Sermon from June 19th, 2016

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“In the Footsteps of the Master #12 - Why Fathers Matter”

2 Chronicles 7:11-15; Mark 5:1-20


By Pastor John Bent



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Sermon Text
Good morning and welcome to worship!  Could I have all our fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, foster fathers stand please! God never asked dads to be perfect. He only asks that we be faithful to the best of our ability. Dads, we want to honor you for your efforts today. Thank you!
 
God created fathers for a reason. Our role is to love, provide, guard, and protect our children and families physically and spiritually. Satan hates fathers for the same reason he hates God. They represent authority, accountability, truth, grace, love, and self-sacrifice.

Satan does everything in his power to mutilate and destroy the role of fathers in the family home. He knows if he can destroy dads, he can destroy families, and if he can destroy families, he can destroy children.  The evidence of his work is all around us.

It’s been a wonderful week and a tough week. Vacation Bible School was incredible!  The joy, the laughter of over 230 kids in a safe place, learning about the love of their Heavenly Father was a foretaste of heaven.  But every day the evening news brought us back to the reality that we live in a dangerous and chaotic world.  Let’s open our Bibles to Mark chapter 5.

“They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.  When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain.”  Mk 5:1-3

Dawn is breaking after the furious midnight storm when the disciples thought they were all going to die. Then came the even more terrifying experience of Jesus commanding the waves and wind to be still and they obeyed him! 

The disciples rowed the boat to shore in the stillness of the early morning. They must have been emotionally exhausted. As they step out of the boat, they are greeted by a madman. He is naked, crazy, demon possessed.  Long wild hair hangs over his face.

They later discover that he has been living among these tombs for years. People have tried to bind him with chains to keep him from hurting himself and others, but he always finds a way to break them and escape. Day and night he cries out in misery and pain.

“When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him, He shouted at the top of his voice. “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of him you evil spirit!” Mk 5:6-8

One of Satan’s most effective lies is to convince us that God is out to get us - that God enjoys punishing us. The truth is God is the only one who can help and deliver us. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.” John 3:17
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Lk 19:9


How did this man come to be possessed by these demons?  Was it his own sinful choices? Was it the failure of his parents?  Was it an abusive or absent father?  We don’t know. What we do know is somewhere along the line, he tried to fill the pain and emptiness in his life with something other than God. Pastor Timothy Keller writes, “Idolatry is foundational to what is wrong in the human race. Anything that replaces God in the center of our heart is an idol.”
 
People are searching for something to fill the place in their hearts that was created for God alone. They try to fill it with drugs, alcohol, pornography, promiscuity, the occult, rebellion and then they are surprised by the demons and addictions these things bring with them.

God created our hearts to be a holy place in which he would dwell by his Spirit. But our sin has caused us to reject him and fill his place in our hearts with filth and depravity instead.

Lots of suggestions are being made about who is to blame for the tragedy in Orlando and how we can prevent it from happening again. But that’s like trying to come up with new ways to chain the madman in our text. It doesn’t solve problem. The real problem is spiritual. There is a spiritual disease in the human heart that only God can heal.

Look at vs 9 “Jesus asked the demon possessed man, ‘What is your name?” Mk 5:9  The Bible says God knows our names. Our names are precious to him because we are precious to him.

When Jesus met this demon possessed man, he didn’t see him as simply a problem. He saw him as a person, a human being created by God in the image of God. Satan had trashed that image so badly it was almost lost. But Jesus crossed the lake that night to restore this man’s name and dignity as a Son of Adam, and a child of God.

The people killed in Orlando are not just statistics.  They were people, loved by God with names, faces, families, futures, purposes. The same is true for the 3,000 babies that are aborted in America every day. God knows the names and faces of every one. There are no disposable people in God’s eyes. He loves them no matter how sin has ruined their lives.

