As For Me And My House

Bible Book: Joshua  24 : 15
Subject: Father
[Editor's Note: Please view the bottom of this sermon for extra illustrations for Father's Day.]
Introduction

A wife told her husband to remember that the family would not be in the same house when he got home from work. She reminded him that the moving truck was coming and that they would be on the other side of town when he got off work that evening. He was appalled that she would even think for a moment that he would not remember that they were moving. Well, he went to work and just like she thought he forgot and drove back to the old house. He went in to see the house empty and then he remembered that his family had moved and he was supposed to drive to the new home. But he had even forgotten the address of their new house. He went outside and saw a boy riding a bike in front of the house. He said, "Hey son, do you know the people that used to live in this house?" The boy acknowledged that he did and then the boy said, "Yea dad, mom left me here, she said you would forget where the family has moved."

Now that , of course, is a joke. But actually many husbands and fathers take so little thought for their families that they have forgotten what is most important. Today we are going to look at fathers, at men, and our responsibility to our Lord and our families.

It is difficult to be a good man, even more difficult to be a good husband, and even more difficult to be a good father. Statistics reveal that men have a real problem knowing who they are and how they are to live in today’s world. The suicide rate for men is four times as high as it is for women. Men naturally live 10% shorter lives than women. This means that something about the way men view life shortens their lives. Statisticians tell us that 80% of all homeless people are men and 90% of all arrests for alcohol or drug abuse are men. In our school system, we are told that 95% of all learning disabled students are boys. Some women would laughingly say that is because most men are deformed from birth. But even this kind of joke reveals the difficulty men have today. They are portrayed as buffoons and incapable of acting with intelligence, love and honesty. We can say without question that the devil is attacking men in this generation as never before. He has been terribly successful, leading to the downfall of the home, the corruption of morals, the distortion of male roles and the virtual collapse of male significance in our society.

To be quite honest, there isn’t much in our culture today to nurture or encourage men or boys as to their role in society, especially their role in the family. I ask you, who are the national role models? Can you name five politicians of whom you can say, I would like for my son to grow up to be like these men? I doubt it! How about TV stars? How about modern writers? How about professional athletes? Where are the role models. Frankly, the best role model for our sons and daughters ought to be the father in the home, but sadly their are fewer homes that even have a biological father in the house - and those that do have such a father may not have one that lives as he should.

Men have a difficult time knowing who and what they should be. Most men determine who they are by what they have, what they do and who they know. These are poor measures of the worth of a man, yet they compose the basic way men measure their worth. Most men meet and immediately are introduced by what they do, who they know or what they own (business, etc.). This gives men whose profession or job does not seem very important, who does not know the perceived people of influence or who has not accumulated wealth or position, a feeling of failure.

We need to come back to a Biblical view of manhood and fatherhood. This is not easy. A Biblical view of men and women in marriage was presented at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Salt Lake City some years ago and the media jumped on it like sharks who smelled blood. Baptists were portrayed as cavemen dragging their wives around by the hair with a club in their hand. The cartoonists have taken us on and present us as cruel, beastly Neanderthals. The resolution concerning husbands and wives came directly from the Scripture. It stated clearly that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and that they should lay down their lives for their wives and children. The part that stirred up the liberal left media and Hollywood types was the scriptural statement that wives should submit to their husbands. Let me tell you something about these two commands: one for the husband and one for the wife. The reason they are both in the Word of God is because men don’t want to give up their lives for the wives. It does not come naturally to men to forget themselves and put their wives first. God ordered us to do it because it is part of humbling ourselves in service to Him. It is best for us. It is best for our wives to be loved in this way. It meets their need. Also, it is not natural for a woman to submit. She wants to take control and order her husband around. That, however, is not best for him or her. She is directed by the Lord to lovingly submit to her husband, not because he is so smart or better, but because it meets his need and hers. Now you listen closely to your pastor. If every man loved his wife as Christ loved the church (and that was so much that He endured the cross for us), and every woman loved her husband so much that she lovingly submits to him, you would have heaven on earth in every Christian home in America - yea, even in the world. Sadly, neither husbands or wives obey these commands properly. The SBC was simply calling us back to what God designed us to be - loving partners giving up our natural inclinations in order to love as Jesus loves!

