Today is Mother’s Day and I’ve got to take this opportunity to share with the moms who are with us today. Mom, you are a treasure. You are a priceless treasure, a gift from God. You probably don’t hear “thank you” nearly enough. The selfless acts of service you offer over and over again for your family often goes unnoticed, but you need to know that you are a treasure.
Today is your special day and we are here to bestow on you the coveted title of “Doctor of the Year” for the nights you have sat up with sick kiddos, for the remedies you have provided for their recovery, and best of all, your bedside manner. We’ve come to present you with the “Protector of the Year” award for the nights you’ve snuggled with your kids who were scared because the thunder and lightning shook the house or because they heard something outside. Your words of comfort and strong arms of protection are more valuable than having the Navy Seals and Army Rangers posted at the front door. We’ve also come to award you with the “Counselor of the Year” award for the advice that you have given free of charge to your kids when life was perplexing and confusing them. These are just a sampling of the many wonderful things you do to bless the lives of those the Lord has placed in your care. I’ve not even mentioned the meals you’ve cooked, the diapers you’ve changed, the clothes you’ve kept clean, the homework you’ve helped with, the bedtime stories you’ve read, and the prayers you pray day-in and day-out. Mom, you are a treasure.
Moms come in all shapes and sizes. They have different styles and methods of doing what they do. Some moms are more committed to the call of God for their kids than others, but make no mistake about it—loving, providing for, and shaping the lives of kids is Kingdom work. Moms need God’s help. Moms need God’s Word for guidance, encouragement, support, and strength. Moms need other moms, older moms, to listen, teach, and encourage them along the way. Moms need fathers who will appreciate and support them. We like to make motherhood out to be a fairy tale story, but the truth is that motherhood can push a woman to the outer limits of frustration and insanity. If you don’t believe me then either you are not a mom or you just haven’t held that title long enough.
I want to appreciate you who are mothers today. I want to encourage you to continue to do what God has called you to do. I also want to be honest. Let’s face the facts; the simple mention of the word “mom” elicits all kinds of responses from people. Some have had moms who have abandoned them. Others have had moms who mentored them in all of the wrong ways and led them down dark paths. Some kids have even died at the hands of their own mother. The mention of the word, “mom,” can stir all kinds of feelings, but a mother after God’s own heart is a beautifully strange creature. A mother who is first and foremost a woman after God’s own heart will give and give and there is no way that she will ever receive from those she so freely gives to in equal proportion to what she has given. The sacrificial love of a godly mother is a beautiful thing to behold.
I was reminded of the wondrous sacrificial love of godly mothers a few weeks ago when I was watching a series called, Life, on the Discovery Channel. I hope you had the opportunity to see some of the ten part series. In one episode called, “Creatures of the Deep,” the story was told of the Pacific Giant Octopus. I had never heard of the octopus before I watched Life, but I will never forget it now that I have seen her story. The mother is an example of the sacrificial love I just described for you a few minutes ago. The eight legged creature, when she becomes pregnant, finds the perfect spot to lay her eggs. Once she has the eggs nestled under her care she stands guard for the next six months as their protector and provider. She protects them from predators, oxygenates the eggs, and keeps them free from disease. She is so concerned for her unborn babies that she won’t leave their side even to eat. Eventually, near death from starvation, her last act is to breathe on the eggs which aids in their hatching. New life emerges as her life ebbs away. A mother after God’s own heart will gladly lay down her life for her children.
I mentioned to you earlier that moms need others to help them live out their God-given call. In God’s Word we read about how important it is for the older women to take time to teach the younger women how to love their husbands and children. In Titus 2:3-4 we read,
3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children… (Titus 2:3-4 NIV)
In another episode of Life called, “Mammals,” there is a beautiful illustration of how the older moms can help the younger moms. In the episode I watched an older elephant grandmother intervened to help her inexperienced daughter rescue her baby. A young elephant was stuck in the mud. There was no way out. She couldn’t do anything to free herself and evidently her mom didn’t know what to do either. Have no fear grandma is here! The grandmother of the trapped baby moved the young mother out of the way and then pulled her young granddaughter out of the mud and back into the care of her mom. When I saw the mother octopus give her life for her unborn babies and the grandmother elephant help her grand-daughter I thought about the sacrificial love of mothers and grandmothers.
