Book Review: Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson

Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson is an extremely helpful tool for dads (and moms) to establish good biblical principles for the family and lead their families in devotions.  The principles cover 24 essential areas of life in the categories of 1) authority; 2) possessions; 3) relationships; 4) work; 5) attitudes; and 6) choices. Continue reading

Q & A: Get a Grip on your Father’s Promise

This is the Message Based Discussion Question sheet for the message presented on March 31, 2013, titled, “Get a Grip on your Father’s Promise.”  The message was posted on the April 1, 2013 blog.  Below, you will find the insert information for the message and then the questions are repeated with considerations for suggestions to the Message Based Discussion Questions.  They are only designed to assist your thinking and help you see that there are several answers for the Digging Deeper questions and there are many ways to answer the application questions.

Get a Grip on your Father’s Promise
Luke 24:32-49 

How do you get a grip on your Father’s promise?  

1)      When you experience Jesus, you can’t stop talking about Him   Luke 24:32-35

2)      When you encounter Jesus, you can’t help but enjoy His presence   Luke 24:36-43

3)      When you are empowered by the Father’s promise, you can’t help but lead   Luke 24:44-49
·         Acts 18:8; 16:31-34

The Promise of your Father will empower you to
Get a Grip on real life!
  • God has called every man to serve as a model of the Father. Joh 14:9
  • We men need to step up to the line and practice until we get it Phil 4:9
  • God will supply you what you need Phil. 4:19
  • We can do all things through Christ Phil. 4:13
  • Come join the team at Grace
Message Based Discussion Questions
1)      Do you remember a promise your father gave you growing up fulfilled?
Digging Deeper:
2)      Who are three heroes of faith in Hebrews 11? __________; ____________; _____________ What are examples of what they were trusting God for in the present and future life?  How many didn’t see the promise fulfilled in life?  Did that cause them to waiver in faith?
3)      Look up the following passages related to Father promises about the coming Messiah (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4; Is. 7:14; Matt 1:18,24,25; Ps. 2:7; Matt 3:17; Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16. How many of the passages prophesy of the coming Messiah? ___________ How were those prophecies fulfilled?  What does that say about the promise of the Father?  What promises has He made to/for you?
4)      Compare Eph. 5:18 with Col. 3:16 and their contexts.  What is similar about each passage? ______________.  What is different? _______________.  Note Rom. 15:13-14.  What are the three ingredients of growth? (cf. Rom. 15:4)  Why is your utter dependence on these three aspects crucial to enjoying God’s presence?
Making application of the message to life:
5)      How have you experienced Jesus this week? Have you shared that with anyone? If not, what will you do?
6)      How would you describe enjoying Jesus’ presence to a sixth grader?  What are several ways a believer can enjoy His presence?
7)      The Father’s Promise is real.  Is it causing you to lead others in faith?  How could you initiate trust and application so it becomes a reality?
Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Do you remember a promise your father gave you growing up fulfilled?

a)      He promised he’d pay me 2 cents per minute if I worked on waxing his car.  He paid me.

b)      He promised that however the family chose to go on a side trip while on a vacation that we’d go to that site.  I cast the deciding vote and we went.

c)      He promised he’d come down for my officer graduation and he came.

Digging Deeper:

2)      Who are three heroes of faith in Hebrews 11? _Abraham_; _Moses_; __Sarah_ What are examples of what they were trusting God for in the present and future life?  How many didn’t see the promise fulfilled in life?  Did that cause them to waver in faith?

a)      Example of those who trusted God:

i)        Abraham trusted God for a land of promise and a city which has foundation. He offered up Isaac and received the blessing, because he trusted God would provide for him.

ii)      Moses chose to suffer affliction with God’s people rather than the passing pleasures of Egypt looking to the reward in the future, fearing God instead of Egypt.

iii)    Sarah trusted God for a child when she was beyond the age of conception.

b)      How many didn’t see the promise?

i)        Abraham didn’t see the coming seed

ii)      Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau not knowing what would come

iii)    Jacob blessed his sons, not seeing the future

iv)    All of them (11:39)

c)      They did not waver in faith to lose the promise and were an example for us.

3)      Look up the following passages related to Father promises about the coming Messiah (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4; Is. 7:14; Matt 1:18,24,25; Ps. 2:7; Matt 3:17; Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16. How many of the passages prophesy of the coming Messiah? __four_ How were those prophecies fulfilled?  What does that say about the promise of the Father?  What promises has He made to/for you?

a)      The prophecies were fulfilled:

i)        Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4 promise of the coming Messiah; He came in fullness of times.

ii)      Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:18,24,25 promise of the virgin birth of Jesus and fulfilled in Mary and Joseph

iii)    Ps. 2:7; Matt. 3:17 Jesus was the begotten Son of God and the voice from heaven spoke it.

iv)    Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16 The seed was promised and the seed was Christ.

b)      The Promise of the Father will be fulfilled.  He will provide what I need in life Phil. 4:19; He will train me up and strengthen me through Christ Phil. 4:13

c)      He promised that:

i)        If I cast my cares on Him, He would care for me 1 Pet. 5:7

ii)      If I chose to trust Him rather than be anxious, His peace would guard my soul. Phil. 4:6-7

iii)    If I chose to practice what I’m learning in the Word and from others, that His peace would be with me Phil. 4:9

iv)    If I chose to humble myself, He would draw near to me Jam. 4:8

4)      Compare Eph. 5:18 with Col. 3:16 and their contexts.  What is similar about each passage? _I need to be filled with something___.  What is different? _Spirit/Word_.  Note Rom. 15:13-14.  What are the three ingredients of growth? (cf. Rom. 15:4)  Why is your utter dependence on these three aspects crucial to enjoying God’s presence?

a)      Three ingredients of growth

i)        Faith

ii)      Word

iii)    Spirit

b)      My utter dependence is crucial, because I cannot produce anything good apart from His Spirit.  I cannot do anything except by His Word.  I must be totally dependent on Him to receive His blessing.

Making application of the message to life:
 

5)      How have you experienced Jesus this week? Have you shared that with anyone? If not, what will you do?

a)      He has strengthened me to do His work, when I’ve felt rotten.

b)      He has caused me to watch my tongue, when my flesh wanted to say something sarcastic.

c)      He caused me to steady my thinking when I might have been frustrated working on the wiring.

d)      He caused me to get a better mortgage deal by waiting on Him and not rushing the decision.

e)      Can share with family tonight at dinner.

6)      How would you describe enjoying Jesus’ presence to a sixth grader?  What are several ways a believer can enjoy His presence?

a)      It’s like sitting with a good friend who accepts you the way you are.  He also loves you to laugh and help where you’re failing.  He desires to help you stand up and keep moving toward sanctification.  It’s chilling out when no one else is around and enjoying being with Him.  It’s not having to talk.  It’s enjoying to just be silent and looking at the world around me.  It’s like you know He cares and He’ll never leave you alone.

b)      A believer enjoys His presence by silence, meditation on God’s Word, looking at scenery, being alone in the dark.

7)      The Father’s Promise is real.  Is it causing you to lead others in faith?  How could you initiate trust and application so it becomes a reality?

a)      Yes, it motivates me to use opportunities to talk to people about Christ, especially in counseling and discipleship.

b)      I need to build bridges to people so I am using those opportunities to walk through the gospel.

c)      Am I leading others to Christ?  Have I put roses in the vase?

MSG: Get a Grip on your Father’s Promise

Get a Grip on your Father’s Promise

Luke 24:32-49

There she was sitting across the room in a cuddle-lumtuous sweater, horizontal stripes of pastel yellow, pink, cream and blue colors.  Her hair was long, blond flowing down to her shoulders.  She had a bright smile and a twinkle in her eye, but I was trying to be spiritual, so I tried to ignore her.  She looked like someone I’d like to meet, but I was trying to be spiritual.  We both happened to be in a Christian organization leadership training class, so I was trying not to be caught staring at her beauty.

That summer I was going to be on a beach project at Newport Beach, CA, body surfing for Jesus, I mean winning souls for Jesus.  My peg on the USA map was at Newport Beach and I saw that she was going to be only about 70 miles away in San Bernardino– pretty close, but far enough that I’d be too busy on the beach serving Christ.  Then while on the project, because of my roommates need to see his parents in San Bernardino, a chance encounter, but only for a moment.