In our text today, we see Joshua speaking to the people in what some have called his swan song sermon. This was probably the last message Joshua gave to the people of Israel. He ended it by speaking about commitment to God in the home. I want us to see that to serve the Lord properly, we must serve the Lord beginning in our homes. Service to God does not begin in the church, it begins at the kitchen table at home - it begins there where real life is lived everyday. If we cannot live our faith there, we cannot live it anywhere. Men, I want to address my remarks mostly to you, especially you men who are fathers. How can we serve the Lord? That is what Joshua was talking about. He made his commitment to serve the Lord. He called on others to choose to serve the Lord. How can we serve the Lord beginning in our homes?

I. Fathers Serve the Lord by Living their Convictions

Joshua had deep, abiding convictions. He was reaffirming them in this message. Men need some convictions by which they live. Only these convictions will keep us from giving in to the macho image of our day or to the sensual pleasures which tempt us away from our families and our Lord.

A. Convictions about Grace Joshua 24:1-13

First, Joshua had some convictions about grace. Note how many times he pointed out in this message that every victory they had, every piece of land they owned, every triumph they had enjoyed came from the hand of the Lord. Joshua was a great general, a national leader, a spiritual giant, but he says not one word about himself. Here is a man who is not caught up in who he knows, what he has, or what he has done. He realizes that every good and perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father in heaven.

In the news recently, a writer noted how many times the president of the United States used the word "I" or "me" in a speech he gave. Frankly, it was almost one for each sentence in the speech. I suppose you could do the same text check on almost any politician and find something similar. The point is that Joshua never mentioned himself in his message until it came to commitment. Now that would be a political twist, would it not? What if every politician agreed to live by the same rules we do! The same healthcare, the same retirement plans - including Social Security, the same laws, etc. Well, don't hold your breath. You see, we tend to take advantage of power wherever we find it. That can also apply in the home. Instead of admitting our commitments, we can rather claim our rights! That is not what Joshua did.

Father, teach your children about grace. Tell them how loved they are by the Heavenly Father. Let them know that victory in life lies in the hands of God Almighty. Samson was a macho man, but without God’s help he was nothing but a blind, stumbling failure! Men, we need to admit our commitments and convictions before our family on a regular basis instead of simply claiming our rights.

B. Convictions about God Joshua 24:14

A correct understanding of grace begins with a correct understanding of God. We are to stand in awe of God. We are to fear God. We are to fear no one, no thing, no situation on this earth but God. This fear means a respect for and an understanding that one day you will face God and give account for your life. The man who has experienced the forgiving grace of God in Christ and lived in the awareness of the sovereignty of God need not fear facing God in the judgment. He who fears God here will not have to fear God there. He who has no fear of God here will tremble in fear before Him in the judgment. A godly man understands that he must live his convictions and his convictions must be based on a saving Lord who forgives, a sovereign Lord who rules and a sharing Lord who leads. Such a man will truly serve the Lord with gladness!

II. Fathers Serve the Lord by Loving their Companion

The Bible is clear on the husband role in loving his wife. He is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. This is a special kind of love. It is apparent that Joshua had a love for his wife and children. He took seriously his role to lead them in devotion to the Lord. Though little is said specifically in this text about his wife, listen to his words that call for any price to be paid in order to obey the Lord regarding his home, and it is apparent that a love for God, for his wife and for his family was paramount in his life.

