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The Role of Fathers in the Family
(Ephesians 6:4, NIV)
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead,
bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Paul explained to the believers at Ephesus that the primary role of the father in the family is to train their children in the ways of the Lord. He wrote, “Bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4b, NIV). It is the responsibility of every father to use his authority and influence as a father to saturate the lives of his children with “the training and instruction of the Lord.” You may feel inadequate and ill-equipped for this monumental task, but it remains, none-the-less, your responsibility.
A few techniques you can use are—model simple Biblical principles for your children; make regular attendance at a local church that has a strong teaching ministry a priority (don’t allow non-kingdom activities to interfere with Sunday worship at your local church); lead a family devotion every day; and take advantage of those teachable moments that occur daily in the lives of your children by talking about what Jesus would do in a given situation. You don’t have to be a seminary graduate to do these things—but you do have to be a committed father. Being a godly father is hard work!
The role of a father who truly wants to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” is extremely time-consuming. In fact, it must become a lifestyle. That’s how Moses described the father’s role to the ancient nation of Israel. He wrote, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home [during your leisure time] and when you walk along the road, [when you are traveling] when you lie down [at bedtime] and when you get up [first thing in the morning] …Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7…9, NIV). Fatherhood is not simply something you do. It is a lifestyle you live!
I am amazed that before telling fathers to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord,” Paul first warned, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children” (Ephesians 6:4a, NIV). The word “exasperate” is translated from a Greek word that means “to irritate, to cause intense anger, to cause resentment.” One of the most common mistakes I see fathers make in their parenting style is exasperating their children—especially their teens.
Sometimes teens are exasperated when fathers try to use a combination of humor and embarrassment to manipulate their behavior. At other times teens are exasperated when fathers give them stern, authoritative verbal discipline in public. Most often, the discipline of a teen should be a private matter between the teen and his father. In either case, when the teen is exasperated, resentment results, communication stops, the parent/child relationship is damaged, and the father’s ability to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” suffers.
II. Avoiding a Curse
In every generation it is critical that men understand that they are the key to avoiding a curse on their particular generation. God explained this face when He said through the prophet Malachi about the ministry of John the Baptist, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NIV). The hearts of fathers must be turned to their children in order to avoid a curse on our generation!
This generation is already experiencing the curse of materialism, the curse of abortion on demand, the curse of sexually transmitted diseases at epidemic levels, and the curse of same-sex marriage. And another curse is quickly coming—the curse of economic collapse! Most economists agree that America is in the verge of a major economic collapse that will be worse that the Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s. It is indeed time to “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
III. Five Biblical Convictions
During the balance of this sermon, I want to offer you five Biblical convictions that will effectively “turn the hearts of the fathers to their children.”
Conviction #1: The Bible is the Word of God and the final authority for my life. Paul wrote, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17, NIV). Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NIV).
Conviction #2: My purpose in life is to love God with my whole heart and to build my goals around His priorities. Matthew wrote, “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment’” (Matthew 22:35-38, NIV). During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV).
Conviction #3: My body is the temple of God and must not be defiled by the lusts of the flesh. Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (I Corinthians 3:16-17, NKJV). Jesus warned, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NIV).
Conviction #4: Marriage is a life-long commitment between one man and one woman established by God. God said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV). Jesus said, “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6, NIV).
Conviction #5: My children and grandchildren belong to God, and it is my responsibility to train them in Biblical principles, Godly character, and basic convictions. King David wrote, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3, NKJV). Moses wrote, “I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me…Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely…Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:5…9, NIV).
In order to lift the curse on this generation, we must develop fathers whose hearts are turned to their children, but we can’t do it in our own strength. We must cry out to God to do a supernatural work in the hearts of the men of this generation—a work that will include establishing and maintaining Biblical convictions in their hearts! Prayer is our last best hope. James wrote, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b, NKJV).
The Importance of Fathers
(Malachi 4:6, NKJV)
“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Centuries before it happened, the ancient Old Testament prophet Malachi predicted the coming of John the Baptist in the New Testament. John launched his ministry just prior to the ministry of Jesus. Malachi described the focus of John’s ministry when he wrote, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV). Malachi’s prediction emphasizes “The Importance of Fathers.”
