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Father's Day Sermon for June 16, 2024

A Father’s Legacy

 

Good morning, Stranger’s Rest, and happy Father’s Day to all the fathers. The title of my message this morning is “A Father’s Legacy.” Being a good father is one of the most important assignments that a man has here on earth because he is responsible for a life other than his own. Of all the things I have accomplished with my time here on earth, I hope to stand before God and hear Him say “Your children thought you were a good father and so do I.” I want my daughters to know how much I have been blessed to be their father as that outweighs everything else I have done. And to all my “adoptive” kids, I am blessed to have had the opportunity to be a father figure in your life as I too had other “fathers” who sowed seeds into my life.

 

If you are a father, I want you to know that when you leave this earth, you will leave a legacy and the most important legacy that you can leave your children is one of being a good father. You see, if you are a good father, it will be much easier for your children to see God as a good Father because of your example. If you are a father who is not saved, then God will use others to show your children what He can be to them when they accept His Son as their Lord and Savior. But, if you are a father who professes to have a relationship with Christ, yet outside of Church you do not live that professed relationship daily, you do more harm than the father who does not have a relationship with Christ. You see, if you go to Church and act all holy on Sunday but during the week you treat your family like nothing more than people you come home to, your kids will struggle understanding how a loving God can be different from the father they see and live with every day. I want you to keep this in mind as I share the story of the legacy of two fathers.

 

The word Legacy is defined as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”  When we think of legacy, we think of it as something passed on from one generation to another, which could be anything from material things to a reputation; habits to specific ways of doing things; to historical knowledge about the family. We sometimes ask people what they would like their legacy to be – how they would like to be remembered – based on the things that they are doing in this life. One of the key components of a legacy is that it is often talked about after a person dies. We all know that for those who die in Christ, they transition from one state of being to another. Their new state is one without pain, worries, doubts and confusions, which are left here when they leave their earthly vessels behind. In their new state there is joy and peace. Based on this understanding, we have funerals that celebrate the life of a person and often talk about their legacy. We ask their children if they will follow in their father’s or mother’s footsteps depending on the situation. We speak of all the things they accomplished, especially those things that had an impact on the lives of others. We speak as if what they had done is now over because they are no longer physically here. But is this true?

 

When we leave this world what we have deposited into people’s lives by how we lived remain and, Strangers Rest, that is the true legacy for each one of us. There is a lot of focus today on creating generational wealth and I get that, but what I am talking about this morning is more important than generational wealth – more important than just money. Leaving behind “generational wealth” for our children is fine, but we must remember what Jesus said in Matthew 16:26. He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Generational wealth can only be used in this world, but the legacy I am talking about carries over into the next. If you are like me and you are doing some things “as your father did them,” then you are walking in your father’s footsteps as I am walking in mine. My father never stood in the pulpit or preached the word of God as a “minister.” He never worked in the industry that I retired from or held the same positions that I have held. So, you might be wondering how I am walking in his footsteps. How could I be a beneficiary of his legacy? How did I benefit from the life that he lived before me?

 

If I think of the word legacy, by definition, my father did not leave behind the earthly legacy that many people of the world would know about or appreciate. He was not well known outside of his hometown. He did not develop some breakthrough technology that earned him praise and recognition. He did not earn a lot of money from the jobs he worked before he retired from General Electric. He was not the most educated man of the city nor did he have a bunch of letters after his name; in fact, he dropped out of school; lied about his age so that he could enter the military; and later completed his GED. Now don’t let what I just said about my father lead you to think that he was not a smart man because he absolutely was; and we saw this repeatedly in the way he interacted with the people in our small town. After faithfully serving his country, he received an honorable discharge from the army and immediately joined the Tennessee National Guard where he served until he retired. Only his relatives or the people who knew my father best would know this about him. If you Google his name, you will find little if anything about him. I am sharing this so that you understand that, from a worldly view, people would say that my father did not leave much of a “legacy” and it is because they do not understand how God defines legacy.