A. A Sacrificial Love

The love of Jesus was a sacrificial love. This is the love a man must give to his wife. Sacrifice means giving 100% to your wife. This demands the best a man has. This, however, is the true measure of love itself. Our love for our wives will be judged by God based on how much He loved us. Scary, isn't it? Yet, that is what Paul told us in Ephesians 5:5. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it. That means we must give up some attitudes and assumptions about our role in the family. Being a good husband is part of being a good father. Our children will often judge us as fathers by how we treat their mothers!

Joshua was willing to make any sacrifice in order to love the Lord and love his family. So many men today are willing to sacrifice greatly for success in work, for success in some hobby and for success among his male friends, but will deny his Lord and his family in the process. Men, listen to me, if you wish to be a man for God, you must put God and family first in your life!

B. A Steady Love

It must be a steady love. The love of Christ never wavers and our love for our wives must be the same. Men, love is not sex. Love is a steady devotion whether deserved or undeserved. We don't always deserve the love of Jesus, but He always gives it. Since that is the way He loves us, that is how we are to love our wives.

Joshua had been steady in his love for his God and his family all his life. He never wavered. It was his stalwart commitment that made him a great leader. He was able to accomplish much because he loved much! Even if you have failed in this matter in the past, you can start today making a commitment to create a steady, Christlike love for you wife and children.

C. A Sensitive Love

Joshua was a man with a heartfelt love. He didn't just love in words alone, He loved with all his heart. You can see that in his statement as he closes his message to the people as recorded in Joshua 24:15. Men sometimes disdain the idea of being emotional about their love - for God and for their wives. Yet, that is what God desires of us - that we show our love - reveal our hearts.

Christ love is a sensitive love. Note how he was moved with compassion. He saw the people without a shepherd and wept over them. He wept at Lazarus’ tomb. He was not afraid to show His emotions. He was not afraid of tears. No man was ever more manly than Jesus. He was strong - so strong that He endured the cross without complaint. Men, if you are a Jesus man, you will never be afraid to show your love for Him and for your family.

We must have sensitive feelings toward our wives. Men must learn to have a caring heart. True love is never ashamed of emotion! We are to not only love our wives by working, providing and doing chores - we are to TELL them that they are loved. A husband may not know it, but a wife needs reassurance that she is loved. Aren't you glad that Jesus keeps reassuring us that He loves us? Well, that is how we are to love our wives - with reassuring words and actions.

III. Fathers Serve the Lord by Leading their Children

Notice that Joshua did not say that he alone was going to serve the Lord. Joshua said, "As for me and my family, we WILL serve the Lord." He wasn't going to try, he was going to DO IT! Serving the Lord with love in one's home requires some basics that are a part of God's call to us. Let's take the word LOVED and use the letters as an acrostic for how we are to love our children. This is clearly something needed today in the home.

A. L … Love them Passionately

Your children need to know that you love them passionately. I'm convinced that many children, once they read ten to twelve years of age, aren't really sure if they are loved by their fathers. No matter what they do, or how they act, or how much discipline is needed to keep them in line, children need to hear the words, "I love you," and need to be hugged on a regular basis. Put some passion in your love for your children, especially as they grow older.

I read sometime ago of a teenage girl who ran away from home. When she finally came back home, she was sent to a counselor. She told the counselor that her father didn't love her. When she was asked why she felt that way, she replied, "I don't my father has hugged me or told me he loved me since I was seven years old."

Dad, you children never tire of hearing you tell me that you love them. Your love can make the difference in how your children view the whole idea of love for the rest of their lives.

B. O … Oversee them Educationally

Joshua was a leader. He meant to lead his family in the service of God. In order for him to do that, he had to educate his children in the things of God. Some men leave spiritual leadership and training to the mother. That is not biblical. Now, don't get me wrong, mothers have a tremendous impact on the spiritual lives of their children. What I'm saying here today is a father cannot and must not leave this to mom alone.

In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 we read, "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." In other words, dad, you are to instruct them in God's ways in everyday living.