Several months later, my action group leader invited me to watch a movie on leadership at his church.  I showed up on Saturday night and there she was.  It was her dad’s movie projector and that’s where she went to church.  Guess what?  I switched churches.  I changed from driving  seven miles to church to driving 41 miles to church.  Great church.  Good teaching.  Good looking gal.

All I could do was think about this gal.  That long blonde hair with that sweet smile!  I needed to go out with her, but I decided to call her dad to ask permission.  I wanted to do this right.  Okay, dad’s permission granted and then delayed by her church’s communion pitch in.  Whoa, that was a  good time.  I couldn’t wait to call her on the phone.  I could hardly wait to drive the 37.2 miles to see her.  I knew every tenth of a mile and curve in the road and elsewhere to spend time with her.  I liked how she thought.  I liked how ordered she was.  I liked how she knew so much about Scripture and she wanted to memorize Psalm 119 with me!  Whoa, what a gal!

When you experience someone you love, you can’t stop talking about her.  She presented a promise of a good life together and I sure enjoyed the time I had with her.  Every meeting was an adventure, a romantic rendezvous. Whoa!  I couldn’t wait.  She thought like the woman I wanted to marry.  So just nine months after I first met her, three months after our first date, at the ripe old age of 20, I was hooked and said, “Will you marry me?”   When you encounter someone you truly love, you can’t help but enjoy her presence.  When you are inspired by the promise of a great life together, you can’t help but lead.  So, 35 years later, after many bumps in the road, Barbara, I love you more than ever….

The same is true with Jesus.  When you experience Jesus, you can’t help but talk about Him. When you encounter Jesus, you can’t help but enjoy His presence and when you are empowered by the Father’s promise, you can’t help but lead.  With that promise of an abundant life, how do you get a grip on your Father’s promise?  The Children have joined us today, “Children, you should each have an insert. I’m going to give you three things to draw in the boxes, or you can write on your insert.”  

1)      When you experience Jesus, you can’t stop talking about Him   Luke 24:32-35

There were two men walking along the road to Emmaus talking about the events of the last week, when Jesus approaches them from behind and asks them what they are talking about.  One of the men, Cleopas, acts surprised that anyone would ask such a question.  So he recalls great details about Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, but He was seen alive. As they walk along, Jesus admonished them and helps them understand through Moses and the prophets that the Scriptures were fulfilled in Jesus.  As they approached the village the two men constrained Jesus from proceeding further and asked Him to join them to eat and rest. When they took bread, Jesus blessed it, broke it and gave it to them and their eyes were opened.  Then Jesus vanishes! [Children, draw a picture of your dad]

In our passage, the men were ready to flip out.  They became like two roosters welcoming the morning.  With great enthusiasm, the men begin to converse as Luke records,

                     32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us  
                on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”
              33 So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those 
              who were with them gathered together,
              34 saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
 35 And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. (Luke 24:32-35)

The men were like a dozen Colts fan after the 2007 Superbowl! They described how their hearts were burning on the road before they knew it was Him as He opened Scriptures (22:32). Emmaus was 7 miles from Jerusalem, so they quickly left Emmaus and ran to see the rest of the disciples (22:33).  They arrive and find the disciples talking up a storm about the events!  They respond to the men, that indeed they know Jesus had arisen and He appeared to Peter!  Yes, even Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times (22:34). The two men related to the others how their hearts burned on the road and then they recognized Him while breaking bread!

Do you experience Jesus?  When you do, you can’t help talking about Him.  If you are not talking about Him, you haven’t experienced Him!  And when you do encounter Him, you look forward to His presence! 

2)      When you encounter Jesus, you can’t help enjoying His presence   Luke 24:36-43

I’ll never forget that Friday night on the way over to Barbara’s house. She asked me what I wanted her to fix for us to enjoy eating at her house.  I told her lobster.  So she bought these two large lobsters. 

Now, when you are in love, it’s like looking into the sun.  You can’t see anything else.  It seems sometimes, you don’t know what you’re doing.  You do some silly things.  I took those two lobsters with my gloves on and chased her cat called Pinkerton around the house.  Pinkerton was a big fat white cat.  He was probably 14 years old and weighed about 40 pounds. Pinkerton ran of course.  It wasn’t a very nice thing to do.  You do some silly things when you are in love.  You just can’t wait to be in each other’s presence. It’s like eating a delightful meal together. [Children, draw a picture of a table of food]

How does Jesus respond after the disciples ran out on Him?  Does He return in anger to set the record straight?  Does He yell and ask them, “How come you guys ran out on Me?”  Or, “Why didn’t you guys stick with your word; you said you would stand with me!”  Jesus does not do anything like that.  Instead Jesus seeks to restore the relationships.

36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” (Luke 24:36)

Jesus appeared and said, “Peace.” They needed to hear that, because they all ran from Him at His worst moment.  They leave Him to be crucified, He comes back, so what or how is He going to react?  He responded with the mercy of God and said, “Peace.”

                 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.
            38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?
 39“Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” (Luke 24:37-39)

They were “scared out of their wits” just like they were Matthew 14 when they saw Jesus walking on the water and thought He was a ghost. Jesus sought to help them regain control of their emotions and asked, “Why are you troubled?” He wanted them to reflect and asked, “Is God not in control?”  When you believe God is in control, you can enjoy the presence of people. Jesus verifies to them, it’s Him and they have no need to fear.

                      40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet1.
               41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, “Have you any 
                food here?”
              42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb1.
 43 And He took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:40-43)

Jesus gave them proof He was not a ghost; He’s back in person. He ate in their presence to prove to them He was the real thing. Can you imagine the fear turning to joy? Can you imagine the joy as they realized they had encountered the real Jesus again? That gives rise to the reality that Jesus was empowered by the Father’s promise of His will and plan, so Jesus passes that down to the disciples.  

3)      When you are empowered by the Father’s promise, you can’t help but lead   Luke 24:44-49

                  44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you,
              that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and
              the Psalms concerning Me.”
 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)

Jesus helped the disciples see there was nothing new.  “I’ve spoken this before.”  He made sure they understood what was written.  [Children, draw a soldier leading troops in a charge]

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise1 from the dead the third day,
47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
 48 “And you are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)

            There are seven points Jesus made to the disciples.  First, what happened was written already in Scripture.  Secondly, it was necessary to happen according to the Father’s plan. Thirdly, it was necessary that the Christ suffer for the sins of the world.  There would have been no reconciliation to God without the death of Jesus Christ.  Fourthly, it was necessary for Christ to rise from the dead on the third day to prove the Father’s righteousness was satisfied with the death of Jesus.  Fifthly it was necessary that the message of repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name to all the nations. Sixthly, it is necessary that every Christian be witnesses of that eternal truth.  That witness is revived with every moment spent with Jesus Christ, with every encounter with Jesus. Why?  So the seventh truth would be made known in verse 49.

49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem1 until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

            The seventh truth is that the Father’s promise would be empowerment to make that message known to the nations. The Promise of the Father – the empowerment is coming.  You will be endued with power, or “clothed” with power.  So stay in the city until you are clothed.  It all comes together by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is not a force, like on Star Wars.  He is a person, who will guide you into Scriptures and empower you to lead your family.  It is the promise of the Father.  The promise of the Father directs our attention to the importance of fathers.  Father’s represent God the Father.  Their influence has great affect or lack of influence leaves of vacuum of spirituality in the world as we are seeing in the United States today.

            Two important passages reveal the importance of the Father influence in Scripture.

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)  

                  31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your
              household.”  32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his
             house.  33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And
             immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his
             house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his
             household. (Acts 16:31-34)
            Yes, the influence of fathers is incredible. God the Father worked it that way as a way to show how much influence He has when people follow and submit to His will.

 

The Power of Influence

Attending Church First Families Follow

100 Children 1.7%
100 Mothers 18%
100 Fathers 93% 

However, when fathers don’t lead and families don’t follow, then we have a vacuum of influence.  In fact, children and whole families begin to fall away from the Lord.  For example, 

For every 10 men in the average church…

• 9 will have kids who leave the church
• 8 will not find their jobs satisfying
• 6 will pay monthly minimum on credit cards
• 5 have a major problem with pornography
• 4 will get divorced affecting 1,000,000 children each year
• Only 1 will have a biblical worldview
• All 10 will struggle to balance family & work:

Because they really want to HAVE FUN!

