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What a Mother Needs

Stonebrook Community Church https://www.stonebrook.org

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Mother’s Day 2019 

What a Mother Needs

Since its Mother’s Day, I am showing a picture of my mom and me when I was a little rugrat.

Every Mother’s Day I write my mom a handwritten note.  I find that most purchased cards are too cheesy for me and not personal enough for what I want to say.  I want to express my heart and gratitude for her.  (A secondary motivation is to make her cry.  The good kind of cry.  I’m batting about 0.900 over the years!!)  J

At least two things that come to my mind with my mom almost every year.

  1. How patient she was to put up with me in my first few years.  I was a whiny, demanding little brat who surely needed a couple more swats on my rear to correct the stinky attitude.
  2. Second, when I was 19 years old, my mom—herself new to faith in Christ—told me repeatedly about Jesus and the eternal life he offers as a rescue for my sins.

Several months later, God humbled me with that message of the gospel, and I bowed before him and believed.  I was saved from God’s wrath on that day.

So I like to think—and I’ve told my mom this—that I owe my life to her TWICE.  First, when she gave birth to me.  Second, when she pointed me to my second birth—spiritual birth….being born again.

A mother’s job is both glorious and daunting.

Glorious in that she cares for children who ultimately belong to God more than to her.  Children made in God’s image.  Think of that:  that child she cares for is made in God’s likeness.  There is glory in that.  And God has called her to that task. 

Daunting in that she is charged by God to care for that child and ultimately point them to the One who gives eternal life.  That is a task that is both beyond her and within her grasp. 

This morning, I want to express what God through the Scriptures says a mother needs for such a glorious and daunting task.

And not only what she needs from her own perspective, but also what she needs from OUR perspective.  What the husband is called to give to her.  What the children are called to give her.  And what the Church is called to give her.

Mothers

Moms, you have a daunting task, raising children for 18 to 30 years of your life.  So many challenges, and the task is so constant. 

  • The physical demands are endless.  Feeding, clothing, bathing, sickness, washing clothes.  And then your own physical challenges of sickness, sleeplessness, exhaustion, aches, and pains.
  • The emotional demands are taxing.  Kids bickering, disobeying, lying, whining, ignoring.  Statements like, “That’s not fair.”    “You always….” 

Then hearing your name called out constantly, “Mom.  Mom.   Mom.”

Recently I was hanging out with my grandkids, and my 2-year old grandson Lincoln loves to say my name.  “Poppy.”  He kept saying it over and over.  “Poppy.  Poppy.  Poppy.”   At first it was adorable.  But after 40 times, I’m ready for a new name.  You young moms face this every day. 

Though my parenting days are over, I still remember those challenges.  And as I hang around my daughters with their children, I’m reminded freshly how challenging a mother’s job is. 

  • The spiritual demands are daunting.  The children are created by God, and he desires to save their souls for eternal life.  And he wants them to love him with all their hearts. 

And you, moms, along with dad, are the most important people to be used by God to influence their hearts and to point them to Jesus.  This is intimidating.  A mom can wonder, “Will I ruin their lives?” 

Who is up for such a task of motherhood?  To be blunt, moms, you are not up for such a task

There is one thing you need for such a task:   Jesus.  You need to be near him.  You need his grace.  You need his power. 

The Apostle Paul had a very trying life.  In his role for the Lord as an apostle, he was not up for the task on his own. 

He had the pressures of taking the gospel throughout the Mediterranean world and all the problems associated with that, including severe persecution. 

He also had something he called, a “thorn in the flesh.”  We’re not sure what he meant.   It may have been a severe, painful, physical ailment.

So Paul, like any of us, asked the Lord, “Please take this away.”  After 3 times asking, the Lord said, “No.”

Paul writes,

2 Corinthians 12:9–10 ESV  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This grace that the Lord gave him was not mere platitudes. 

God’s grace came to Paul in strength to do God’s will in spite of his weaknesses.

Power when he felt weak.

Courage when he was afraid.

Perseverance when he wanted to quit.

Assurance when he felt inadequate.

He found that the Lord and his grace was enough.

Moms, you need to believe Paul’s words for you.

When you are worrying about your kids, God’s grace is enough. 

1 Peter 5:7 ESVcasting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

He cares for you!

