Lord we give You this time. We have come to this place and we're sitting in seats and for the next several minutes throughout this message, we present our bodies to You as living sacrifices. We pray that our minds would be focused; our hearts would be totally open as You, from heaven, would speak to us, on earth, through Your Word, by Your Spirit, about these relational issues that are so vital. We deliberately cast down any imaginations we have or walls that we might build up mentally. We want Your Spirit to deal fully with us. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
There was a group of expectant fathers in the waiting room of a hospital. Their wives were all in the delivery room delivering babies. A nurse came into the waiting room and said to one of the fathers who were sitting there, "Congratulations, you're the father of twins." Well he was a little bit shocked; he didn't expect twins, but he thanked the nurse and said, "By the way, it's just a coincidence, but I happen to actually play for the Minnesota Twins." She thought, "Well, that's kind of neat and a coincidence," and she left. A little bit later she came back and announced to another fellow inside the waiting room, "Congratulations, you're the proud father of triplets!" Now, he was floored; he was shocked! He said, "It is interesting, however, and maybe just a coincidence, but I happen to work for the 3M Company." Well just then another guy in the waiting room just fell over on the floor absolutely going ballistic and the nurse said, "Are you okay?" And he said, "No, I happen to be working for the 7UP Company!"
Having children is a responsibility. Being a child is a responsibility because it means, as this commandment tells us, that we are to honor our father and our mother. We looked only generally at that last week. We saw that this commandment means generally that relationships are precious and family relationships are most precious. But they are also precarious - that is, in our culture they're being attacked; they're being assailed; and they're being assaulted. To keep this fifth commandment, in this culture, is difficult. We went from general to specific last week and now today we want to finish it up and we want to look at the substance of this command practically. What do we practically do to honor our father and our mother? Then finally, we will look at the security of this commandment personally.
Somebody once said that the Ten Commandments are really God's principles for preventing pain. If you think about it, it makes sense. God in His Word has given us all that we need for a full, healthy, satisfying life and the Ten Commandments are the ten fundamentals for that. I like that - ten principles for preventing pain. Something about these commandments in general, and this one in particular, is that there is no age specificity that is given. It doesn’t say, "If you happen to be twelve years of age and under, honor your father and your mother." It's that generic, understood, 'you' and the commandment, 'honor.' At any age; at all ages; at all stages of life. You may be familiar with that Brother Grimm's story about the young father who had his own family. His mother had died and so he invited his elderly father to come and live with the family. So they had the dad there at the dinner table but he was older so he would make noises at the table; he would slurp his soup, which drove that young man's wife a little crazy. They got together, "What do we do?" They decided, "Let's put dad in the corner while we eat." So they did. Dad was making his noises in the corner removed from the family dinner table. They eventually even moved him in the kitchen where he would sit alone. As time went on the old guy got older and couldn't hold a spoon nor a fork. The young couple gave that old man a trough - they put food in a trough and he was forced to bend down like an animal to eat. One day, that young father was outside and heard a noise in the garage and there was his son with his dad's tools making something. The dad was so excited, "My son's energetic, ambitious, creative! Son, what are you making?" he asked. The boy looked up with a big smile and said, "Dad, I'm making you and mom a trough for when you get older!" It dawned on that young father, "The way I've been treating my dad is the way my kids will be treating me when I'm older."
This fifth commandment, verse 12, is a unique commandment. Paul even says it's unique. He quotes this in Ephesians 6 which we're going to look at in just a moment. He says, "This is the first command with promise." Let's look at the commandment and that promise. "Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." What does that mean practically? How do we honor our parents in a practical, applicable manner? Are there limits to that? Are there boundaries that need to be set in certain cases? How do you honor parents who have acted dishonorably toward their children their whole lives? Can the relationship that one has with father and mother on earth taint the relationship that person has with God as Father? There was an evangelist on the streets of Australia trying to witness for Christ and there was a young man that he was talking to. He was trying to get the message across of a personal relationship with God. The kid didn't quite get it. The evangelist, not really thinking through the situation, used the wrong application, the wrong metaphor. He said, "Well, it's sort of like having a personal relationship with your father." The young man said, "Stop right there. If God is anything like my old man, I don't want anything to do with God."