II. Analyzing Malachi’s Prediction
Let’s analyze Malachi’s prediction. The prophet predicted that John the Baptist would “Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” (Malachi 4:6a, NKJV). When the hearts of fathers are turned to their children, “the hearts of the children [naturally turn] to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6b, NKJV).
If this doesn’t happen…if the hearts of fathers are not turned to their children, and as a result the hearts of children do not turn to their fathers…then God will “Come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6c, NKJV). When significant numbers of fathers fail at a particular location on the planet, the population in that area lives under a curse!
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to recognize that we are living in an environment today where the hearts of the vast majority of fathers are not turned to their children. Why would I make a statement like that?
Value. When a father’s heart is turned to his children, he values his children. They become a priority with him. He puts his children’s needs before his own. A little over a week ago during our “Food Pantry” and “Clothes Closet” ministries, I was talking about this particular characteristic of a father whose heart is turned to his children and a woman spoke up and told this story. She said, “I work at a convenience store. A few days ago a man came in with his little boy. The boy was asking his daddy for a candy bar, and the dad said to him, “I can’t afford a candy bar,” as he paid for his cigarettes! Did this man—along with hundreds of thousands just like him—a “value” his son? Do you know what God says about things like that? He says, “Value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3b-4, NIV). If valuing others by putting their needs before our own needs is God’s general rule, it should certainly be the rule that governs the attitude and actions of fathers toward their children!
Time. When a father’s heart is turned to his children, he spends time with them attempting to instill in them a Godly way of life. Moses wrote to the men of ancient Israel, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7-7, NIV). How many dads are doing this today?
Work. When a father’s heart is turned to his children, he works diligently to provide for their needs. In other words, he holds down a job! He gets up and goes to work every day, and when he gets to work he works hard and gets along with his bosses so he doesn’t get fired so he can provide for the needs of his children. Paul wrote, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8, NKJV). How many fathers in our day simply do not hold down a steady job?
III. The Curse
Malachi warned that if fathers don’t turn their hearts to their children, God would bring on a “curse.” He wrote, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV). I don’t think you have to be a brain surgeon to see that in America today we are living under a “curse.”
What does this “curse” look like in our day? America has produced at least two generations of young people many of whom are lazy and disrespectful and immoral and angry and violent and addicted and rebellious. A significant number of teens and young adults are convicted of murder or other violent crimes every year; teen suicide is at an all-time high; and thousands of babies are either born to or aborted by unwed teen mothers every year.
The most recent symptom of the “curse” in America is the riots that have broken out in major urban centers across the country…beginning in Ferguson, Missouri. The agitators say these are “race riots.” But I say, “These are not ‘race riots.’ They are ‘daddy riots.’” They are the result of a couple of generations of young people who have grown up under a “curse” because their daddies have failed to turn their hearts to their children!
Statistics say that 42% of all children in major urban centers in America today are growing up with an “absentee father.” Those figures include 63% of black children, 35% of Hispanic children, and 28% of white children. Do you know what that means? It means that those fathers did not have hearts that were turned to their children so at some point along the way they abandoned them! So the people in those major population centers are living under a “curse”—that includes laziness and disrespect and immorality and abortion and anger and violence and murder and addiction and rebellion and rioting.
I want to conclude this sermon by offering you the solution to the problem. What can we do to get the “curse” lifted?
Men. First, men can step up and start acting like the fathers God wants you to be. Just do what Paul said you should do when he wrote, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, NIV).
Women. Next, women can pray for a generation of men to become Godly fathers! Just do what Paul said every Christian should do when he wrote, “Never stop praying” (I Thessalonians 5:17, NLT).
Four Basic Convictions Every Father Needs
To Rescue a Cursed Generation
(Malachi 4:6, NKJV)
“He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
In every generation it is crucial that men understand how vital their relationship to their children is to the well-being of the human race. The breakdown in the father-child relationship has the potential to bring an entire generation under a global curse. Malachi, the final prophet of the Old Testament, wrote these prophetic words describing the ministry of John the Baptist: “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,
lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV). In order to avoid a curse from God, every generation must experience the turning of the hearts of fathers toward their children and the turning of the hearts of children toward their fathers!
