By Dr. Harold Hammond

This week I was reading the third chapter of Proverbs and it touched my heart deeply.
It is the account of a father teaching his son the important things in life.
This chapter is so very familiar to all of us.
What moved me so deeply is the great love that this father has for his son.
I can just imagine this man sitting down with his son, who is probably a young man at the time this takes place.
Perhaps the young man is going away to college, or is leaving home to make his way in the world.
The father is speaking to the son he loves.
He is giving him the wisdom of his heart.
The life lessons this father has spent many years to learn.

This chapter was written down almost 3,000 years ago, but its lessons are timeless.
As I read it, I tried to imagine my own father teaching me in this way.
But I couldn’t picture him in this role.
When he was around the house, he was pretty silent.
My mother did most of the talking.
I believed my father loved me, because my mother told me so.
I don’t think I ever heard these words from his mouth.
It would have thrilled me to hear these words.

Every son longs to hear these words from his father.
Every daughter longs to hear these words from her father.
Just imagine having a father, strong and gentle,
Who calls you to himself and says:

My son/my daughter, I want to share with you some things that are on my heart.
First of all, I want to tell you that I love you deeply, and I have loved you all your life.
I am so very proud of the person you have become.
You are at a place now where you must make your own decisions about your life.
I hope you will not make the same mistakes I have made which have caused pain to those who love me and to myself.
I know that you will make your own mistakes and I pray they will not be as costly as have my own to me.

What I want to say to you now is what I know to be the truth, without question, without doubt.
This is what I stake my life upon and have tried to live my life around.
I believe the Holy Bible to be the written Word of God, given to us to be a rule and guide for our faith and life.
In the Bible, God tells how how we are to live.
Let your heart keep God’s commandments.
Obedience will give peace to your heart for as long as God gives you to live upon this earth.

The next lesson I would teach you is to not forget mercy and truth.
Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.
In so doing you will find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
The Bible will teach you another truth, the greatest truth you will ever learn:
Who God is, his nature, his character, how he deals with us humans.
You must learn to trust God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength.
He is worthy of all your love and all your trust.
He is your creator.
You knew you before you were ever born.
He even knew that you and I would be having this little talk today.
God loves you with an everlasting love.

But God is also just and he must hold you accountable for your sins and the ways you have disobeyed his laws.
As you travel in this world, there will be many who say there is no God, that we are alone on this tiny planet hurtling through space at enormous speeds.
That man is at the center of the universe.
And you will tend to believe this, the human part of you wants to put itself before God.
But you cannot trust yourself.
You must not lean on your own understanding.
Your own mind and heart will deceive you.
This is why God gave us the Bible.

Believe what the Bible says even when it doesn’t go along with what you think.
I should say, ESPECIALLY when your mind goes against the Bible.
Know this: You cannot trust your own feelings to guide you.
Your feelings rise and fall, in and out, up and down.
They come and they go.
Your feelings are the language of the body, not your spirit.
They will lead you astray into destruction.
In all your ways acknowledge God, and he will direct your paths.
In your waking, in your sleeping.
In your work and in your rest.

Acknowledge God, remember him, every hour of every day.
Teach yourself that you are in God’s presence with every beat of your heart.
God is closer to you than your own breath.
Do not be wise in your own eyes.
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones.
I know these things I say are hard to hear.
Because your flesh wants to have what it wants, when it wants it.
You want to have what others have, you want to do what others do.
If you listen to me, you will find yourself at odds with the world.
You will have to walk a lonely path.

The world will use all its wiles to lure you into the glitz and glimmer of its baubles.
But remember, that all things you see and hear, even your body itself, all created things fade and die.
I am asking you to put your trust in things you cannot see for these are eternal and last forever.
I know, for I have stood where you stand and I have put my hopes and my trust in things that cannot last.
I have tasted bitter fruit.
It took me many years and much heartbreak to learn the lessons I now share with you.

These are the lessons I wish I had heard from my father.
But I don’t blame him.
I know he never heard these lessons from his father.
And his father’s father before him.
This is because we live in a fallen world.

It happened a long, long time ago.
It was in a lovely garden, a paradise on earth.
A man and his wife lived there.
God told him how to live, but he disobeyed.
And sin fell upon all his descendents, from that day to this.
From this disobedience came sin and sickness and death.
There came wars and strife and hunger and disease.

But God did not leave us here to die in our sins.
He sent someone bring us back to the Father of fathers.
His name is Jesus.
You know Jesus.
You have known him for many years.
The next time we talk, I want to share with you the Jesus I know.
And what he has meant to me in my journey through this life on earth.
In the meantime, remember that God loves you with an everlasting love.
And I love you.
I am so very proud of the person you have become.
Until we meet again, I am your loving father.


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