Let's delve more deeply into this command today and let's look at the practical substance of this command. Notice the first word of verse 12 is a word we haven't really considered yet and that's the word 'honor.' What does it mean to honor? Let me give you the literal definition of the word. It's the Hebrew word, kabad, and it means to add weight to or to make something heavy. So if you want to be very literal, the commandment is, "Add weight to, make heavy your father and your mother." You say, "I don't need to, they're getting older they're already adding their own weight on." That's not really what it means; so what does it mean to add weight to or to make something heavy? It's an interesting word, kabad, it's very similar, in fact it's the same root to another Hebrew word 'kabowd,' which is the word 'glory'; for the glory of God. Just as there is a weightiness to the character and nature of God in His majestic glory, there is to be a weightiness to how you and I treat our parents on earth. In fact, there is something else that is very similar in the Hebrew language - you've heard the phrase, the fear of the Lord? It's a Hebrew word, 'yir'ah' - Yir'ah Yahweh is the 'fear of the Lord.' It's the same word used in Leviticus 19 of children revere - yare' - your father and your mother. As you fear the Lord; respect; reverence; honor God because of the weightiness of His majesty and glory, so you are to revere, yare', your parents. Let me state it in another fashion. How you treat the parents you can see will give an indication of how you treat God whom you can't see.
I'd like you to turn with me to Ephesians chapter 6 in your New Testament. I mentioned last week that this fifth commandment is repeated several times in the Bible. Here's one instance in which Paul will not only state it again but he'll amplify it and make it meaningful for us as New Testament believers. Ephesians chapter 6, verses 1 through 3: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.'" Here you'll notice not one but two commands. The first is obey - that's an action. The second is an attitude - that's honor. Obey and honor - obey is an action and honor is the attitude that forms the basis for the action of obedience. As you honor, that will be seen in how you obey your parents. I've got to tell you honestly, I grew up breaking this commandment a lot. So I stand before you as a child who didn't keep this commandment all the time. Neither did you, by the way, I'm sure. There were times, that not only did I disobey, but I had a bad attitude; I was mad at my parents. I mentioned last week that as soon as I became a true believer in Christ and I gave my life to Christ, that the Lord said, "Go humble yourself before your own father and ask his forgiveness." I mentioned last week that I didn't want to do that because after all "I'm now right; I'm a Christian; I'm enlightened; I know the truth; why should I humble myself?" That was the reason I should humble myself. It was like God was saying to my heart, "If your parents are going to see any life change in you at all, it has to be in how you honor them." So, I asked their forgiveness; that began healing. It wasn't a magic wand and it wasn't perfect after that. In fact, a few years after that, my brother died in a motorcycle accident and we buried him. On the day of the funeral, after we put my brother in the ground, we came back home and it was a very difficult family gathering. My dad was very emotional, for understandable reasons, and he didn't know what to do with his emotions. I remember him not really knowing what to do with me because now I'm this born-again Christian and I'm not thinking like he was thinking any longer and he turned to me toward the evening and he shouted out, "You are going to hell!" Now how was I to respond to that? I'll tell you how I wanted to respond to that in the flesh and it wasn't pretty. But I had a choice to make and thank God I chose to submit to His Spirit's lead rather than my own flesh. I walked toward him after he was seething at me and I put my arms around him and I drew him close right to my chest and I hugged him. I said out loud, "Dad, I love you." Then I decided that I would pray; not to myself, but out loud in his hearing. "Thank you Lord for my father; bless him; heal this broken relationship that we have," and I was just praying out loud like that. At the end of that prayer, "In Jesus' Name, Amen," there were tears streaming down my father's cheeks and he said choked up, "That was beautiful. Thank you." I saw to it that from that moment on, every overture of meanness that would come from him would be met by an overture of love and kindness from me; because you can only withstand love for so long. The Lord was teaching me, personally, to honor my father and my mother.
