Below is a post I didn't write. The following is written by my dad, Jack Ray, for his congregation. Happy Fathers' Day!
Passing On A Father's Faith
Today is Father's Day, when we recognize all the fathers in our congregation and challenge them to be the kind of father God wants them to be. We have been looking in the book of Deuteronomy and we come today to chapter 6. I don't think I could find a better passage to use for Father's Day.
Moses was telling the Israelites how pass on their faith to the next generation. For a Christian father the most important responsibility he has is to lead his children to follow Jesus. There is nothing more important for a father to do in life.
Dr. James Dobson who founded the Focus on the Family ministries said his father had a message for him before he died. His father said to him, “Be there!” By that he meant he wanted to make sure his son made it to heaven when he died. He wanted to see his son one day in heaven with Jesus. His father was saying I know I am going to heaven soon, and when I get there I will be waiting for you. Make sure you make it to heaven. We can know we are going to heaven if we trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior and if we walk with Him all through our lives.
A father might do many other good things but if he fails to lead his children to follow Jesus, those other accomplishments will not matter. No matter how much money a man can make, how many awards a man can win on earth, or how big a house he can live in or how fancy a car he drives, what is that if he misses heaven. What is good is it if he goes to heaven but his children do not. Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? I would said for a Christian father, “What would it profit a father if he give his children all the material things of this world, and yet not lead his children to find eternal life in Christ."
In Deuteronomy 6 we can find principles about how a father can pass on his faith to his children.
Please read Deuteronomy 6:1-15.
- Fathers teach your children to learn and obey God commands so they can have a good and blessed life. Vs 1-3Moses says these commands, decrees, and law, the Lord has directed me to teach you to observe are for a purpose. These were given so the Israelites and their children may fear the Lord. And so it may go well with them and they might live a blessed and happy life.What does it mean in the Bible when it says we should , “Fear the Lord”? It means we should have and attitude of reverence and respect for the Lord. It means we should live with a great desire to please the Lord in all we do.One Bible teacher put it this way.“ In the Old Testament to fear the Lord is more than awe or reverence, though it includes both. Fearing God is becoming so acutely aware of His moral purity and omnipotence that one is genuinely afraid to disobey Him. Fearing God also includes responding to Him in worship, service, trust, commitment, and obedience.”If I fear the Lord, I want to please God above all else. Jesus said, Do not fear those who kill the body, but but cannot kill the soul, Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” Matthew 10:28The laws of God are given so they might fear the Lord, and also so they could enjoy a long life and it may go well with them, and they might increase greatly in that land flowing with milk and honey.I want to teach my children to fear the Lord. Not to be terrified of a God who is always ready to punish them for any mistake, but I want them to know that God's commandments are given for our good. When he says, “Thou shalt not,” He is saying, “Do not do this because it will hurt you and hurt other people you love.” I want them to have a strong belief that God will bless those who follow Him and obey His commandments with a full and happy and meaningful life.
- Fathers understand the way you relate to God lets your children see that God is real to you.Deuteronomy 6:4 is one of the most important verses in the wholeBible. The Jews call it he Shema, for that is the first word of this verse in Hebrew. It means Hear! I believe this verse is repeated each Sabbath in every Synagogue worship service.“ Hear O Israel the Lord our God, The Lord is one!”The other nations around the Israelites were polytheists. That means they worship many gods. All their gods were different and have different expectations. They had no common moral values. But the Israelites were shown by Jehovah that there is only one God and that God deals with them in a consistently moral and righteous way. So if they could come to know the One True God, and life a live of righteousness according to His moral character, then that was all they needed to do to please Him.This God wants us to love Him with all our heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.The Heart was thought to be the seat of the emotions.The Soul (nephesh,) was the center of the personalityThey were to love God with all their Strength all the strength of both body and soul.Fathers and Mothers do your children see you loving the Lord like that? Do your children see that God is very important to you? Do they see that Jesus is real to you?I had no doubt that my Dad loved the Lord. My Dad loved going to church. He went every Sunday, usually both morning and night and to Wednesday night prayer meeting. He was happy on Sunday morning when he got ready to go to church and helped get us kids ready. I remember on Sunday he let me have coffee with cream and sugar before we went to Sunday School.The verse in Psalms “ I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” That was true for my father.My Dad loved worshiping the Lord and singing the hymns of the church. Though he could not carry a tune in a bucket, yet he still sang. My Dad loved to tell people about Jesus, he often went out on church visitation night to invite people to church and told them about Jesus.My Dad was touched when people were saved. I remember him watching Billy Graham and his crusades and when people came forward to receive Christ, I saw tears running down my Father's eyes.If you really love the Lord, fathers, your children will see it. They will see it not just on Sunday but during the every day events in life. Moses said, "Impress these commandments on your children when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."The beauty of creation should give you and opportunity to teach your children about God. “Look at the beautiful sunset, what an amazing God we have who created all that.” When my dad drove down the road he listened to radio preachers; radio preacher, the news, and Paul Harvey.When you rise up, thank the Lord for a new day. When your children go to bed, kneel down and say prayers with them. When I worked for a few months at a group home, I knelt down by some boys' bed and said prayers with them. They then began to ask me to do with with them.Pray before your meals. Do this with your family. Pray for other people in your church and community. Do ministry activities as a family, go to a nursing home and take the kids. Older people love seeing little kids. Go and help mow and older person's yard and let your kids help. If your children see you serving the Lord and that you love the Lord, they will want to follow Jesus, too.
