Sermon title:  OUR HEAVENLY FATHER GAVE US FATHERS FOR A

REASON

Hebrews 12:1-11

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, June 20, 2021

 

 

This Fathers Day it’s good to remember

that our heavenly Father designed the human family.

 

And he began with the husband and father,

when he created Adam, the first man.

 

Then he said it is not good for the man to be alone,

and he made his wife, Eve.

 

And he told them to reproduce

and fill the earth with their offspring.

 

So, Adam and Eve had sons and daughters.

 

And they formed the first human family.

 

It was not a coincidence

it was a family designed by God.

 

Colossians Chapter 3 sums up the design,

when it says,

Wives, submit to your husbands,

as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives,

and do not be harsh with them.

Children,

obey your parents in everything,

for this pleases the Lord.

 

A man’s role as a husband is very important in the family.

 

But, it being Fathers Day today,

we’ll focus on a man’s role as a father.

 

Of course, it’s not easy to separate

being a father from being a husband.

 

The two roles are not entirely separate.

 

It has well been said,

“One of the greatest things

a father can do for his children

is to love their mother.”

 

Their father’s love for their mother

gives children the loving, secure environment

that they need

for their personalities to develop

as God intended.

 

A strong father provides stability for growing children. 

 

When that environment is missing or disrupted

for one reason or another, the children suffer. 

 

A mother—even a loving and attentive mother—

can not alone make up for

a strong father’s influence, when that is missing.

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The Lord illustrated for us the importance

of having the father in the home, even in nature

where, in some species, a father bird is needed

for the baby birds to grow up properly.

 

The characteristic song of a species of birds,

like the robins,

is already imbedded in the chick’s brain

when it hatches.

 

But the baby bird perfects that song

by listening to the father bird,

and imitating the details of how he sings it.

 

Baby birds deprived of a father bird

never learn to sing their song quite right.

 

And God put that behavior in front of us

as an object lesson from nature

to teach us about human behavior.

 

Human children are much more complex

than birds, of course, and need their father

in many more ways than birds do.

 

The damage suffered from not having

a strong father as head of the home

is not as easy to see

as a bird singing its song off key.

 

But the mental and emotional damage

is just as real and long-lasting.

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An article in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal

discusses what it calls “the Mental-Health Crisis”

among children and adolescents.

 

And it blames that crisis

on parents turning their children over to day-care

instead of raising them in person, themselves.

 

It says, and I quote,

 

“As a society we have abandoned the care of children

to institutional or group care,

we have exposed them to early separation

from parents’ physical and emotional presence,

financial success and careers over children.”

 

And it says that this lack of direct parental care

damages the children’s mental-health,

not only immediately,

but throughout the rest of their lives.

 

It says, and I quote again,

 

“This diminishes a child’s resilience and

emotional fortitude throughout life,

resulting in more mental-health problems

in adolescence and adulthood.”

 

So, God knew what he was doing,

when he placed child care

directly in the hands of mothers and fathers.

 

And modern society’s failure to follow God’s arrangement

has caused long-term damage

to generations of children.

 

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Thanks be to God, however,

that he is the healer of broken hearts,

and can heal even the wounds

of a broken childhood,

when we turn to him for help.

 

Psalm 27:10 gives us that assurance,

because it says,

“Although my father and my mother

have abandoned me,

Yet the LORD will take me up.”

 

Yes, the Psalm says,

 

“Although my father and my mother

have abandoned me,

Yet the LORD will take me up.”

 

Even those who are emotionally damaged

by an upbringing apart from loving parents—

they can still be healed by our Lord. 

 

He is the healer of broken hearts.

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But, if God’s arrangement for the family is followed,

the children are not abandoned by father & mother,

and the children don’t suffer that emotional damage.

 

If God’s arrangement is followed,

there is a strong, loving father in the home

to provide stability and security.

 

And that is a blessing for the children,

not just when they are children,

but as they grow up,

and throughout their adult lives.

 

But it’s not just

for our life here on earth

that our heavenly Father gave us fathers to raise us.

 

It’s part of God’s arrangement to prepare us for eternity

in our heavenly home with Him.

 

Our fathers are meant to give us,

not only affectionate love, but also discipline.

 

Fathers are repeatedly tied in with discipline,

as spelled out in Scripture.

 

And the discipline we receive

from a concerned and loving father

helps prepare us for a personal relationship

with our strict and loving Father in heaven.

 

Strict and loving may seem like contradictory terms.

 

But that is not so, according to inspired Scripture.

 

Proverbs 13:24 says,

“Whoever spares the rod hates his son,

but he who loves him

is diligent to discipline him.”

 

Strict discipline is actually an expression of love,

because of the result it brings.

An undisciplined child grows up lacking something

that is needed to succeed later in life.

 

A loving father will provide that discipline

that the child needs in order for the child’s

personality to develop properly.

 

And, beyond that, our relationship with our earthly father

helps us as we grow up

to form a relationship with our heavenly Father.

 

The author of the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews

draws on that connection

between our earthly fathers

and our heavenly Father

in Chapter 12 of that epistle.

 

In that Chapter he speaks about

the suffering we go through in our own lives,

and how we can view that suffering

as discipline from our Father in heaven.

 

It helps us to endure

what we have to suffer here in this world

if we view it that way.

 

Hebrews 12:7 says,

“Endure suffering as discipline;

God is treating you as sons.

For what son

is not disciplined by his father?”

 

That puts suffering into perspective,

because it is an honor to be treated by God

as his sons—even if that treatment

is painful discipline.

 

If we think we don’t need to

suffer discipline from God—

if we think we as individuals are above that—

the next Verse sets us straight.

 

It says,

“If you do not experience discipline

like everyone else,

then you are illegitimate children

and not true sons.”

 

Yes, God disciplines all his children,

and none of us are exceptions to that rule.

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The 5th Verse quotes from

the Old Testament book of Proverbsand says,

“My son, do not take lightly

the discipline of the Lord,

and do not lose heart

when He rebukes you.

For the Lord disciplines

the one He loves,

and He chastises every son He receives.”

 

Notice that

“He chastises every son He receives.”

 

None of us should expect to be exceptions.

We should expect to receive discipline from the Lord.

 

The writer of Hebrews then goes to

to draw a close parallel

between the discipline we receive from God

and the correction from our fathers on earth.

 

He says,

9 Furthermore, we have all had

earthly fathers who disciplined us,

and we respected them.

Should we not much more

submit to the Father of our spirits

and live?

10 Our fathers disciplined us

for a short time as they thought best,

but God disciplines us for our good,

so that we may share in His holiness.

 

Yes, that respect that we had

for the head of our family, as we grew up,

transfers into respect for Almighty God

when we are adults.

 

It was only a relatively few short years

that we received the rod of correction from our Dad.

 

And he did it according to his own understanding—

as he thought best.

 

Sometimes that discipline may have been too harsh,

and sometimes we may have gotten spanked

for something we didn’t do.

 

But, overall, that strict raising benefited us,

and was much better than not being corrected at all.

 

Our Dad may have taken a switch to us

because he was in a bad mood,

or because he lost patience

or became annoyed.

 

But, when God disciplines us, it is always for our good

to benefit us,

by keeping our feet on the narrow path.

 

It says,

10 Our fathers disciplined us

for a short time as they thought best,

but God disciplines us for our good,

so that we may share in His holiness.

 

We need that discipline,

so that we can share in God’s holiness—

and that is certainly for our good.

 

Proverbs 22:15 says,

“A youngster’s heart is filled with

foolishness,

but physical discipline

will drive it far away.”

 

And that’s true of each one of us.

 

We need God’s rod of correction,

to turn our foolish hearts in the right direction.

 

“God disciplines us for our good,

so that we may share in His holiness.”

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But discipline isn’t fun when we receive it.

 

None of us looked forward

to feeling a slap from our father’s hand

or a switch hitting our legs.

 

Hebrews sympathizes with that,

as it continues in Verse 11,

 

“No discipline seems enjoyable

at the time, but painful.

Later on, however,

it yields a harvest

of righteousness and peace

to those who have been trained by it.”

 

Nothing will change the fact

that discipline is painful to receive.

 

Still, it can help us to endure that pain,

if we keep in mind that the end result will be good,

far out-weighing the temporary suffering.

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Well, what does God’s discipline look like?

 

Cartoons may illustrate it

by a hand reaching down from the clouds of the sky

to smack the person being corrected.

 

Or, maybe, a bolt of lightning at just the right time.

 

But, actually, God’s discipline can take many forms.

 

And it may come in the form of persecution

from people who are opposed to the Gospel message.

 

Everything we’ve read this morning from Hebrews

is actually presented in that context.

 

The chapter immediately preceding

speaks of the persecution

the Old Testament prophets endured—

with many of them being abused and killed.

 

Then Chapter 12 begins by speaking of

the suffering Christ endured

at the hands of ungodly men.

 

And then it relates that to suffering we endure

from the same wicked source.

 

And, finally, it presents all of that suffering

as part of the discipline we receive from God.

 

Hebrews 12:1 refers to those prophets

spoken of in the preceding chapter,

who were abused and killed,

when it starts out by saying,

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded

by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us also lay aside every weight,

and sin which clings so closely,

and let us run with endurance

the race that is set before us,

 

It cites their example

of suffering for a future reward,

as encouragement for us to endure

in our race to the goal of everlasting life.

 

And then Hebrews moves on to the sufferings of Christ,

which he endured for the good

that it would eventually bring.

 

It says,

 

2 looking to Jesus,

the founder and perfecter of our faith,

who for the joy

that was set before him

endured the cross,

despising the shame,

and is seated at the right hand

of the throne of God.

3 Consider him who

endured from sinners

such hostility against himself,

so that you may not grow weary

or fainthearted.

4 In your struggle against sin

you have not yet resisted

to the point of shedding your blood.

5 And have you forgotten

the exhortation

that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly

the discipline of the Lord,

 

Yes, Christ Jesus suffered many things

on the way to the cross

and then that painful and shameful death itself.

 

And he serves as the example for us

in enduring suffering,

and viewing it as discipline

that helps train us in godliness.

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And that’s really the key

to getting through all the troubles of this world—

keeping our eyes on the hope ahead,

our eternity with Jesus.

 

Even if a bad childhood

started us off at a terrible disadvantage...

 

Even if we lacked the discipline from a father

and the love from a mother...

 

Our God promises to make all of that up to us.

 

He is the healer of broken hearts,

and the mender of broken lives.

 

We have the promise at Psalm 27:10,

“Although my father and my mother

have abandoned me,

Yet the LORD will take me up.”