Revisiting the Past: Children’s Stories Today (Part III, Father’s Day)

Sermon Title: Revisiting the Past: Children’s Stories Today—Father Abraham

Good News Statement: Jesus calls upon us

Summary: Why was Abraham called the Father of all who believe, and what can that mean to us?

Preached: Sunday, June 16, 2024 at Dogwood Prairie and Seed Chapel UMC

Pastor Daniel G. Skelton, M.Div.


Scripture (NRSV): Hebrews 11:8-10 Today’s scripture reading focuses on the faith of a man who became known as the “Father of the Nations” and the “Father of all who Believe.” This man’s name is Abraham; and Abraham reminds us that fathers are not perfect but are seen as perfect and go out of their comfort zones for the ones that the love. Let’s read Hebrews Chapter Eleven, Verses Eight thru Ten. May the hearing and reading of this scripture add understanding and meaning to your life.


The Faith of Abraham

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

This is the Word of God for the People of God; And all God’s people said, “Thanks be to God.”


I read this joke the other day:

A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your bible a little and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.”

After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father, if they could discuss use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where his father said, “Son, I’ve been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied your bible diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut.”

The young man waited a moment and replied, “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know, Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair!” to which his father replied, “Yes, you’re right, and they also WALKED everywhere they went!”



Do you remember the first Bible story you were taught as a child? Were you taught about Adam and Eve? Did you read the accounts of Noah, the Ark, and the Great Flood? Were you in fascination of Daniel in the Lion’s Den? Were you caught up in the love story of Samson and Delilah? Did you ever find yourself wanting a technicolor coat like Joseph? Did you want to march around Jericho or use a sling-shot to take down giants? Did you want to build a basket and float down a river like Moses? Maybe you were curious about a tower that went by the name “Tower of Babel”? Perhaps, it was the story of Jonah and a whale that inspired you to dive into the Word of God? Or was it the story of Jesus feeding five-thousand people on the shores of Galilee with only two little fish and five loaves of bread? If you can’t remember the first Bible story you were taught as a child, maybe you have a favorite Bible Story that has helped you deepen your faith and strengthen your trust in God.

If you are trying to remember some of those famous Bible Stories you may have learned or heard about as a child, let me jog your memory of a few. According to Dr. Oliver Tearle of Loughborough University, here are the top twelve stories of the Bible that many people have been raised on: “Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah’s Ark and the Flood, The Tower of Babel, Moses in a basket, Moses parting the Red Sea, David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, Jonah and the Whale, The Nativity Scene, The Raising of Lazarus, and the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.” There are many, many, more stories that probably come to mind, but these are the twelve most popular Bible stories that most of us can remember learning as a child. But, what do the stories of back then teach us today? When was the last time you revisited the first stories of your faith?

Over the span of the next few months—June, July, and August—we are going to explore some of these early childhood Bible Stories. As we explore these stories, each of you will be encouraged to think about the first time you heard that story and what that story means to you today. Dr. Tearle notes, in his article titled 12 of the Best Stories from the Bible Everyone Should Know, “The Bible contains many well-known stories, but how much do we know about them? And what are the best Bible stories everyone should know? Many people, even those raised in countries where Sunday school and religious assemblies are a mainstay of many children’s education, may find they’ve misremembered, or got the wrong impression about, some of the iconic tales from the Bible.”

So, what do you remember about some of those “iconic tales” from the Bible; and what about them today can help deepen your faith and strengthen your trust in God as you strive to be the disciple and church Jesus needs you and us to be? We continue the journey by examining the Father of all, Abraham…



Last week, I shared with you all that my father and I have a special bond. This bond is tied to music, specifically the “oldies” from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Through artists and groups such as Michael Jackson, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Archies, The Monkeys, The Partridge Family, the Rolling Stones, REO Speedwagon, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel, Styx, Wham, Johnny Cash, the Bangles, and Jerry Lee Lewis, my father and I bonded. It was through music that we began to understand one another.

