you are not going to be able to spend a lot of time with each individually.
  2. The mother and the children lived in a separate dwelling. The children we either in the harem or in school until of course they were grown.
  3. So, the mothers had more time with the children than the fathers. Why did two of the sorriest kings produce two of the best? The answer is, they had good mothers and the fathers spent so little time with their sons, the mother’s influence was dominant. For example: Abijah, Hezekiah’s mom was the daughter of a priest and no doubt, she is the one who instilled Yahweh faith in Hezekiah.

I know what you are thinking…“Here he goes again, lambasting fathers on father’s day.” Guys, I am going to ask you to do me a favor, bear with me, hear me out before you jump to conclusions. My purpose today is not to demean the roll of the father but to show you how important it is for men to be good fathers. Judah had five good kings and the best two were probably raised godly mothers but how many good kings would Judah have had if the good kings had mentored their sons? You think about that question for a moment. How many good kings would we have if the good ones had spent time with their sons and mentored them? It would be more than two. So my point today is…women are great at raising children but how much better would it be if we men did our part.

So Fathers, in a few brief moments, I want to challenge you and encourage you.

I. FATHERS, YOU ARE NOT JUST IMPORTANT, YOU ARE VITAL

 Let me share with you some facts about the fatherless…

  • About 40 percent of children in the western world will go to sleep in homes tonight in which their fathers do not live.
  • Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers.
  • Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers.
  • Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. 

There are two kinds of absent fathers: [1] Those who are absent physically [2] Those who are present but emotionally unavailable.

I don’t know how credible these statistics are but they are worth mentioning…Children with absent fathers are…

  1. Five times more likely to commit suicide 
  2. They have higher rates of depression and anxiety.
  3. They are thirty-two times more likely to be incarcerated
  4. Five times more likely to drop out of school
  5. More likely to encounter relationship problems themselves
  6. Substance abuse is substantially more likely
  7. Behavioural problems more likely

Men, the women can give the children nurture but you and I, the father’s give them their identity. You recognize me today as a Bailey. My mother gave me birth but my father gave me my identity and that is an important piece of the puzzle. I’ve always known who I was, I am Eugene Bailey’s Son, I am Joe David Bailey’s grandson and Joe Bailey’s great-grandson. I am a Bailey.

Look, I am not a child pschologist nor the son of one, but I know that a child’s identity is very important to them. Every child wants to know who their father is and every child wants to know their father.

ALL I AM SAYING IS: FATHER’S YOU ARE IMPORTANT

II. FATHERS, YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT BUT YOU NEED TO BE PRESENT

If you followed the last presidential election, you heard the name Ben Carson. Ben grew up in the inner city of Detroit. His fathers abandoned, he, his brother and mother when he was 8 years old. During the campaign, Ben talks a lot about his mom but he never mentions his father. My question is WHY? I would suppose that the main reason Carson didn’t mention his father was because he didn’t really know him. He left them when Ben was eight years old. Basically, Ben grew up without a father. There is no doubt that he suffered due to the absence of his father.

Ben Carson had an absent father, Ronald Wilson Reagan has an emotionally unavailable father. His father was a drunk who couldn’t keep a job. He wasn’t absent physically but he was emotionally. I don’t know which is worse, the absent father or the emotionally unavailable father.

Men we are the PROVIDERS, PROTECTOR and the PRIEST of the home. The one thing that is required in all three is time. We do pretty good at providing but there is more to it than providing. We are also the Priest, the spiritual leader, the intercessor, the instructor. I always found my responsibilities to nurture my children spiritually was the most difficult part of being a father and I didn’t do a very good job.

I have two primary goals for all my children and grandchildren: To love Jesus with all their heart and to love their neighbor as they love themselves. They don’t have to make a lot of money to please me; they don’t have to win any awards. They don’t have to be the best at anything. My hearts desire and prayer to God is that they love Jesus.

I will not lie, my goals have changed over the years. I one time, I dreamed of my son being a professional athlete and I admit that I was disappointed when he decided not to play college basketball. Sad to say, I was even disappointed when he told me the LORD was calling him to preach. But I was wrong on both counts and there is nothing he can do to make me prouder than his love for Jesus.

