Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - The Love of a Father

Today we celebrate Father’s Day. It is a day we set aside to thank our fathers for being there for us. No matter what the problem or obstacle or time in your life, dads, old and young, are always there with words of wisdom and guidance to help. Dads go through their daily tasks and toils without regard to pain or pride. They do their work with very little fanfare or desire for praise. Their one desire and love is to see that their family is happy and taken care of. They want to make sure that all basic needs for food, clothing and shelter are fulfilled. Dads never say that they won’t or can’t provide for their families. They provide even when it means going without things in their own lives. That is true sacrifice and love for family.

When I was growing up, I watched my dad toil daily to provide for his family. It was more than a job or task for him. It was done out of love. Dad was the one who would slip my brother and me a few extra dollars to play video games at the mall. He was the one who made sure that we had drinks and popcorn when we went to the movies. I never realized until I became a father what sacrifice and love really were. 

When God blessed me with the woman who would become my wife, I realized what love really meant. Each day we looked after one another, loved one another in good times and in bad and never strayed from one another. I fell in love with her and thank God daily for her. I sometimes do not tell her that I love her, but I try in my own way.

I remember when I held my beautiful daughter for the first time. It was a very special moment that I will never forget. She remains the apple of my eye and will never be a stranger to me. I thank God for the blessing of my daughter each day. I know that I have not been the best father to her, but I think that every father says the same thing. As I think about her daily, I realize that she has become a very beautiful, young godly woman.

As I think about my father and the other special men who imparted their wisdom, I realize that God’s love for us is demonstrated through the acts of our own fathers and those special men who guide and shape our view of the world.

I have often said, “Whatever my father, John Wayne, Gil Favor, Big John Cannon or Lucas McCain does, I will do.”

In time that list has grown a lot longer. It includes men from the retirement community where I served as pastor. Horace Edwards, Nick Carter, Joe Singletary, Ken Modlin, Elwood McDowell, Jack Graham, Dulas Massey, Dave Frazier and a whole host of others too numerous to name here, but are written on my heart in indelible ink never to be forgotten or taken for granted. Each showed me what the love of a father really meant and what fathers do for their children.

As I reflect on their deeds and daily actions, it is very easy to see the parallels between the love of God and the love of our earthly fathers. Each loves their children dearly and would do anything for them. Each disciplines their children to make them better and prepare them for the trials and troubles ahead in life that they will face.

I think of the story of King David and the words of Nathan, the prophet. As David was settling into the palace, Nathan came to him to tell him the words of the Lord. In 2 Samuel, Nathan tells David, “11b ‘Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you—a dynasty of kings! 12 For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. 13 He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do. 15 But my favor will not be taken from him as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from your sight. 16 Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’”

Even when David strayed away from the Lord, he knew that all he had to do was return to him and God would continue to bless him. Like the Lord, a father disciplines a child not to hurt but to help guide him or her along the journey called life. It is the hope of every father that his child will grow up and continue to be a blessing to not only God but also to the family.

Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son. I will not go through the specifics of the story, but it starts with a son who wants what is due him now. He does not want to wait for his inheritance and wants to spend that money when he is young. The father agrees and gives him his share of the inheritance. He takes it and runs. He has a good time, but quickly the money runs out. He is left eating the slop he fed the pigs. He begins to think back to his life with his father. At least, he had something good to eat and a roof over his head.

In Luke 15, Jesus says, “20 So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’”

Instead of casting out or castigating him, his father throws a feast and dresses him in the best clothing and puts sandals on him and a ring. When errant son’s brother sees all of this, he is incensed by all of the lavishness that his father has given. 

He expresses his feelings by saying, “29 All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!

The father replies to him, “31 Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!

Jesus puts into other words that emphasize that a father’s love, especially the love of our Heavenly Father, is sincere when he says in the same chapter of Luke where the “Story of the Lost Son” is, “7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

A father’s love for his family is deep and will always be there. His love for his wife knows no bounds. When it comes to his children, he will go the extra mile and will always welcome home the errant child that goes astray. He will lavish that child with love and let him or her know that he continued to love even when he or she had gone astray.

As we continue to celebrate our fathers and tell them how special they are, always remember the story of the lost son and sheep. A father rejoices and a father loves no matter what and will forgive all just like our Heavenly Father. When we realize the love He has for us, we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we can stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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