 

The fact that each of you is sitting here today listening to me or watching me on live-stream (or reading this message via email) speaks to my father’s legacy – his choice to leave something of himself with all his children. You see, we grew up in a home where our father and mother expected us to know the Lord. It was not left up to us to find Him by accident. No, our introduction to Jesus was guaranteed!  But the choice to accept Him or reject Him would be ours. But, while we were under the age of eighteen and living in his house, we went to Church – PERIOD! My father taught me many lessons, some of which I am still growing in my understanding of because he did not teach me in the traditional way. He would not sit down and say let us talk about the Bible, but he would tell me things that he understood and why he did some of the things he did. He lived his faith. I am going to say that again Church – my father lived his faith. He lived his faith so that we would have something to look back on if we ever wondered “why.”

 

For example, it was my father who taught me “how” to visit the sick and shut-in as he would take me with him when I was young. Please note that he visited the sick and shut-in as a member of the Church, not as a deacon or other leader because he was not a deacon. Although he was asked to become one after my mother died he turned it down because he did not believe a single man should walk in that role. Still, he visited the sick and shut-in simply because it was the right thing to do. After I entered the ministry, whenever I was home on leave, he would tell me he was going to visit someone in the hospital and/or nursing home, and I would just go with him as I was accustomed to doing when I was younger. It did not dawn on me at the time that I was actually doing ministry work with my father! Later in his life when he was sick and was not able to visit others who were sick or in the hospital, if I were home, he would tell me who was sick so I could visit them representing him. But I will tell you, if he could go, even when he was not feeling his best, he went.

 

One more point about those visits that left an impression on me; my father would slip the person he was visiting some money. He would hold it in his hand and slip it to them as he shook their hands as we were leaving. After seeing this done several times, I asked him about it. My father explained to me that oftentimes when people were sick and shut-in their money would get tight because they were not able to work so he would give them a donation. Although he never had a lot of money, he gave what he could to those he visited. I asked him why he did it this way and he explained that he did not want to embarrass them. So he would “sneak” the money into their hand so no one else could see and it would remain private and not ever discussed. That lesson has stayed with me for over fifty years.

 

And men, my father taught me how to treat my wife based on how he loved my mother. He taught my sisters what they were to expect from their husbands based on how he loved my mother. Fathers, if you do not treat your wives with the respect they are due you are teaching your sons not to respect their wives and you are teaching your daughters to accept the same behavior from their husbands. Some men would be ready to fight their son-in-laws if they treated their daughters the way they treat their mothers so we need to look in the mirror on that score. Daughters might be accepting that treatment because they watched that behavior in their homes growing up! I am standing before you today because of the parents that I had; parents who lived their faith in their actions every day. They were not perfect, but they loved the Lord and did not hide their love of Him from us. My father never worried about his worldly “legacy” because that was not his focus. What he wanted for his children was for each of us to know the Lord so that when we left this earth, we would forever be with him and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in heaven. That is the legacy that he left for his children that we are living today.

 

Now let us transition to the point of this message as I want to share with you briefly the legacy of two fathers. As children we do not get to choose our father, but what if we could? What if we could look at the character traits of a father based on their legacy and choose him based on those traits and legacy? Also, what if you had a bad father and had the opportunity to choose a different one, would you also try to maintain a relationship with the bad one after you began the relationship with the good one? Some of you know where I am going with this. I am going to share two legacies with you and then I want you to think about which father you would choose if you could make the choice. As a reminder, by definition, a father is “a man who is the parent of a human being.” The dictionary also includes a reference to God being called a Christian’s Father. A father is the male of the relationship that provided the sperm necessary to fertilize the female’s egg to produce a child. Physically that is the only role the father plays in the physical development of the child prior to childbirth. And, for some fathers, that is the only role they ever play in the development of the child – period. And that my friend brings us to the legacy left behind by these two fathers.

 

The first father we will examine has not and continues to not leave behind a great eternal legacy for his children. Now do not get me wrong, he is leaving behind a legacy, just not one that fosters life and happiness. The name of this father is Satan, and he has a whole lot of children! If you recall, Romans 5:19 says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” The first father’s legacy is one of being devious, cunning, and heartless. He does not care about his children. If you are wondering why I say that Satan is a father, I will clear this up in a moment. But what I want you to see first is that, in the beginning, he was not a father. Prior to Adam’s sin he literally and figuratively had no children. But he had many followers – the angels in heaven who rebelled with him against God – but he had no children. Once Adam sinned by rebelling against God, he opened the door for Satan to have children via sin entering this world. By disobedience many were made sinners, and these sinners are referred to as having Satan as their “spiritual” father. Those who accept Christ shift from having Satan as their father to having God as their Father. Let us see what the Scriptures say about Satan and his legacy as a father. Remember, his legacy is what his children are currently living out in their lives. Let’s start with the eighth chapter of the book of John.