Jesus said “Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the will of your Father. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Mt 10:30

I wonder if this madman Jesus crossed the lake to meet even remembered his own name?  Maybe his life had become so filled with chaos he no longer knew who he was.  Sin does that. It steals our birthright, our inheritance. But we have a Heavenly Father who sent his One and Only Son to cleanse away the filth we’ve allowed into our hearts and restore our name, our birthright, our sanity. Jesus came to clothe our shame in his righteousness.

The demons in the man answer for him. “My name is Legion” he replied for we are many.”  And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.” Mk 5:9-10

The demons knew their days were numbered.  Demons are fallen angels that joined Satan in his failed revolt to dethrone God. They know at the end of time they will be cast into what the Bible calls the Abyss. So they beg Jesus to let them remain in the world a little longer.

Why doesn’t Jesus throw them into the Abyss? Because it isn’t time for the final judgment yet! We are still in the season of God’s grace, there are still more people to be saved.

I don’t understand all of what happens next. The demons ask Jesus to be sent into a herd of pigs and Jesus agrees. As soon as the demons enter the pigs they rush down the hill and are drowned in the lake. But that’s not the most important thing in our lesson this morning.

What matters is this: In the same way the stormy lake went flat calm at Jesus’ command, so Jesus restores this son of God from chaos/hopelessness to peace/shalom.

“The people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid … they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region.” Mk 5:15-17

Imagine living in a house that is falling apart. Every room is filled with trash. It stinks. The rats and mold have taken over.  The home that was once healthy, clean and beautiful is collapsing in filth, depravity, and corruption. This is a picture of our heart without Jesus.

But a carpenter named Jesus comes to your door.  He offers to rebuild and sanitize your house for free, but you must open the door and let him in.  You hate where you live, but you are so ashamed of the mess and so afraid of the changes he will make, that you turn him away. That’s what these town people did with Jesus. They asked him to leave them alone.

The restored man wasn’t like that. He wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus gives him a job. He says “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” Mk 5:19  Fathers, listen up. Jesus has given us the same job. If we fail, we abandon our kids to the lies and deceptions of the enemy. Jesus models what we are to do.
 
First, Jesus loves this man enough to leave the security of heaven to become one with us. He makes a midnight trip across a dangerous stormy lake and meet this madman in a graveyard. He refuses to abandon him to Satan’s lies. Jesus meets him where he is.

Fathers, your kids need you. They need you to meet them where they are. Jesus has called you to protect them from the lies, the deceptions, the filth of this world. He has called you to teach them truth and grace. It’s your job to point them to Jesus. Don’t abandon them.

Second, Jesus uses his God given authority to drive out the demons. How does he do that? Not with magic, but by displacing Satan’s lies with God’s truth and grace. Fathers, God has given you authority to pray for your children and share the truth of God’s Word with them.  “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Fathers, this verse is God’s command to us this morning. I believe the healing and spiritual protection of our nation, our families, our children must begin with us. No one else can do the job God has given us to do. But to be effective, we must invite him in and let him renovate our own lives. We can’t lead our children where we are unwilling to go ourselves. Are you courageous enough to invite Jesus to clean up the dirty places in your heart?  Are you willing to surrender your allegiance to him? Are you willing to let him change the things that need to be changed within you?  If you are, will you stand so I can pray for you?

Heavenly Father, bless these men and help them fulfill the role you have given them.  Make them strong, loving and wise. Help them grow in their own faith so they can share with their children and grandchildren the truth, love, and grace that comes only from you.

Without their time, their prayer, their investment in the lives of their children, our kids could easily end up as lost, wounded, possessed, confused as this man living among the tombs.

Plant your Word in the heart of these fathers, fill them with the Holy Spirit, give them discernment and courage and stamina to confront evil with your Grace and Truth. Fill them with your Holy Spirit for the sake of their children and their families.  Instill in them with the power of your perfect love and drives out fear. This we ask in Jesus mighty name.

AMEN

Christ Lutheran Church • 5150 River Lakes Parkway, Whitefish, MT 59937 • 406-862-2615

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