When you feel like a failure, God’s grace is enough.  His forgiveness is enough. 

Romans 5:1 ESVTherefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Friday morning I was praying about this verse.  I asked the Lord to help me believe it, that God is at peace with me through Jesus. 

Moms, if you know Jesus, the Lord is at peace with you.  There is no condemnation on you.  He loves you.  Rest in the gospel.  Glory in the gospel.   God can and will use you, as flawed and fractured as you may be. 

When you wonder if anything good will come of all your work, the fruitfulness of God is enough.

John 15:5 ESVI am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

When you feel alone, he is enough.  His presence is enough. 

Ephesians 1:13–14 ESVIn him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Think about this, moms.  If you know Jesus, the Spirit of the Living God dwells inside you.  Literally.  Actually.  God is so near.  He couldn’t be nearer on this side of eternity.  And he will never leave you nor forsake you. 

Mothering can be exhausting and frustrating and worrisome at times. 

Moms, ultimately your children belong to him.  And he loves your children more than you do.  He will provide what your children need. 

Ten or so years ago, I was very stressed about my daughters.  Things weren’t going as well as I wanted, and I felt somewhat helpless.  And I was anxious and frustrated.  So I was praying much. 

And one morning I was in my basement, walking back and forth praying.  And my prayers got more desperate, even demanding of God.  In my frustration, I said, “God, DO SOMETHING,” as if God was MY servant.

But almost as clear as an audible voice, I sensed the Holy Spirit immediately saying to my heart, “Brad, I love your daughters more than you do.”  I was jolted.  Stunned.  I realized instantly that of course the Lord loves them more than I do.  He sent his Son to die for them.  I need not and dare not demand God to pay attention and do what I want.   I can and should pray, but I can pray with an assurance he loves my children and will be at work in their hearts, whether it is through me or even in spite of me.

And even for you moms whose children are grown.  You can look at your adult children and you might see loads of problems.  Perhaps they’ve even rejected the Lord.  It’s very tempting to be discouraged.  We might think we’ve ruined them.

Even you moms can rest assured that the Lord loves them more than you do.  He can take all your flaws and brokenness and sins, and work them for good in your children’s lives. 

Moms, you are not adequate for such a monumental task in and of yourself.  But the Lord is your adequacy.  His grace is enough.  HE…is enough. 

So seek the Lord.  Abide in him.  Rest in him.  Rejoice in him.  Pray to him.

Ensure your greatest passion is not to love your children.  Or even your husband.  Make your greatest passion loving the Lord.   Put him first. 

And remember that your highest identity in life is NOT in being a mother.  Your highest and greatest identity is that you belong to God.  You are his beloved, adopted daughter through Jesus Christ. 

His grace is sufficient for you.  His grace is enough.  HE….is enough.

Husbands

What does a mother need from her husband?  I don’t ask this question for the moms to demand from their husbands.  I ask this question for the men.

I recognize there are single moms, here, too.  And there are some moms whose husband is not walking with the Lord.  To you moms, God can give you a special grace that you need because you’re on your own.  The Lord knows your position, and he cares.  He has not forgotten you.

So let me speak to the men.  If you’re married, this is for you.  If you want to be married, this is for you.

Husbands…men… Love your wives as Jesus Christ loved his Bride, the church.  There are many reasons to do so, but I want to focus on the impact you men can have on your children when you love your wife. 

Almost 30 years ago, I received a simple piece of advice from my pastor, and it shaped my life.  My two older daughters were young.  About 4 and 2.  I wanted them to grow up in Christ and be secure, know I loved them, and ultimately know that their heavenly Father loved them.  So I asked my pastor, “What’s the one thing I should do?”

His answer surprised me.  Three words.  He said, “Love their mom.”

What?  Love their mom?  He said if your marriage is strong and you love their mom, this will provide a tremendous foundation for your children.  I have never forgotten that simple advice.

Second only to my walk with and love for Jesus is to be my love for my wife.  Though I often falter and fail at this even now after 33 years, my Priority #2 behind the Lord is to love and care for my wife.  Even over the children.  Over my ministry in the church.  Over my job.  Over my hobbies. 

I’m not saying your children or ministry or job should be neglected.  I’m simply talking about order. 