- Be careful not to forget the Lord when times are good. Vs 10Moses said , “You are going to get to live in cities you did not built, and in houses you did not build, and you will drink from wells you did not dig and gather grapes and olives from vineyards and trees you did not plant.”God is going to give you so many blessing you do not deserve. When you get all those blessings, be careful you do not forget the Lord.Moses said “Do not test the Lord your God as you did as Massah.” That verse was quoted by Jesus when he was tempted by Satan. It is written “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” “Or you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”Many times in life we will be tempted by the Devil. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness when he fasted 40 days there. But Jesus got through those hard days of testing.But for many of us the greatest times of temptation come not in the hard times of life. We seem to be tempted greatest in the good times. When I am having all kinds of problems and troubles, I pray to the Lord a lot. But when things are going well and I am being blessed, then when I let up my guard, the devil tempts me.It was after many years of fighting Saul when David was not at war but at home in the palace that he fell into sin with Bathsheba. I have known some married couples who stayed together through the early years when they really had to struggle to get by, but it was in the years when they had more money and more free time when their marriage fell apart.How can we learn not to forget the Lord when times are good? We do that when we always give thanks in the good times and give God the Praise for the blessings and do not claim the credit for ourselves. When times are good make sure you do not forget the Lord.4. Fathers, tell your kids the story of how God has blessed your life.Look at verse 20, In the future when you son asks, “What is the meaning of these stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord has given us?” Then tell him the story. We were slaves, but God brought us out with a mighty hand, and God has blesses us in so many ways.Each year at Passover the Jews gather and tell the story of how God delivered them from slavery One child will ask, “ What is the meaning of this Passover meal.” The Father will tell them, the bitter herbs remind of of the years of suffering as slaves. The sweet fruit reminds of of the sweetness of the Law of God and so on.Kids still ask questions in church today. What is the meaning of Communion and the bread and the juice? Parents tell them what it means. The bread stands for Jesus body that was broken, The wine or juice reminds us of the blood Jesus shed for our sins.What is the meaning of Easter? Tell your kids, it is not about bunnies and rabbits and eggs. Easter is when we celebrate that Jesus rose from the grave. Christmas is not just about getting presents and Santa Claus it is the celebration of when Jesus was born in the stable in Bethlehem.Tell you children the stories of how God has blessed your life. Tell him the times you prayed for healing and God answered your prayers. My sister Sally nearly died as a baby. She had no tube that goes out of her bile duct. As a baby she had surgery and the whole family prayed and she was healed.We told how when Patrick was 3 years old he picked up a bottle which he thought was pop and took a drink. But some neighbor boys put charcoal lighter fluid in that pop bottle. He was rushed to the hospital in Kansas City and was treated for chemical pneumonia. Through many prayers he made it through. Fathers tell the stories of how God has protected you and guided you and blessed you.Maybe your kids will ask you why do we go to church and worship the Lord. I would say, “ Because I believe Jesus died for my sins. I believe the Lord has helped my through many different problems in life. I taught my kids to love and serve the Lord, now my two sons are married and have godly Christian wives and Maggie will be married in September to a fine Christian man. I believe God has blessed me as I have followed him, I believe God is now blessing my kids as they are following the Lord.Conclusion How does a Father pass on his faith to his children? It is really not that complicated. Fathers make your commitment to follow Jesus. Follow Jesus all the days of your life and never stop and your children will follow Him, too.When I was a little boy I would see my dad dress shoes after he took them off. My dad had small feet, he wore size 7 ½ . But to a little boy his shoes looked so big. I would put on Dad shoes and walk around the house. I would follow in his footsteps.I would say maybe that is the reason I followed Jesus. I was just following in my father's foot steps. Dad if you want your kids to follow Jesus, you must set the example and it is never too late to start. Will you make a commitment to follow Jesus and never turn back today?