 

In this chapter, the Jews began to question Jesus about His Father. Jesus tells them that because they refuse to believe in Him that they would die in their sins. What He was telling them was that He was the only way to salvation. As they continued to press Him on who His Father was Jesus spoke about God being His Father and the truth of that would make them free. But He also told them about their father. This is what is recorded in John 8:34-38, “(34) Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. (35) And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. (36) Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (37) I know that you are Abraham's descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. (38) I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father…..(44) You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

 

Have you ever heard the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”? It is a phrase that is typically said in connection with children who show qualities or talents that are like those of their parents. Sometimes at the bottom of an apple tree (or any fruit tree for that matter), you might see the fruit it produces lying on the ground. The fruit falls off the branches and drops to the ground, but it remain close to the tree from whence it came. This natural occurrence eventually turned into a metaphor and now today, it means that a person “is not far off from how their parents are.” Well Jesus said something remarkably similar in John chapter eight. Jesus makes it clear that those who live a life of sin are a slave of sin. And, if you are a slave of sin, then your father is the devil. Spiritually there are only two fathers and the one we serve is the one we have chosen as our father. This is of the few times when everyone gets to choose their father and align to a family. The legacy of this father is that he is a liar; killer; places his children in bondage; and these are just a few of his characteristics. Let us examine a few more examples of the legacy this father leaves behind for his children.

 

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” This father leaves a legacy of being a thief whose only agenda is to steal, kill and destroy and his children (who are really slaves), do the same things he does. Remember, an apple does not fall far from the tree from which it grew.

 

Second Corinthians 11:13-15: “(13) For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. (14) And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” These verses describe the false prophets and ministers who transform themselves into appearing as servants of Christ but are not. Again, this Scripture really demonstrates how the devil’s children act just like him and there will be times when we will not be able to tell them and God’s children apart. What we should understand is that Satan approves of any and everything his children are doing that goes against what God says.

 

What I have reviewed thus far is the legacy of the worst father ever! This father does not care about his children and looks forward with pleasure to their destruction. He does not provide for them, nor does he love them. His relationship with his children is one of servitude where they exist to serve him and when their service is completed, they will reside in the lake of fire with him. He does not have their best intentions at heart. And remember, because this is his legacy, his children are living out the same things he has done and continues to do. It is understood that a good father’s legacy is the opposite of this one. His legacy is familiar to you, so I will not have to spend a lot of time explaining them. But I do want to ask you a question to consider as I talk about His legacy, “Why would you choose a father whose legacy has nothing positive attached to it when you have a much better choice available?” Let us start with John 3:16.

 

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The good Father’s legacy begins and ends with love – not hate! He loved us before we were lovable. He loved us enough to send His Son so that through His death we could request and be adopted into His family. We could request spiritual life versus the spiritual death we were born into. His legacy is one of trying to save people not destroy them. As a matter of record, the Bible says God “…..desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (First Timothy 2:4) This is the opposite of Satan as a father whose desire is to steal, kill and destroy. Peter said “(6) Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, (7) casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (First Peter 5:6-7) Peter says God’s legacy is that He will not only exalt us, but He will do so because He cares for us! And, in the Greek, the word “cares” means that He takes care of us. I want a Father whose legacy is one of taking care of His children!!!

 

In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus said, “(7) Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (9) Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (10) Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? (11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11) Jesus said that if fathers in the natural know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more is God willing to do for His children? This is His legacy – He is a Father Who loves and gives to His children, does not take pleasure in their suffering, or steals from them. One last Scripture: look at what John said in First John chapter three.

 

First John 3:1-2 says, “(1) Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (2) Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  I want you to imagine something. Imagine having a promise from your Father that one day you will see Him fully as He is, and you will be just like Him. What He has planned for you is so wonderful that your mind is not able to compare anything to it. Imagine the joy He has in anticipation of you receiving what He has prepared for you out of the love that He has for you. This is the legacy that our Father has left for us – a promise that we will spend an eternity with Him and see Him as He truly is. He has a legacy of enveloping His children in so much love that His love flows from and through them. Strangers Rest, I have only touched the surface. John tells us that God has bestowed so much love upon us that we are called His children. He has adopted us into His family all of us because He loved us.

