Fathers Day 2017 - Families of Faith
Genesis 25: 21; Exodus 2: 1 - 2; 1 Samuel 1: 10 – 11
The young preacher was shocked to hear the well-known preacher utter the words, "I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in the arms of another man’s wife. Yes, I have spent some of the happiest moments of my life in the arms of another man’s wife." Then, following a pause, the preacher added, "That woman was my mother."
"I’ve got to use that!" the young pastor thought to himself. A few weeks later, as he was speaking to a Rotary Club, the phrase leapt into his mind and he exclaimed, "I have spent some of the happiest days of my life in the arms of another man’s wife." Then, after another long pause, the young man muttered meekly, "But for the life of me I can’t remember who she was."
There is absolutely no doubt that fathers and mothers have a powerful influence on our lives. Indeed, families are the crucible in which our character is initially formed. "Whatever else may be said about the home, it is the bottom line of life, the anvil upon which attitudes and convictions are hammered out." I agree.
A family which has its priorities right has a much better chance of succeeding. We, as Christians, should take care to make sure we have the proper priorities in place for our families, especially since our day is so caught up in other pursuits.
What are your priorities in family life? Do you have spiritual priorities? How does your faith relate to your family life? Although we all come as individuals, faith is for the home. Today, we are going to take a look at 3 families in the OT: Isaac and Rebekah, Amram and Jochobed and Elkanah and Hannah. From them we will learn the principles for success in family life.
1. Faith in the Provision of God
Story of Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac was living with his father and mother in the land of Canaan. But Isaac had grown up. It was time for him to find a wife. Abraham did not want him to marry any women of the land of Canaan, so he made arrangements to send a servant back to Mesopotamia to find one of his kinsmen for his son Isaac to marry. So, in Genesis 24, Abraham sends his servant back to his own kinsman to find Isaac a wife.
Now, this is a story of the provision of God. It is also a story of faith in the God who provides. Although Isaac needed a wife, he had to trust that God would provide just the right woman for him. Additionally, he had to trust that God would give the servant wisdom in selecting that woman. Further, he had to trust that God would superintend all of the circumstances surrounding the selection of his bride. I don’t know about you, but I would probably want to be just a little bit more involved in the selection process than Isaac was. Isaac had to trust God for a wife.
The servant ended up in the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia. God was already there, and He was at work. Through an interesting set of circumstances, God led the servant to a young girl named Rebekah, and she just happened to be related to Abraham’s people. The servant and Rebekah went to her house and told her family all about the journey to find Isaac a wife. The proposition was made that she return with this servant to Isaac. But then Rebekah had a decision to make. Would she trust God and go, or not? You see, not only did Isaac have to have faith in the provision of God, but Rebekah also had to have faith.
Genesis 24: 58 - Well, you know the story. She came back, and there was a great wedding. She and Isaac were married, and they lived happily ever after. Right? Well, not quite right. You see, although they had experienced God’s provision, they had another test to face. Rebekah was barren. What would they do? They had a choice to make. Would they try to work out some human means to get a child, following the example of Abraham and Sarah where Abraham fathered a child by Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar? Or would they trust God to fulfil His promise?
Genesis 25:21 - They trusted God for a child, and God turned their faith into His provision. It seems that Isaac and Rebekah had learned to trust God. They had to learn to trust God for one another, so it seemed natural to trust God for their family. And we see that God met them each step of the way. He honoured their faith and provided for their need. What can we learn from Isaac and Rebekah? Well, I believe we can learn a very important lesson. The lesson is to trust God for what you need. We can have faith as a family in the provision of God. The God who knows when a sparrow falls to the earth certainly knows our needs. Sometimes it is hard to trust Him for our needs. Sometimes, even the smallest needs appear to be unscalable mountains. When you are facing a financial need and you do not know where the money is going to come from, it seems like you are facing a mountain. When you find out your job has been terminated, you are out of work and you have not made plans for a change, it seems like you are facing a mountain. When one of your children gets into trouble and you are hurt and embarrassed and do not know where to turn, it certainly seems like you are facing a mountain. When you are sitting across from the doctor, and he tells you the news is not good, you are facing a mountain. Life is not fair and things sometimes are tough. When you are standing in the midst of it, and facing a mountain range that seems to be impossible to go over or around, what are you going to do? Who are you going to trust? Trust in God. He is a mountain mover, he has promised us that through faith, we can move mountains too. So have faith in the provision of God. Trust God for what you need.
I heard a story of a man who was caught in a flood. As the waters rose surrounding his house, he had to flee, first, to the upstairs, and then to the roof. As he was sitting on the roof waiting for the flood waters to subside, he seemed to be very peaceful, very self-assured. Two men in a row-boat came by and offered to take him to safety. But he told them, “No! I am just going to trust in the Lord.” Several hours passed and a couple of men in a motor boat came by, and offered, again, to take him to safety. But he replied, "No, thank you. I am going to trust in the Lord." The waters continued to rise, and finally a helicopter came by. The men in the helicopter offered to lower a ladder and transport him to safety. But he replied, "No, thank you. I am just going to trust in the Lord." Instead of subsiding, the flood waters overcame his house and he drowned. As he was ushered into heaven, he began to complain bitterly to one of the angels. He said, "I trusted in God, and what did it get me? I was sitting on my roof trusting that God would cause the flood waters to subside, and He didn’t. Where was God when I needed Him? Why didn’t He save me?" The angel replied, "Well, He sent 2 boats and a helicopter, what else did you want Him to do?" You see, the moral of the story is that God provides for our needs, but He does so in His own way. What you are looking for may not be the perfect provision God has in mind. But you can trust that his provision will come.
