God's Way to Be a Great Dad
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - June 21, 2015
*In Acts 16, Paul and his mission team were trying to find out where the Lord wanted them to go next. Then in vs. 9-10:
9. A vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us.''
10. Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
*So they went to Philippi. It was one of the leading cities of Macedonia. There in Philippi they began to share the gospel, and the people were responding to the good news about Jesus Christ.
*But starting in Acts 16:16, they ran into serious opposition: "Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling." This woman was a fortune-teller by trade. And she was very persuasive, because she was possessed by an evil spirit.
*Verse 17 tells us that as she followed Paul's team, she cried out: "These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.'' Of course that statement was true, but the Lord doesn't need any help from the devil! And partnership with evil is the last thing God wants for His church, because it makes evil seem good. It disguises evil, and makes it seem innocent, much like a wolf in sheep's clothing. Jesus warned us about things like that in Matthew 7:15.
*Partnership with evil also puts a stain on the cause of Christ. That's why in vs. 18, Paul cast out that evil spirit. Please listen to vs. 17-22 this morning from the New Living Translation:
17. She followed along behind us shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved."
18. This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and spoke to the demon within her. "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her," he said. And instantly it left her.
19. Her masters' hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace.
20. "The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!" they shouted.
21. They are teaching the people to do things that are against Roman customs."
22. A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them to be stripped and beaten with wooden rods.
*With this background in mind, let's start reading in vs. 23, thinking about God's way to be a great dad.
*Dads: This is a day to honor you, and we ought to honor our fathers. It's one of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12 says: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."
*Like the people in the video this morning, the older I get, the more I appreciate my dad. Most of us are the same way. Here's part of an article from a Danbury, Connecticut newspaper. It traces our thoughts about Dad though the years:
When we're 4 years old: "My daddy can do anything."
8 years old: "My dad doesn't know quite everything."
16 years old: "Dad? -- Hopelessly out-of-date."
25 years: "He knows a little bit about it, but not much."
30 years: "Maybe we ought to find out what Dad thinks."
50 years old: "I wonder what Dad would have thought about that. He was pretty smart."
65 years old: "I'd give anything if Dad were here so I could talk this over with him. I really miss that man." (1)
*Isn't that the truth? I appreciate my dad more than ever. So dads we honor you here today. And because you are here today, I believe that you want to be all you should be as a dad. You want to be the best dad you can possibly be, and God's Word shows us how.
1. First: We have to stop following misguided feelings.
*You may be heading toward disaster this morning. This jailer certainly was after the earthquake. And it was all because he was following his misguided feelings. We see this truth in vs. 26-27:
26. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.
27. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.
Pastor Ken Gehrels explained: "Earthquakes happened frequently in that part of the world, not at all unusual. But it was a big problem if the jail fell apart, and all the prisoners escaped. That was a huge concern, because under Roman law, when a prisoner escaped, the jailer had to serve the sentence. So, the jailer reached for his sword to kill himself. Lesser of two evils he must have thought." (2)
*But what a terrible mistake he was making! The jailer felt like there was no hope. He felt like he was doing the best thing, but his feelings were wrong.
*The problem with a lot of people today is they are basing major life decisions simply on their feelings. They are basing major life decisions on their perceptions of the moment. But feelings can change in an instant of time. Vital information could be just around the corner, so basing our decisions only on our feelings is a recipe for disaster.
*The best thing that can ever happen to anyone was about to happen to that jailer. And think how close he was to total disaster. He had his sword out, and he was ready to kill himself. He was inches away from killing himself and devastating his family. But that's not the worst of it. The jailer was seconds away from spending all eternity in hell. And it was all because he was following his misguided feelings.
*Then suddenly, God gave the jailer a warning in vs. 28, and thank God, he took it to heart "Paul called with a loud voice, saying, 'Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.'''
*Here is a good warning for us today: "Do yourself no harm!" Stop basing your decisions on misguided, selfish feelings, and start basing them on the Word of God. That's why Proverbs 3 tells us:
5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
6. in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
*How can we be better dads? -- Stop following our misguided feelings.
2. And start seeking godly guidance.
*That's what the jailer did in vs. 29-30:
29. Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.
30. And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?''
*We all need godly guidance. We all need spiritual leaders like Paul and Silas who can help show us the way to go. We all need people who are wiser and godlier than we are, people who know the truth and are living the truth as they grow closer to the Lord.
*When you have a big decision to make, and especially when you find yourself in a crisis, don't cut yourself off from godly people. Make the effort to find some godly guidance. The Lord will help us to do it. God had Paul and Silas there for this jailer, and He will have someone there for us.
*But the jailer had to seek that godly guidance, and so do we. We can be better dads if we will seek godly guidance.
3. We also have to put our total confidence in Christ.
*Nothing is more important than depending on Jesus Christ to save our souls. As Paul and Silas told the jailer in vs. 31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household." Paul and Silas said: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." That's what the jailer did, and that's how he was saved.
*Dwayne Brown explained the jailer's salvation by saying, "It took an earthquake to get that man's attention. He realized that God was at work in that earthquake, especially since the prisoners stayed, when it would have been easy for them to escape.
*So the jailer asked how to be saved from his sins, and Paul was one of the greatest theologians who ever lived. But he didn't go into a long lecture on how to be saved. And Paul didn't tell this dad he could be saved by being good. That's because nobody is good enough to earn their way into Heaven.
