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Pastor Bob Paquet / (Father’s Day 1998)

A Model Father - Luke 15:11-32

INTRODUCTION:


The FBI periodically issues a list of the ten most wanted men. These men are criminals and a menace to society.  We also have a list of the ten most wanted men for the work of the Lord.  Here they are:
1.The man who puts God’s business above all other business.
2. The man who brings his children to church rather than sending them.
3. The man who is willing to be the right example to every boy he meets.
4. The man who thinks more of his Sunday School class than his Sunday sleep.
5. The man who measures his giving by what he has left, rather than by the amount he      gives.
6. The man who goes to church for Christ’s sake, rather than for himself or someone else.
7. The man who has a willing mind, rather than a brilliant mind.
8. The man who has a passion to help, rather than a passion to be helped.
9. The man who can see his own faults before he sees the faults of others.
10. The man who is more concerned about winning others for Christ, than he is about winning worldly honor.

Today is fathers day and I want to honor each father present.  I hope your fathering is smooth and effective and I wish I could say, “trouble free”.  However, having been there and done that I know being a father can bring times of joy and times of sadness, times of hope and times of despair, times of tears and times of laughter, times of patience and times of anger.  But being a father is perhaps one of the greatest privileges a man can be given.  It is at the same time an awesome responsibility.  You see as fathers we have been given the opportunity to mold another human being.

Tell me who your father is, and I’ll tell you who you are.

Let every father remember that one day his children will follow his example instead of his advice.
Whether you are just beginning as a father or your children are grown you have the opportunity to influence your children as well as your grand children.

Today I want to focus on a portion of scripture that is referred to as the “ Parable of the Prodigal Son”.  Although this sermon is directed to fathers it has application for all in the Body of Christ.

TEXT:Luke 15:11-32

PROPOSITION:
Fathers we are to be like our heavenly Father.  Jesus is our example - if we know Him - we know the Father.

INTERROGATIVE SENTENCE:
What are some of the characteristics of our heavenly father that we see in this parable?

TRANSITIONAL SENTENCE:
There are some characteristics of this father that Jesus mentions that every father should understand and emulate.  The first of these is he was approachable.
 
 MAIN DIVISIONS AND SUBDIVISIONS

I. THIS FATHER WAS APPROACHABLE


Luke 15:12  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
1. The younger son was able to approach his father without any apparent concern.  Obviously, this father had established a relationship with his son that encouraged him to come to his father uninhibited and unafraid.  We see this again in Luke 15:18... When the son finally came to his senses in the pig pen,  he said, “I will set out and go back to my father ...”
1. His first thought was, “I’ll go to dad.”

2. Dad’s are you the first one your kids think of when they are in trouble ... or the last?
A lot depends on how approachable you have been for them.

3. If each time they have come to you in the past they found a grumpy, vindictive tyrant who showed little or no compassion or understanding you’ll be the last one they go to, if they go to you at all.

4. I learned something a few years ago. I have been in management in some large companies. I have held some very important jobs, done some very important work, met some very important people - a few of which I could call friend - gone to many important places.

But I found out that my children are not impressed with who I am or where I go or the business card I carry in my pocket. You are not going to believe this. My children are not impressed that I am a Pastor. Do you know what would impress my children, or grand-children. That I would set down & spend time with them.

I woke up to something a little late in life. I woke up to the fact that my children are only impressed with one thing from me. Do you know what that is? My time & attention. PERIOD. That's it!!

You see, that's what they expect. They expect that this bald headed guy with a bowtie, is God's gift for them. They are terribly selfish. And they ought to be. They ought to be.

I'll tell you what discourages my children & grand-children, they get real discouraged when I'm too busy. When I'm too serious. When I'm too big. When I too bitter. When I'm too bothered.
TOO BUSY! TOO BUSY! When I worked in the secular world and my children were at home, I worked hard. I would even bring work home with me & do reports & prepare schedules and plans at home. And how many time my children have come to me "Dad, let's go play , let's do this or that, & I would say, 'I'm too busy."
Fathers be approachable... its never to late to start.  If your children are grown you can still  become approachable.

