Charles Stanley - Walking in the Way of a Father
Being a father is an awesome responsibility. It's not only a privilege, but a real responsibility, because here's the reason. The way the father goes; the way fatherhood operates in the country, that's the way that nation's going to go. So look around. Look at our finances in America. Look at the morality. Look at the social ills and look at the health. And what I want you to see, Dad, is it's the way you lead your family, is the way that nation's going to go. And it's very interesting that there are forty-three percent of the children today live in a home without a dad, forty-three percent. That's over fifteen million.
Imagine the kind of impact that's making in the life of our nation. And, if a young man grows up in a home without a father, his chances of going to jail is twice that of a son who grows up in a family with a father. Being a father is an awesome responsibility because it affects the whole nation. And if you look where we are and the shape that we're in, and then you realize how many children we have that have no father. How many men are walking around who have families and they're not living with them anymore for whatever the reason? We have a major problem. And the only way for that problem to change is for fathers to become fathers and take the responsibility that's theirs when they become a father. Well, there's a passage of scripture in the Old Testament that should be a warning to every dad.
So I want you to turn to Second Kings if you will. Second Kings and the twenty-first chapter, and I want us to read two or three verses here. Second Kings, twenty-first chapter; and, Manasseh, who was a very wicked king. And in fact, you know if you look at the Old Testament and read about the kings in the Old Testament, there's not a lot of difference is what was going on then than what's going on today, for the simple reason, they would come and go and some were good and some were evil and so forth. Manasseh, for example, in the eleventh verse of this twenty-first chapter, it says, "Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations, having done wickedly more than all the Amorites did who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols".
Listen to this, "Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity on Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle,'" which is an extreme way of saying, It's going to be terrible. Then it talks about him and then you come down to verse eighteen, "And Manasseh slept," that is, he died, "with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his own house, in the garden of Uzza and Amon his son became king in his place". Now watch this. Father lived a horrible life, and here's his son, "Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem; and his mothers name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, as Manasseh his father had done". Look at this, "For he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. So he forsook the Lord, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the ways of the Lord".
And of course what happens here is his servants kill him, and then Josiah, who's only eight years of age, becomes the king and Josiah was one of the greatest kings in all the Old Testament. But what I want you to notice here is this. Amon walked in the way that his father walked. Do you know what? That's what a lot of young men want to do. They admire their father, father may be good or evil, but there's something about a boy who wants to be like his dad. And when you think about this, when a son walks in the way of the father, which is sort of the way it happens, then every father has an awesome responsibility to be an example, an example that is a good example to his children.
So, Dad, here's what I'd ask you. If your children walk in your footsteps where are they going to end up? What kind of life are they going to live? Will you be proud of their life? Or will you be embarrassed or will you be shamed? More than likely, they're going to attempt at least to begin with to walk in your footsteps. So it's very, very important that you look behind you and see what's happening in the life of your family and your children. So Dad, with this in mind, let's begin. And that is if your children follow in your footsteps here's the first question. Will they have a desire to be saved early in life? Have a strong desire to discover and fulfill God's will for their life? Will they walk in a way that would make you proud as a father; in a way that's obedient to God? Or will they waste those early years, the best years of their life maybe, waste those years doing what a lot of kids do? Just doing whatever brings them pleasure, whatever it might be; wasting those precious years, those years when they could be getting a good education. Years when they could be asking for the Father to give them guidance and direction of what they're going to do for the rest of their life. If they follow your footsteps, which way are they going to head?
And I think about so many times children start out and they get influenced, wrong influence, sometimes that's Dad and sometime it's their friends. But even if it's their friends, Dad, you have the responsibility of redirecting them, your responsibility to direct your children's life, early in life, very, very important. Now if your children follow in your footsteps, where are they going to end up? Where are they going? Are you going to take the time to be sure that they understand what it means to trust the Lord as their Savior? And what it means to walk in the will of God all the days of their life. What will it be like if you keep living the way you're living?
A second question is this. Will they live a life of faith, focused on God, trusting Him for their needs? Or will they live their life in fear, anxiety, fretting and worry and having needs? That is, will they learn to trust the Lord early in life? This is so very important. And this is why it's important to start early in life, teaching your children to put their trust in God because you don't know what's going to happen in this nation. We don't know where we'll be in ten years. And so, will they learn to live by faith and not by sight? Will they learn to trust God early in life for whatever they need, and for whatever situation, circumstance that demands more than you can provide? If your children follow in your footsteps, will they be children of faith? Will they really and truly believe that God loves them and will take care of them? Or, do they see themselves as one day just paupers and wandering around trying to make ends meet with no real sense of direction in their life? Father, what kind of pathway are you walking. Because if you look behind you, most of the time, they're going to be following you.