2. Faith in the Protection of God
Amram and Jochobed - the parents of Moses. God had them with a baby boy. In a Jewish home, there was great rejoicing when a male child was born. But there was one very big problem. The Pharaoh of Egypt had decided that since the Israelites were multiplying so greatly, he would kill all the newly-born male children to cut back on the population. What would you do in such a circumstance? How would you deal with the possibility of having your newborn son thrown into the Nile River and drowned? Could you have faith in the protection of God in those circumstances?
Exodus 2: 1, 2 - In spite of the circumstances, Moses’ parents chose to hide him. They chose to believe God, to have faith in God’s protection. If they were found out, no doubt severe penalties would have been imposed upon them and Moses would have been killed. The temptation, in such a circumstance, would be to fear for one’s life, as well as the life of the child. They had to have a faith which would overcome fear. And that is precisely the kind of faith they had. Hebrews 11: 23 “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Their faith overcame fear. They trusted in God to make a way for their son. God turned their faith into His protection.
We are all know the story of how they placed Moses in a basket and set it afloat on the Nile, trusting in the protection of God. God’s protection was there. God guided that little basket down the river, straight into Pharaoh’s daughter’s arms. Not only did God protect Moses, God gave him a palace to live in. He was raised with the finest education Egypt could provide, and with all of the privileges of being a member of the Royal family. God was there with his protection.
What principle can we discern for family living from Amram and Jochobed? The lesson is to trust God with what you have. They trusted God to take care of the son He had given them. God made a way for him. We too can trust God with what we have. We can trust Him with our mate. We can trust Him with our son. We can trust Him with our daughter. At times, it is difficult to trust God with those so very close to us. From the anxiety of a mother sending her child alone to school on that first day, to the fears of a father entrusting his precious daughter to her husband, the challenge is to have faith. But the nature of faith is to trust God, not only for ourselves, but for others as well. Martin Luther - "Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. It is so sure and certain, that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times." Trust God with what you have.
3. Faith in the Providence of God
Faith of a mother - Hannah, the wife of Elkanah. She, like Rebekah, was barren. Her heart ached to have a son. She saw other people’s children and it broke her heart that she had not been blessed. Her husband loved her and tried to make life as easy for her as possible. Elkanah is a concerned husband who understood and cared deeply for his wife. It is a beautiful picture of gentleness and compassion. But for all that, Hannah was greatly distressed.
She, like Isaac and Rebekah, decided to trust God for His provision. She came to the Temple. 1 Samuel 1:10, 11 - Hannah trusted God, and God answered her prayer. God gave her a son. His name was Samuel.
I want you to notice here that she not only trusted God for a son, but she trusted God to use her son, who was yet unborn. In her prayer, she promised God that if He would give her a son, she would give that son back to Him. That is precisely what she did. After Samuel was weaned, she took the boy back to the Temple of God. She gave him to the charge of the High Priest to be trained in the service of God. Because of that, God turned her faith and faithfulness into His providence for Israel.
You will recall that God used her son, Samuel, to become a great prophet in Israel. God used him, at a strategic time in the history of that nation, to turn them back to God. It was all because of Hannah’s faith and faithfulness.
What can we learn from Hannah? The lesson is to trust God to use what you give Him. You see, we must not only trust God for what we need, and trust God with what we have, we must trust God to use what we give Him. The critical question is, "What have we given Him?" You see, God cannot use what we do not give Him. 2 Timothy 1: 12 “For I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
God is able to guard and to use only what we have entrusted to Him. If we trust Him with our finances, He can use them not only to meet your needs as a family, but so that His kingdom work can be advanced. If we trust Him with our work, He can use that to be an example to our fellow workers of how a Christian responds to the pressures of the marketplace. If we trust Him with our marriage, He can use it to teach our kids what Christian family life ought to be; how Christ can be the head of the home, and 2 people can love and relate to one another in spite of the pressures of life. If we trust Him with our lives, He can use us to share the good news to a watching world, of what a difference the forgiveness of Christ can make in a human life. Make an offering today, of your life, to God. Trust God to use what you give Him.
As we focus on the family this Fathers’ Day, we can see powerful principles lived out through the faith of our fathers and mothers. Isaac and Rebekah trusted God for one another and for a son. They had faith in the provision of God. The lesson is to trust God for what you need. In the lives of Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochobed, we see faith that overcame fear. We see faith in the protection of God. The lesson is to trust God with what you have. Finally, in the life of Hannah, Elkanah’s wife, we see faith in the providence of God as she trusted God, not only for a son, but that God would use her son in His service. The lesson here is to trust God to use what you give him. May our families also reflect these principles of faith.