Still to this day, I enjoy listening to these groups and their music because they remind me of the bond that I have with my dad. It is through these bonding experiences that I witnessed the kind of father I hope to be in the future, in addition to the kind of person that I love and who loves me back although we may not say those words to each other. What sorts of bonds do you or did you have with your father? Did you bond over music or something else? Maybe you bonded because of his humor?

When I say the word “father,” what comes to mind? Do you think about your father’s ability to tell stories, the lessons and teachings he has passed down to you, the wisdom that he has shared with you, or the instructions that he gifted you as you began to grow and mature and possibly wanting to drive the car? Do you think about the adventures he has taken you on—some good and some scary? Do you think about his sacrificial love that he showed as he coached you on the field or from the bleachers or in the backyard? Do you think about the first tractor ride he took you on after harvest was complete? Do you think about those late summer evenings when he sat next to you and said nothing? Do you think about the long hours that he was willing to offer to help you complete a project? Do you think about the first time he reached out his hand to shake your hand? Do you think about the quick hugs and the silent “I love you” as you get ready to part ways? Do you think about the last photo you took with him? Do you think about the tools that he put in your toolbox to help you build your life? Do you think about the tears that he wiped from your face? Or do you think about the bonds that the two of you have made that can’t be broken? When I say the word, “father,” what comes to mind?

Today is Father’s Day, and to celebrate the fathers and many father like figures in our life, I thought we could spend some time reflecting on the father who is father to all who believe. I thought we could talk about this guy Abram or Abraham, and learn together what Abram teaches us about our own fathers today.



The Bible provides us with numerous scripture references that help us to understand the father or father-like figures in our life. For example, both Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16 tell us to “honor our father.” Jeremiah 17:7 states, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is in the LORD.” Psalm 103:13 asserts, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him….” King Solomon, amongst his 3,000 proverbs, offers wisdom regarding fathers: “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers” (Proverbs 17:6); “The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him” (Proverbs 20:7); and “The father of a righteous son will rejoice greatly, and one who fathers a wise son will delight in him” (Proverbs 23:24). After promising a son to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18, the LORD said, “For I have chosen him [Abraham] that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice…” (Genesis 18:19). Lastly, the Apostle Paul notes when writing to the people of Ephesus in 60 AD, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

It is quite evident that the LORD has specific plans, specific instructions and guidelines, for the fathers and father-like figures in our life. A father is to be honored. A father is one who trusts and hopes in the LORD. A father demonstrates and offers compassion to those in his care. A father is glorified and is the crown of future generations. A father charges those in his care to “keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness—doing what is right and good—and administering justice by doing no harm. A father is to raise current and future generations with discipline and instruction pertaining to the commandments and statutes of the LORD and love of Jesus Christ. A father is a gift given to us by our Father in Heaven. In all of these attributes is the characteristic of faith, something that described Father Abraham.

That’s what Paul tells us in Romans: “(Abraham) received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had BY FAITH while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe…” (Romans 4:11). What Paul was saying was Abraham was the father of those who have faith in God. First for the Israelites under the Old Testament, and for all those who believed in Christ in the New Testament. And it was through Jesus that the promise to Abraham was fulfilled that he would be The Father of Many Nations. The focus is on FAITH. God wants us to be a people of faith, and He chose Abraham to be an example of what faith looks like because he was going to be the Father of all those who believe.

So what is it about Abraham’s faith that we need to copy? What is it about the father of all who believe that we need to pass down to future generations? Well, first it’s important to realize that it wasn’t what Abraham DID—it was WHY he did what he did that made him our example.


Movement One: Why Abraham did what he did…

You see, just like with Abel and Enoch, Abraham didn’t really do all that much. He didn’t build any massive mansions or temples or great cities. He didn’t even own any property except a cave at Machpelah that he bought from the Hittites so he could bury his wife Sarah. Hebrews 11:9 tells us that “By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents.” He lived in a tent! That’s all he had to live in because he was literally living in a “foreign land.” Abraham didn’t have much and didn’t do much, but God still made him a father.

But if he didn’t have all that much and didn’t do all that much, why does God think he was all that impressive? Why did God make him the father of all who believe? Hebrews 11:8 says it this way, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Abraham believed and then he obeyed. And he obeyed even though he didn’t know where he was going. He had faith.  God wasn’t looking for the most “perfect” person to be a father: God was just looking for the person who would be there for God’s children when they needed help. God was looking for someone who would be loyal, who would be there, and who would show up when the people called. God wasn’t looking for the “perfect” person, just the right person. God was looking for the perfect person to be your dad, He was looking for the person that you needed in life.

A person doesn’t have to be perfect to be a father. I would love to say that my father is perfect, but that would be going against his words. Instead, he would say “I am as close to perfect as I will ever be!” Fathers mess up sometimes. Fathers sometimes say embarrassing things about their children in front of their children’s friends. Fathers sometimes get upset. Fathers sometimes tell you something that makes no sense now but makes perfect sense in the future. Fathers sometimes get scared, weep, and don’t have the right things to say. Fathers sometimes get worried, stressed, and frustrated. A father doesn’t have to be perfect to be a father chosen by God. As a matter of fact, all a father has to be is loyal to the persons they love. Abraham wasn’t perfect, but he loved and he never gave up on the persons he loved.

There have been times in my life when my father and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. He likes to triple check everything and I am okay with just double checking things. I have a way of doing some things and he has a different way of doing the same thing. He coached me in baseball and listening to him tell me how to catch was not always well received. I may have ignored him, but he never ignored me. I’m not perfect, but yet my father still loves me. I may have walked away from him a time-or-two, but he has never walked away from me. A father doesn’t have to be perfect, but a father made in God’s image is always there for the ones he loves and cares about and offers advice even when we aren’t listening.

Father Abraham cared so much for God’s children that he was willing to obey God no matter what. He did what he did because he was a father filled with love and devotion and loyalty to all those who believed. His faith made him the right man for the job, not his perfection; and this job involved doing things that he didn’t want to do.


Movement Two: Doing Something Uncomfortable…

Again, Abraham was the kind of guy who would “show up.” Who would “be there” for God. If God said “I want something done” Abraham was the kind of guy who’d ask WHERE? and WHEN?. So when God told him “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1) that’s exactly what Abraham did! Abraham obeyed God even when he didn’t know where he was going. God called Abraham to leave his comfort zone and do something for Him.

We are reminded, in Scripture, in several places of the idea of doing something uncomfortable. For example, the male is to leave their comfort zone to be with their wife. Matthew 19:5 and Ephesians 5:31 quote Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The man left a place of comfort and familiarity to do something new for the one that he loves. The disciples gave up their daily jobs to do something that was new and uncomfortable to them when they decided to follow Jesus. Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, who was involved in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, went against his customs and training to help Jesus at the hour of his death. Moses, a wanted man, went back to Egypt to save God’s people. Noah, maintaining the land, was asked to build a boat. Sarah was going to give birth at an old age and found that news so uncomfortable that she “laughed” at God (Genesis 18:12-15). People throughout the Bible have been called to do something that they aren’t comfortable with doing because they allowed their faith in God and love of others to guide their footsteps: to guide them where God needed them to be, and to help them do what God needed them to do. These events and people remind me of my own dad.

When my dad married my mom, he moved from his home town to live in the hometown of my mother and to live a few streets over from his favorite father-and-mother-in-law because he loves my mom. When my siblings got involved in sports, he did his best to be their coach. My dad knew a lot about baseball and softball, but, speaking from firsthand experience, basketball and soccer were not his strong suit; but he coached all of us because he loves us. Furthermore, my dad attended every elementary school party and event, even though he had to take time off work, because he loves us. Moreover, my dad attended almost every band, choir, jazz band, and orchestra performance, even though he usually fell asleep, because he loves us. My dad has done so many things outside of his comfort zone because he loves all those who God has put in his life. Along with this love came making sacrifices. What sort of things did your dad or does your dad do that he normally wouldn’t have done because he loves you? How many times did you see your dad get out of his comfort zone for you? And have you ever thanked for doing that?

