In our video last week, my dear wife Nancy shared some beautiful thoughts on the amazing impact women, and particularly mothers, can have for eternity. Today, we will be looking at the influential role that has been entrusted to fathers.
Studies have shown that fathers have a profound influence upon their children, who look to them to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Furthermore, when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it enhances a child’s mental and social development and helps them feel confident. Most importantly, fathers have a profound influence on the spiritual life of their children.
Even though my own father has been gone for a number of years, his spiritual guidance and influence still lives on in my life.
I remember as a young man, traveling across the country to attend an Adventist college in California--more than 2,600 miles (or 4,100 kilometers) away from home. After I embarked on this new phase of life, my father sent me a notecard in a letter with the following quotation, penned in his own handwriting:
“Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.” Steps to Christ, p. 70.
Not only did I appreciate the time and care my father showed in sharing this with me, but it also meant so much to receive such powerful spiritual instruction from the Spirit of Prophecy. This has endeared the Spirit of Prophecy to me from that time on.
I kept that handwritten quotation in my Bible for years, until that precious Bible was lost. I asked my father to rewrite the same quotation some years ago and I still have that second rendition in my Bible. It is such a precious quotation and a reminder of my father’s spiritual concern for me.a
Friends, never dismiss as unessential your spiritual focus and invested time directed toward your children. It will pay spiritual dividends through the influence and power of the Holy Spirit.
An interesting survey in Switzerland conducted some years ago by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office in Neuchatel, posed some questions to determine whether a person's religious practices influenced the spiritual practices of the next generation. The study concluded: "It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children."
We also have an abundance of inspired insight regarding the spiritual role of fathers. In Adventist Home we read: "The father . . . will bind his children to the throne of God by living faith. Distrusting his own strength, he hangs his helpless soul on Jesus and takes hold of the strength of the Most High.
The author continues: "Brethren, pray at home, in your family, night and morning; pray earnestly in your closet; and while engaged in your daily labor, lift up the soul to God in prayer. It was thus that Enoch walked with God" (p. 212).
And, of course, the Bible is full of instruction regarding family relationships.
In Ephesians 6:4 we read, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." And in Proverbs 1:8 this important instruction is given: "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching."
Sometimes, however, tensions arise, and it is at these times that the promise of Malachi 4:6 is especially comforting. Speaking of God's power to heal relationships, it says "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."
And while no human father is perfect, how wonderful it is to know that we have a perfect Heavenly Father who cares about us deeply.
In Psalm 103, verses 8, 13, and 14 we read: "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy . . . As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."
And we have this assurance from Jesus Himself when He says in John 16:27 "for the Father Himself loves you. . . "
In closing, I would like to speak directly to you fathers--let Jesus, His Word, and constant prayer be your guide. I have found tremendous strength, courage, and wisdom just this way, and you will too.
Let's pray together. Father in heaven, I ask your special blessing upon all the fathers who are listening and watching this particular review of how God can bless the family through the fathers. Lord we also pray for the mothers, they are so critical and important in this whole role, but today Lord in a special way we are praying for the fathers. Give them spiritual wisdom. Give them a focus on the word of God. Help them to be in contact with you at every moment of the day, so that they can encourage their children, and their wife, and those who are so important to them. Lord help the fathers to be the spiritual leaders of the home as you have indicated in your Holy Word. Thank you for hearing us, and thank you for being our Heavenly Father, and for guiding us each moment. We now place all of this, and all the fathers, and mothers, and the children, and the families, and those who may not have families, maybe they’re single, maybe they feel lonely, we place everyone in your care. Help them to be assured and encouraged that they do have a Heavenly Father and help no one to ever feel alone, because You are with them. We ask all of this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.