5. Relate story of Cathy - leaving home - remaining approachable - the blessings!

TRANSITION:
The next characteristic we see in this father is that he was Spiritual.

II. THIS FATHER WAS SPIRITUAL


1. "Wait a minute," I can imagine someone thinking. "How can you say a man is spiritual if he loses one of his kids? Surely that is evidence that he has done something wrong, isn't it?"

2. Perhaps. But may I remind you of the meaning of this parable at the time Jesus spoke it? It was spoken to a group of grumbling Pharisees and scribes who were upset that Jesus would receive sinners and eat with them (v. 15:2).

3. Each character in the parable represented someone.
 The younger son represented the sinners who were coming to Jesus because he was approachable.

 The older son represented the Pharisees and scribes who thought that Jesus should   have nothing to do with such people because they had squandered their lives.

 Who, then, did the father represent?
 The father in this parable is God the Father and what this whole thing is showing us   is that God will receive a sinner back if he repents.

4. Now, back to my original question. If a man loses one of his kids, does that mean he is unspiritual? The father in this story lost one of his for a time, didn't he? .And who does the father in this account represent? God! Is God unspiritual?

5. This boy had been taught the truth. This father hadn't neglected his responsibility. I base my on verse 18. In the second half of that verse it says,"Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight." Then he said it again in verse 21: "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight." This boy knew the truth and it is most likely that it was his father who taught it to him.

6. Yet, the boy had free will. He was capable of taking the precious things his father had taught him and casting them aside.

Why do I say these things? Because I know that some of you have watched helplessly as your children, brought up in homes to love and serve the Lord, have pushed it all aside, deserted that teaching, and gone their own way. Believe me, when it happens, you feel lower than a snakes belly!  I know!
7. Does it mean you have failed? It certainly feels that way! And, it is possible that you have failed if you have neglected your responsibilities to them.
 
A father who cares nothing for the raising and training of his kids is most certainly a failure, whether they depart or not. But some of you have taken your responsibility seriously. You've done your job and yet, seen your kids depart. I say, it isn't  necessarily a forgone conclusion that you have failed. Some of God's children have departed as well.

Oh, but doesn't it say in Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it." Yes it does, but is that statement an absolute guarantee that with the right training, your child will never go astray and that if he does, you have failed? Be careful in your answer. If that verse was intended to be an absolute, iron clad statement, then the rest of the Proverbs should be taken that way, too - as absolute, ironclad, never-fail statements. Can they be taken that way?
 
How about this one: Prov 12:11: "He who tills his land will have plenty of bread..." Is that a guarantee that hardworking farmers will never be forced to file bankruptcy?I know a lot of farmers who would argue with you on that one.

What about this one: Prov 16:13: "Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and he who speaks right is loved."
Is that an absolute statement? Are those who speak with righteous lips always loved? Do I need to remind you of Jesus, whose lips were more righteous than any man, yet they hated Him and crucified Him?
Proverbs are statements of general truth. They guide.They point direction. We get in trouble, though, when we try to make them absolutes that are true in every case.
Is the rest of the Bible to be interpreted that way? No.The rest of the Bible isn't made up of proverbs.
This father was spiritual. Fathers today must be, too. Men, don't depend on your wife to do it. Don't think you can "let her take care of the religion in the family."It's your responsibility. If you neglect this responsibility it, you deserve to be called a failure.

TRANSITION:
Finally, let’s look at one more characteristic of this father.  This father was compassionate.

III. THIS FATHER WAS COMPASSIONATE, LOVING AND FORGIVING


Verse 20 says,  "But while he was still a longway off, his father saw him, and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him."
1. How can a father feel compassion for a returning child who has squandered his estate? How can a father feel compassion for a child who has dragged his reputation in the dirt and spat upon everything he stands for?
 
2. Let’s look at verse 32 to find the answer. The older son has just asked his dad those very questions.
 He's beside himself  because of the way his father received his younger brother back. In   verse 30, he says, "when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth  with harlots, you killed the fattened calf for him!"

 It is probably safe to say that he thought the boy should be disowned!

