The following is the sermon given to my church on Father's Day June 21, 2015. The audio of the sermon is at the end of this manuscript
Happy Father's Day. As a father myself I want you to know how tough a job you have.
Father's Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother's Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.
On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, West Virginia but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.
The credit for the modern holiday is often given to Sonora Dodd, who was the driving force behind its establishment.
Father's Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA on June 19, 1910 by Mrs. Dodd, Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Mother's Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.
It didn't have much success initially. In the 1930s Ms. Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Surprise, surprise. Since 1938 she had the help of the Father's Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men's Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother's Day.
A bill to give national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father's Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialize.
President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress.
In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents". In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.
This is from the National Retail Federation 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey.
As the smallest of the American gift-giving holidays, Father’s Day is a blip on the retail sales radar compared to Christmas and Mother’s Day, but the sentimental importance of the occasion will never be overlooked by consumers. According to NRF’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average person will spend $113.80 on neckties, tools, electronics and other special gifts for dad, slightly down from $119.84 last year. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion.
I may step on some toes this morning brothers but I want to tell you beforehand that it is not to point fingers because I’ll be stepping on my own toes and pointing at myself. I won’t say “I’m telling you this in love” because that is often used by somebody who really isn’t saying it in love. The fact that I’m telling you in advance that I may step on some toes is evidence that I love you because I’m going to tell you what I’m going to tell you. OK enough of my double talk. The title of my sermon today, if you need to put a title on it, is “SURPRISE YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER”
Those words may come as great joy in the event that you’re married and you and your wife have been trying to have a child and it hasn’t happened yet; or on the other hand not so great joy, if you and your wife had decided that you didn’t want any more children, or that you didn’t want any children at all. Those may not be words of joy at all however, when we were sneaking around and fornicating or worse yet committing adultery. Then those are words of horror like they were to two of the surprise father's I'm going to mention today. In any event it may be a great joy, or great terror when you hear these words “
SURPRISE YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER”
There were several men in the bible that heard those words.
Genesis 17:15-19 (NLT)15 Then God said to Abraham, “Regarding Sarai, your wife—her name will no longer be Sarai. From now on her name will be Sarah.16 And I will bless her and give you a son from her! Yes, I will bless her richly, and she will become the mother of many nations. Kings of nations will be among her descendants.”17 Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?”18 So Abraham said to God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” (Abraham had slept with Sarah's slave and she had a son, Ishmael)19 But God replied, “No—Sarah, your wife, will give birth to a son for you. You will name him Isaac, and I will confirm my covenant with him and his descendants as an everlasting covenant.
Genesis 21:1-2 (NLT)1 The LORD kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised.2 She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.
SURPRISE ABRAHAM YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
Genesis 25:19-21 (NLT)19 This is the account of the family of Isaac, the son of Abraham.20 When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and the sister of Laban the Aramean.21 Isaac pleaded with the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The LORD answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins.
SURPRISE ISAAC YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER AND WITH TWINS!
Those twins were Esau and Jacob
Jacob had two wives and his two wives gave one of their servants to Jacob like Sarah did with Abraham so Jacobs had lots of kids 12 sons and 1 daughter.
One of his sons was Judah and he married and had three sons two of them married a woman named Tamar. I encourage you to read the entire 38th chapter of Genesis for the whole story because I don't have time for it today.
Judah's first son Er married Tamer and he died. In those days if a woman was married and her husband died and they did not have a son the deceased’s brother was to marry the woman so that the family linage could continue. After Er died Judah's second son Onan made sure that she would not have a child by him and he died. Judah didn’t want Tamar to marry his youngest son, Shelah, because he thought that he would die too so he kept him away from her. After Judah’s wife died he and a friend went on a trip. Tamar found this out and she went out, dressed up like a prostitute, and Judah saw her on the corner and became her “trick” that day:).
Genesis 38:24-25 (NLT)24 About three months later, Judah was told, “Tamar, your daughter-in-law, has acted like a prostitute. And now, because of this, she’s pregnant.” “Bring her out, and let her be burned!” Judah demanded.25 But as they were taking her out to kill her, she sent this message to her father-in-law: “The man who owns these things made me pregnant. Look closely. Whose seal and cord and walking stick are these?”
Well guess whose they were?