The scripture is clear that we are to educate our children in all things. Now, listen up dad, you cannot leave the education of your children only to mom. You need to be involved in teaching them the scripture, teaching the moral standards, and even helping them with their homework. As I look back over my life, I remember fondly the hours I spent helping my children with schoolwork. It wasn't a lot of fund them - for them or for me - but now it is precious to my memory. Fathers are called upon in scripture to lead their children, and you can't lead them if you don't spend time with them.

C. V … View them Carefully

As we get older as parents, and busier with life, we can begin to neglect the oversight of our children. You must get to know their friends. You need to know where they are, what they are viewing on the computer, and who they are texting on their cellphones. No, they don't like it but that is your job. A busy father, whose work or play takes him away from overseeing his child's life, is a father that is too busy. It is apparent that Joshua took the entire task of leading his family in the ways of God as a serious, preeminent matter.

D. E … Emancipate them Steadily

Let them go as time progresses. As a child proves his or her dependability, you need to let go. Granting privilege from behavior is a good idea. Denying privilege because of bad behavior is a absolutely necessary idea. Dad, don't leave these tasks only to mom.

Some years ago, our son was very young them, he got a poor report card. My wife decided that he should not television - other than news - which he hated - until his next report card. I thought the sentence was a bit too harsh, but in private I agreed. I joined her in telling our son what was expected of him, and that if his grades improved he could go back to his normal life. For nine weeks this continued. During that time, my wife refused to watch television either - increasing the pressure on our son. How? She kept reminding him that she was suffering with him. I spent more and more time helping him with his homework. Nine weeks later, he had gone from a C and D average to an A and B average. His grades never fell back to the previous level again. He learned that emancipation from a disciplined oversight required a change in behavior and responsibility.

E. D … Discipline them Biblically

The Bible tell us how to discipline our children. Now, let me share something important with you. When I was a boy my father took the scripture literally. He felt the "spare the rod, spoil the child" passage was a mandate. I didn't live in an age of "time out" for bad behavior. No, it wasn't "time out," with my dad, is was "knock-out." No, not really! He patted me on the head when I did well and patted me a bit harder and a bit lower when I didn't do so well. I can tell you today that I am thankful for that. I needed that. Before my dad went how to be with the Lord he told me, "Son, if the same laws regarding corporal punishment applied back then like it does now, I would be in prison." I said, "Dad, if the same laws applied back then the way they do now, and you had followed them, I would probably be in prison." My father's discipline was always with love. I knew it. He told me. He hugged me afterwards. It kept me from a life of total disobedience. Perhaps he kept me out of prison. I'm convinced, if more children today had loving, caring discipline from fathers we would have less disrespect, criminal behavior and lawlessness among our young people.

No, I am not saying parents should go around hitting their children. I'm not saying that physical punishment is best. I'm saying that a friendly reminder provided in the right place can go a long way to keeping a child in his or her right place. Most discipline, however, should be done with conversation. In fact, my children heard many of my long speeches when they did something foolish or rebellious. They looked at me with eyes that said, "Dad, please just spank me and stop talking!" No way! I was going to talk to them until they were blue in the face. I was going to make them hate those conversations so bad they would swear off bad behavior forever!

In the end, a dad must take time with his children. Love is spelled best as T - I - M - E. When you take time to talk to your children and give them personal love and guidance, it speaks volumes concerning your love for them. What is important at this point, is to guide them morally, ethically and most of all biblically.

IV. Fathers Serve the Lord by Leaving their Contribution

I have tried as best I can to provide for my wife now and at the any point that I might go home to the Lord. Likewise, our wills state clearly how our children are to receive all we have when we pass away. Who knows what I will have at that time. I may leave them a home, cars and earthly possessions, but actually these will fade in importance over time.

I will never forget some years ago seeing a limousine that had belonged to Elvis. Only a few years had passed since his death, but how gaudy and cheap it looked. In its day, it would have been the most beautiful car in the world. But it looked old, worn, outdated, and cheap. A short span of time had stripped that earthly object of its beauty.