So, what about this? Will their prayer life be one that is genuine, that's diligent and that is based on the Word of God? Ask you this question. Don't raise your hand. And let me say to all of you who are watching, How many of you ever pray with your children? Well, what I do is I encourage them to pray. No, no, no, no. How many of you fathers pray with your children? As you look at the pathway you're plotting out for your children, do they remember things you've said in prayer? Or would they have to say, Well, I know my dad prayed, but, But what? They desperately need to hear it. And Dad, there is no excuse for not praying with your children. Well, they'll think, Mm-mm-mm-mm. You know what? They're probably starving to death to hear you talk to God. Because you see, if they're going to end up praying in their life, they need... let's see, here's what they need. They need to have echoing in their ears late in life, what you said or the way you talked to God. He's my Heavenly Father who walks beside me day by day. And you and I need to pray like that. Then of course, if you keep, watch this carefully, are you listening? Say amen. I hope to God you are.
Listen. And all of you folks out there, listen to this. Will they have a hunger for the Word of God and seek to live their life according to the principles of scripture and develop a relationship with God? Think about this. How many of you fathers own a Bible? Probably many of you do, but many of you may not. This is God's guidebook for living, right here. You can't ask me a single important question that has to do with living and life for which there's not an answer right here. When is the last time you opened the Word of God with your children? When is the last time they heard you read it? When is the last time they saw you open the Bible and heard you read some passage of scripture? When is the last time they heard you say, Well, we have a problem and we need to ask God to give us some direction for our life. When's the last time you admitted that you needed God and that His Word is the answer? Listen to me carefully. This Book has the answer to every single human problem we have when it comes to living out our life. Do your children have a Bible?
Well, you say, Well how old should they be before I give them one? So early in life they don't even know what it is. They just need to see one of some color and some size, so they can't remember the first time they ever saw it. And then the day that you open it for the first time in their life, they hear you say, This is God's book and herein are the answers to our questions. And then when you are having dinner and you're going through some problem, and this is the way I taught my kids most. And if I had said to my children, We're going to have a Bible study. Aw Dad! But what I would say is, I'd fish around till I heard something went on in school or something they were dealing with, and I'd say, Well, wonder what God says about that. Why don't we just find out what He says. They'd go get their Bible. They'd bring their Bible back, not because I said, Let's go find out what God says. It's because we're looking for information together. Dad, you'd be surprised how much your children could teach you about the Word of God or simply motivating you to open it and find out what they want to talk about. You know what kids are interested in? The things they're dealing with.
And watching you read it is one thing. Hearing you read it's like praying. And watching how God works in your life. Then of course, will they personally seek to lead other people to Christ? Or will they just say, That's everybody's responsibility; and never seem to see any personal need or responsibility. And Dad, let me ask you this. When's the last time you said to your children, You know, my friend is lost. And I've been asking God to show me how to tell them how to be saved. How to lead them to Christ. When's the last time you ever said to your children that you feel like that's your responsibility? Which it is. And have you ever sat down with them and said, Now look; if you have a friend who needs to be saved, let's talk about how you would talk to him; or how you would talk to her. Then of course, what you have to ask is if they follow me, will they faithfully serve the Lord through their local church? Giving their time, their talent and their tithe.
The church is the body of Christ. He died for us. He says, This is My church. This is the Lord's church. It was very important in His eyes and mind that God's people assemble together. Sing and pray and preach and give and love and help one another. That was God's plan. It's still God's plan. Somebody says, Well, I don't have to go to church to be a Christian. Well, you don't have to, you don't have to go to church to be saved. I admit that. Well, what kind of life are you going to live if you're never under the preaching of the Gospel? How much are you going to know about God? There's something about getting together, fellowshipping, helping each other, encouraging one another, singing these songs together, opening the Word of God together. Because watch this. If, for example, if you who are watching or listening, if you don't go to church, do you think your children are going to church? No. Maybe once in a while, that'll be different, but not very often.