I have spent a lot of time this past week reading the stories of mothers in God’s Word. I’ve read the stories of famous mothers and grandmothers like Ruth, Sarah, Rachel and Leah, Hannah, and Jesus’ own mother, Mary. I’ve also read the stories of some not so famous mothers, some that we don’t even know their name, like Samson’s mom. There is a lesson I’ve learned this past week that I want to pass on to you. The lesson is this: you give, you serve, you love not because of a desired outcome for your kids, but because it is a holy offering to God.
We live in an “outcomes based” society where what we do, we do, for the purpose of the outcome we are going to experience. We are willing to make sacrifices and give our all as long as we think there is a goal, a prize, an achievement that awaits us at the end of our journey of sacrifice. We are willing to make those sacrifices as long as we see hope that the end product is going to be what we envision it being. If we become persuaded that our efforts are futile then we are likely to throw in the towel. As I read the stories of the mothers of the Bible it didn’t take long for me to realize that the outcome of their labors was as varied as can be.
Mom, as a woman of God, you do what you do as an offering to God not for the end result of your kids turning out as a success. That is a hard pill to swallow isn’t it? We all want our kids to be a “success,” whatever that word means. We want our kids to be happy, to love God with all of their hearts, and to contribute to the betterment of others and society. That’s what we want, but that is not why you do what you do. A mother after God’s own heart does what she does as an offering to God—not to secure the success of her kids. I can’t stress to you how important it is for you to inscribe that sentence on your heart and mind, to keep it before you day-in and day-out. It is not the outcome, but the offering that is most important.
If we as parents can begin to live out this truth then it will change the day-to-day tasks that can feel so mundane, so toilsome at times, into holy moments of worship. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. In 2 Samuel 23:14-17 we read about an interesting time in David’s life. David was on the run. His life was perplexing and chaotic and his future seemed uncertain. David was hiding with some of his mighty men at the cave of Adullam when David said, “Aw, I would love some water from the well by the gate at Bethlehem.” David knew Bethlehem. He was born there. He herded his father’s flocks there. During a chaotic time in his life David was reminiscing about a much quieter, more serene time in his life. Read the story with me.
14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” 16 So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD. 17 “Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men. (2 Samuel 23:14-17 NIV)
Now, you need to know that from the cave at Adullam to the well in Bethlehem was twelve miles—a long journey. If that weren’t enough the Philistine military was nearby once the men made it to the well. Three of David’s mighty men heard their leader say that he would like a drink from the well so they headed out. Talk about a servant’s heart! They made the long journey, broke through the Philistine defenses, and drew some water from the well for David. They headed back down the twelve mile trail all the way back to the cave at Adullam. Once they got back to the cave they presented the water to David for him to drink. David was overwhelmed. He couldn’t believe what the men had done for him. David couldn’t drink the water. Instead, he poured it out as a “drink offering” to the Lord and then David said,
17 “Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men. (2 Samuel 23:14-17 NIV)
What David did with the water wasn’t disrespectful of the men who had made such an incredible sacrifice to get him a drink. As a matter of fact, I would say that what David did with the water made a much greater impact on all of those who witnessed it then if David had simply drank it and said, “Thanks boys!”
David poured out the water as a “drink offering” to the Lord. You can read about “drink offerings” throughout the Bible. The first occurrence is found in Genesis 25:14 where we read,
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. (Genesis 35:14 NIV)
When the sacrifices began to be made in the temple the drink offering accompanied the animal sacrifices. If a lamb or bull was being sacrificed a drink offering of wine was poured out along with the animal sacrifice. Unlike the animal sacrifices that were sometimes eaten by the priests, and even the worshippers in the case of the “Peace Offering,” the drink offering was never shared with anyone—it was solely for the Lord.