Listen, fathers represent God the Father and when we don’t lead as the Father, provide as the Father, teach as the Father, lead as the Father, then family falls away.  Now, ladies, what is your part?  I love it when women get into Bible Study.  I love it.  But some of you don’t understand why men don’t lead.  I’ll tell you. 
Men (and woman) are in a spiritual war that is unseen and the enemy is fighting against men saying, “You can’t lead.”  “You’re not spiritual enough.”  “You don’t know enough.”  “You’re not good enough to lead.”  So men believe those lies and do exactly what Adam did back in the Garden of Eden.  Adam was standing right next to Eve, while she was talking to the jive-talking serpent.  He should have been protecting her, but because he didn’t she bought the devil’s line and was deceived.  Then Adam bought into it also and ate the fruit.
Today men lay back spiritually and  don’t take the risk of leading their families.  Why?  Men do not want to fail; they do not want to look like a fool; and they don’t want someone to find out they are a fake spiritually, that is they don’t want others to know they don’t know as much spiritually as they want others to think.  So, they hedge back. 
Women? We need you to pray for men.  If it was easy being a man, there would be men leading their families in Bible devotions regularly during the week.  Fathers would make sure their kids were memorizing Scripture.  Fathers would make sure their kids were the most grounded in Scripture so when they went into the world, they knew what promises they could count on.  Why does that not happen?  Because there is an invisible war going on. The enemy, the devil is winning. 
Today is all about the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God wins.  Everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ wins.  And we want to help people get beyond that and be discipled to understand God’s game plan.  That’s what this church is all about.  We want to help fathers understand and know the battle, so they can win their families, keep their families, enjoy their families and when the children grow up, the children will keep coming home for wisdom to go back into the world to disciple others to Jesus Christ.
We believe fathers or men leading are the key to solid growth in a church.  We’re grateful for women, youth and children.  It’s the fathers that must take their place and take the promise of the Father and pass that down to the children.  It is the plan the original settlers had when they came to America,
“Promising also unto our best ability to teach our children and servants the knowledge of God and of his will that they may serve him also.” – First settlers of Salem (1636)

It’s not the government’s job to teach our children.  Sometimes it does a pretty good job, but the parents are really the best ones as God designed it.  Why?  God designed the parents to be the teachers of their children.  We at Grace want to help you. I love what Jonathan Edwards says,

“Family education and order are some of the chief means of grace, if these fail in the home all other means are likely to prove ineffectual.” – Jonathan Edwards

In other words, we can have the best school system or even church program, but if the families’ are not raising up their children to godliness, even what we do in the church to train children, will not be as helpful.  We are here only to help parents.  Richard Baxter makes it very clear who must step up to the line and take responsibility,

“The husband must be the principal teacher of the family, he must instruct them, examine them, and rule them about manners of God.” – Richard Baxter

I praise God for moms that step up and lead their children.  I pray that we can help dads take on that privilege of making sure the kids know and understand who Jesus Christ is and why He came.   Get a grip on the Father’s promise, and you can’t help but lead.

The Promise of your Father will empower you to

Get a Grip on real life!

·         God has called every man to serve as a model of the Father John 14:9

·         We men need to step up to the line and practice until we get it Phil 4:9

·         God will supply you what you need Phil. 4:19

·         We can do all things through Christ Phil. 4:13

·         Come join the team at Grace

 

·         Get a grip on the Father’s will

·         Get a grip on Father greatness

·         Get a grip on your Father’s promise to the next two generations

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Do you remember a promise your father gave you growing up fulfilled?

Digging Deeper:

2)      Who are three heroes of faith in Hebrews 11? __________; ____________; _____________ What are examples of what they were trusting God for in the present and future life?  How many didn’t see the promise fulfilled in life?  Did that cause them to waiver in faith?

3)      Look up the following passages related to the Father promises about the coming Messiah (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4; Is. 7:14; Matt 1:18,24,25; Ps. 2:7; Matt 3:17; Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16. How many of the passages prophesy of the coming Messiah? ___________ How were those prophecies fulfilled?  What does that say about the promise of the Father?  What promises has He made to/for you?

4)      Compare Eph. 5:18 with Col. 3:16 and their contexts.  What is similar about each passage? ______________.  What is different? _______________.  Note Rom. 15:13-14.  What are the three ingredients of growth? (cf. Rom. 15:4)  Why is your utter dependence on these three aspects crucial to enjoying God’s presence?

Making application of the message to life:

5)      How have you experienced Jesus this week? Have you shared that with anyone? If not, what will you do?

6)      How would you describe enjoying Jesus’ presence to a sixth grader?  What are several ways a believer can enjoy His presence?

7)      The Father’s Promise is real.  Is it causing you to lead others in faith?  How could you initiate trust and application so it becomes a reality?

 

 

Q & A: Get A Grip on your Father’s Will

These are suggested answers for the Message Based Discussion Questions included on the reverse side of the insert for the message “Get a Grip on your Father’s Will” presented on March 24, 2013.  The full information from the insert is provided first, then the Message Based Discussion Questions are reiterated with suggested answers.  These answers only provide a beginning basis to answer the questions.  Each person should consider how he might answer the questions. Continue reading

MSG: Get A Grip on your Father’s Will

This message was presented on March 24, 2013 as the second of a three part series about God the Father related to the Resurrection event.  Jesus went through the resurrection tumult, because He had a Grip on Father greatness, on the Father’s will and the final message for March 31, on the Father’s Promise.  Considerations for questions at the bottom will be posted on March 28.

Get A Grip on your Father’s Will

Luke 22:39-46

I remember it like it was yesterday.  My dad and older brother were standing at the entrance of our house, the inside door was open, the screen door was closed and the rain was coming down pretty hard.  Dad and Gary, my older brother, were facing off and it seemed like the blows were about to happen. I was in eighth grade, my brother was a junior in high school.  I was standing in the dining room peering around the corner to watch and listen to what was about to happen.

      They were talking about what Gary could do and not do in the house and in life.  I was young enough, that I just did what dad and mom said.  I didn’t care about staying out late at night. I didn’t know what opportunities existed.

We lived in a new addition and there were new homes going up behind us between our house and the great fields where we built forts.  We used scrap lumber to build our castles and play empire against other neighborhood rivalries.  Gary was old enough and had his driver’s license.  He didn’t think he needed to be in at a certain time, do chores any more or eat with the family at dinner, or something like that.  I was young. I didn’t even consider those as options. I like to eat.

      I’ll never forget the anger my dad needed to express at that moment.  I remember him saying he was willing to scrap it out right there in the house.  Dad wasn’t a big man.  My brother had surpassed him in height by that time, however.  But my dad needed to get his attention and I had heard about dad’s scrapping as a kid during the depression.  I know he sure got my attention.  I didn’t want to go through the arguments they had.  I didn’t always, however, want to do my father’s will.

      When we moved onto White Bear Lake, my brother graduated from high school that year and went off to college.  That left a lot of the lake and yard work to me. Huge trees meant over a hundred bags of leaves.  The lake meant weeds floating in and needing to be piled up.  It was the blessing of living on a lake, but it was work.  The annual putting out of the 120 foot dock and taking it back in was a chore my friends didn’t have. 

Have you ever heard of Minnesnowda? With my brother away, that meant much of the show shoveling rested with me. There were a few years, when the piles on either side of our driveway were up to eight feet high.  We prided ourselves on how well we kept the driveway clear.  It also meant removing snow from the house, garage and carport with a snow rake and shovels.  Fortunately, it rarely ever snowed when it was below zero, but blizzard conditions were not pleasant.  I wanted to do what my dad expected, but my flesh didn’t want all that work.  How do you get a grip on your Father’s will?

1)      Jesus’ Father gave Him strength to press for you Luke 22:39-40

It was Jesus’ custom to go out of Jerusalem to Gethsemene on the Mount of Olives. Gethsemene means “oil press,” which is a term where olives are put into a press and the oil is pressed out.  Olive oil is wonderful for cooking, eating, burning in a light and topical medicinal purposes.  The “Oil Press” is where we see the true humanity of Jesus squeezed under extreme pressure and the “oil” or the “Holy Spirit control” come out of Jesus by His submission to the Father’s will.

39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. (Luke 22:39)

Jesus had just eaten the Last Supper with the disciples and while they participated, they still did not understand what was about to happen.  They were believers, except for Judas, yet they still did not understand the unfolding events.  While the disciples followed Jesus, Jesus stood alone with God, knowing what needed to be done and pressing forward for you. God the Holy Spirit strengthened Him to press forward for you.