So what you're saying is I'm not honoring God's day. I don't think it's that important. And why should I give money to the church? You're not giving it to the church. You're giving it to God; so that people all over the world can hear the Word of God. Then of course, think about this. If they walk in your footsteps, will they recognize their body as the temple of the Holy Spirit? And that it's a sacred vessel and that God gave you this body to bring Him honor and glory. Or, will they follow the habit of others smoking? How many of you have ever been in a situation you couldn't breathe? Anybody? Yeah. If you have asthma, things like that, you can't breathe, it's a horrible feeling to think you can't get the next breath. Don't you think it's foolish to breathe smoke into these precious lungs that God gave you?
Somebody says, Well, I'm going to do it anyway. Well, so be it. But anything that hinders the body like that, can't be right. And secondly, people drink. Somebody says, Now, wait a minute. Jesus drank wine. Just keep reading the Bible. You'll realize He wasn't drinking anything alcoholic to make Him feel better. He already felt His best. Because one leads to two, and heartache leads to three, and trouble leads to four. And deep trouble leads to five and you have an alcoholic. So what do your children do? It might, in fact, I saw this, this past week in the restaurant, I was sitting there and this wonderful looking family came up and one of the kids was probably thirteen or somewhere there. That was like eight or nine. Mom and Dad had a big beer right here, and here sat these children. Can they ever say to them, Well, you shouldn't drink. You know why? Because dad, if you do it, it must be right. If you do it, it must be okay. No, it's not okay, because it makes them morally less sensitive than not. So when you think about this body of ours, it's a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Now let me say one other thing. Parents, Dad, your responsibility, how your children dress. Mom, it's your responsibility also. Parents are responsible for how the children dress because how they dress is going to influence how they, highly, how they act. In other words, we have the responsibility of seeing that our children dress in a way that's honoring to God. It doesn't mean you have to wear black all the time, doesn't mean that. But Dad, your responsibility, if you're too afraid to correct your children, then you need to shape up, because your children need it. Then of course, will they live and work in the power of the Holy Spirit, recognizing that He will enable them to do whatever God wants them to do and equip them to do it. That they're gifted by the Holy Spirit.
When a child is born, they have gifts. When the Holy Spirit comes in their life, they have the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to exercise those talents and those gifts in such a way that brings honor to God Is that what you're doing, Dad? Do you know what you, do you know what your talents are? Your spiritual gifts? Are you asking the Holy Spirit to use you where you work, where you live, in such a fashion that your life is counting? Every day somehow in some way. What will your children do? Just drift in life? And I think about all these college students. And I meet them all the time, who are going to be finishing up this year or next year, they have no idea what they're going to do. I say, Wait a minute. You don't know. You don't know what you're going to do? No. Are you praying about it? Well, not really.
Well, let me ask you a question. Don't you think it's unfair to your parents? That you spend all that money that they worked diligently for to give you an education so that your life could count for something good. Well, I'll find out somehow. You know what? We've got multitudes of college kids who don't know why they went to college. Their parents paid their way and then sometimes their parents ends up having to pay even more. Or they're coming back to live with their parents. Dad, you and I need to live the kind of life that they are motivated. What you want to do is to encourage them to find out what God wants them to do. You willing to educate them; you're willing to help them every way. But when you get out of college, you ought to have a pretty good idea where you're headed. Now your father may not have done that for you, but you need to do that for your children. And so we have to take responsibility for our own families, and help in others whenever possible.
So Dad, I trust that you've been wise enough to have listened; to write it down, and listen, to make some decisions. God, here's what I'm going to do about number three and number six or number two or number one. I want you to be willing to change my life for the sake of my children. You say, Well, they're already gone. What about your grandchildren? Every time I'm around my grandchildren, I want to leave them with something that they have to think about. Because remember, when you're a granddad, you have a little status. You've lived a long time. You've lived through a lot of stuff. You've seen a lot of things and so they're going to respect you. So may God grant you the wisdom to be a godly parent, a godly grandparent. Now, Dad, if you're here today, you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior. If I were you, I wouldn't go through that door until I was convinced , Today, I'm going to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior for the sake of my family. The commitment I made to my wife when I married her, and my children.
Father, how grateful we are for Your love for us. And pray that the Holy Spirit will take this simple message, drive it home to every person who hears it and bring about change in the life of that dad, that'll bring about change in the life of the whole family. In Jesus' name, amen.