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An Early Father’s Day Sermon from Proverbs 4 April 26, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Father's Day, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons, Spiritual Leadership.

INTRODUCTION: We are treading into an area of some controversy and we need at this time to deal with it in a way that is helpful and not hurtful. The subject of child rearing is one of those subjects around which there tends to be a lot of heat and not much light. There is a great danger of spiritual pride in our attitudes toward the ways others rear their children. What we want to understand today, however, are some general principles concerning child rearing. As demanded by the text, we will attempt to make some personal application of these principles.
The passages that we are looking at during the next three weeks come from the book of Proverbs. There are a couple of facts you need to recognize about the book of Proverbs. It is meant to be preventative. It is specifically written to keep young people from making disastrous choices. It is not intended to help them once they are in trouble but to keep them from getting into trouble in the first place.
Also, it does not guarantee that the young people will accept the guidance being offered. In fact, the very existence of the book is proof that young people raised in God fearing homes are in danger of rejecting the very truth they have been taught.
One final note before we look into the text. You may not have young children. That does not mean that the passage says nothing to you. Remember that just as a father is responsible to rear his children, this church is responsible to rear the believers in it and those who come to faith in the ways of the LORD. If you are a believer, you are responsible to do your part in bringing others to maturity in Christ and the principles in this passage apply to you also.
I. The goodness of a father’s instruction is the reason to abide in it (verses 1-2). One of the things that strikes me in this passage is the lack of emphasis on being a good example. It is just assumed that the father is living what he teaches and that he is a good example before his children. The reason I believe is this: there is a huge difference between doing something and expecting someone to follow you and training someone to do something. The first has its place but an example without instruction is in the long run senseless.
It is an old illustration but very appropriate. There was a young lady who baked cornbread in a small skillet. The cornbread was delicious. Her husband asked why she made cornbread in a small skillet. She answered, “Because that’s the way my mother does it.” Later that day she called up her mother and asked why she made cornbread in a small skillet. Her mother answered, “Because that’s the way my mother does it.” The girl called her grandmother and asked the same question and received the same answer. Finally, she called her great-grandmother, asked the same question, but received a different answer. Because when I was young, my oven was not big enough to hold a large skillet. Decades of small skillet use because someone followed an example without receiving instruction.
So we have a father who does more than serves as an example but rather is training his children in good instruction. To understand what good instruction is, you need to understand the underlying assumption, the foundation of the book of Proverbs. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). The passage we are looking at today is tells us the importance of good doctrine or teaching and the result of good doctrine. It is true that you will find no mention of God in this passage. However, there is no meaning to the instructions given here unless you acknowledge Christ in all your ways, trusting His understanding and His direction rather than your own. Proverbs says, if you follow the LORD, if you choose the good way, this is how you should raise your children but if you do not there are real dangers that your children will find themselves in.
II. The priority of a father’s instruction is the reason he gives it (verses 3-9).
A. His instruction is his children’s inheritance (verses 3-4a). Notice how the writer identifies himself. He is the only son. In Genesis 22:2 (see also verses 12 and 16 as well as Judges 11:34; Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10; and Zechariah 12:10), when God commanded Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, to be sacrificed; God was not ignorant that Abraham had another, older son named Ishmael. God was emphasizing the fact that Isaac was the receiver of both the physical and more importantly the spiritual inheritance of his father. This is the same usage that we have here in these verses.
We may have the opportunity to pass down some measure of wealth or at least a few precious belongings to our children. What we must give them is instruction in the ways of wisdom, in the ways of God. When the children of Israel came out of Egypt, God gave them the feasts so that they might not only celebrate God’s deliverance for them but also that they might teach their children about the power of God. David in Psalm 71:18 says that even in his old age, he still had something valuable to pass down to the next generation, his knowledge of the power of God.
“The poem, “My Father’s Hands Held Mine”, by Norman H. Russell is extremely moving. The speaker talks about his childhood experiences with his father…The next phrase, “The deer that dies falls from both our hands,” suggests that perhaps his father may still be there somehow in spirit if not in body. He also gives adequate credit to his father for each deer that he kills because his father was the one who taught him how to make arrows. Drawing from the Native American culture that this man seems to come from, the father probably also taught him to hunt. The speaker is thanking his father and praising him because he knows that if his father hadn’t taught him how to him how to do these things, that he would be having some serious issues providing for his family. That’s probably why the father chose for them to do this together. He knew it would have a practical impact on his son. This would leave his son with not only a way to do things but the reason and ability to teach his sons so that they’ll remember him.” (from Phil Talley’s analysis of “My Father’s Hands Held Mine.”
This is why we as father’s and mother’s and leaders within this church must give priority to training our young people. Our example is not enough. They must be taught by us the power of God and the wisdom of God or else they will starve spiritually.
Wisdom has priority above all else (verses 4b-7).
If the way of wisdom is kept, it enables the man or woman who keeps God’s way to live (verse 4b). This means more than simply to be breathing but to have true spiritual life. If you desire to be spiritually alive, then you must believe and observe God’s Word. All other spirituality, apart from God’s Word is no more than a readjusting of the corpse of our spiritual deadness.