  • A thriving marriage is wonderful for your wife.
  • It is a beautiful foundation for the children. 
  • And a glorious testimony to a watching world that needs Jesus.
  • And the Lord is honored and pleased. 

Ephesians 5:25–32 (ESV)

25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,

26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

Here is the calling, husband.  Love your wife in the same way that Jesus Christ loved his Bride, the church, and died for her.

Being a good husband is not about being in control or making all the decisions or having all the answers. 

Being a good husband in the eyes of God is about dying to yourself and serving your wife, even to the point of death.    That’s what Jesus did for his Bride. 

Every married man in here knows how hard this is.   Dying to self and being a servant fights against our flesh. 

The Apostle Peter wrote in his letter:

1 Peter 2:11 ESV…the passions of the flesh… wage war against your soul.”

Dying to self and being a servant fights against the flesh.    But Jesus’ standard for husbands is to give up your life for your bride like he has done for the Church.    

My wife has many physical and health needs, and not uncommonly I am tired or feeling lazy.  And I don’t feel like serving.  I grumble in my heart.  I even grumble out loud.  Even this past week.  You can ask her.  The passions of my flesh are waging war against my soul.   But the Lord is my strength.  He reminds me of his love for me, dying for me.  He gives me courage and strength when I ask for help. 

It takes strength and courage to walk in holiness.  But men are never to use their strength as brutes.   Without Christ, what happens with men’s strength is that they use it to dominate and oppress.  They use it for intimidation.  Lording it over others.  That is a worldly and fleshly manhood. 

Biblical manhood is not like that.  Jesus not only taught men, but he demonstrated it to the highest degree, of using his strength in glorious humility and great love.  A love and humility to the point of being ridiculed, despised, and crucified….. All of it towards the end of giving LIFE to others. 

Men, we must use our strength with humility and love, to bring good to our wives.   To serve and protect.

On Wednesday I read an article about another country that has a movement going on to make boys stronger.  More manly.  On the surface, I like that.  But unfortunately, with the godlessness in that country, their social experiment will backfire, as it backfires in every country, including ours.  They will teach men to be strong, but it will end up in arrogance, dominance, and brutality

Husbands and future husbands, we need Christ.  Not only his example, we need his power and his presence in our lives.  Without him, we are powerless to love like he loves.

And like I said to moms, your task of loving your wife like Christ loves his Church is both glorious and daunting.  You cannot do this in your own strength.  You will need the power and grace of God.  Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12 relate to you, as well.  “His power is made perfect in your weakness.”

For you young men who want to be married someday, here’s a word to you.  Thinking of marriage and dying for a wife might sound a bit dreamy.  In our pride, we men can think, “Oh yes, of course I will die for my wife.  I’ll be the Great Hero!  Captain America to the rescue!!!”   I say that it will be harder than you think.  And you will need the power of God in your life. 

So start… by leaning on Jesus, and dying to yourself today.   We must cast off our pride and humble ourselves. 

To all of us men, what steps can we take this week to draw closer to Jesus and then imitate his death for his Bride??

  • Be in prayer and read your Bible this week to help you abide in Christ, and so bear fruit…. the fruit of love. 
  • Pray like Paul did in Ephesians 3, to know the love of God more and more.  Your ability to love your wife will never surpass your understanding of God’s love for you. 
  • Serve your wife without complaining.  Even without being asked.
  • Repent of pride and selfishness before the Lord.  And humble yourself to your wife and apologize for selfishness.  And for unloving words and attitudes.

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church.  And this is one of the best gifts you can ever give to your children.  

Children

Now a word to all of us who have mothers who are still living.  It’s quite straightforward.  Immediately following instruction to husbands and wives, Paul launches a very brief address to the children in the family.

Children, what your mother needs is found here.

Ephesians 6:1–3 ESVChildren, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Two things:

  1. Obedience
  2. Honor

First, to you who are still under your parent’s authority.  For sure, this includes you who still live at home.  For those of you who are young, even if you live away from home, say in college here at Iowa State, but are supported largely by your parents, this also likely applies to you.  If you’re unsure, get some advice.

Paul says to you who are under your parents’ authority, “Obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” 

Obedience is right.  It is the right thing.  It is a righteous thing, and a beautiful thing.  Obedience seems to get a bad reputation.  “OBEY” can seem like a dirty, 4-letter word.

