A FATHER’S APPROVAL
PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH JUNE 21, 2020
A Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers today. And an apology to our mothers. We were not meeting on your special day, so, no Mother’s Day sermon. But I did have one on Facebook and on the church's website. I hope you were able to read it there.
We are going today to a place in Scripture which may not seem to be one pertaining to Father’s Day. We will be looking at two verses – Luke 3:21-22 in just a minute.
There are some today who would like to make the Bible gender neutral...They would like to remove all the references to God as Father...God, in their edited version, would become our divine parent instead of our heavenly Father...
Those same persons would also like to rid all people of any gender, making us all “its” or “thems.”
I do not think that it was accidental that God has been revealed to us as Father? I think we can clearly see from the Word that God wants us to call Him “Father.” I believe without a doubt that God actually wants to be known as our Father?
God intentionally revealed Himself as Father because He is Father... The name, Father, reveals something of His nature and character, something He wants us to understand.
We live in an age where fatherhood has been depreciated... Robert Griswold, associate professor of history and women’s studies at the University of Oklahoma, says in his book Fatherhood in America: A History, "There is a debate in society today over father’s roles. Fatherhood has lost its cultural coherence. It’s no longer clear what we want, what we expect from fathers."
It is into this changing current culture that God as Father still speaks to us --- as Father. He very clearly shows us the vital importance of Him being our father and the vital importance of honoring fatherhood in today’s upside down world.
And so, in that context, we come to Luke 3:21-22. In the words which He speaks to His Only Begotten Son here, we learn much about God’s relationship with His children and we see a wonderful example of how earthly fathers should deal with and interact with their children:
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven.” “You are my Son, Whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”
I think that as parents, and particularly as fathers, we sometimes fail to realize, or maybe even to think about, the impact our words have on our children...
Whether the words we speak are words of praise or statements of criticism, those words can linger in the minds of a child and forever change the way they view themselves.
And in this passage in Luke 3, we find words spoken by a Father to His Son that serve as a wonderful pattern for us today in encouraging and exhorting our children.
Let’s look at three kinds of words we find in God’s announcement to His Son, Jesus Christ.
First of all, we find words of IDENTIFICATION.
I. WORDS OF IDENTIFICATION
v. 22 You are my son… God identifies Jesus as His Son. As I read this my mind wondered if the people who were present there heard God’s words. The account is seen in Matthew and Mark as well, but no mention of whether the people heard it or not.
I like to believe they did hear Him. After all God wanted, not only Jesus to know He was His Father, but He wanted people all over the world to know Jesus is His Son.
The baptism of Jesus is commonly accepted as the event when Jesus began His public ministry...From this point forward, there is no turning back...He is doing the work His Father sent Him to accomplish.
On this day, Jesus begins a journey that will lead Him to daily encounters with people who will doubt his teaching, and ridicule His claim to the Son of God. Others He is drawn to will honor Him in praise, admiration; while still others will betray Him, turn against Him and eventually put Him to death.
But, He begins this journey with God the Father openly and proudly declaring -- “You are My Son.”
Dad, do you remember?...Your son’s ballgame...Your daughter’s dance recital... Your child’s spelling bee...As they stand before others, you look around and you declare “That’s my kid” And you are proud to be identified with your child. And, just as surely you are proud to be identified with that child, that child’s ego is bursting with pride that he, or she is pleased to hear those words, because for they know at that point they as known to belong to you as their father.
My Dad and I didn’t do a lot together as I was growing up. But I can remember a time, when I was 12 years old I knew my Dad had some confidence in me and trusted me with something I had never done before. He worked, at that time, with a plumbing business – actually here in Princeton – just down a few blocks on South Main – Ellington Plumbing. The owner was going on vacation so Dad’s workload was going to increase that week. He wouldn’t be in the shop during the day. And, the business also sold propane gas. Dad asked me to be in the shop to take care of customers who came to buy gas. I remember very little about the time I spent there that week, but just to know that my Dad, who seldom engaged in personal father/son talk, trusted me to do a job. Looking back on that experience now, I can say that it was as if Dad said, without saying it, “You are my son, in you I am well pleased. “
There are two lessons we can learn from this”
FIRST--Dads, we need to frequently and vocally show identification with our children.
Not just when they are young...Not just when they do things that please us...BUT we need to let people know that we identify with our children--with their strengths and with their weaknesses...With their successes and with their failures... We need to let our children hear those words of IDENTIFICATION come from your lips.
SECONDLY--we need to take pride in being identified as the children of God.
If it’s easy for us to be proud of earthly relationships, how much more proud should we be that we have a Heavenly Father who is willing to identify with us...Maybe your here today and you can’t say what a good feeling it is to be identified with a father--maybe you didn’t know your father, or you didn’t have a very good relationship with him...Perhaps you are thinking that you would love to have heard, just once, your earthly father say That’s MY boy. That’s MY/girl....
And, by the way, we can also include Mother’s into all that has been said here about Fathers.
Fathers (and Mothers), God is pleased to identify with you today as your Father...To God; you’re not a stranger...
In John 1:12 we are told: Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—.
That ought to give us warm fuzzies to realize that the God of Heaven and Earth--the creator and sustainer of the universe, doesn’t just want to save you from an eternity in Hell, BUT HE wants to have a relationship with YOU---HE WANTS TO BE YOUR FATHER.
Whether your childhood remembrances of your father are pleasant or not, hear this: Through faith in Jesus, you can become the child of God, and God will become your Father...He wants to identify with you today.