If wisdom is acquired, it will preserve and protect the one who acquires it (verses 5-6). This is a scary world. There are many dangers in it. The person who is trained in wisdom, in God’s ways and makes it a priority in his life above all else will be protected when the dangers comes. Fathers, mothers, leaders in this church, if we do not train our children in the ways of wisdom they will be exposed to danger.
Often there is a lot of debate as to how much we should isolate our children or expose our children to the things of this world. This is a legitimate question that every parent should deal with but not everyone comes to the same conclusion. There is obviously a line that must be drawn somewhere but it is not always clear where we should draw that line.
If, however, we do not take steps to train our children in the ways of God, the debate becomes meaningless. It does not matter where I draw the line, if the my child is not trained, verbally taught and shown by example, the ways of God, he or she is exposed unnecessarily to danger. That is why we emphasize Scripture memory in Awana. That is why we have the past three years challenged you as a church to memorize a specific passage of Scripture. We will do that again this year. That is why you need to lead your family in devotions, with at least Bible reading and prayer. That is why some of you parents need to bring your children to our Sunday morning prayer meeting, so that they may learn through our prayers, how to talk to God. That is why some of you need to have your children in Sunday School, as inconvenient as it may be to get up on the only day you can sleep in. We are not talking about building up numbers but rather about building up an inheritance for our children. That is why you need to bring your children with you to every service that this church offers. That is why we as a church offer a nursery. It is the first steps that this church takes in providing protection for our children.
The state has not, never has, and never will protect our children from the destruction of this world. It is left up to us as a church and as Christian fathers and mothers within the church to provide the protective training and instruction that our children need to live and that our children need to be preserved and protected from destruction.
Wisdom can do this because it is the principle thing (verse 8). In other words, it is more important than food and clothing. It is more important than education. It is more important than a good career. It is more important than anything else that this world has to offer. There is nothing, nothing, …nothing more important than training our children in the wisdom of God.
Treasuring discernment above all else results in exaltation above others (verses 8-9). You can teach your child self-esteem but if you do not teach him or her wisdom, they will simply exalt themselves but it will not be real. They will simply be proud. The wisdom from God, when treasured above all that this world has to offer, will exalt that person above everyone around him or her. Do you want your life to be important. Treasure wisdom. That may not impress your neighbors. Your senators and congressman will probably not take notice but God will exalt you. You will be honored with permanent, eternal honor. Honor that only God Himself can give out. You will be eternally significant. You will be important in God’s kingdom if you treasure wisdom.
The coercion of a father’s instruction can result in God’s blessing, if the children abide in it (verses 10-13).
Verse 11 has two very interesting words in it: taught and led. They do not simply mean the act of teaching and the act of leading. There is force implied. I have caused you to learn. I have caused you to follow this path. I have made you to learn. I have forced you to follow in this way.
Quite often, I hear someone say, we do not want our children to be forced to follow the right path. We want them to investigate the various religions and choose the one that they find is right. Solomon would have laughed at such an idea. If you want your child to follow the way of wisdom, if you want your child to choose the path of blessing (as verse 10 teaches) you must force your child to learn and to walk in the right path. If you do not, if you let your child go in the way he wants, he will follow the way he wants and will never come near the path of blessing which God has laid before him.
Even believers fall into this trap. “We should not force our young people to pray in youth group. We should not force our children to go to church with us.” Yet Solomon says that is exactly what we must do. Basic training has a reputation of being unpleasant because suddenly young men and women are forced to do things that go against their natural inclination. They are forced into a certain path. They are made to learn certain things. If they do not then they cannot serve. If we refuse to take that type of attitude in training our young people, how can we expect them to follow the path of wisdom.
Verse 12 tells us actually what will happen if we do not force our children onto the right path, if we do not force them to learn the ways of wisdom, the ways of God, the ways of this word. They will come to a dead end. That is what hindered means. No where to go. Trapped. How many times have we seen people say, “I do not know where to go, what to do, where to turn?” Yet in hindsight it is easy to see what happened. They either were not taught or refused to learn the ways of wisdom and they made foolish decision after foolish decision until finally there was no way out. They stumble, they fall, they can go no further for they have chosen the wrong path.
During the next couple of weeks we will talk about some of those things that we should teach but let me emphasize again that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. If you want your child, if we want people to go in the way of wisdom, we must teach them the gospel of Christ. Jesus was God in heaven and became man to be punished for your and my sins. He died, was buried, and rose again. Will you fear Him? Will you bow before Him as the only God and Savior Jesus Christ? Will you trust Him alone for forgiveness of sins? That is the beginning to the path of wisdom. Teach it today to your children. Tell it to your families. And if you have not followed it yourself, begin today on the path of wisdom through faith in Christ as your Savior.
NEXT WEEK: Proverbs 31:1-9 – What My Mother Taught Me – Part One: The Three Dangers


1. James role arzadon - June 15, 2010

i’m so blessed with these inspiring a powerful message it seems that rhis will serve as an words of encouragement and a reminder to abide in the commandment and instructions of our father first in heaven and our father towards son please keep on imposing messages like this more power and more blessings to come GOD BLESS WITH PRAYERS

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