3. Verse 32 tells us how the father felt, “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
 
 To him, the boy's return was like life from the dead. His possessions,his reputation, compared to that, didn't matter.

Dads, are we compassionate men toward our children? Do we show them unconditional love?  Do we forgive them?  Are we open to reconciliation?

 When they mess up and repent, do we accept them back joyfully, or do we disown them or distance ourselves from them?

Look  at the example of this father and you'll have your answer. Beyond that, consider that you will not always have the opportunity to be compassionate.
When was the last time your hugged your kids, kissed them and told them you loved them?  DO IT!
Relate story of Dad - after I became born again - hugged and kissed him - and he thought he was a big bad marine.
TRANSITION:
I believe the following story illustrates what we have been talking about.
 

IV. A STORY FROM FOCUS ON THE FAMILY 1985


This story was written by a Registered Nurse named Sue Kidd. It's lengthy, so I probably won't say very much beyond reading it. See if there isn't a lesson in it for you...

The hospital was unusually quiet that bleak January evening, quiet and still like the air before a storm. I stood in the nurse's station on the seventh floor and glanced at the clock. It was 9 P.M.
I threw a stethoscope around my neck and headed for room 712, last room on the hall. Room 712 had a new patient, Mr. Williams.  A man all alone. A man strangely silent about his family.

As I entered the room, Mr. Williams looked up eagerly, but dropped his eyes when he saw it was only me, his nurse. I pressed the stethoscope over his chest and listened. Strong, slow, even beating. Just what I wanted to hear. There seemed little indication he had suffered a slight heart attack a few hours earlier.

 He looked up from his starched white bed. "Nurse, would you --" He hesitated, tears filled his eyes. Once before he had started to ask me a question, but had changed his mind. I touched his hand.
He brushed away a tear. "Would you call my daughter?Tell her I've had a heart attack. A slight one. You see,I live alone and she is the only family I have." His respiration suddenly speeded up.
I turned on his nasal oxygen up to eight liters a minute. "Of course I'll call her," I said, studying his face.
He gripped the sheets and pulled himself forward, his face tense with urgency. "Will you call her right away -- as soon as you can? He was breathing fast - too fast.
 "I'll call her the very first thing," I said, patting his shoulder.
I flipped off the light. He closed his eyes, such young blue eyes in his 50-year-old face.
Room 712 was dark except for a faint night light under the sink. Oxygen gurgled in the green  bed. Reluctant to leave, I moved through the shadowy silence to the window. The panes were cold. Below a foggy mist curled through the hospital parking lot.
"Nurse," he called, "could you get me a pencil and paper?"
I dug a scrap of yellow paper and a pen from my pocket and set it on the bedside table.
I walked back to the nurses' station and sat in a squeaky swivel chair by the phone. Mr. Williams'
daughter was listed on his chart as the next of kin.  I got her number from information and dialed. Her soft voice answered.

 "Janie, this is Sue Kidd, a registered nurse at the hospital. I'm calling about your father. He was admitted  tonight with a slight heart attack and --"
"No!" she screamed into the phone, startling me. "He's not dying is he?"
"His condition is stable at the moment," I said, trying hard to sound convincing.
Silence. I bit my lip. "You must not let him die!" she said. Her voice was so utterly compelling that my hand trembled on the phone.
 "He's getting the very best care."
 "But you don't understand," she pleaded. "My daddy and I haven't spoken in almost a year. We had a terrible argument on my 21st birthday, over my boyfriend. I ran out of the house. I haven't been back. All these months I've wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was, "I hate you."
Her voice cracked and I heard her heave great agonizing sobs. I sat, listening, tears burning my eyes. A father and a daughter, so lost to each other. Then I was thinking of my own father, many miles away. It has been so long since I had said, "I love you."