In this sermon I will attempt to communicate “Four Basic Convictions” that every father must establish and maintain in the process of turning his heart toward his children. It is important that we notice the order of “heart turning” described by Malachi. First, the heart of the father must turn toward his children before his children’s hearts will be turned toward him. Dad, it all starts with you! Notice again what Malachi wrote, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” (Malachi 4:6a, NKJV).
The “Four Basic Convictions” I will share with you during the next few moments provide the foundation and the motivation for fathers to begin the process of turning their hearts toward their children. As a father’s heart turns toward his children, their hearts will naturally turn toward him. However, the turning of a child’s heart toward his father is only the beginning of an even greater goal—the goal of the child giving his heart to his father. That ultimate goal in the father-child relationship was described by King Solomon when he wrote, “My son, give me your heart,
And let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26, NKJV).
Dads, you can make the maximum impact on the lives of your children only when you hold their hearts in your hands…because they have given their hearts to you! That’s why Solomon pleaded, “My son, give me your heart” (Proverbs 23:26b, NKJV).
Dads, you can’t demand their hearts. You can’t take their hearts. You can only receive their hearts when they give them to you. But you can motivate them to “give” you their hearts by living your life according to the dictates of “Four Basic Convictions.” You must give their “eyes” the opportunity to “observe” the fact that your “ways” are governed by Biblical convictions! Notice that the next thing Solomon said after pleading with his son to give him his heart was “Let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26, NKJV). There is a definite connection between your children observing your ways and giving you their hearts.
Let’s briefly examine each of the “Four Basic Convictions” that your children must “observe” in your life before they will be willing to “give” you their hearts.
II. Four Basic Convictions
Conviction #1. The Bible is the inspired Word of God and the final authority for my life. Paul wrote to his young disciple Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV). The Greek word translated “inspiration of God,” literally means “God breathed.” It means that God actually breathed His words into the minds of the men who wrote them down. He then so guided their writing that they wrote exactly what God wanted to say to the human race. So the Bible isn’t the word of Matthew, Mark, Malachi, or Moses. It is the Word of God!
Since the Bible is God’s Word, its message is essential to the life of mankind. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NKJV). In order for Dads to make the maximum impact on their children, they must see that the Word of God is the guiding principle of their Dad’s life!
Conviction #2. My purpose in life is to love God with my whole heart and build my goals around His priorities. During a conversation with a Jewish lawyer, Jesus explained that loving God is the most important commandment God has given. Matthew wrote, “One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment’” (Matthew 22:35-38, NKJV).
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained that His highest priority is His Kingdom. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV). In order for fathers to make the maximum impact on their children, they must see that because their Dads love God, His priorities are their priorities!
Conviction #3. Marriage is a life-long commitment to God and to my spouse. Very early in human history, God explained that the marriage relationship is even more important and enduring that the parent/child relationship. He said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV).
Jesus emphasized the permanence of marriage when He said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6b, NKJV). In order for our children to feel secure in giving us their hearts, they must see that we can be trusted with their mother’s heart. They must be convinced that we would never irreparably damage her heart by abandoning her and walking out of our marriage.
Conviction #4. My children and grandchildren belong to God, and it is my responsibility to teach them Biblical principles, Godly character, and basic spiritual convictions. King David explained that children are actually a gift from God. They are His children who are temporarily on loan to us. He wrote, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3, NKJV). The Hebrew word translated “heritage” literally means “a gift.”
Moses explained that Dads are to be the primary spiritual teachers of their children and grandchildren He wrote, “I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me…teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:5b…9b, NKJV). In the New Testament Paul echoed the same sentiment when he wrote, “You, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:4, NKJV). Dad, it is your responsibility to win the heart of your children by teaching them and modeling for them Biblical principles, Godly character, and basic spiritual convictions.
Dads, do you want to be a significant part of rescuing this generation from a global curse? If so, you must begin the process of turning your heart toward your children by establishing and maintaining the “Four Basic Convictions” we just talked about. I think it would be appropriate at this moment for every Dad in the room to prayerfully consider the following four probing questions:
I want to close this sermon by challenging every Dad to come forward, kneel before God, and pray the prayer King David prayed when he sensed his own short-comings as a man of God. He prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 123:23-24, NIV).
Sunday Service Times
Morning Worship: 10:00 a.m.
M*PACT Kidz: 10:00 a.m.
Helping Hands: 6:00 p.m.
ONE WAY Youth: 6:00 p.m.