40 When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:40)

Jesus came to “the” place.  This was a particular place.  The disciples had been there before. It was familiar to them.  It was familiar enough that they became complacent and were not vigilant.  Jesus left the disciples to pray and He went alone.  Jesus commanded them 1) to pray so that they 2) not enter temptation. Someone might be reverently sarcastic and ask, “What were they going to do, steal from a store? Get into a fight? Throw rocks at people? Look at pornography on the internet?” No.  They would be tempted to not act in faith. Paul writes, “…for whatever is not from faith is sin.” (Rom 14:23)  What is faith?

Faith is dependence on the Lord.  Faith at salvation is dependence on what Jesus did. It is trusting what Jesus did on the cross.  As Paul says, “For by grace are you saved through faith…” (Eph. 2:8-9) We are also to live by faith. Faith in life is dependence on the Holy Spirit. Paul writes, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Eph. 5:18)

The temptation warning was a warning of trusting self rather than God; it was lack of depending on God.  Prayer is dependence on God.  Pray is an external form of faith or dependence on God. That’s why prayer and prayer meetings are crucial to spiritual growth.  People don’t think about getting to a major sports event 30-45 minutes early.  Yet people often run into church at the last minute. 

Jesus left the Last Supper and ventured to the vulnerable place where He would be arrested.  Jesus was depending on Father greatness.  He was willing to go through the worst to receive the best. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  The writer to the Hebrews records, “2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:2)

When you get a grip on your Father’s will, God will give you the strength to go through your trial.  You need that grip, because the Father may put you in a place for you to reveal His glory.


2)      Jesus’ Father wanted Jesus to hang on the cross for you Luke 22:41-44

Now, how could the Father want to hang Jesus on the cross?  Even if it is for you?  Would the Father put His only Son on the cross?

 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (Is. 53:10)

The word for bruise means to crush.  The Father put the Son on the cross to crush Him for the sake of our sins.  In fact, it was the pleasure of the Lord that prospered in His hand.  Why?  Because it brought everyone who would believe on Jesus to be with Him forever. Jesus went to be alone in prayer.


41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, (Luke 22:41)

Jesus withdrew to pray alone.  He is teaching you that your faith is your faith.  You have to make the decisions yourself.  You can have support, but prayer and faith are personal decisions.  Additionally, He was on His knees.  He was in anguish.  He had become weak.  He knew He didn’t have the power.  He was totally dependent on the Holy Spirit.  Why did He have to be dependent on the Holy Spirit? He was our model of dependency to show us there is NO glory to God without total dependence on His Spirit. Jesus said,

42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

The word “take” means “to remove” or “carry alongside,  lead aside.” Then Jesus requests that the cup be taken “from me,” literally “from the ultimate source of Me.”  He DID NOT want this (from His humanity.) That is not sin to not want something; it would have been sin if He refused His Father’s will.

This verse has two major implications.  The first is that Jesus did not want the cross? Why did He not want the cup, which was used as a symbol of the cross?  (God would pour His wrath into Him on the cross, like pouring into a cup)  He knew He would be identified as sin, He knew He would bear the penalty of sin. He knew the anguish of separation from the Father, so that He would cry out for three hours in darkness.  He was silent through the ridicule. He was silent through the beating.  He was silent through the whipping.  He cried out when He became sin for you and me, when He was “separated” from God the Father.

The second implication regarded the Father, who also didn’t want the cross.  Jesus said, “If it is Your will…” and the implication is that it was God’s will that the cross be removed, but that is not what the Father determined.  The Father didn’t want it, but He chose to hang Jesus on the cross for you.  The holiness of God is more important than any personal desire.  Remember, we are talking about the infinity of God and it will not be fully understandable.  Note how Jesus’ desire is expressed physically.

43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:43-44)

When it says that Jesus was in agony, the word describes exactly that – Jesus was in agony, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  This was not a walk in the park or a tip toe through the tulips.  This was the worst agony any human being ever experienced and the Father hung Jesus on the cross for you.

Luke is the one gospel writer that records the medical agony of Jesus.  Jesus’ prayer is pictured as with drops of blood. This is a medical condition called “hematohidrosis.” One writer explained this in medical terms,

Around the sweat glands, there are multiple blood vessels in a net-like form. Under the pressure of great stress the vessels constrict. Then as the anxiety passes the blood vessels dilate to the point of rupture. The blood goes into the sweat glands. As the sweat glands are producing a lot of sweat, it pushes the blood to the surface – coming out as droplets of blood mixed with sweat.

As Jesus prayed, He was in a battle with His flesh.  He did not want the cross, but He was getting a grip on the Father’s will.  As He gripped the Father’s will, the Holy Spirit sustained Him and the blood vessels ruptured.  The further constriction forced the ruptured blood vessels to spill out from His skin onto the ground.  Jesus was willing to hang for you.

Men, are you willing to hang where God places you?  This is not just being tough to get a job done.  It is the strong calling at home to get children to follow your godly lead.  It is the challenge of the second half of your daily championship.  Your work is the first half of the game.  When you arrive home you enter the second half of the game each day, although it is not a game.  Remember, no game is ever won in the first half.  Your real battle is how you lead your family.  You may be very successful in your job, but if you lose at home, you’ve lost far more than what you can lose from a job.  Are you ready for the 2nd half of the game?

            This is the calling to lead your wife spiritually.  It is your leadership to discuss Scripture with her.  It is your calling to lead your children to understand Father greatness.  You have to be as tough as nails, but gentle as a shepherd.  You have to be fixed to pure holiness, but tender to reach the heart.  You have to be unwavering with God’s righteousness and merciful at humble repentance.

We saw this in the Lord’s relationship with Abraham.  The Lord said, “…I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice,  (Gen. 18:19)   It is the ability to command your household WITH compassion.

Jesus showed He was dependent on the Father’s will and then He exposed the complacency of the disciples.

3)      Jesus’ Father left Him without men who would stand with Him Luke 22:45-46

45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.

 46 Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:45-46)

We often put the disciples down, because they fell asleep and didn’t remain alert for Jesus.  Notice the text says, “They were sleeping from sorrow”, i.e. they were worn out; emotionally drained. They had just experienced the Lord riding into Jerusalem and the people shouting Hosanna.  They were hoping that Jesus would deliver them from the Roman oppression.  Jesus is not mad, critical or making a cute cut. He knows the answer to His question.  They need to ask themselves the question.  Their temptation is to make decisions apart from the Lord.  They need to be in prayer over the next few hours.  They would be tested and they would run.  Remember, failing isn’t the problem as much as not returning to Jesus and strengthening the brothers as Jesus exhorted Peter,

32 “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”

 34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:32-34)

 

Men, are you on spiritual red alert for your family?  Does your wife know that you would never waiver from God’s Word?  Does she know that she can count on you to pursue Jesus for your decisions?  Does she know that you will lead your family to Father greatness?

Are you willing to go through any situation to raise your wife and family to Father greatness?  You may have friends like Peter who tell you they will stand with you, but leave you on your own in suffering and crucifixion.  Yet, you also may not have someone standing with you, or holding you accountable.  Will you say, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me, nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)  Are there men willing to do that?

Father’s, men, let’s look at what we’re like. This first slide exposes where most of the problems come,

• Men commit 90% of major crimes

• Men commit 100% of rapes

• Men commit 95% of burglaries

• Men commit 91% of the offenses against the family

• Men comprise 94% of drunk drivers

Source: Raising a Modern-Day Knightby Robert Lewis, pg. 46

That does not speak very highly of men. 

            It’s interesting when you compare Christian and non-Christians there is often little difference,

CHRISTIAN & TECHNOLOGY

FACT: Christians own about the same amount of technology as the general population

·         Born Again adults spend about seven times more hours each week watching television than they do participating in spiritual things, like Bible reading, prayer and worship

·         Born Again adults spend twice as much money on entertainment than they donate to their church

·         Born Again adults spend much more time surfing the Net than they do conversing with God in prayer

So the question exists, “Where are the men?”  Barna responds,

Where Are The Men?

·         26 Million Men Attend Church

·         68 Million Do Not Attend Church

#1 Reason… Men do Not Find Church to be Relevant to Meet Their Needs

Source: Barna Research Group

Some people might say, “Okay, so what difference does it make? Does it really matter that men are not involved in life or ministry?”

The Power of Influence

Attending Church First Families Follow

100 Children 1.7%

100 Mothers 18%

100 Fathers 93%

This chart is saying that if you have 100 kids that are won to Christ, then 1.7% of the families of those children will also be won to Christ.   If you win 100 women to Christ, then 18% of the families will be won to Christ.  But if you win 100 men to Christ, then 93% of the families will also be won to Christ.  I’ll explain more of that next week.