What does it mean practically? I'll tell you what it implies; it implies respect. When you address your parents, how do you address them? When you talk about your parents to somebody else (maybe that's really the tell tale sign), what words do you choose to use? I remember in high school that my friends would talk about their dads using the term 'old man.' Remember that? "Yeah, my old man said this or my old man did that." Even as a pagan teenager, I couldn't bring myself to call my dad 'the old man.' Interesting that when I became a believer I found that term in the Bible and it doesn’t refer to your dad - it refers to you; the old you. It says, "Put to death the old man." That doesn’t give you the right to have a vendetta against your dad - it means, "Put to death those things that oppose Christ that are in your fleshly nature." But respect is part of honor. I'll never forget what it was like the first time I visited the South and saw how they treat their parents especially the Christian culture; when the parents walk into the room, the kids always stand up. They'll say, "Yes sir, yes ma'am;" they respect their parents. It's very different from those of us in the west. Our parents come in, "What's up, ya'll, dude?" There's just respect that is built in the language. To respect means you listen courteously as your parents ask you to do something or want to talk. Again, here is where I would often fail as a child because my dad would assign chores to us four boys. When he would give us a chore, he would also want to give us his philosophy on life and his work ethic, which is pretty high. He'd ask us to do something and then he'd say, "Now son, a job worth doing…" and then I'd say, "I know, is worth doing well." I would do it; I would have the right action of obedience but the wrong attitude - I didn't honor him. That casts a dark shadow over a home - a kid's rotten attitude. It's like the father who said to his son, "Sit down," and the boy just stood there. I said, "Sit down," and he stood erect. So the father commenced to take his belt off to fully convince his son to sit down. His son quickly sat down and then said, "Dad, I may be sitting down on the outside, but I'm still standing up on the inside!" That's not honoring; that's not respectful; that's only an outward form and not an attitude.
Let me tell you a story about respect from the Bible. After the flood there's a wild, crazy, and weird incident of Noah. The Bible says in Genesis, chapter 9, that Noah is drunk and lying naked in his tent. We're not told what happened or why he did that. I mean he had just seen the miraculous power of God in a flood; he survived it; and he's lying naked, and drunk in a tent. I don't know if he's having post-traumatic flood syndrome or what it is exactly but it wasn't a good day for Noah. Noah had three sons; Ham, Shem and Japheth. Ham walked into the tent and saw his father lying naked and he left the tent and proceeded to gossip about what he had just seen. He's exposing his father's nakedness, "You wouldn't believe what I saw!" He started telling everyone. Well, Noah had two other sons, Shem and Japheth. Their tact was completely different. The Bible says they walked into the tent backwards, so they couldn't see their father's nakedness, and took a blanket between them walking backwards and covered their father up." Eventually Noah woke up and got up from the hangover and addressed the three boys. He said to Shem and Japheth, who covered their father, "Blessed are you and blessed is the God of Shem and Japheth." Turing to Ham, who exposed him, he said something interesting, "Cursed be Canaan." "Canaan? Who's Canaan?" Ham's son. As if to say, "As a son you have dishonored me; in your son you will see the consequences in your lifetime." So respect is high on the list of what it means to honor your parents.
Honoring not only implies respect in implies appreciation. Of course you realize that when you have your own children. You think, "Man, it takes a lot to raise a child. Oh, I so appreciate what my parents have done for me." That's like a card I got this week from one of eighteen children; she said, "We've learned to honor our parents." I don't know exactly where I read this but I read that to raise a child from infancy to age 18 it takes $250,000 in modern standards. Well, that's about $1.50 an hour. That's not what you make, that's what you give on top of the work you do. You're doing the work, raising the child and dishing out $1.50 an hour 24/7 for 18 years. It's not just the money is it? It's the nausea of pregnancy; the sleepless night of feeding the child; it's the worry; the concern; and the prayer - you brought them into the world. Now, if you can't think of a single reason today for which to honor your father or your mother, this is one. You are who you are because of them - they gave you life; they brought you into this world. Now you can get spiritual about it and say, "Oh, no, no, God gave me life." Okay, whatever. God used them to do it. The reason you're not a roadrunner or a slug is because you had parents who brought you into the world. You have a chemical make-up and you have a DNA and all of that because your parents brought you into this world. One of the quickest ways to crush a parent's spirit is simple: don't appreciate them. One of the quickest ways to lighten them and gladden them is a simple word or a simple overture of appreciation.
When my mother died, she was almost 80. I thought she'd live a lot longer. Her parents lived to 99 and I figured she'd out-do them and be at least 100 but she didn't make it. In the later years of her life, her hair was beautiful, gracious white and I thought she was beautiful. Every time I saw mom I would tell her, "Mom, you are beautiful!" She would get all embarrassed; but she loved to hear it. What woman doesn't love to hear that she is beautiful at any age? I truly thought she was and I made it a point to tell her how much we loved her; how much we appreciated her; and how beautiful she was.