With that in mind, let’s go back to David. David sees the water the men risked their life to get for him and he recognized it as too holy for his lips so he pours it out as an offering for God alone. Now, if you were to have stopped the men on their way back to the cave at Adullam and asked them about the water they would have simply told you that they were doing their job. David was their leader. He wanted water from a specific well. So, they went to get him what he asked for. Job done. Task completed. What David does by pouring the water out as an offering to the Lord is this: David takes the ordinary and he redefines it. With David’s act the ordinary becomes holy.
The men got the water so that David could drink it—that was their desired outcome right? Once David turns their act into a moment of worship David’s drinking the water become irrelevant. What they had done was really for God. And so it is for you mom. Each and every day you do what many see as mundane tasks. You change diapers. You’ve put a million miles on your minivan running your kids from here to there. You’ve cooked enough meals to feed a Third World country. You’ve cleaned up throw up. You’ve washed clothes. You’ve spent more time at Wal Mart than Sam Walton. You’ve defended your kids against bullies and “mean girls.” You’ve stopped doing some of the things you used to do because you want to set a good example for your children. Why have you done these things? Why do you continue to do these things? That is a great question.
I will tell you this, if you are doing those things so that you will be appreciated and so that your children “will rise up and call you blessed” then there is a good chance that you are going to be disappointed. If you are making all of the sacrifices that you are making so that your kids will turn out right then there is a chance that you are going to be disappointed. If you are doing these things as an offering unto the Lord then you can’t go wrong.
You see, we think that if we will follow this book or this philosophy or this method then things are going to go our way and our kids will be all that they can be. We want to shape our kids into the people that we want them to be, but our desired control is a deception. In the time that we have remaining I want to share the stories of some of the women I’ve read about this week.
We hear so much today about the plight of single mothers. You who are here this morning who are single mothers hold a special place in heart of God. You need to know that He will be a father for your children that their absent father could never be. You need to know that He will be a Husband, a support, provider, and encourager for you that you can’t even imagine. There are all kinds of statistics floating around today about all of the trouble that kids from single parent families will be prone to fall into, but you need to know that those are just statistics—God knows you and your child by name. He has a plan for you and your children.
Jedidah was a single mom. Her husband was a horrible man named Amon who was the king of Judah for two years before he was assassinated. He turned away from God and led the people under his care away from God as well. Jedidah and Amon had a little boy who was just eight years old when his father was killed, the boy’s name was Josiah. Eight years old and you have to live with the legacy of your dad being an evil man—a man who was so evil that the people of his land killed him? Now that is a tough legacy to have to deal with. Josiah didn’t drop out of school. He didn’t start smoking weed and hanging out with sleazy women. He never went to jail. He didn’t father a bunch of kids that he never knew. Josiah became king of Judah and he reigned for 31 years. During his 31 year rule he brought incredible spiritual reform to the nation and at the end of his life we read in 2 Kings 23:25.
25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did–with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. (2 Kings 23:25 NIV)
So much for the statistics of kids from single parent households huh? We don’t know a thing about Jedidah other than what we read in 2 Kings 22:1. She was the daughter of Adadiah, the wife of Amon, mother of Josiah, and she was from the town of Bozkath.
Let me share another mother’s story with you. Do you remember the name Rahab? Rahab was not an Israelite, she was from Jericho. Rahab was a prostitute, a harlot, a despised woman whom God used to help His people when they were preparing to attack Jericho. After the attack Rahab and her family were taken in by the Israelites and eventually she married a Jew named Salmon. You wouldn’t think that Rahab would be the marrying kind would you? Certainly not good mother material. Oh well, so much for assessment tests. Rahab and Salmon have a son and his name was Boaz. What kind of kid do you think Boaz would turn out to be with a mom like he had? We don’t have to guess at that answer. If you have ever read the beautiful book of Ruth then you have read about Boaz. He was the “kinsmen redeemer,” the one used by God to rescue his relative Naomi, who had gone through some horrible times with the death of her husband and her two sons. After the death of her family Naomi tells her two daughter-in-laws to go home to their people, but Ruth, a Moabite, says that she will go with Naomi. They head back home and that is where Boaz learns of their horrible situation. Boaz provides for the two women and eventually marries the Moabite Ruth. They have a son named Obed who has a son named Jesse who has a son named David who would be the greatest king in the history of Israel.