            The problem today is that we often mix up the order or the priority for reaching men.  For many churches, the church pours their resources and people assets into winning children and then winning women, hoping that men will follow.  God’s order is that we should reach men, who will then draw their families to church.

The Order to Reach People

Gods Order                                                  The Church

Man                                                                Child

   V                                                                     V

Woman                                                           Woman

   V                                                                     V

Child                                                               Man   

            Richard Baxter makes a clear statement regarding the importance of the father person for the family,

“The husband must be the principal teacher of the family, he must instruct them, examine them, and rule them about manners of God.” – Richard Baxter

But not everyone is that wise.  There are many in the world who are duped by the god of this world, deceived that man can handle things himself and make foolish comments, like Rousseau did in the 1700s,

“If there are laws for adult life, there should be laws for childhood, which teach obedience to the others; and just as the reason of each man is not left to be the sole judge of his duties, so too the education of children should not be left to their fathers’ capacities and prejudices, especially since it is even more important to the state than to their fathers…the state remains while the family is dissolved.” – Rousseau (deist-humanist)

Rousseau was way ahead of his time for far-left thinking.  Families and fathers may fail, but that does not discount God’s order of the father’s being responsible in their families for communicating truth to their children and the following generations.

            Jonathan Edwards clearly understood the principle,

“Family education and order are some of the chief means of grace, if these fail in the home all other means are likely to prove ineffectual.” – Jonathan Edwards

In fact, George Whitefield said there should be a longing for holiness in our families until family devotions and reverence returns.  He wrote,

“We must for ever despair of seeing a primitive spirit of piety revived in the world until we are so happy to see a revival of family religion.” – George Whitefield

How do we see this?  How are men held responsible?  Paul places responsibility for child rearing on to one person’s shoulders,

4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

Notice it says, “fathers.”  Obviously in single parent homes, whoever is parenting must fulfill that responsibility.  Fathers are responsible for 1) training – which means to bring the child up under the authority of the parents so he will learn to obey God and 2) admonition, which word means to “put into the mind” and refers to the necessity of every parent knowing well the Scriptures first, so that he/she/they can put God’s Word into the child’s mind.  How is this done?

            We’ve studied Deuteronomy 6:1-15 several times.  The Word must be hidden in the parents soul and  every opportunity must be used to train the children. Whether sitting in the home, or walking along the way or lying down or rising up, the parents, especially fathers, must train the child to holiness.  Ultimately, the purpose is to get a grip on the Father’s will.

We all need to Get a Grip on the Father’s Will!

I’d like to be able to tell you I was a perfect son of my father.  After my father died last year, I mentioned to my mother some of the things I shouldn’t have done, some of them.  She said, “Bryan, how could you?”  We laugh now about it, but we don’t really talk any more about it.  We do talk about life now and how my father desired to live an honest and ethical life.  I never wanted to confront my dad, like my brother did or get on my dad’s bad side.  I wanted to eat.  But I was more subtle about doing wrong things.  I now know how moral and ethical my father was and what he was trying to teach me growing up. 

I’m glad he was strict with me to do what needed to be done. I’m glad when I complained about painting the house in the hot sun, he didn’t give in.  I’m glad when I mistreated my little sister, he came down hard on me.  I didn’t want to do many things my dad made me do, but I liked to eat. I wonder if we fathers are too easy on our children.

      Men, do you know the Father’s will to live out Father greatness?  Are you going over and over the message from last Sunday and answering the Message Based Discussion Questions?  Are your children understanding that there is NOTHING more important to you than that they learn Father greatness from you?  Do you talk about Jesus more than you talk about sports?  Do you talk about what you are learning in your relationship with Jesus, more than bemoaning the downward spiraling of our nation?  Do you command your children and household to God’s holiness in the compassionate mercy of a shepherd? 

      Twice each week, lead your family in discussions about the questions and give them opportunity to show you how they are applying them to their lives?  Lead them to talk about how they are applying what they are learning to life.  The enemy does NOT want you to do that.  If you are not doing that, he is winning.  If you are doing that, regardless of how well, you are letting Jesus win through you.

Rodney Atkins wrote a great song about the influence of father’s over their sons.  It’s the attitude we should all have toward God the Father of wanting to be like Him AND also being aware that younger men are watching everything we do.

 
Drivin’ through town just my boy and me
With a Happy Meal in his booster seat
Knowin’ that he couldn’t have the toy ‘til his nuggets were gone.
A green traffic light turned straight to red
I hit my brakes and mumbled under my breath.
His fries went a flyin’, and his orange drink covered his lap
Well, then my four year old said a four letter word
It started with “S” and I was concerned
So I said, “Son, now where’d you learn to talk like that?”

Chorus:
He said, “I’ve been watching you, dad ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are.
We got cowboy boots and camo pants
Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we dad?
I want to do everything you do. So I’ve been watching you.”

We got back home and I went to the barn
I bowed my head and I prayed real hard
Said, “Lord, please help me help my stupid self.”
Just this side of bedtime later that night
Turnin’ on my son’s Scooby-Doo nightlight.
He crawled out of bed and he got down on his knees.
He closed his little eyes, folded his little hands
Spoke to God like he was talkin’ to a friend.
And I said, “Son, now where’d you learn to pray like that?”

Chorus:
He said, “I’ve been watching you, dad ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I want to be like you.
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are.
We like fixin’ things and holding momma’s hand
Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we dad?
I want to do everything you do; so I’ve been watching you”

With tears in my eyes I wrapped him in a hug.
Said, “My little bear is growin’ up.”
And he said, “But when I’m big I’ll still know what to do.”

“‘Cause I’ve been watching you, dad ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I want to be like you.
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are.
By then I’ll be strong as superman
We’ll be just alike, hey, won’t we dad
When I can do everything you do. ‘cause I’ve been watchin’ you.”

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      When you were less than seven, how did you look at your dad?

Digging Deeper:

2)      Read Psalm 78:1-8.  How many generations are included in this passage? _____________  What are several admonishments and exhortations of the passage?

3)      Note Malachi 4:4-6. Whose heart must turn first? __________________  What is the context of Malachi?  What are the consequences if the exhortation is not followed?

4)      Look at Deut. 6:1-9. How many ways does it say a parent should teach their children? ____________  Based on that, what does the word diligently look like?

Applying the message to life:

 

5)      How can you help the fathers at Grace be more effective to get a grip on the Father’s will?  What specific steps can you take?

6)      How should Grace best help fathers who do not grasp the Father’s will?

7)      How can Grace best help single moms or moms who do not have husbands who are leading spiritually?

Q & A: Get a Grip on Father Greatness

The following includes the insert from the message given on March 17 and considerations for suggested answers to the Message Based Discussion Questions.  They are not meant to be definitive or all inclusive of all answers.  They are presented to help guide thinking and to demonstrate a simple one sentence answer is inadequate to apply the message to life. If you have any suggestions, I’m very open to them.  Thanks for checking this out.

Get a Grip on Father Greatness

Luke 22:24-34

How do you get a grip on Father greatness?           

1)      Jesus serves His men to show greatness Luke 22:24-27

2)      Jesus foretells His men how greatness is assigned Luke 22:28-30

3)      Jesus forewarns how greatness must humbly depend Luke 22:31-34

4)      Jesus wants you on His team Luke 24:49  
·         Gen. 18:17-19
·         Deut. 6:1-15
The Lord is calling on men to rise up to Father greatness!

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      When you were growing up, what were the fathers of your friends like?

Digging Deeper:

2)      Who was Adam’s Father (Gen. 2:7-17)? _______________________  What kinds of things did Adam receive from his Father?  What were his responsibilities?  Who else was there to receive responsibility?

3)      Read Gen. 35:1-12.  When God called Jacob to go up to Bethel, what did Jacob command his family?  _________________________   What things do we learn from God’s appearances to Jacob in this passage?

4)      What kind of sacrifice is discussed in Exodus 12:21-28? _________________________ What does the passage describe regarding the roles and responsibilities in the family related to this event?  How did the people respond?  What does that look like today?

Making application from the message to life:

5)      How should children learn about the Father’s greatness?  What practical things should they see and learn?

6)      Why is a father’s role of assigning responsibility to his children so important?  How should a father discern what and when to assign responsibilities?

7)      How should a father help a son learn humility to imitate the Father’s greatness?