I'm going to take it step further. In the Bible, honoring your parents extends even toward your in-laws. Now, some of you are thinking, "Skip you crossed the line now! You were preaching before but now you are meddling!" You might have a family where you're thinking, "I'll honor my parents; but my spouse's parents - that's their responsibility. I'm not going to honor them; I don't even like them around!" Let me tell you a story from the Bible. David had a father-in-law who wanted to kill him; his name was Saul. He spent years of his life scouring the countryside to kill his son-in-law. In fact, Saul, his father-in-law, even used his own daughter, the wife of David, to kill David; that's what he tried to do. This was a weird, dysfunctional family. So if there was anyone who could say, "I don't need to honor that," it would be David. But listen to this - David is hiding from his father-in-law in a cave in En Gedi, 1st Samuel 24. Saul goes into the cave, not knowing David is in there - it's dark. Saul gets right next to David and doesn't even know it. One of David's soldiers says to David, "Hey, this has got to be the hand of God who has delivered Saul into your hands - kill him!" David turned to his soldier friend and said, "I am not going to lift my hand against," listen to what he calls his father-in-law, "God's anointed." God's anointed? The guy who's trying to kill you is God's anointed? That's how David saw him. What David does do is take out his knife and he cuts a little piece of Saul's robe off and then he feels really guilty that he did that! "I can't believe it - I cut a piece of his robe off!" Saul leaves the cave and goes on the other side of the valley with his soldiers. David comes out of the cave and waves that little piece and calls after Saul, "Saul, check your robe - FYI - I could have killed you but I didn't do that. Even though it was told to me that I should do it I will not lift my hand against you, God's anointed. I don't know what your men are telling you, but I love you." Let's take a lesson; David didn't treat his in-laws like outlaws, but loved him, honored him, and even respected him.
Now, there are restrictions to this, I have to say that. Look back at Ephesians, chapter 6 in verse 1: "Children obey your parents," now notice this next part, "in the Lord." That's a qualifying phrase. The general rule is the action of obedience, coupled with the attitude of honoring. However, there are times when that is limited; there are exceptions. When would that be? Whenever the father or the mother are trying to do something that's not in the Lord; something that's against the Lord. In Acts 5 a law was passed that said, "You can't preach the Gospel in Jerusalem; it's against the law, it's forbidden." Remember the response of the church? The church leaders didn't say, "Well, okay we'll obey the laws of the land and we won't preach." Peter said boldly, "You're going to have to figure out if you think it's more right to listen to you or God, but as for us, we must obey God rather than men." In other words, "We will respect the governmental authority, but when you cross the line to violate God's will, we're going to obey God and not you." It's the same in a home. If a dad says, "You can't pray; you can't read your Bible; you can't have fellowship," that's flatly against God's law. Jesus put it this way, "If you want to be My follower, you must love Me more than your own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, more than your own life otherwise you cannot be My disciple." A child can never follow his or her parents into sin or take sinful advice. Let's create a scenario. Here's a mom and a dad; they are both not saved and they have a child, let's say a teenager or someone in college, who has just recently become a Christian. This young man is dating a young girl and these two parents say, "You know, we advise that you move in with your girlfriend and live together and have all of the benefits of marriage including sleeping together without being married; because you never know, you ought to see if you like it." A child who's a Christian, isn't going to say, "Well, I have to obey my parents." You say, "No, that's not what the Bible says. Here is where I'm going to make a break because of that kind of restriction - it's not in the Lord." All of that to say, boundaries sometimes have to be set. There are certain relationships that require distance and to honor them would be different than in a normal, healthy relationship. David and Saul are a good example. David honored his father-in-law but there was quite a distance - Saul got away from the cave before David even came out and showed himself. David was protecting his life and his family and his men. So there are boundaries that are to be set.
