(This week’s devotions are based Week 1 of a Sermon Series on the Lord’s Prayer. LISTEN TO IT HERE)
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
Perhaps for the first time, over this past weekend and early this week I heard a number of comments on the radio and in print lamenting the demise of fatherhood in our country. One article (sorry can’t remember the source) indicated that America is the leading “fatherless” country in the world.
That’s not a statistic to be proud of.
While not the solution for every ill of society, the breakdown of the God-ordained family structure must be considered as a cause for a good amount of the dysfunction, mental issues, and crime in our country. Statistics show that individuals who are without a father are more likely to have mental issues and be in prison for crime.
Why is that?
God designed the family with each person, mom and dad, having a unique roll to raise children. (Note: If you are a single mom or dad, may God give you wisdom and stamina to raise your children. These comments do not diminish the importance of what you are doing or minimize the role of a mother. They are simply highlighting and calling men who have fathered a child to step into the role they have and not slink away from it. Children need a dad who knows and loves Jesus and seeks to guide his family to do the same. It’s the way God intended it.)
So what is the role of a father? Perhaps as we look at our heavenly father, we catch a glimpse and example of our earthly role as a dad. Here are six key areas for us, with the Lord’s help, carry out as a father to our children, and encourage other fathers to do the same.
- A father provides.
Often as guys we think of providing a paycheck which provides food, clothing and shelter (and more) to our families. While this is important, don’t forget that providing is also providing emotional support and spiritual support to your family. They need you involved in their lives, not just money in the bank.
- A father protects.
Again we often think of protecting our families physically, but don’t forget again to protect your marriage, protect your relationship with your kids and with your Savior.
- A father directs.
Scripture talks about training a child in the way he should go. A father is directed by his heavenly Father and does his part to direct his children and family in the ways of the Lord.
- A father disciplines.
Discipline is the process of making a follower of Jesus. Rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness are all appropriate activities of a dad.
- A father loves.
As we have been unconditionally loved by our heavenly Father, we get to model that to our wife and children.
- A father leads.
The Lord has entrusted godly leadership to the husband/dad. Humbly follow your Savior and with the Spirit’s help lead your family to do the same.
Overcoming the title of “fatherless country” begins with each one of us who are in the role of father. We set that example for our sons and the young men around us. May God use us who call him “Abba, Father” to be a godly father to our families!
Apply: Which of the six would you say is your strength? Weakness? Ask and seek the Lord to help you grow in that area!
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for your provision, protection, direction, discipline, love and leadership. We are blessed by it and through it may we be a blessing to our families and others, AMEN.
(This week’s devotions are based Week 1 of a Sermon Series on the Lord’s Prayer. LISTEN TO IT HERE)
Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
During this “Pride” month, I have heard a few people say of those who promote and engage in the lifestyle of LGBTQ that they are “all God’s children.”
Unfortunately, this phrase seems to be used to squelch discussion about what lifestyles are truly God pleasing and dispel the dissenter to “agree” that those that have chosen to live in this sinful lifestyle are God’s children.
“God’s children” is a very special title that not all have. It is a gift of grace that is given to some.
To whom? The Apostle Paul clearly identifies those who are God’s children.
- God’s children have received the Spirit of God.
- God’s children are led by the Spirit of God.
- God’s children have faith in Christ Jesus.
- God’s children are heirs with Christ of eternity.
Let me be clear. All people MATTER to God and he desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. But not all people enjoy the relationship as a “child of God.” Why?
The Prophet Isaiah said, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
When we live in unrepented and thus unforgiven sin, no matter what that sin is, we do not enjoy the Father in heaven tuning into our requests.
ONLY when the barrier of sin is removed through repentance and turning to Jesus in faith, does our Father tune into our prayers and say, “That’s my child.”
Do you remember as a parent when you’re kids were playing with friends. Much noise could be coming from the play group. You heard what kids were saying, but when YOUR child called, “DAD!” then you responded.
To be a child of God is a special relationship that has been established through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a relationship established by faith given by God’s Spirit. It is a relationship that none deserve, but it is one that God grants through the work of his Spirit through his Word and in the waters of baptism.
Being a child of God is an awesome gift. Having God as our Father is a tremendous blessing.
To be clear, God desires a relationship with everyone in the LGBTQ community. He desires they turn from their sin and live – just as he does for every other sinner caught in and living in unrepented sin. Every person matters to God.
But only those with the Spirit of God at work in them to trust Jesus as Savior and live in line with the Words of God, enjoy the privilege of being called a “child of God” and enjoy the blessing of praying, “OUR Father in heaven.”
Apply: What does it mean to you to be called a “child of God”? How can God use you to bring this gift of relationship with the Father to someone else?
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for my pride that leads me to love and walk in sin and apart from you. Restore and strengthen the work of the Spirit in me that I may always be and act as your child. Thank you for being my Father who loves, leads and listens to me. AMEN.
How important is a father for kids?
I found this article both compelling and devotional posted on Fox News by Greg Laurie, “Without Fathers, we’re a sinking ship”:
We are all still reeling from the tragic murder of 19 beautiful children in Uvalde, Texas earlier this month, and wondering how something this incomprehensible could happen.
Some are trying to bring more restrictions to gun ownership or even ban guns outright, while others point an accusing finger at local law enforcement and wonder why they did not respond more quickly. Others suggest we harden the targets with more security officers at schools. But none of those options genuinely get to the heart of the problem.
Have we considered the often-ignored reality that the absence of fathers causes a breakdown of the family?
In an article from the Heritage Foundation published in 2018 after the Parkland, Florida shooting there was this observation: “‘Among the 25 most-cited school shooters since Columbine, 75% were reared in broken homes.’ Psychologist Dr. Peter Langman, a pre-eminent expert on school shooters, found that most came from incredibly broken homes of not just divorce and separation, but also infidelity, substance abuse, criminal behavior, domestic violence, and child abuse.”
Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter responsible for the deaths of all those precious children in Texas, had no relationship with his father. His mother lived out of state, and he had a strained relationship with his grandmother, whom he also shot. All of them had criminal records as well. Ramos’s own father said in an interview, “He would always say I didn’t love him.”
We ignore this problem of the breakdown of the family at our peril.
One person said, “If you want to know what kind of father you were, don’t look at your children. Look at your grandchildren.” Families, with both fathers and mothers doing their part, are our nation’s very foundation.
When my oldest son Christopher was a little boy, I bought him a toy tugboat. It was an unsinkable bath toy. We would try to hold it underwater in a pool, and it would always pop back to the surface.
When Christopher got older, I asked him if he wanted to sink that tugboat once and for all. So, I cut a little hole in the top and dropped a cherry bomb in it, much to my son’s delight. It was not dramatic, but the cherry bomb blew a hole in the tugboat. The unsinkable craft finally sunk slowly to the bottom of the pool.
If you want to sink something, blow a hole in the hull.
With all our social experimentation today in America, we are blowing a hole in our hull. If the family sinks, the culture will sink with it.
Eighty percent of teenagers admitted to psychiatric hospitals come from fatherless homes. Fatherless children are 100 to 200% more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems. A child from a fatherless home is 68% more likely to use drugs or alcohol, far more likely to become sexually active at an early age, and three times more likely to commit a violent crime. Sixty-three percent of teenagers who attempt suicide come from fatherless homes. Seventy-one percent of children who don’t finish high school come from fatherless homes. Ninety percent of our homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. Fatherless sons are 300% more likely to become incarcerated and stay in juvenile institutions.
Fatherless daughters who marry have a 92% higher divorce rate, and fatherless sons are 38% more likely to experience marital failure. Fatherless daughters are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers. Fatherless daughters are 111% more likely to have children as teenagers, and they are 164% more likely to have an out-of-wedlock birth. Eighty percent of all sitting in prison today grew up in fatherless homes.
Fathers are the missing piece in all of this.
In a time when cinematic ‘superheroes’ dominate the screen, it’s time to celebrate the often-overlooked heroes in our culture: Husbands who remain faithful to their spouses and honor the vow to stand by their mate “for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish till death do them part” and fathers who are there to raise their children are the true superheroes.
We need more fathers to step up to the plate in our nation like never before. And even more, we need godly men.
The Bible says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3-5).
The word “heritage” used in the passage can be translated as a “gift.” Kids are not given to keep but to nurture. They need our example, but most importantly, they need us. The best resource you can spend on your children is time, and lots of it.
It’s been said, “A family can survive without a nation, but the nation cannot survive without the family.”
Most importantly, we need God in our nation. We need to return to the Lord who loves us and will help us rebuild our eroding foundation, brick by brick, family by family. We need to call out to Him and ask for help.
God says, “‘Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.’ ‘Yes, we will come to you, for you are the LORD our God’” (Jer. 3:22).
I never knew my biological father. My mother went on to be married and divorced seven times.
But when I heard the good news that there was a Father in Heaven who loved me, I turned to Him.
He changed me, and in the church, I met many older father figures who gave me an example to follow.
I went on to marry my wife, Cathe, and we are getting ready to celebrate 50 years of marriage. We have two sons and five grandchildren.
Christ broke the cycle of sin in my family and He can do the same for yours!
With Father’s Day this weekend, if you have a faithful father in your life, be sure to thank him.
To fathers who have led their families well, I want to thank you on behalf of a grateful nation!
Happy Father’s Day!
Apply: If you are a dad, never underestimate the importance of the role God has entrusted to you. If you have been blessed by the faithful leadership of your dad, take time to thank him.
Prayer: Our heavenly Father, in an imperfect world, we thank you for being our perfect heavenly Father. One, no matter what our relationship with our earthly Father, provides the love, comfort, guidance and stability we all need. We also ask Father that you strengthen, encourage and build up all men who have fathered a child to be the person of love, faith, and forgiveness to their children. Let them look to you for guidance and direction and strength to lead their children and families well. AMEN.
Today’s devotion is based on the sermon of June 5, 2022. Listen to it here!
Speak up or stay silent?
Just 50 days earlier when confronted about his connection to Jesus, Peter said, “I don’t know the man!” Three times when given a “crowd” to speak to, he cowered and denied his connection to Jesus.
Has this ever happened to you?
Given an opportunity to speak to the truth of the Lord…but then cave? Or speak the exact opposite than a clear witness?
I know I have.
Like Peter, afterwards you feel as though you have let your Savior down when you deny him, or at least fail to speak up for him. It is crushing as Jesus promised and warned:
Matthew 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
So what changed over the next month and a half that at Pentecost he spoke boldly to the crowd the Lord gathered?
Jesus could have let Peter in his despair after the denial and the voice of Peter’s witness could have been silent. Yet Jesus did not want Satan to win, but rather to unleash the power of the Spirit through Peter. So before he went back into heaven, Jesus spent time directly with Peter to reinstate and reaffirm the purpose Jesus had for him – “Feed my sheep!”
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17)
Then just a short time after, the Spirit of God filled Peter to speak with boldness to the crowd that was gathered in Jerusalem.
What does that mean for us? Jesus does not want a failure in witness to silence our witness. Jesus went to the cross for the times we remained silent. The Spirit of God recorded Jesus’ conversation with Peter so we too could hear Jesus’ heart that builds on the forgiveness he gives to send us out once again to be his witnesses.
And, like Peter, he doesn’t send us out without the promise that the Spirit of God would be with us. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… (Acts 1:8) While this promise was first directed at the original followers of Jesus, the promise is given to all who are witnesses of the word and work of the Lord and desire to proclaim it to others.
So, speak up! The Lord has given you experience with his love and grace. Speak boldly! The Spirit of God is with you!
Apply: What is your story of grace? A witness speaks to what they see and hear. What difference does it make that you have faith in Jesus?
Prayer: Thank you Lord for your forgiveness when I fail to witness. Thank you for your Spirit who empowers me to witness. AMEN
Acts 2:5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
A crowd came together in bewilderment.
Pentecost is filled with miracles. All of them bringing to the culmination of God’s Spirit changing hearts of 3000 skeptics, unbelievers, misguided religious, or just plain curious people to know, believe and trust Jesus as their Savior.
The miracle of Pentecost does start with the sound of the wind and the tongues of fire…but the result of these anomalies is that a crowd gathered around the disciples. The curiosity was not just the sound of the wind or the flames, but the fact they heard voices that were in their own languages from people they quickly found out or knew never studied the language. This certainly is a wonderful blessing that the wonders of God were being proclaimed to so many people.
Wouldn’t it be nice if God gathered a crowd like this again?
Or does he?
I know it is easy for me to wish for the “big” while overlooking the “small.” We perhaps wish and wonder if God will gather such a big crowd again. Perhaps, but maybe he wants us to see the crowd he is gathering around us. It is probably not 3000, 300 or 30…but maybe it’s three. Three people that are not that different from the crowd the Spirit gathered in Jerusalem. Do you know people who don’t know Jesus or have drifted from Jesus who…
- Come from a different cultural background?
- Are religious, but don’t know grace and the message of Christ?
- Detractors who downplay or dismiss the Christian faith?
- People who are curious or confused about spiritual matters?
- Spiritual, but not grounded?
Where is this crowd? Perhaps it is the people living next door…maybe working next to you…maybe sitting next to you on the athletic sidelines…maybe in the same hobby club…maybe…you fill in the blank.
Perhaps with a little thought and focus, we begin to see the people God’s Spirit has gathered around us that are disconnected from Jesus, don’t know Jesus, or curious about Jesus – or all of the above.
Who is that for you?
A former member shared recently that his wife’s dad had passed away. Before he passed, he questioned, “Why am I still here, I am ready to go to heaven.” As he was in a care facility, he had a chance to share his faith with the staff that cared for him. God gave him one last crowd to which to declare the wonders of God.
God is putting a crowd around you who needs Jesus. Be ready!
Apply: Write down 1-5 names that are in your “crowd” that need Jesus. Pray for opportunities to have a conversation about the “wonders of God.”
Prayer: Spirit of God, thank you for gathering a crowd around me that needs Jesus. Give me boldness and clarity to declare the wonders of God to them. AMEN.