You have heard me tell the story about the young seminary graduate that had a sermon intitled “Ten Ways To Raise Children.” Then he had children and before they all got in school, he changed his sermon to “Ten Suggestions For Raising Children.” And then his children became teenagers and he changed the sermon again, “Ten Things Not To Do Raising Children.

Fatherhood is much harder than it looks but here are some suggestions:

  1. Pray for your children. You are their priest and they need your prayers.
  2. Build relationships. The fact that you are biologically linked doesn’t insure a relationship. You build a relationship by spending time with your children and you start when they are young. If you wait till they get to be teenagers, you are in trouble. Relationship building takes time and energy.
  3. Repair fractured relationships. Fathers: you are the one to initiate reconciliation for broken relationships. For Pete’s sake, don’t blame your children. You are the father. Take responsibility and work for a fix.
  4. Don’t act like a tough guy all the time. Be real, be gentle and convey your love verbally. Don’t give me that “My kids know I love them.” Are you sure they know. How many times have you told them. A dozen times, twice, once, never. I don’t care how well you provide or how much you give your children, they will doubt your love if you don’t reassure them. There may come a time when they will figure it out for themselves but you will probably been gone by the time they do.
  5. Be an Example: if you want them to be good to their mother, then you be good to their mother. If you want them to love Jesus, then you love Jesus. If you want them to put Christ’s Kingdom first, then you put it first.

Mother’s Day Gift

Luke 7:11-17

11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. 14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother. 16 Great fear swept the crowd, and they praised God, saying, “A mighty prophet has risen among us,” and “God has visited his people today.” 17 And the news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding countryside.

INTRODUCTION

Our world has changed drastically since the 1950’s when I was a child. My mother was a stay at home mom but that was true of practically mother in those days. Today this is true of an elite few. They say stay at home moms are on the rise, up to 29% in 2012 and according to PEW RESEARCH it reached its all time low in 1999 with 23% of moms working at home. This is encouraging but I find this statistic hard to believe. Most mothers I know work outside the home. Our kids grew up in the 8o’s and things have changed a lot in just that one generation. According to the United States Census Bureau, 7 out of 10 kids live with two parents and 6 out of 10 live with both biological parents but this includes those who are married and those who are cohabitating. At age twelve 55% of children live with biological parents according to the Census which I do not believe is accurate. If you walk across the road to our middle and high school, you will not be able to verify those numbers. It is more likely to be 60-65% not living with one or both biological parents. As a matter of fact, most kids do no have the same last name as the parent, grandparent or guardian they are living with. When our children were in school they would tell us about children who ask if they could live with us and did do some foster parenting with two high school students. By the way, I do not recommend that you take other children into your home without proper counseling and training. There are many things that have to be considered. Our youngest daughter said repeatedly that we were dysfunctional as a family so why would anyone want to move in with us. My wife cooked and we actually sat at a table and shared meals together. This was a dream to many of these kids. A dad that works and a mom who cooks and a family that eats together, wow! Before you have a hearty laugh, you might ought to find out how many moms cook for their children these days. I’m not talking about fast food or microwave food. Point is– things have really changed and some not for the better.

Today we want to talk about a mother for whom we have no name; all we know is she was a widow and had only one son and he was not very old. I’m going to guess he was a teenager. We are going to talk about this particular mother in hopes that it will be an encouragement to every mother.

I. THE FIRST THING I WANT YOU TO NOTE IS HER GRIEF

When Jesus encounters this woman, she is crying. Her son has died mysteriously and they are on the way to the grave yard with the body. She is heart-broken. She has already suffered the loss of her husband which is underrated: Widows do not get the sympathy they deserve. Everyone in our society discounts the value of a man and the general consensus is: “Women are better off without them” but that is not how most widows feel. Have you noticed: “Good women have a tendency to love sorry men.” Sometimes we think they should be celebrating their freedom but in reality, they are literally grieving their loss. So she has lost a husband and now her only son and probably only child. This poor mother is devastated. Being a mother is not for sissies, it does involved pain. It begins with pain in giving birth but there is more to follow. Raising small children may seem relatively easy but just wait, children become teenagers and then you begin paying for your raising. The pain does not stop with high school graduation or even college or even employment. Sibling rivalries are real, very real and when there is more than one child, you are apt to deal with jealously and it is an ugly creature. Adult children can bring a lot of grief. I have spent time as a child sitting outside a locked door where my mother was grieving for my siblings that were grown.  A mother loves her children and grief is the price we pay for love. A mother who does not grieve does not care. I had to learn the hard way that there are exceptions to the rule and there are mothers who do not care about their children.