Let's look at the second part of this command and we can close with that - it is the security of the command personally. In keeping this commandment, since it has a promise attached to it, there are benefits to doing it, and number one would be a quality of life. Look at what it says. "Honor your father and your mother," this is Ephesians chapter 6, verse 2: "Which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth." Why does it say that here? It says that here because in Exodus 20 it says: "That you may live long in the land the Lord your God has given you." What does that mean? Remember the context of the Old Testament - what was the penalty for disobeying your parents; cursing your parents; hitting your parents; in the Old Testament? It wasn't a guest appearance on the Simpsons - it was death; capital punishment. Exodus 21:15, "He who strikes his father or mother shall surely be put to death." Exodus 21:17, "He who curses his father or mother shall surely be put to death." It makes sense, "Honor your father and mother that you can have a long life." It doesn’t mean that all good kids live long and all bad kids die young. We've known that's not the case often times. I've seen good children die young. We've seen disobedient, ornery, people live way too long. How old was Adam when he died? 930 old. How old was Jesus when he died? (Incidentally, Paul calls Him the second Adam). About 33. Adam outlived Jesus 30 times. Did Adam live a better life than Jesus? Far from it; preposterous! It has to do with longevity of days, certainly that's built into the commandment, but also quality of days, "That it may be well with you." To live long, yes, generally, because parents are given to safeguard children and if children obey their parents who are their safe guardians, they're going to live better and presumably even longer. It's not too hard to figure that out and figure out why; obedient children will listen to their parents' warnings. I remember the warning: don't touch that motorcycle. It was a Honda 50; it went all of maybe 20 or 30 MPH; but I thought, "I'm 12 years old, I can handle a Honda 50." "Don't touch the Honda 50!" As soon as they were gone, I got the key and put it in the Honda 50 and went down the street. It was so fun, until I crashed it. I got hurt and I could have gotten killed. Or the time my parents were leaving for dinner and said, "Skip, Bob, don't fight." "Okay." As soon as they left we got into a fight. My brother threw me through the front window of the house; I landed on the lawn, broke the window - of course, and broke me - of course. Two or three weeks later, they went out again. I threw him through the newly replaced front window of the house. Now, all of that pain could have been avoided by simply obeying the commands of father and mother. They are given to safeguard children. Children don't always know danger. A child will grab shampoo and try to drink it; play with a knife; eat the cockroach in the corner. It takes a parent to go, "No! Don't do that!" "You don't love me." "Why?" "Because you won't let me eat the cockroach!"
Solomon wrote to his son in Proverbs 3: " My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you." So it makes sense that generally a child will live longer if he or she obeys his or her parents because you're going to listen to their warnings. Also an obedient child is going to avoid bad habits and bad friends. "Don't smoke," mom will say; "Don't drink," dad should say; "Don't take drugs," they should both say; or "That friend of yours is bad stuff, bad news, and stay away from him." I remember that they warned me about Richard Wilhight. "How dare them!" I thought. "They don't know him, he's my friend; I know him; he's a great guy. I remember when I brought him home the first time, "Get rid of him, he's bad news." "I can't believe you don't like him!" Richard Wilhight ended up in prison and was later murdered for all sorts of drug charges. They could see early on the seeds of that in that young man and they tried to warn their son who was stupid and chose not to obey his parents.
Disobedience does bring consequences and one of them may be a shortened life and certainly will be an unfulfilled life. It's like the mom who said to her five year old daughter, "Honey, you obey me - if you don't you'll have to live with the consequences." And the little girl said, "No, no, no, don't send me off to live with the Consequences! I want to live here with you!" But there are consequences that we live with. There are benefits that we live with if we obey and one of them will be a quality of life.
Number two is a clear conscious. Look at verse 1 of Ephesians chapter 6 again: "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." Did you know that virtually every culture, ancient or modern, says it's right for children to obey their parents? It's good for society if you obey your parents. Even pagan, ancient, debauched Rome had a law called the patria potestas; the absolute authority of the father. I'm not advocating it, but the idea is that the father chooses the occupation of the son or daughter, chooses the wife or husband of the son or daughter, and has absolute power of life and death in the child as long as the parent is alive, only because Rome said, "It's good and it's right for children to obey their parents." Here God says it's right - and the word 'right' is the Greek word 'dikaios' - 81 times it's in the Bible; the New Testament. Most of the time it's translated, 'righteous,' or in accordance with God's commandment. Here's my point: to obey, to honor, to respect, to appreciate mom and dad is right, not because the Romans said it's right; not because Americans, say it's right; but because God says it's right. The best way to live with a clear conscious is to do something because you know it's right before God; it pleases the Lord. Here's the complimentary verse in Colossians, chapter 3, verse 20: "Children obey your parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord." There's something about doing something that doesn't feel natural to you; doesn't feel right, "Oh, my parents treated me so bad, I'm not going to honor them," to say, "I'm going to do it anyway; I'm going to do something counterintuitive to how I feel because it's going to be right before God and I want to go to bed with a clear conscious."