Go back up to
Genesis 38:16-18 (NLT)16 So he stopped and propositioned her. “Let me have sex with you,” he said, not realizing that she was his own daughter-in-law. “How much will you pay to have sex with me?” Tamar asked.17 “I’ll send you a young goat from my flock,” Judah promised. “But what will you give me to guarantee that you will send the goat?” she asked.18 “What kind of guarantee do you want?” he replied. She answered, “Leave me your identification seal and its cord and the walking stick you are carrying.” So Judah gave them to her. Then he had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant.
BIG SURPRISE JUDAH YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
Tamar had twins, Perez and Zerah. There was something very important about Perez but we don't have time to talk about that today. Some of my bible study students may remember what it was.
Judges 13:2-3 (NLT)2 In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children.3 The angel of the LORD appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son.
Judges 13:6-7 (NLT)6 The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He looked like one of God’s angels, terrifying to see. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name.7 But he told me, ‘You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.’”
SURPRISE MANOAH YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
That son was Samson
1 Samuel 1:2 (NLT) Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.
1 Samuel 1:6-7 (NLT)6 So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the LORD had kept her from having children.7 Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.
1 Samuel 1:10-11 (NLT)10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the LORD.11 And she made this vow: “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the LORD, his hair will never be cut.”
1 Samuel 1:19-20 (NLT)19 The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the LORD once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the LORD remembered her plea,20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the LORD for him.”
SURPRISE ELKANAH YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
That son was the prophet Samuel
2 Samuel 11:1-5 (NLT)1 In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem.2 Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.3 He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”4 Then David sent messengers to get her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. Then she returned home.5 Later, when Bathsheba discovered that she was pregnant, she sent David a message, saying, “I’m pregnant.”
BIG TIME SURPRISE DAVID YOU'RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
We know the rest of the story. David eventually ordered that Uriah be positioned during a battle where he would be killed. That child died. Bathsheba later had another child and his name was Solomon.
Luke 1:6-7 (NLT)6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.
Luke 1:11-13 (NLT)11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar.12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.
Luke 1:23-25 (NLT)23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home.24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”
SURPRISE ZECHARIAH YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
That child was John the Baptist.
Now the biggest surprise father of them all;
Matthew 1:18-21 (NLT)18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
HUGE SURPRISE JOSEPH YOU’RE GOING TO BE A FATHER!
We all know who that child is. Yes Jesus.
There are other surprise fathers in the bible but we don’t have enough time to talk about them and that’s not really the point that I want to make in this message. These surprise fathers became fathers by miracles performed by God, except in the cases of David and Judah, where these guys were fooling around. None of these men were not perfect, in fact some of them had serious flaws. Abraham slept with his wife’s slave, then kicked his son Ishmael and his mother out of the house and sent them away; Isaac favored one twin son Esau, over the other Jacob; Zechariah didn’t believe the angel and he couldn’t speak until after his son was born; and we know about Judah and David. Yet all of these men became fathers with the responsibilities that come with that.
Fathers are very important in the lives of their children. Most of the work done by psychologists, in the past, has been on the relationship of mothers and children but we have now realized that fathers play a unique and crucial role in nurturing and guiding children's development. Many experts now believe that fathers can be just as nurturing and sensitive with their babies as mothers. As their children grow, fathers take on added roles of guiding their children's intellectual and social development. Even when a father is 'just playing' with his children, he is nurturing their development.
It's the same whether it's our natural or spiritual father. A natural father is the birth father; surrogate fathers can be grandfathers, uncles, cousins, brothers, foster fathers, or godfathers. These can all be spiritual fathers as well but I'm talking about pastors, teachers, and others in the body of Christ that influence and guide.
The Bible records a number of father failures, including Eli who sacrificed his family for the sake of a job.
Eli was the High Priest at Shiloh and he had two wicked sons. You can read about him and them in 1 Samuel chapter 2 starting at verse 12. Because he didn’t deal with his sons and what they were doing they all died on the same day.
1 Samuel 2:27-29 (NLT)27 One day a man of God came to Eli and gave him this message from the LORD: “I revealed myself to your ancestors when the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt.28 I chose your ancestor Aaron from among all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer sacrifices on my altar, to burn incense, and to wear the priestly vest as he served me. And I assigned the sacrificial offerings to you priests.29 So why do you scorn my sacrifices and offerings? Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me—for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel!
1 Samuel 2:34 (NLT) And to prove that what I have said will come true, I will cause your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to die on the same day!
1 Samuel 4:11 (NLT) The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.
1 Samuel 4:14-18 (NLT)14 “What is all the noise about?” Eli asked. The messenger rushed over to Eli,15 who was ninety-eight years old and blind.16 He said to Eli, “I have just come from the battlefield—I was there this very day.” “What happened, my son?” Eli demanded.17 “Israel has been defeated by the Philistines,” the messenger replied. “The people have been slaughtered, and your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also killed. And the Ark of God has been captured.”18 When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and overweight.