My dad, like so many other dads, made sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice—removed himself from his comfort zone—because he knew that that was his calling. His calling was to be there whenever and wherever he could because he let his faith and love guide him. The acts of Abraham and my dad remind me of a story I heard about involving a couple who was called to do something new. Jim and Amanda and most of their kids serve as leaders at a camp. Jim is a volunteer firefighter who was approached several months ago by a friend of his about the idea of building and selling pools made from shipping containers. His friend had the connections with people who wanted such a product, and Jim had the connections to get the product made. But this wasn’t just a money-making scheme—they went into this venture with the idea of dedicating a major portion of their profits to digging wells for people in [Underdeveloped] Countries. They wanted to make money to serve God by reaching out to the poorest peoples in [those places]. They sold the shipping container pools for between $40 to $80 thousand each and ship all over the country. In fact, they’ve become so popular that they’re going to be featured on an episode of “This Old House” (PBS) as well as the program’s internet program (which has about 3 million viewers). They plan to feature their mission effort during that show. But Jim shared with me that this was an intimidating undertaking. He’s had to quit his job to work on this project and he continually has to buy bigger and more expensive equipment to meet the demand. But he and his wife agreed this was something they were willing to sacrifice the time and effort to accomplish… and they were willing to step out of their comfort zone to serve God.

Here’s another example: Ed and Becky have been running a camp for mentally and physically handicapped people for 20 years now. Becky had worked in the [school system] when she met two students with Down’s Syndrome and decided—from that day on—that she wanted to work with handicapped children. But that meant she had to settle for lower pay and benefits. But over the years she and her husband developed that passion into three 3-day session at camp for these folks. It’s so much a part of the lives of these disadvantaged people that many of them pack their bags two or more weeks ahead of time. Ed and Becky wouldn’t have it any other way, but it hasn’t always been easy, and it caused them to leave their comfort zones and sacrifice to serve God.

Jim and Amanda and Ed and Becky are just two couples out of millions of others that became “Abrahams” in their life. They did something out of their comfort zone to follow a passion which ended up changing the lives of hundreds of people. From their faith and love, they stepped out of their comfort zone and served God. Now I can’t speak for all of you, but these two couples remind me of my own dad. I have already mentioned that he made sacrifices and got out of his comfort zone for those who he loves, but because he showed me the impact that can happen when one steps out of their comfort zone, I am here today in front of all of you. Being a pastor wasn’t always what I wanted to do: at one point, I wanted to be an architect, a chemical engineer, and sociology professor. I felt comfortable designing things and studying people. However, God needed me to do something that caused me to get out of my comfort zone because he knows me better than I know me.

Through my father’s actions, he encouraged me to do things outside of my comfort zone. He pushed me; he motivated me; he encouraged me; and he never gave up on me. At times, I strongly believe my father knows me better than I know myself because he has watched me grow up and continues to watch me grow up. Father Abraham reminds us that, like so many fathers in our life who did things out of their comfort zone, we, too, are called to do things outside of our comfort zone for the ones that we love. What sort of things did your father do for you by which you thought he would never do?