 
Message Based Discussion Questions 

1)      When you were growing up, what were the fathers of your friends like?

a)      Pete’s dad was jovial, laid back, but I could tell very sharp.  Wasn’t sure how much time he spent with the six children.

b)      Tom’s dad was an engineer and very quiet.

c)      Greg’s dad was soft-spoken, but I remember they went to church

d)     B’s dad was laid back, a fixer-upper, and liked to be around people

e)      One dad pursed his lips and taught SS, but I didn’t know him.

Digging Deeper:

2)      Who was Adam’s Father (Gen. 2:7-17)? __God____  What kinds of things did Adam receive from his Father?  What were his responsibilities?  Who else was there to receive responsibility?

a)      Adam received many things from the Father:

i)        The Garden place to live and air to breathe 2:7

ii)      Perfect environment, so no need for clothes 2:8

iii)    Plentiful food to eat and water to drink 2:9,10

iv)    Precious metals for jewelry he could give his future wife 2:12

v)      Dirt to dig and grow food 2:15

vi)    Directions on what he was supposed to do in life 2:15-17

vii)  Liberty to enjoy all the trees but one 2:16

viii)            One command not to fail 2:17

b)      His responsibilities were:

i)        To enjoy God in the Garden 2:9 “pleasant to the sight”

ii)      “Tend,” that is work, the garden 2:15

iii)    Guard the garden 2:15

iv)    Obey God’s mandate not to eat of the wrong tree 2:17

c)      Who else received the responsibility?  No one. The woman would have heard it from Adam, if she did 3:2-3 

3)      Read Gen. 35:1-12.  When God called Jacob to go up to Bethel, what did Jacob command his family?  __put away foreign gods, purify self, change garments__   What things do we learn from God’s appearances to Jacob in this passage?

a)      God must be obeyed, because He is holy and sovereign to direct 35:1

b)      God should receive an offering 35:3

c)      God hears in our distress 35:3

d)     God is with us in our distress 35:3

e)      Jacob followed through with what he knew he was supposed to do 35:4

f)       The terror of God was on other cities as they traveled 35:5

g)      Jacob arrived with everyone with him, no losses 35:6

h)      Jacob went back to where he first saw God’s appearance 35:7

i)        God has the right to change someone’s name 35:10

j)        God is almighty 35:11

k)      God can command that we  multiply 35:11

l)        God promises a great progeny 35:11

m)    God bequeathed the land 35:12 

4)      What kind of sacrifice is discussed in Exodus 12:21-28? __Passover Lamb___ What does the passage describe regarding the roles and responsibilities in the family related to this event?  How did the people respond?  What does that look like today?

a)      The roles in the family:

i)        Pick out and kill the Passover Lamb 12:21

ii)      Paint the blood on the lintel with the hyssop 12:22

iii)    Everyone was to remain inside until morning 12:22

iv)    They stayed in while God passes through 12:23

v)      They were to pass the ordinance down to their sons 12:24

vi)    They were to keep the service in the land 12:25

vii)  They were to answer their children 12:26

viii)            They were to recall the details to their children 12:27

ix)    They should respond to God in holy reverent worship 12:27

x)      They all obeyed the Lord 12:28

Making application from the message to life:

5)      How should children learn about the Father’s greatness?  What practical things should they see and learn?

a)      Children should learn in the home and in church:

i)        Human fathers should tell their children diligently Deut. 6:6-9

ii)      Parents should love each other to provide a picture of Christ and the church Eph. 5:22-28

iii)    Children should also learn about the Father’s greatness at church Luke 22:24-30.

iv)    God’s Word should be taught to children, no matter who has charge of them 2 Tim. 3:15; Rom. 15:4

v)      Parents should teach their children the realm of God’s Word 2 Tim. 3:16-17

b)      There are many practical things for children to see and learn:

i)        Parents (fathers) should have regular family devotions

ii)      Parents should be mature enough to deal with most conflicts between themselves and other people

iii)    Parents should be able to hope in the provisions of God.

iv)    Children should see a model of father greatness in their dads

v)      Children should have dads who want to spend time with them and build them up.

vi)    Children should have dads who are diligent to teach them principles of truth as they walk along the way, as they get up, as they lie down and when they are at home.

vii)  Children should be told of how God answers prayer.

viii)            Children should be blessed by learning the sufficiency of God’s Word. 

6)      Why is a father’s role of assigning responsibility to his children so important?  How should a father discern what and when to assign responsibilities?

a)      The father’s role is important because:

i)        God has placed that responsibility on the father Eph. 6:4

ii)      The father is the model for what God the Father is like

iii)    The father’s presence is symbolic of God’s presence

iv)    The father’s direction should mimic the Father’s direction

v)      It’s in the home where the children learn how to assume a husband’s and father’s role.

b)      The father’s role is to be consistent in assigning responsibility

i)        The father should consult with the mother when possible

ii)      The father should assign 3-4 responsibilities that are age appropriate.  He should consult with other parents and or age-appropriate books and manuals on parenting for job responsibilities.

iii)    The father should make sure the child understands and is able to accomplish the task.

iv)    The father should ensure that the child is consistent in completion. 

7)      How should a father help a son learn humility to imitate the Father’s greatness?

a)      A father must help a son learn through enforced humility, until the son will act with genuine humility.

b)      A father should be a shepherd to draw the son forward, that is, he should be patient, kind and merciful.

c)      On the other hand, a father must exhort and hold the son to age appropriate standards of holiness.

d)     A father must discern when he should be patient and when he must hold a son’s feet to the holiness standard.

e)      Grace must be applied at times, but discipline, even strong discipline, may need to be applied to help the son learn holiness.

f)       A father must spend time with the son, so the son knows the father love him in both cases.  The father must consult with the mother to hear her input and then take responsibility for the children’s holiness.  The Father’s greatness should be the pinnacle of importance in the mind of the father to instill into the child.

MSG: Get a Grip on Father Greatness

Get a Grip on Father Greatness

Luke 22:24-34
            As we approach Resurrection Sunday, I want us to examine Jesus in how He revealed His Father.  It’s very subtle, but I perceive extremely important in our society.  We need to get a grip on Father greatness.  As Jesus prepares His disciples for the fulcrum of history, the cross, He exhorts them to examine themselves.  Let’s get a grip on His words,

34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Note that Jesus exhorts them to “take heed,” which means to “watch” or “be careful” about themselves and not get distracted in life by things in the world.  It is easy to become distracted by things in this world, even good things like family (Luke 14:26). Then Jesus exhorts them to “watch” in verse 36 and He uses a different word that also means “be on alert” because there is trouble coming.

            The late Dave Simmons, author of the book, “Dad the Family Coach,” writes,

When I was five years old, my family lived in on-post housing at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  Every afternoon, at quitting time, I stationed myself on the front porch as the lookout for Dad.  He came home at irregular times because he passed the NCO club on his walk home.  When he did approach, he had to walk down a long slope, cross a footbridge, and march up a long flight of steps to get to our house.  My job consisted of observing his passage over the uneven terrain before our house to determine if he was drunk.

If it looked bad, I flew through the house like a midget air raid system to alert everyone.  I waited in the kitchen at the head of the basement stairs.  Everyone waited in fearful suspense to see what would happen.  You never knew.  Dad was an unpredictable drunk.  Sometimes, he bubbled into the living room with smiles and cheers for everyone. Most of the time, the door opened and slammed back against the wall and Dad walked in glaring at us in screaming silence.

The family scrambled.  I liked to bail out down the stairs and hide in the basement.  Poor Mom.  She always held her ground and faced him head-on to give us a chance to hide out.  I can remember trembling in the shadowy dank basement for hours waiting for the storm to blow over.  Sometimes, I didn’t escape.  There has never been anything in my life that upset me more than the cold-clutching clammy fear I felt grip me when Dad turned his fever on me.

Afterward, Dad could be the nicest man in the world.  You could not imagine the regret, sorrow, and shame he felt.  He would hold us, sometimes crying, and apologize over and over.  I can vividly remember his giant lumberjack hands pressing me against his brass buttons and campaign ribbons and smelling his beer dampened wool uniform.  I squeezed my little chest to let escape great gobs of sorrowful whimpers.  It confused me so.  I didn’t understand.

Naturally, I developed ambivalent feelings toward Dad.  I harbored a love/hate, crave/reject, fear/comfort kind of attitude toward him.  These feelings toward the dominant male authority figure in my life became locked into me and, later in life, every time I encountered an authority figure, these feelings resurfaced.  I grabbed the network of feelings toward Dad, lifted them up, and settled them down on any authority in front of me.  I have never done well with coaches, professors, or bosses.