I told you the episode with my father and what I did at my brother's funeral in embracing him. I'll tell you when that really paid off - when I buried my father and I had a clear conscious at his casket because I did something that didn't feel good at the time, but I knew it was pleasing to God. That's the best way to live.
Here's a thought in closing; there's only one person in all of history who has kept the fifth commandment perfectly - that's the Lord Jesus Christ. He's the One we're to follow; the One we're to look at and watch what He did and how He did it. He said, "I always do those things that please my Father." You might be thinking, "Well Skip, look at who His Father is. You don't understand my situation, Skip. I was abused by a father; I was abandoned by my parents. At 11 years old I had to get a job to put bread on the table because he walked out of the family. You don't understand!" But Jesus understands. When Jesus was on the Mount of Temptation, Satan came to Him and said, "Hey, since you're the Son of God, command these stones to become bread." What was Satan implying? He was implying, "Your Father doesn't take very good care of You, does He? He's not putting bread on Your table, is He? So, right now, do something to circumvent that." Or how about the Garden of Gethsemane? "Father if it's possible, let this cup pass from Me." Maybe you look back to your childhood and you say, "My parents never listened to my advice; never listened to my counsel." "Father if it's possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will but Your will be done." "Oh, but my parents, forsook me." How about Jesus' on the cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" In the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, a very odd text of Scripture, verse 10: "For it pleased the Lord, the Father, to bruise His Son." No one here has ever been bruised and hurt like Jesus Christ was on the cross for our sins. Please, don't misunderstand me, no cards and letters this week that say, "What are you saying, God's a child abuser?" No. We know that that was redemptive and that was for atonement. Here's my point: you can't say Jesus doesn't understand pain of relationship when He felt that separation and cried out on the cross. He understands better than you think. The same Jesus Christ who knows what that hurt is like is the same Christ who lives inside of you and will enable you to love and honor and respect your parents; and that's not some psychobabble that you pay eighty five bucks an hour for. That's resurrection power of the Christ that lives in you who will enable you to do it.
There was a couple who were self proclaimed atheists; a father and mother and they had a five year old daughter. One night in an argument the man pulled out a gun and shot his wife; turned the gun on himself and committed suicide; all in the view of their five year old daughter. How traumatic that would be. She never heard about Jesus; she never had an opportunity; she was raised up to five years of age in that kind of home and she watched her parents die. She was taken into foster care. One of the foster care givers brought that little girl to church one Sunday morning; to Sunday school, and explained to the teacher what the background was. The teacher in class that day held up a picture of Jesus Christ, a painting, and said, "Does anybody here know who this is?" That little five year girl from an atheist home raised her hand and said, "I know who that is; that's the Man who was holding me the night my parents died." It's as if God, built in by His grace, the truth that He's a Father to the fatherless. There's no such thing as a perfect parent; there's no such thing as a perfect child; but there's a perfect God who has a perfect will and part of His perfect will is built into this commandment, honor your father and your mother and He by His grace will help everyone to do that. I'll tell you something else, and I'll quit because I could tell you something else all day; but, God the Father longs to have a relationship with you as His child and to show you how parenting is done as you relate to the perfect Parent, God the Father, with a relationship with His Son Jesus. Some of you long to have your past and your sins forgiven; some of you feel empty inside; lonely and alienated; it's because you don't have a relationship, the one God meant you to have as a child with the Heavenly Father.
Let's pray. Our Father in heaven, we think back to our lives as both children, and some of us as parents, and so often we have had to, and do still today, ask for Your forgiveness because we have fallen short. You knew that we would before we did it; You knew that they would before our parents did it; and that's the reason Jesus came, to pay for sins. But now, Lord, those of us who are redeemed have a responsibility, knowing the truth and believing that we have the power by Your resident Spirit in our lives to make the first move, the overture - in our families, toward our parents or our children, that may not be well received at first. But we believe that Your love can't be withstood for long and I pray that we would determine with every accusation or every ill comment, to respond with love; to drown out bitterness with love. Then people will know, "Boy, they're different." Father, I pray for those who have yet to come to Christ; there's that deep need in their heart for forgiveness. I pray they come this morning. In Jesus' Name. Amen.