 

Strangers Rest, we have the legacies of two fathers before us. Now I want you to process slowly this next statement that I am going to make. Imagine two fathers standing side by side and each with their legacies well established for all to see. Now you currently belong to the father with the worst legacy possible and he hates you. This father cannot stand the sight of you and only gets pleasure from being in your presence when you are suffering, and he can witness the pained look on the face of the other Father Who would love to have you as His child. Both fathers stand there waiting patiently for you to make your final decision – to stay with the one who hates you but allows you to live however you please or take a chance on the One Who would love you more than you can ever been loved in your life – but it would require you to choose to live a different life, making different choices.

 

Now listen closely, the bad father only had you because of a decision someone else made many years before you were born that sold you to him. You had no choice. Initially we were all born into sin. You know what this father is about based on how he treats you and how you see his other children act. He only wants you so that the other Father cannot have you. Imagine belonging to a father who only wants you so that someone else could not have you. He cares nothing about you and has no desire for anything that would benefit you. Although this is the father you belong to now, as you stand before the two of them, you have a choice. You can make the choice and choose the other father. Let that sink in Strangers Rest. For the first time in your life, the choice of a father is not made for you! You can choose! You can choose the One who wants you because He already loves you. You do not know everything about him, but His other children look happy, peaceful and loved. How easy would it be to choose someone who loves you already versus the one who has you, hates you and treats you like dirt?

 

 

 

This is the choice everyone must make. We have made our decision – we have chosen God by accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. Some have chosen the devil as theirs – either by default and on purpose. Some chose him willfully because they like what he offers while others are choosing him by default by rejecting the gift that God has made available to everyone to become His children. As I stated earlier, this choice will be made by everyone, and every person will live eternally with the father they chose while on earth. We cannot have Satan as our father here and then expect to choose God after we die because we do not like the home we will share with Satan. God has prepared a place for us with Him, but He has also prepared a place for Satan and his children. Trust me when I tell you the place that God has prepared for His children is much better.

 

Now I want to close by speaking to all the fathers. During our revival service, on the last night Pastor Smith called up his son and grandson. He demonstrated Psalm 85:13 of which the latter part of the verse says, “….and shall make His footsteps our pathway.” What he demonstrated was, as a father walking with God he would walk in the pathway that God has laid out before him. Then his son would follow in his footsteps and his grandson would ultimately follow in his father’s footsteps. What he was telling us was that when the leaders of this Church walk in the footsteps God has laid before them, those coming after them will follow in those same footsteps. This is why he had the church members marching around the sanctuary. But this also applies to fathers walking with God. When we walk in the steps God has laid out before us and do so in obedience to Him, our children have a much greater chance of doing the same – having a relationship with God where they choose to obey Him versus the world.

 

Fathers, if your children were asked which spiritual father your behavior most aligns to, whose footsteps you are walking in, would it be the good Father or the worst father ever? If your children were given a description of the legacies of these two fathers, whose legacy would your children say you were following based on how you treat them, their mother and others? The Bible says that we will be like our father – so how we act will demonstrate which father we are serving. Fathers, if we are serving God, our children will see us serving God and will have a better chance of walking in our footsteps and choosing Him also. They will see a father who loves them and wants the best for them. If your child cannot say this about you then you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself why. Our opinion of the type of father we believe ourselves to be only matters if our children agree with that assessment. They know if we love them. They know if we want the best for them. They know if we are willing to protect them and support them when needed. Likewise, they absolutely know when we are not willing. So, fathers, if the apple truly does not fall far from the tree of its origin, what tree are you currently lying under and what will lie underneath you? Just because you were the sperm donor, that does not make you a good father. Being a good father requires work, dedication, patience and a lot of praying. Whose legacy are you living out now and what legacy are you leaving for your children? I hope it is one that will lead them to Christ! Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers!

 

Until next time, “The Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.”  (Numbers 6:24-26)

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VISION: 

“Til all the ransomed church of God is saved to sin no more"

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