Bad dads make bad kids.  A dysfunctional dad causes a dysfunctional family which produces dysfunctional children.  Negative father power rolls on and transfers the sins of a father to the children, even the second, third, and fourth generations.  A bad dad can poison his seed.

I grew up thinking that we had the only unhappy family.  I thought we had some rare family affliction that all other families were vaccinated against.  They all seemed so healthy and happy. It never occurred to me the greater the dysfunction, the greater the family tries to hide it.  Many other families hid their anguish behind carefully constructed masks just like we did. (pp.14-15)


           Dave struggled growing up, because he lacked a father that lived and taught Father greatness. What was it like for you growing up?  Do you know others who had a difficult time growing up where their father was not leading to Father greatness, or maybe you didn’t have a father?  How do you get a grip on Father greatness?

            How do you get a grip on Father greatness?

1)      Jesus served His men to show greatness Luke 22:24-27

One of the greatest traps we suffer from today is comparison.  We compare ourselves to others in many different ways.  Young women, and older women, compare how they look, their figures and how they dress to each other, wanting attention from important men, normally men in their lives, but sometimes any man. Most ungodly women want a little attention, unless they’ve been mistreated or abused. If they’ve been mistreated, they don’t want attention and go the other way to avoid it.  If a father doesn’t give his young daughter attention, then when she’s a young woman or a teen, she’ll start looking elsewhere.  She subtly wants attention to feel good about herself and if she doesn’t get it from home, she’ll get it outside the home.  She’ll make herself look attractive, even alluring, just to get a man’s attention.  She’ll draw attention by make-up, unusual dress and even revealing more and more body just to get attention.  Why?  While she’s comparing herself to others, she wants moments of attention from others. She doesn’t understand Father greatness.

Boys are no different, but they often do it by their prowess, achievements and abilities of one-up-manship, or competition.  Some of it is healthy competition, but most of it is a strong desire to be better than others.  It’s pretty sick to hear inadequate men competing with their words or stories about how great they are.  Why?  They don’t understand Father greatness.

Turn over to Luke 22:24 and let’s start looking at the text.

24 Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. (Luke 22:24)

The word “dispute” literally means “love of strife.”  There is something inside most of us that loves to compare and compete and that leads to strife.  Some love it.  They would not admit that, but it is part of our flesh, or sinful nature.  It’s what Paul wrote in Romans 7:15,

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Rom. 7:15)

Then the word “considered” means that “something seems to be so” or the “perspective is” this way.  From the human perspective, they were looking at who was the greatest among themselves.

From the human perspective, the older gets to tell the younger what’s what.  I laugh at the foolishness of a person who says, “You’re 42? You’re just a young pup,” when he is only 44.  Or, some other cute cut that puts down another, “You’ve been married 20 years? That’s all?” and he is married 23 years.  People love to compare and compete and it causes great strife.  Then Jesus says,

25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called `benefactors.’ (Luke 22:25)

That last word “benefactors” is interesting, because literally it could be translated “good worker” and reveals that the one in authority thinks of himself as a good worker.  In other words, “I’m in authority, because I’m a good worker, so you serve me.”  Or, “I earned this position, so you deserve to serve me.” From the human perspective, the one in authority gets his way and expects those under authority to serve.  Often younger men try even harder to make a name for themselves, because they are competing with older guys.  That’s how unbelievers think. 

However, that’s not how godly Christians think or act to reveal Father greatness. Jesus says,

26 “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. (Luk 22:26)

Jesus exhorts the disciples that Christians need to think differently.  The greater one needs to be humble like a younger person and willing to learn from the older person.  The godly one who governs doesn’t use his position for himself, but he uses his position in order to serve others.  Jesus explains in the next verse,

27 “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. (Luk 22:27)

Jesus is our perfect example and model in every circumstance.  He is the example of true greatness. He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18)Where does a person learn that?

            We are sliding down the spiral today in our society, because we do not understand Father greatness.  We are losing our faith in God.  Note this slide information on where we are in our faith:

Where Are We Now?

Profession of Faith by Generation

• Builder generation – 65% professed faith in Christ

• Boomers – 35% professed faith in Christ

• Gen X – 15% professed faith in Christ

• Of the kids today, a projected 4% will profess faith in Christ

Source: Billy Graham Association (provided by Bruce Einspahr)

In fact, for every 10 men in the average church…

• 9 will have kids who leave the church

• 8 will not find their jobs satisfying

• 6 will pay monthly minimum on credit cards

• 5 have a major problem with pornography

• 4 will get divorced affecting 1,000,000 children each year

• Only 1 will have a biblical worldview

• All 10 will struggle to balance family & work.  Why?

Because they really want to HAVE FUN! (provided by Bruce Einspahr)

 What is missing? Father greatness. We are so focused on the horizontal that we’ve forgotten to train the vertical. We’re so focused on where we can get in the world, we have forgotten what matters is the vertical. 

We spend so much time comparing and competing to get ahead, that we’ve forgotten or never learned Father greatness. We’ve forgotten to pass on the Father’s greatness and to quit worrying about individual greatness.  How much time did Jesus spend trying to be the best at anything?  How much time did Jesus spend trying to become the best competitor at anything?  Did He not understand and become absorbed in His Father’s business when He was twelve-years-old?  Is He not our model for all things?  Then Jesus reveals how greatness is assigned.

2)      Jesus declares how greatness is assigned  Luke 22:28-30

Note the central text of this passage,

28 “But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. 29 “And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, 30“that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30)

Jesus acknowledges the disciples have been with Him through His trials.  There is a reason for that.  Trials make us stronger, because they teach us to depend on the Lord.  Going through trials is always difficult, but once we get through the trial and learn the lessons, we learn what the Father provides, equips and is in the process of blessing.

            Note verse 29.  Jesus says, “I bestow upon you a kingdom.” This is the first of three things that He “bestows.  The word means “to assign, to ordain, agree to, or make a covenant.”  It’s the promise that as we go through trials, we should consider that the Father is in the process of assigning great blessing.

            Note the rest of verse 29.  Jesus says, “just as My Father bestowed one upon Me.”Jesus doesn’t have the kingdom yet.  It’s the Millennial Kingdom, but the Father has assigned it already.  The assignment is fixed, but Jesus still had trials to go through on earth.  And Jesus was telling the disciples that just as He was receiving a kingdom, so also the disciples would be receiving a place in that kingdom with Jesus. 

There are two other aspects of that agreement.  First, they would “eat and drink” at His table.  That references far more than physical eating at the table.  It refers to the honor of being with Jesus in the kingdom.  It refers to access with Jesus.  It refers to the blessing of His presence.  Secondly, Jesus promises they will “sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Because they were faithful, they would reign with Jesus. 

Jesus mentions this in the book of Matthew, “So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt. 19:28)  This is from the Father.  It is part of life.  They went through trials and they would be assigned greatness in the kingdom!

Who is training young men Father greatness? Who is ensuring that the next generation understands Father greatness?  Some might say, “I had my kids, so I did all I need to.”  What about your grandchildren.  What about children and grandchildren of other people who do not have fathers passing down Father greatness to their children? 

Finally, Jesus explains how to receive that blessing.  He explains what is necessary to experience Father greatness.

3)      Jesus forewarns how greatness must humbly depend…      Luke 22:31-34

            During that Last Supper, Jesus challenges Peter,

31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32“But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)

Jesus explains four things to Peter.  First, Satan is going to sift him.  That is true for every child of God.  The enemy has an organization that  plans, prepares and proceeds to sift your life.  Will you depend on the world or yourself, or will you depend on the Lord.  Secondly, Jesus said He would pray for Peter.  Thank the Lord that He prays for every believer also (Rom. 8:34).  Thirdly, Peter would fall away. That likely began to stir up the comparison/competition emotions inside of Peter. He notes that Peter will both fail and will return.  That’s true for us.  When we return to trusting the Lord and depending on His power instead of our own, then we are to do the fourth part.  Jesus told Peter to “strengthen your brethren.”  That is what Father greatness is all about – strengthening other people to press through the trials of life. 

The problem is like Peter, we often become too self-confident.

            Peter lets his mouth start running before he thinks very long.  He doesn’t realize he is reacting to the Lord’s words and he is in comparison and competition mode.  Luke records,

33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” (Luke 22:33)

We find similar accounts in two other gospels.  In Matthew, Peter says, “though they all fall away, because of You, I will never fall away.”Do you see how Peter is comparing himself to both the other disciples AND to Jesus?  He says about Jesus, “…because of You…” Peter is breaking through thin ice. In Mark it says, “Though they all fall away, I will not.” Luke adds the foolish comment that He will go to both prison and death for Jesus.  What a he-man! 

We want young men to be confident, but not in themselves. We want young men to find their greatness in the Lord in the Father’s greatness. Too often we want others to think we are great. We don’t realize we are really just trying to be God. Self-confidence is independence from God. We need to have Christ-confidence or Spirit-confidence. 

Jesus responds to Peter’s self-confidence,

34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:34)

We will fall when we depend on ourselves.  The same thing happens to every man who does not humble himself before God and humbly learn God’s way from Jesus as Jesus humbled Himself before the Father. It is a fearful thing for the one who doesn’t humbly depend on the Lord.

            Jesus, however, knows when and where we will fall and yet He wants us on His team.  That is the grace of knowing Father greatness.

4)      Jesus wants you on His team Luke 24:49 

49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

Jesus wanted the disciples on His team.  Even thought they blew it.  Even though they denied Him.  Even through they ran from the trial, Jesus wanted them on His team.  Why?  Jesus knew the promise of the Father in the coming Holy Spirit.  That same promise is now available to every Christian today.  

            What happens when Father greatness is not passed down to each generation?  Note what happens when a father is not in a home:

The Influence of Men- Fatherless Homes Produce

90% of Runaway Children

85% of Children With Behavior Problems

71% of High School Drop Outs

75% of Children Addicted to Drugs

63% of Teenage Suicides

80% of Rapists

85% of Prison Inmates

Source: The National Center for Fathering

Further, the lack of Father greatness certainly affects what woman say:

What the Women Are Saying?

Women often feel that they are abandoned emotionally – there is a sense that men are not really listening to them.

Women are desperate for men to provide strong spiritual leadership in the home. One woman said it this way, we long for a rock.

If men are not strong leaders in the home, women have a tendency to take it back.

Men are in need of more accountability—many men have not built the necessary trust level with their spouse, so she can encourage him to share with other men. (provided by Bruce Einspahr)

How did we get into the problem today?  It’s not one issue.  There are many issues involved.  Note this quote,

Whereas in 1820 Protestants had thought about children’s religious experiences primarily in terms of family and church, by 1880 it was impossible to conceive of them without reference to the Sunday school. During the nineteenth century, this new institution became the primary locale – outside of the family – for religious indoctrination of Protestant youth. In the annals of church history the saga of Sunday school was unique, involving…the creation of a new institution to fulfill functions previous entrusted to parents and pastors… – Ann Boylan (provided by Jeremy Thomas)

IN the 1800s, Sunday School was a great opportunity to reach out and help families raise children in the Lord.  It became a strong influencer by the 1880s.  Yet, the fathers and  families became more dependent upon it, and not assume their own responsibility to pass on Father greatness. If fathers do not resume their responsibility for raising children to Father greatness, the children will be lost to the world. This is further stated regarding contemporary youth ministry,

It is obvious that youth ministry in America has not produced a generation of young people who are passionate about the church…the number of full time youth pastors has grown dramatically and a plethora of magazines, music, and ideas aimed at youth have been birthed along the way.  Meanwhile…the numbers of young people won to Christ dropped at about as fast a rate. – Alvin Reid (provided by Jeremy Thomas)

The point is NOT that youth ministry has failed.  The point is that families and specifically fathers have not passed on Father greatness.  What should happen? 

            Solomon gives very focused words regarding the issue,

Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding; 2For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law. 3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother, 4He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.  5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. (Pro. 4:1-5)

It certainly takes two people – a father and a son (or daughter).  When children do not listen or seek to understand, sometimes parents give up or become content with just being able to talk to the children.  Okay, we don’t disciple our children, but they at least come home for dinner.  Really?  Is that what God’s standard is?  Does God only want parents to raise children physically and let the children decide what they want to believe?  Really? 

            The Father put Adam in the Garden of Eden and made it clear what he was supposed to do, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Gen 2:15)  The Father gave Adam a mission for life.  Human fathers ought to pass down to their children what their mission is in life – go make disciples!

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20“teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:19-20)

            Let me give you an example of God’s way of being a human father.  Abraham is God’s example,

17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, 18“since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” (Gen. 18:17-19)

God saw that Abraham was a good father passing down Father greatness.  Abraham ensured his family kept the way of the Lord.  Abraham was humble and depended on the Lord to do righteousness and justice.  Abraham trusted God and followed through with his responsibility.  How does this happen? 

            Moses made it clear how fathers were to pass down Father greatness.  We see it in Moses’ last sermon to Israel before they went across the Jordan River into the Promised Land,

“Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess,

 2”that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

 3“Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you–`a land flowing with milk and honey.’

 4“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

 5“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

 6And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.

 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

 8“You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.

 9“You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

 10“So it shall be, when the LORD your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build,

 11“houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant– when you have eaten and are full–

 12then beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

 13You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.

 14“You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you

 15`(for the LORD your God is a jealous God among you), lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth. (Deut. 6:1-15)

Beloved, do not take lightly the Lord.  Here’s the summary of this message:          

The Lord is calling on men to rise up to Father greatness!

Dave Simmons gives us words of encouragement to close this message,

How I wish that my dad and I had learned [how to love].  For instance, I would have really appreciated [if Dad would have]:

·         Occasionally congratulated me on a job well done.

·         Put his arm around me or let me sit on his lap

·         Read stories to me or told me stories.

·         Let me borrow the car more than once a semester.

·         Invited me to go fishing on the officers’ PT boat with him while we lived in Alaska.

I now know that Dad loved me, but I missed all the signals when I was growing up.  Dad and I didn’t learn to love each other and communicate it until the last three years of his life when we finally began to [love each other].  How sad we waited so long. 

Don’t you wait.  Get going now. (Dad the Family Coach, p. 27)

 

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      When you were growing up, what were the fathers of your friends like?

Digging Deeper:

2)      Who was Adam’s Father (Gen. 2:7-17)? _______________________  What kinds of things did Adam receive from his Father?  What were his responsibilities?  Who else was there to receive responsibility?

3)      Read Gen. 35:1-12.  When God called Jacob to go up to Bethel, what did Jacob command his family?  _________________________   What things do we learn from God’s appearances to Jacob in this passage?

4)      What kind of sacrifice is discussed in Exodus 12:21-28? _________________________ What does the passage describe regarding the roles and responsibilities in the family related to this event?  How did the people respond?  What does that look like today?

Making application from the message to life:

5)      How should children learn about the Father’s greatness?  What practical things should they see and learn?

6)      Why is a father’s role of assigning responsibility to his children so important?  How should a father discern what and when to assign responsibilities?

7)      How should a father help a son learn humility to imitate the Father’s greatness?

 

 

           

           

 

 

 

Life Bears Witness

This morning, I had the privilege of preparing Logan, Collin and Cody with their dad Brady for the baptism that we’ll have on July 8.  We talked about faith, salvation, baptism and a number of other important subjects to ensure they were ready.  One of the subjects was “what should be true in a believer’s life after salvation.”  After salvation, there should be some kind of transformation, because the unbeliever transforms into a believer, a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

I illustrated to the boys with a simple example.  I said if the three boys came into my office and took the pictures and objects and threw them against the wall, I asked them if would they be reflecting their dad or someone else.  Collin immediately said, “The devil.” (He’s going to be a pastor some day!)  I said, “That’s right, because your dad would never do something like that.  When you are respectful of other people’s property, you are reflecting your dad, who is in the place of God, and not the devil.”  I went on to say that if a believer did come in and destroyed the office, they would be reflecting what the devil does, because he comes to murder and destroy.  It’s often a reality that believers act like their former father the devil, rather than their heavenly father (cf. 1 John 3:7-8).

Jesus was confronted by Jews who wanted to kill Him for claiming that God was His Father.  Rather than defend Himself, He said, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” (John 10:31)  Obviously, His works reflected the Father and not anyone else.

Whom do you reflect in your works (your life)?  Do you reflect one who is devoted to, pursuing and enjoying the Lord Jesus Christ?  Or do your works (your life) reflect something other than one pursuing the Lord?  Press ahead to Him in His upward calling (Phil. 3:14).