But there is a glory in obedience.  Jesus himself gloried in his obedience to his heavenly Father.

John 14:31 ESVI do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father…”

The holy Son of God—the Creator of the world—was obedient to his Father.   Whatever the Father wanted, he did.  And it was his JOY to obey.  He never obeyed begrudgingly.

Then he says not only to young children but to all of us whose mothers are still living:   Honor.  Honor her. 

  • Obey her, if you’re at home.  Stop complaining.
  • Give high status to her. 
    Speak highly of her. 
  • Honor her in front of others.
  • Get advice from her.
  • If you don’t live with your mom, call her often.  Spend time with her.
  • Tell her you are committed to caring for her as she gets older. 

This comes with a beautiful and motivating promise:  “That it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

This sounds like a Prosperity Gospel, but it’s taken from the OT where typically the blessings from God came in physical form.  Land, crops, livestock.  Health.  Children.

But in the NT, God’s blessings come primarily in spiritual and heavenly forms.  God is not promising here a pain free, trial free life.   But he is promising blessing that comes to our hearts with joy and satisfaction and hope.  And eternal reward.  This is for you if you honor your parents. 

The Lord places such a high, high value on honoring parents.  Why is God so strong on this? 

Wherever we look in the Scriptures, we find that the Lord takes respecting authority quite seriously.   Authority is at the very heart and nature of God.  He is the ultimate authority as Lord of all creation and the giver of life.   And we see honoring authority even in the Godhead.  When reading the Gospel of John, we see the respect and honor the Son of God gave to the Father.

So God has set up this world with human authority that has a reflection of our relationship with Him built into it.  If we are not honoring our mothers and other authorities in our lives, we are dishonoring God. 

Conversely, as we honor our mothers and other authority, we are showing honor to God Himself.   And we then are reflecting the very nature of God, His holiness. 

The Church

So now a brief word to the whole church.  To ALL of us.  What does a mother need from us?  All of us. 

Back to Ephesians

Ephesians 4:15–16 ESVRather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

The clear and consistent metaphor used in the NT to describe the people of God is “body.”  Jesus Christ is our Head—our Brains—our Life Source—and we all together are the body.   And each of us individually are body parts.

When you consider the metaphor, you recognize two things:  1. The body needs you.  2.  You need the body. 

So we recognize with each individual and group, we together have a role to help them.  And the specific way Paul wants us to help each other is to grow together into spiritual maturity.

So church, we have a responsibility to mothers.  Collectively and individually we have a responsibility to help our mothers grow in their faith.

Our first role is to “speak the truth in love.”  From the context, I believe that “truth” is much deeper than simply speaking honestly about failures or problems.  Paul is talking about the truth of God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and all that he has done for us. 

So we help our mothers to grow in their faith.

And you older women have a special opportunity to help younger moms.  With your wisdom.  Your faith.  Your knowledge.  With your practical help.  With your friendship.  With your advice. 

Thinking of the “one another” verses will go a long way.

  • Pray for one another.
  • Serve one another.
  • Bear one another’s burdens.
  • Encourage one another.

This is what a Mother needs from the church. 

Application

We could make a list of 40 ways we as the Body of Christ and as individual Body Parts can help mothers to grow.  Here are a few. 

  1. Pray for them.  I mean this earnestly.  And thank God for them. 
  2. Encourage them with Scriptures, like in Ephesians 1.  Remind her of the work of God in her through the power of the Holy Spirit and the salvation through Jesus. 
  3. Serve in Sunday school so that Mom can hear the Word of God being taught.  Many of you already do this.
  4. Babysit the kids so that she can rest or run errands or go to a coffee shop and read her Bible.
  5. Commend her for the good work she is doing with her children. 
  6. Be an encourager to her.  You may have suggestions and corrections for her, but ensure you do it in a spirit of gentleness and great support. 
  7. Take a meal when a new baby comes (which so many of you do already).  

Conclusion

A mother’s job is both glorious and daunting.

The children’s physical well-being is at stake.

Their spiritual growth is at stake.

Their physical demands are constant.

Their emotional needs are always present.

Yet the mom is quite aware of her limitations.

Who is equal to such a task?  Moms, you are not, but Jesus is.   Lean on him, and you will find his grace is enough for you.  His power is made perfect in your weakness.