Movement Three: Looking Back to Look Ahead…

As I get ready to close this message, I want to share with you the beginning portion of Abraham’s call to be the Father of all who believe or the Father of Nations. Kevin DeYoung, author of The Biggest Story Bible Storybook, tells about Abraham through the lens of a child. “It started in a place called Ur,” shares DeYoung, “ruled by a people called the Chaldeans. There was a man there named Abram. He wasn’t a particularly great guy. In fact, he worshiped false gods, just like everyone else in Ur. He had a wife named Sarai, who was barren…

So there he was—a long way off, in Ur of the Chaldeans worshiping the wrong gods, with a wife who couldn’t get pregnant. And you know what God did? He told Abram the hardest, strangest, most amazing things he had ever heard. He said, ‘I want you to leave your country and leave your family. I want you to go to a new place, and I’m not going to tell you where it is yet. But just trust me. It will be okay. Actually, it will be better than okay, because I’m going to take care of you.’ And when God says He’s going to take care of you, he means it. He told Abram he would bless him and bless everyone who blessed him….

Basically, God told this guy who didn’t deserve anything that he was going to give him everything. He even promised to make Abram a great nation. That’s right: the seventy-five-year-old man with a barren wife was going to have as many children and grandchildren and great-great-great-children as there are dust on the earth and stars in the sky.”[1]

Again, as we just read, Abram or Abraham was not perfect by any means, but God still called him to be a father. Again, as we just read, Abraham answered the call to be a father of the Nations not knowing where he was going. Again, as we just read, Abraham did what he did and went where he needed to go because he had faith in God and love for his children. Abraham didn’t deserve anything be was given everything.

In life, we really don’t deserve anything that we are given; and I am not exempt from that reality just because I am a pastor. But I will tell you, as a son that I have been given everything because God blessed me with a faithful and loving father. Emily will tell you that I am becoming more like my dad each and every day; and although that may scare her, I take her words as a compliment because there is no one I would rather become than to become like someone who is faithful, loving, is not perfect, and is willing to leave their comfort zone to make a difference in someone’s life.

The story of Abraham is a story of ups and downs, successes and failures, and peace and frustration, but it is also about faith and love and dedication to the life and people God has put before you. Hebrews 11:10 ends our scripture for today: “For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Abraham was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. All his life Abraham lived in a tent. He lived in a temporary home because even the place God led him to wasn’t his final destination. He was looking forward to a HEAVENLY city whose designer AND builder was God. In other words, for Abraham (and for us) it was like the difference between spending a few nights in a Motel 6 vs. spending eternity in an Elegant Mansion.

God is certainly the designer and builder of our life: laying out a plan and putting the pieces together, as is stated by Jeremiah 29:11. Thinking about this plan, God gave me a father that is also helping me put the pieces together, who is also helping me look forward to God’s elegant mansion, and who will do whatever he can to make sure that I am loved all the days of my life.



When I say the word “father” what comes to mind? For me, what comes to mind, are the songs we listen to together, the memories we’ve created, the laughter we’ve shared, the words of frustration that have been left in the air, the life lessons, the words of encouragement, a coach, an inspiration, a teacher, a source of information, and someone who is faithful and loving. I think of someone who isn’t perfect, but is willing to do their best. I think of someone who is willing to get out of their comfort zone, to offer their love and support. I think of someone who is everything I need to be the person God needs me to be.

Abraham, imperfect as he was, provides us with an image of a father that was created by God for God’s children. My father may not have been created to be the father of all who believe or even the father of all nations, but he was created by God just for me. And I am eternally grateful for the wonderful opportunity to become more like him each and every day. What about your father do you cherish in your heart today? Do you cherish his faith, his love, his imperfections, or even his willingness to remove himself from his comfort zone for you? When I say the word “father”, what comes to mind? Let it be so…


Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for Abraham. Thank you for the father and father-like-figures in our life who resemble you: who are faithful, who are loving, and who are willing to be there for us today, tomorrow, and every day. In your name we pray, Amen.


To all the Fathers out there: may the Lord bless you today and remind you how much you are loved and appreciated and needed. And to the rest of you, may your faith be blessed as you do something outside your comfort zone for someone that you love. May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; and May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26). In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, go forth being thankful. And all God’s people said, Amen. Amen. Amen.



[1] Kevin DeYoung, The Biggest Story Bible Storybook, 2021, Crossway Publishing,: Wheaton, IL. pg. 48-53.

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