*What did Paul and Silas say to this man? -- 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!'" Paul made it simple, because God made it simple! (3)
*Jerry Shirley explained: "If you had a child who was lost, and had the chance to get a message to that child. If you had the chance to tell them what to do, and how to get home, would you make the message complicated or simple?" (4)
*Of course, we would make the message as simple as we possibly could. And our Heavenly Father made the message of salvation simple for us: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved."
*Put your total confidence in Christ. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," because He is the Son of God, because He came into this world to die on the cross for our sins, because He rose again from the dead, and because He will give eternal life to everyone who trusts in Him.
*"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." The jailer did, and he was! We can never be the dads God wants us to be until we put our confidence in Christ.
4. But we also must strive to be spiritual leaders.
*Strive to be a spiritual leader for your family. In vs. 31, Paul gave a promise for spiritual leadership: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD."
*Then the jailer called all of his household together to hear the missionaries in vs. 32. And "they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house." In vs. 34, we see the joyful results of the jailer's leadership, as "he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household."
*All Christians should strive to be spiritual leaders in our homes. God wants all of us to be contagious Christians. And all Christians must strive to be spiritual leaders, because many times the father isn't in the home. And the dads who are there may not be the spiritual leaders God wants us to be. So all of us must strive to be spiritual believers, but this is especially important for Christian dads. The Lord wants us to be leading our families in the right spiritual direction.
*We have to let them see our commitment, so we must strive to put Jesus first in our lives. In 2001, David White told about a study on family attendance in church. This study revealed that when both parents attended church regularly, 72 percent of their children continued in the faith. When only dad attended, the number dropped to 55 percent. But when only the mother attended, just 15 percent of those children remained involved. (5)
*That's a shocking statistic, and I hope the numbers aren't always that bad. But Dads: Our devotion will make a huge difference in the lives of our children.
*And it helps us to be reminded how precious they are. A dad named Glen Adsett got a wake-up call on this truth many years ago. Glen and his wife were missionaries in China when the Communists took over in the late 1940s.
*Glen, his wife and their two children were placed under house arrest while they waited to hear what the Communists were going to do with them. Then the soldiers came one day and said, "You can return to America." They went into a wild celebration, but it was cut short when the soldier gruffly said, "You can take only 200 pounds with you!"
*The family started rushing around. They had been in China for many years. How can you boil down the possessions of a lifetime to 200 pounds? They got the scales and began to argue about what to take. All four of them had their own ideas about what was most important: A typewriter, a vase, some keepsakes they treasured.
*Finally they got it down to 200 pounds on the dot. The soldier asked, "Ready to go?" -- "Yes!" they replied. Then the soldier asked, "Did you weigh the children?" Suddenly the typewriter, the vase, and the keepsakes all became trash. (6)
*The children were their treasure. And they are our treasure too! So we must strive to lead them in the ways of the Lord. To be great dads, we must strive to be spiritual leaders.
5. But we also must show the kindness of our Savior.
*This is what the newly saved jailer did in vs. 33. He took Paul and Silas "the same hour of the night and washed their stripes."
*What a change! -- Just a few hours before, the jailer was perfectly satisfied to throw Paul and Silas into the worst part of the prison and lock their feet in painful stocks.
*Back then, the jailer's only concern was making sure they didn't get away. But God changed him! The jailer believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and he was saved. God changed his heart, and now he cared. That's why in vs. 33 he washed their horrible wounds.
*God wants to change our lives too. He wants to take away our selfishness, and give us His kindness for other people. Verse 34 gives us another example of godly kindness. There the jailer brought Paul and Silas into his house and set food before them. That jailer was showing the kindness of our Savior, and God wants us to do the same thing.
*Jesus Christ turned that jailer into the best dad he could possibly be. And dads: That's what the Lord wants to do in our lives. But that's not all, of course. Jesus wants us to be the best grandparents, mothers, sisters, brothers, children and friends we can possibly be. And we will be, if we will follow these teachings from His Word.
*But dads: We honor you here today. You are crucially important to your family, our church, our world and our God. Christian author Faye Neff remembers the time when he wanted to call his dad by his first name. Faye thought it was a "grown-up" thing to do.
*Well, Faye's dad didn't object too strongly, but he pointed out something very important. That father told his son, "You can call me by my first name if you like. There are hundreds of people who do. But there are only three people in the world who can call me 'Dad'. Which name do you think carries more weight?" (7)
*We honor you here today dads, and rightly so. May God help all of us to be the best dads we can possibly be, the best people we can possibly be.
*Let's ask our Heavenly Father to help us as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Adapted from: Ann Landers, "Wake up and Smell the Coffee!" - New York: Villard, 1996, p. 411 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Things Dads Understand" by King Duncan - Romans 8:14-17 - Series: "Guidebook for a Successful Family, Chapter 6 - Father's Day"
(2) Adapted from online sermon "Changed By the Relentless God" by Ken Gehrels - Calvin Christian Reformed Church Of Ottawa Ontario, Canada - Acts 16:16-40
(3) SermonCentral sermon "A Miracle At Midnight" by Dr. Dwayne Brown - Acts 16:25-31
(4) SermonCentral sermon "The Simplicity of Salvation and Assurance" by Jerry Shirley - Acts 16:25-30
(5) SermonCentral sermon "Fathers: Words That Can Save Your Family" by David White - Joshua 24:14-24
(6) From a sermon by Wayne Brouwer - Source: Sermons.com sermon "What Are You Tied To?" by King Duncan - John 15:1-17
(7) Faye Neff, "Born by Love, Adopted by Grace," The Clergy Journal, Sept. 1999, p. 40 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Things Dads Understand" by King Duncan - Romans 8:14-17 - Series: "Guidebook for a Successful Family, Chapter 6 - Father's Day"