Rahab may not have looked like the marrying kind and she may not have done well on a “Future Mothers Assessment Test,” but we can’t predict what a child is going to be like by simply looking at their parents.
Let’s go the other end of the spectrum. There is a mother that I’ve spent a lot of time with this past week. I don’t know her name. Jewish tradition says that her name was “Zelponith,” but the Bible doesn’t give us her name. We do know that she was married to a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan and that she had not been able to have any children. One day an angel of the Lord appeared to her. Read along with me from Judges 13:3-5.
3 The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, 5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:3-5 NIV)
Manoah’s wife tells him about the visit from the angel of the Lord and Manoah prays to God. Listen to this.
8 Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” (Judges 13:8 NIV)
Can you imagine what kind of parents these folks are going to be? They will raise him as a Nazirite, a person set apart for God. Manoah’s wife will not drink any wine or fermented drink. She will make sure that she never eats any unclean foods. Manoah will be meticulous in making sure they bring the boy up right. He will read every book ever written by James Dobson. They will make sure their son goes to Sunday school. They will have family worship every night. The boy will have the best home training that a young man could possibly receive. After all, he is going to be the one who will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.
You know the story of Samson. He was a rebel. He broke his mother and father’s heart. Just two verses after we read about the birth of Samson we read that Samson went down to Timnah, the enemy’s camp. Read along with me.
1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” (Judges 14:1-2 NIV)
What in the world was he thinking? Where did he do with all of those wonderful lessons that his mother and father had taught him? Manoah and his wife were perplexed. They said,
3 … “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” (Judges 14:3 NIV)
The marriage went bad and Samson went from bad to worse. He went down to a prostitute in Gaza and spent the night with her (Judges 16:2). Later he ran into Delilah and Delilah led to Samson’s demise. The Philistines were using Delilah to get to Samson and their plan worked. Colin Gibson writes,
Samson’s mother finally heard that her son had been captured and mutilated, forced into slavery and degradation. Brought out to make brutal sport for his captors, he died a suicide, beneath their bodies and the ruins of a building he brought down in a final spasm of strength. (Colin Gibson, Samson the Son. http://alturl.com/wbqc)
Can you imagine the questions that must have run through the minds of Manoah and his wife? Samson’s parents had done everything right, but Samson was not a computer in which you input data and get the output you desire. God has created people, all people, young people and old people alike with decisions to make and sometimes we make bad choices. It doesn’t have anything to do with how we were raised or what others may want for us—we all have choices to make. Some of those choices break the hearts of those who love us most.
Those of you who have older kids know exactly what I’m talking about. You might not have been a good mom, but somehow, by the grace of God, your child is serving the Lord with all of their heart. You know their faith is not a by-product of what you did for them when they were young. Some of you moms here this morning might have raised your kids like Manoah and his wife—you were so focused in teaching your son or daughter about the truths of Scripture and what it means to have a relationship with Jesus and yet they have rejected it. Doesn’t it just perplex you still to this day?
There are lots of young moms here with us and I want you to know that I’m not trying to scare you or rain on your parade. None of us knows how your kids will turn out, but that is beside the point. The point is this: make your every thought and action as a mother an offering to Almighty God…period. Trust Him for your child’s future and realize that you do not have the power to control how your child makes the decisions they are going to have to make in life. You have great control while they are young, but the older they get the less control you will have. Whether they are young or old you have the power to do what you do for the glory of God alone.
Mom, would you say that up to this point you have had an “outcomes” mindset about the children God has given you? I think that it is only natural to think in this manner, but I believe that this type of thinking sets us up for heartache upon heartache. I want to encourage you this morning to come before the Lord and ask Him to rearrange your thinking so that your daily walk with your child becomes an offering to the Lord. All of the love, nurture, and training that you give them is to be an offering to Him. If you will do this I will promise you that it will be freeing for you. It doesn’t mean that you will never worry for your kids or experience heartache over your children, but it means that you will be grounded in the fact that they are His and He alone can turn their hearts to Him if they will but seek Him.
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
May 9, 2010