As Janie struggled to control her tears, I breathed a prayer. "Please God, let this daughter find
forgiveness."
"I'm coming. Now! I'll be there in 30 minutes," she said. Click. She had hung up.
I tried to busy myself with a stack of charts on the desk. I couldn't concentrate. Room 712; I knew I had to get  back to 712. I hurried down the hall nearly in a run. I opened the door.
Mr. Williams lay unmoving. I reached for his pulse.There was none.
 "Code 99, Room 712. Code 99. Stat." The alert was shooting through the hospital within seconds after I called the switchboard through the intercom by the bed.
Mr. Williams had had a cardiac arrest.
With lightning speed I leveled the bed and bent over his mouth, breathing air into his lungs. I positioned my hands over his chest and compressed. One, two, three. I  tried to count. At fifteen I moved back to his mouth and breathed as deeply as I could. Where was help? Again I compressed and breathed. Compressed and breathed. He could not die!

 "O God," I prayed. "His daughter is coming. Don't let it end this way."
The door burst open. Doctors and nurses poured into the room pushing emergency equipment. A doctor took over the manual compression of the heart. A tube was inserted through his mouth as an airway. Nurses plunged syringes of medicine into the intravenous tubing.
I connected the heart monitor. Nothing. Not a beat. My own heart pounded. "God, don't let it end like this. Not in bitterness and hatred. His daughter is coming. Let her find peace."
"Stand back," cried a doctor. I handed him the paddles for the electrical shock to the heart. He placed them on Mr. William's chest. Over and over we tried. But nothing. No response. Mr. Williams was dead.
A nurse unplugged the oxygen. The gurgling stopped. One by one they left, grim and silent.
How could this happen? How? I stood by his bed, stunned. A cold wind rattled the window, pelting the panes with snow. Outside - everywhere - it seemed a bed of blackness, cold and dark. How could I face his daughter?
When I left the room, I saw her against the wall by the water fountain. A doctor who had been inside 712 only moments before stood at her side, talking to her, gripping her elbow. Then he moved on, leaving her slumped against the wall.

Such pathetic hurt reflected from her face. Such wounded eyes. She knew. The doctor had told her that her father was gone.
I took her hand and led her into the nurses' lounge. We sat on little green stools, neither saying a word. She stared straight ahead at a pharmaceutical calendar, glass faced, almost breakable-looking.
 "Janie, I'm so, so sorry," I said. It was pitifully inadequate.
 "I never hated him, you know. I loved him," she said.
God please help her, I thought.
Suddenly she whirled toward me. "I want to see him."
My first  thought was, Why put yourself through more pain? Seeing him will only make it worse. But I got up and wrapped my arm around her. We walked slowly down the corridor to 712. Outside the door I squeezed her hand,  wishing she would change her mind about going inside.
She pushed open the door.

We moved to the bed, huddled together, taking small steps in unison. Janie leaned over the bed and buried her face in the sheets.
I tried not to look at her ... at this sad, sad goodbye. I backed against the bedside table. My hand fell upon a scrap of yellow paper. I picked it up. It read: My dear Janie, I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me. I love you too. Daddy.
The note was shaking in my hands as I thrust it toward Janie. She read it once. Then twice. Her tormented face grew radiant. Peace began to glisten in her eyes. She hugged the scrap of paper to her breast.

 "Thank You, God," I whispered, looking up at the window. A few crystal stars blinked through the blackness. A snowflake hit the window and melted away, gone forever...
I crept from the room and hurried to the phone. I would call my father. I would say, "I love you." [Sue Kidd, as quoted in "Life on the Edge" by James Dobson]
What this father had in his last minutes of life, we need. He had compassion on his estranged daughter. That simple yellow note released her from spending the rest of her life tormented by regret.

IX. CONCLUSION:


This message was directed to the dads but has meaning for all of us in the Body of Christ.  We all are to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our minds - you see the Father is in the business of building character and changing attitudes.  Each of us should be becoming more like Him.
In this parable, Jesus, illustrated for us characteristics of the Father that we are to emulate:

WE ARE TO BE APPROACHABLE; WE ARE TO BE SPIRITUAL; WE ARE TO BE COMPASSIONATE; WE ARE TO GIVE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE; WE ARE TO FORGIVE

HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR CHILDREN TODAY? HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR SPOUSE TODAY? DO YOU NEED TO FORGIVE SOMEONE? DO YOU NEED TO BECOME MORE APPROACHABLE?

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