Father, you must leave your children something much deeper and more profound than money or possessions. You need to be serious about leaving them a memory of love for Jesus. You need to leave them a memory of your love for their mother. You need to leave them with the memory of your love for prayer, and God's Word. You need to leave them with the memory of your love for the church. And, you need to leave them with the memory of your love for them. Leave something behind - not just earthly things but eternal things!

In Tennessee some years ago a pastor died. He had a wife and two children. One of them as a seventeen year old daughter. On the day of his funeral, the church was packed with only standing room for people in the building. At the conclusion of the remarks by fellow ministers, the family was given the chance to pass by his casket one last time. When the teenage girl got to the coffin, she leaned over to touch her dad lying so still on the pure white casket lining. Then in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear she exclaimed, "My daddy loved my mother, my daddy loved me and my brother, and my daddy loved Jesus with all his heart." Friends, I don’t know what that father left his family materially, but I can tell you he left them a fortune in love and faith. Father, what will you leave as a contribution to the family that follows behind you?

Conclusion

Father's, our task is awesome. How many of us need to bow here this morning and ask God to forgive us where we have failed? And, how many of us need to fall before the Lord and ask Him to help us live up to the incredible role we are called to follow? Then, let us do that now.

Some of you had great fathers. They loved you and served God. Do you know how blessed you are? Perhaps today is good day to bow before God and thank Him that you had a dad that loved your mother and love you - and most of all, loved God! These reminders can continue throughout our lives to encourage our own commitment to God and family.

Sadly, some of you had fathers that were not committed to God and perhaps not committed to the family. But, let me tell you something important today. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He is true and kind. He is gracious and generous. He is a forever lover of your soul. He sent His Son, His only Son, to die in your place so you can be forgiven. You can call Him, "Father." You can call Him, "Abba - daddy." He told you to call upon Him in a familiar, family manner. If you don't know Him,  you can know Him today.

If there is someone here who has never trusted Jesus, come to Him today. Turn from you sin and accept Him today.

Now whatever commitment we need to make, whatever peace we need to seek, whatever failure we need to overcome, we can do so today through Christ. Now let us respond as God leads.

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Extra Illustrations:

You finally asked Daddy for my hand in marriage. What did he say?

He: Not a word. He just fell on my neck and wept for joy.

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JOSHUA

His life, though recorded with fullness of detail, shows no stain. By the faithful serving of his youth he was taught to command as a man; as a citizen he was patriotic in the highest degree; as a warrior, fearless and blameless; as a judge, calm and impartial. He was quite equal to every emergency under which he was to act-- valiant without temerity, active without precipitation. No care, no advantage, no duty was neglected by him. He ever looked up for and obeyed divine direction with the simplicity of a child and wielded the great power given him with calmness, unpretentiousness, and without swerving, to the accomplishment of a high, unselfish purpose. He earned by manly vigor a quiet, honored old age and retained his faith and loyalty, exclaiming, in almost his dying breath, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (from New Unger's Bible Dictionary) (originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (C) 1988.)

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It was the little girl's first day at school and the teacher was making out her registration card.

"What is your father's name?"

"Daddy," replied the child.

"Yes, I know, but what does your mother call him?"

"Oh, she doesn't call him anything. She likes him!"

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Mother: "Do you think we should take Junior to the zoo?"

Father: "Absolutely not. If they want him, let them come for him."

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A young mother who has four small children finds that her days are pretty hectic. Recently her husband, a systematic man, decided to help her make out a schedule. On it they listed all of her chores and the exact time each one was to be done. The next evening he glanced at the schedule hanging in the kitchen. At the end of the list was this addition: "Call undertaker for free estimate."

A graduate student working on juvenile delinquency reported in a sociology seminar that he was having difficulty collecting data. His project was to telephone a dozen homes around 9 PM and ask the parents if they knew where their children were at that hour.

"My first five calls," he lamented, "were answered by children who had no idea where their parents were!"

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Psalm 101:2

2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life-- when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart.