June 17, 2012

The Perfect Father's Day Gift [All American Series, Part 3 of 10]

Psalm 68:5-6
"A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land."

The ideals of fatherhood are strong in the Bible. Unlike the gods of other religions, the Judeo-Christian God is shown as a loving Father. Christ described God as his own intimate Father and claimed to show in himself what the Father was like (Jn. 14:9-11). God gave His beloved Son for the salvation of the world (Jn. 3:16). Consequently, wherever the Christian ideal has manifested itself and prospered, fatherhood has taken on a deeper meaning. The tender appeals of the apostles John and Paul to their "children" helped foster this attitude. To see for yourself, read I John 4 in its entirety.

Christian, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things about God I am about to write:

The Father as a Wall Builder. Only God knows how to repair the breaches in our lives. Consider II Chronicles 32:5-8,

5 Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.

6 And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying,

7 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:

8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

For further study, read up on Nehemiah, Chapters 1-7. Then pray and allow Him to build up the broken walls of your life.

The Father as a Builder. God builds from the ground up. Just like a good restorer doesn't take a broken down shack and improve upon it, God does not leave the sinner in his miserable state and add on a few token gifts. He is a thorough builder, using His word to edify and establish (Col. 1:21-23; 2:7). And, the building begins on a strong foundation. To wit, Matthew 7:24-27,

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

For further study, please read Ezra, Chapters 1-6 regarding the rebuilding of the Temple. If you're born again and saved, Friend, then your body is the temple of the Lord (I Cor. 6:19-20). Treat it right and let the Master Builder do His work in you and through you.

The Father as a Watchman. God protects and watches over you. In Psalm 121:3, we  read that "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber."

God’s sleepless vigilance is for our good. In verse 5 says, “The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.” God keeps us, protects us, and cares for us. If there is a need for refreshing the Lord will provide it. Our Protector is constantly seeking our good. As one song puts it: “He never sleeps, He never slumbers. He watches me both night and day.”

Are you facing difficulties? Turn to the One who never sleeps. Each second of each day, let Him “...preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” (v.8).

The Father as a Provider. Who knows better what we need than God the Father? No one, not even our earthly fathers. Matthew 7:7-11 states, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

To say the least, God is so much more than this abbreviated list of traits. He is our All in all. Someone once said, "If you've got Jesus, you've got everything. If you've got everything else but Jesus, man - you've got nothing!"

How Deep the Father's Love For Us

1. An earthly father sees himself in his children because they were born of his flesh. To some extent, they look like him and act like him.
  • God gives us His Spirit, who indwells us and empowers us to act in ways that please Him. Our task is simply to let Him live through us (Romans 8: 9-10).
2. Children can’t provide for themselves. In fact, they usually don’t even try. They simply trust their parents to provide food, clothing, and shelter. 
  • Because we are God’s children, we don’t have to worry about our basic needs. Like little kids, we can trust our Father to supply them. Will we still have to make wise choices? Yes. But we can place our burdens on the wide shoulders of our heavenly Provider. Read Matt. 6:34 and Psalm 84:11-12, and meditate on their promises.
3. A good father doesn’t expect his three-year-old to be able to mow the yard. Nor does he become impatient if his child can’t tie her shoes the first time he shows her. 
  • Similarly, God doesn’t expect us to be mature instantly. He gradually gives us more responsibility and teaches us to lean on Him more completely (Ephesians 4:11-16). 
5. Parents usually regret it when they fail to set boundaries for their children. Although discipline is difficult for both the child and the parent, it is necessary to form a child’s character.

  • Although our heavenly Father is patient with us as we grow, He will discipline us when we persist in willful sin. (See Hebrews 12:5-11.)

6. Unfortunately, many fathers express love to their children only when their child looks good, succeeds, or is well-behaved. Or, a father may communicate a lack of love by spending very little time with his child. 
  • In contrast, our heavenly Father is willing to express His love for us at any time (Psalm 103:17-18). 
7. Little children can’t plan a vacation, buy a house, or select the school that’s right for them. They trust their parents to plan a good life for them. 
  • As believers, we often think we have more control over our lives than we really do. God wants us to trust Him to give us His goals for our lives (Ephesians 5:15-17). Often, His guidance will come one step at time, not all at once (Proverbs 16:9).


Origins of Father's Day

The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm--perhaps because, as one florist explained, “Fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, West Virginia. But it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.

The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on July 19, 1910.

Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.

However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products--often paid for by the father himself.”

Advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards. When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.

Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts. That's a lot of neckties!

Seriously though, the best gift you can give to God the Father is to entrust Him with your life (Click Here). The best gift you can give your earthly father is your respect. Oh, a hug would be okay, too.

Sources: usa.gov, artofmanliness.com, history.com, intouch.org, fathersday.com

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