A second statement that the Father makes here contains
WORDS OF AFFECTION.
II. He speaks WORDS OF AFFECTION
YOU ARE MY SON, WHOM I LOVE…
Or, as the KJV says: This is my beloved son…
It’s not just that the Father identified with the Son, but He demonstrated and expressed openly, His affection for His Son as well.
Experts in child development say in order to develop a healthy self-esteem a child must sense an unconditional level of love coming from his or her parents...,”
When I think of this unconditional love, I think of my granddaughters. They have often said to me, “I don’t ever want to disappoint Pappy. If I do he won’t love me.” I have told both of them, “There is nothing you can do that will ever make me stop loving you. You may do something that will make me not like you, but my love is unconditional.”
Love that exceeds all expectations... Love that makes the child feel treasured and not just tolerated... If they don't feel that type of unconditional love, there's an uneasy sense of absence that causes a lot of confusion and pain.
You may have experienced that pain, and may even be experiencing it in your life today, because you never heard those words from your Dad.
Too often we think that our children should just know that we love them...
After all, you work 10 hour days to put a roof over their head, shoes on their feet, food in their bellies--doesn’t that tell them that you love them?...
You go without so that they can have the best—because you didn’t have the best while growing up …doesn’t that tell them?...You scrimp and save so that their needs are met?...Doesn’t that tell them?...MAYBE IT SHOULD, but you know, they still need to hear it.
There was no doubt that God the Father loved God the Son--But the Father still wanted to express His affection openly and proudly.
Of course, our children need more than to hear the words. They need to see the reality of that love expressed in genuine ways. And the most authentic way of expressing love for your children is to express love to their mother... God’s Word makes it clear that there is no more special human relationship than that of a husband and wife...And our children need to know that we love, respect and appreciate their moms.
So the Heavenly Father expresses words of Affection for the Heavenly Son... Again, though, we see that the same love God has for Jesus, He has for us... Over and over throughout His Word, He makes it clear that we, too, are the objects of Fatherly Affection:
God’s love for us, His children, is evident throughout Scripture.
1 John 4:19 We love because He first loved us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)
There is an unconditional love that the Father possesses for His children...
You don’t deserve that love...You don’t merit it--haven’t earned it.
But, you have it any way...Even if you never knew that kind of unconditional love from an earthly father or from any other person, you can know it in God...
“Jesus Loves You” is more than just a children’s Sunday School song...It expresses the very heart of God Almighty.
The third part of the Father’s statement contains: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION.
III. WORDS OF AFFIRMATION
...WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED...
As Jesus enters into what will prove to be the most difficult three years of His earthly existence, the Father offers words of affirmation...
No matter what trials or triumphs...No matter what joys or tears...No matter what heartache or hardship Jesus experienced…
I am sure He frequently heard that voice saying: WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED.
God the Father expressed to God the Son--I believe in you. No matter who else doubts you, I believe in you...No matter who else walks away, I believe in you...No matter who betrays you, no matter who disappoints you, no matter who lets you down, Son, I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!
Dads, do you let your kids know that you believe in them?...Even if they don’t bat .500...Even if they don’t’ make the team...Even if they don’t make straight ...And when they are adults, even if they don’t accomplish their dreams, or get the better paying job, or make unwise decisions about life? Do they know that you have confidence in their abilities--in their character?
It is so easy to point out their faults...To show them their mistakes...To lecture them about their flaws...But do we affirm them for who they are?
This is not just saying I love you, but saying I LOVE WHO YOU ARE...Even if they aren’t just like you...Even if they aren’t who you thought they’d be...
You love who they are because they are who God made them.
Earlier I mentioned that my Dad was not one to engage in a lot of talking. But, I am reminded frequently of a time when my Dad spoke and I felt like Jesus must have felt when God affirmed His love for His Son.
We were home on Christmas break from Johnson Bible College. I had been invited to preach at First Christian Church in Petersburg. My parents went to hear me preach. Afterward, we were at my parents’ home and saying our goodbyes as we left to go back to Knoxville to begin my last semester, to graduate in May.
Now, here we have to go back to a time 72 years ago. We lived on Highway 57, out of Petersburg and I apparently had an adventurous streak, because I decided to walk out and sit down in the middle of the highway. A trucker came along and saw me there and stopped, picked me up, and carried me across the highway to my mother. ‘
Now, back to the beginning of this story – as we were saying goodbye, hugging and kissing our loved ones, my Dad spoke up. He had just heard me preach for the first time, and he said this, “I know now why that trucker came along and saw you. There was a purpose for your life, and this is it.” That simple statement created in me a whole new perspective of my Dad’s love for me, for his pride in being identified with me, and his affirmation that in me, he was well pleased.
Less than 10 days later, I received a call from my Mother that my Dad had had a massive stroke and had passed away.
Fathers, no matter how old your children are, it is not too late to let them know you are proud to be identified as their father; that you love them unconditionally; that you are well pleased with them. After all, Jesus was 30 years old when His Father spoke those words to Him.
And while it may be easy for you to affirm your child’s academic, social or athletic achievements, don’t forget to also affirm their spiritual growth. Tell your children that you can see that they are maturing in Christ. Recognize when you see spiritual progress in their lives... It may not come natural to us to express such affirmation, but it came natural to the Heavenly Father...At a critical time in the life of the Son, the Father expresses words of Affirmation: WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED
Words of IDENTIFICATION
Words of AFFECTION
Words of AFFIRMATION
Words that would make a difference in ETERNITY.