Jacob played favorites. Jacob favored Joseph and we know that as a result of that Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him but afterwards decided to sell him.
Genesis 37:3-4 (NLT)3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe.4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
Genesis 37:26-28 (NLT)26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? His blood would just give us a guilty conscience.27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed.28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
That all worked out because later Joseph became a leader in Egypt and saved his family. But that’s another message and if you had attended Tuesday night bible study or called in you would already know it because it was one of Mike Jr.'s bible studies.
Jacob's father, Isaac favored his twin brother over him. That resulted in Jacob and his mother tricking Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing that should have gone to his brother Esau forcing him to leave the country.
Genesis 25:28 (NLT) Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 27:41-43 (NLT)41 From that time on, Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.”42 But Rebekah heard about Esau’s plans. So she sent for Jacob and told him, “Listen, Esau is consoling himself by plotting to kill you.43 So listen carefully, my son. Get ready and flee to my brother, Laban, in Haran.
Those are some examples of dad failures. On the other hand, there are encouraging examples of fathers. There’s the father in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. This father thinks and acts with a balance of love and discipline, compassion and instruction, work and family.
You know the story of this father rejoicing the return of the son who took his inheritance, left home and then squandered the inheritance, and came home broke, busted, and disgusted.
Luke 15:20-24 (NLT)20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
In my Father's Day sermon last year, I told you that the father in that parable represented our Abba Father, the perfect father and example for us today.
Then there’s the example of Joseph, who God selected to become Jesus’ earthly father. Remember the loyalty of Joseph to Mary and her unborn child, and how he acted after being warned to leave to escape Herod when he tried to kill Jesus.
Matthew 2:13-15 (NLT)13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother,15 and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”
The father in the Bible many fathers may relate to, however, is Abraham. The Bible doesn't hide from us the tension between Abraham’s godliness as in obeying God’s orders to sacrifice Isaac. You remember the story when God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obeyed and at the last moment...
Genesis 22:10-13 (NLT)10 And Abraham picked up the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice.11 At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!”12 “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Then there was his shameful negligence, fathering a child with his wife’s servant, even if it was her idea.
Genesis 16:2 (NLT) So Sarai said to Abram, “The LORD has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal.
Then the time he was concerned about only himself while ignoring his wife’s needs.
Genesis 12:10-13 (NLT)10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner.11 As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you are a very beautiful woman.12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!’13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”
Those experiences of Abraham show what’s it like to be a father. Champion one moment. Loser the next moment.
So why should fathers continue to be given such great responsibility when they haven’t performed the job description to appropriate standards?
Because of the best of all fathers in the Bible, our Father in heaven. There is no father like him, we need to copy Him. But before we make a to-do - list of how to be a better dad we need to first become children, that is, the children of Abba Father; children who feel the warmth of his love, children who listen to the wisdom of His Word, children who see and experience the power of his love and His care for His children.
Let's go to Psalm 103. It has a lot of inspiration and comfort that dads would do well to follow and imitate.
Psalm 103:3 (NLT) He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
Psalm 103:5 (NLT) He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
Psalm 103:8 (NLT) The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
Psalm 103:14 (NLT) For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
Psalm 103:19 (NLT) The LORD has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything.
Psalm 103:20-22 (NLT)20 Praise the LORD, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands.21 Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will!22 Praise the LORD, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom. Let all that I am praise the LORD.
Dads, make no mistake what becomes of our children’s lives is, a spiritual matter. And our Abba Father says our spiritual hope is in Jesus Christ, or there is no hope at all.
None of us will ever be the perfect dad, but there is no way we will be complete fathers without God as our example:
If the seed you are planting now has its full effect- What will it cause your child to become –Not in a few years, not even by the end of life…but a thousand years from now- a citizen of heaven or hell?
Dads, we are winners when we follow our heavenly Abba Father, as His children. We can then lead our children to do the same. Being a dad is an awesome job.
PRAYER: Thank you, Abba Father, for dads, for their tough care, their determination in providing for us, their wisdom, their tough and their tender love. Where dads have failed, forgive them, and let me forgive my own dad too. Lift up dads, encourage them in their role, and lead them to be spiritual heroes of faith and men of valor to their own children. In the name of Jesus Amen.
Father's Day Sermon - Surprise You're Going to be a Father
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.