Sunday, June 15, 2014

Psalms 23 through the eyes of a Father

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The heart of a Father is a curious thing. It can take you to tremendous heights and plunge you to astonishing depths. Since God is the only perfect Father, it may be instructive to learn what he thinks that the job entails. 

Verse 1: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The term used for Lord in this verse is Yehovah. It means, the self existing one, the one true God. Just as God is true, we, as Fathers, need to be true. We need to speak the truth. We need to live the truth. 

What is true, in a fatherly sense? 

We need to be a storehouse of wisdom that our families can go to for answers and help. They also need to know that we will be truthful in our answers to them, irregardless of whether or not it puts us in a bad light (our pasts can be pretty ugly). They need to know that we will tell them the truth, even if the truth hurts their feelings. I'm not advocating emotional brutality. We can speak the truth in a gentle manner. But, as fathers, we need to be men of truth.

Another meaning of the word true is to be faithful and dedicated. Our families need to know that dad is faithful to God, mom, and the children. They need to know that we have given our heart and dedicated our lives to them. They need to see us as a servant leader who will be there for them till death do us part. 

That means that we put their needs above our own. We must value their lives above our own. We must understand that God has given us a precious gift in our wives and children. We need to treat them as precious, love them as precious, and handle them well. The way we love and treat them is our gift back to the God who gave them to us.

And God takes this seriously. He may want us to lead others in some capacity (preacher, teacher, evangelist, prophet, bishop, deacon, etc). But, he can't allow us to walk in those callings unless we rule our own houses well. 

Because we love our families, we need to provide for them. We should work hard to provide for their physical needs. And we should work even harder to provide for their emotional needs. 

Going to work and earning a paycheck isn't all we're called to do. If we don't take the time with our wives and children to show them that we are concerned for their emotional well being, that we want to know who they are, and are willing to help them to become who GOD wants them to be, we are poor fathers.

Our homes need to be a safe haven for our families. A place where they know they can be who God is making them to be. A place where they know that, even when they fail, we will be there to help them get back up again. Our love needs to go beyond what they do right and correcting their wrongs. It needs to be a soothing balm that wraps it's arms around them when they need to cry out their hurt. They need to know that daddy's never too tired for them and they're never an inconvenience to us.

Our sons shouldn't have to go to the world for a father figure and role model. Our daughters shouldn't feel they need to give in to the whispers of worldly boys in order to feel loved and accepted. If they feel loved, needed and respected at home, the world won't have as much pull over them. 

The best thing we can do for them is to love God above all. They need to see our faith lived out in our homes. Ultimately, the God they choose to serve will be a direct result of what they see lived out in front of them day in, and day out in our home. 

verse 2: He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 

We need to make our homes and families a place of rest and healing. When they try to get too busy, we need to make them stop being so busy. We need to make time for family time. Not just games, but talks and walks, laughter and love. 

Our families need to be led. We need to LEAD our families in the ways of God and life. If we leave them to find God on their own, the chances are high that they will find false gods instead. We can't be afraid of offending them. We can't put it off for another day, or assume that they know what we know just because we live under the same roof. We must be proactive in our leading them. We need to do our best to teach them the things of God and help them to find the spiritual oasis that only Jesus can provide. 

verse 3: He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

There is a false teaching out there that says that we cannot be friends with our children. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are Jesus' children. So were the Apostles. They stayed with him, day in and day out, for 3 1/2 years. For this to happen- and for Jesus to effectively teach them, they had to be friends. They didn't keep separate camping spots, eat separate food, and only speak when they were spoken to. 

If our children cannot be our friends, then they won't see God as their friend and they won't develop a relationship with him. EVERY relationship begins with friendship. It cannot progress to something deeper if we don't start as friends. 

As friends, we share our secrets- good and bad. We help each other- in easy times and hard times.

Our families need to be allowed to see our weakness. When we fail, we do not help the by hiding it. They need to see us on our knees- seeking forgiveness and answers.They need to see us study the scriptures and be taught how to do it for themselves. They need to hear daddy pray and be encouraged to pray for themselves. 

As daddy's we have to lead them in the ways of God's righteousness. We don't allow them to watch and read just anything. We cannot allow them to hang out with ungodly friends and family. We must not allow them to dress in ways that God is against. We are to guard the gate for our family. Sometimes guards have to correct- even though it won't be popular. They may not like it at that time (and you won't either), but they will thank you later.

And it's all for the glory of JESUS name. Remember, HE'S the center of our home- not us. 

verse 4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Even when the hard times come and we have no answer to give nor clear path to show, they must see our steadfast faith in the deliverer- Jesus Christ. Our attitudes must be like the Hebrew children in Daniel: Our God is well able to deliver us, but if he doesn't, we still will not bow. 

We must show that we know that God is with us, even though we don't know where he is. Even when the circumstances of our lives would seem to indicate that he's not.

We must demonstrate in life our trust in God's protection and correction. We must be willing to protect our families at all times. We don't push our wives and children in front of us to shield ourselves. In fact, we should be their shield. We must be willing to fight to protect them.  

Verse 5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

When our family feels that the whole world is against us, we still must try to make our homes a place of provision and restoration for them. Living for God is not easy, regardless of what the prosperity preachers say. The word says that ALL those who will live godly in Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution. Our homes need to be a safe haven of restoration and healing to recover from the wounds of the war. 

Make no mistake: we are in a war. The world persecuted and crucified Jesus. 11 of the first 12 Apostles were martyred for their faith. Millions more have been killed and tortured for Jesus. If we are not facing persecution for our faith, then we need to find out where we left Jesus at and return.

When the kids are grown and circumstances turn against them, they must know that our arms and homes are always open to them. We may not condone their actions that may have led them there. But, we still love them and will help them get out of the mess.

We need to anoint them and pray over them from the day they're born. They must become familiar with the presence of God, so that when they are older, the false gods of the world will not be able to draw them away. 

They need to see and feel our love. Their emotional cups need to be so filled with love that it overflows into their own families- for they learned how to love from us.

 Verse 6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

We set the tone in our homes. If they are raised in an environment of love and mercy, they will set the same tones in their own homes. They need to be raised in a loving environment. One that says, "I love you even when you're hurt- even when you mess up." This way, we pass the legacy on and we will have a much greater chance of all of us dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.