Several years ago [middle 90’s] I preached a sermon on MOTHER’s Day about appreciating your mother no matter what she had done. A young man heard the sermon and looked up his estranged mother who lived within 30 minutes of his home. She had abandon this boy when he was a small child and he really had no relationship with her but he worked up the nerve to call her and she told him, never to call again. By the time he got to my house, he was weeping out of control. It took me 20 minutes to find out what was going on. How could any mother do this to her own child? I do not know. In the same service sat another young man about the same age whose mother abandon him when he was a small child. She left him and his brother with their daddy who was not well and died when the boys were teenagers. They literally raised themselves. His mother was living with another man 12 miles away. It was a humbling experience. So, I know there are some sorry mothers out there but they are thank God, the exception to the rule. A loving mother is a grieving mother. Jesus was moved by this woman’s tears. Had she not cared deeply about her son Jesus might not have stopped but He was moved by her grief.

II. NOTICE SECONDLY: HER GIFT

You talk about a great Mother’s Day gift, Jesus gave her the best, He gave her what she wanted most–her son. I love this story. This kid laying on the stretcher looked dead to everyone except Jesus. It amazes me the difference between how Jesus sees people and how we see people. When Jesus saw the kid, He saw him asleep and in need of being awakened. How hard is it to wake some one up from even a deep sleep. I was sitting in my chair this week reading and went sound of sleep. My secretary had no idea and she stuck her head in my office to tell me that she was going to the other buildings and she spoke before she looked and I jumped a foot off the ground. I was asleep but she woke me up. It was hard, she simply spoke. My wife knows how to wake me up. My 18 month old granddaughter knows how to wake me up. If someone is a sleep, we don’t panic, we just wake them up. Jesus saw this young fellow as being asleep, that is the way He sees what we call “Dead Folks.” The Greek word used here means to get up, to rise, to be aroused from sleep. Jesus simply spoke to this young man and told him to get up which he did. The power of His word brought through the barrier of physical death and the boy responded. What a mother’s day gift! She got her son back. It is not always a new purse, a new car or a dozen roses that Mom wants. Sometimes the greatest gift is to get a child back.

III. LAST, NOTE THE GLORY

Mother’s have their share of grief; ask Mary Mother of Jesus. When Simeon saw Mary and Joseph with Jesus at the temple, he said, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all  people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”  Simeon was right, Mary had her grief but in the end, she had her glory. In the kingdom of God suffering always leads to glory. The glory of this story is Jesus turned a funeral into a celebration of life. They were crying one minute and shouting the next. Jesus can turn our mourning into laughter, our sorrow into joy. He can turn our plain ordinariness into something with fantastic and exciting.

CONCLUSION

Colossians 3:1-4

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.

Let me share a secret that the world knows nothing about and I have on fear in you informing them of this secret because they are not going to believe you. Your real life is hidden with Christ in God. No one sees the real you other than God. You don’t even see it yourself.  Paul said…”We have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!” Most people did not see the glory in Christ and they do not see it in you either but that doesn’t mean it is not there. I’ve never seen the leaning tower of Pisa but this does not mean that it is not there.

So I want you to remember what happened in this story…first there is the grief but in the end there is glory…Jesus has power of death…the woman gets the one thing she wants most, her son alive and well. Remember this: the devil [sin] gives the glory first and then comes the suffering but with Christ it is the opposite, the suffering comes first and then the glory.

The key question: Is Christ in you? [1] He is not in you by default. You did not get Christ with your first birth, you got Adam but not Christ. [2] He is not in you by proxy. He is not in you because your parents are believers. [3] He is not in you via Church Membership or Baptism. There is only one way that Christ will enter your life and that is by invitation. Have you invited Christ into your life to be your LORD and Savior. I have to be honest with you: He will forgive your sins but only if you repent of them. There is no precedent in scripture of Jesus rejecting anyone who came to HIM in humility, faith and repentance. You find one, email me the reference jack@danvillebaptist.org. I am not worried, you will not find one. Come to Christ today. Come humbly, trusting Him and repent of your sins. He will save you: He has promised to save you.

[Related verses for further study]

I John 3:1-3

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!