Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

Proverbs 31:10 – 31

Mothers are the CORE of life

Why are rubies so precious? A ruby is one of nature’s paradoxes. It shouldn’t exist. The chemical that makes the ruby the beautiful red also prevents the crystal from forming and then works to destroy the crystal. Every natural ruby is flawed because of this . . . Rubies over three carats are almost unheard of, and will command higher values at auctions than even diamonds. The lesson is:

***** What creates the beauty CAN destroy it. *****


JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term team players needed for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.

RESPONSIBILITIES: Must provide on-the-site training in basic life skills, such as nose blowing. Must have strong skills in negotiating, conflict resolution and crisis management. Ability to suture flesh wounds a plus. Also, must be able to drive motor vehicles safely under loud and adverse conditions while simultaneously practicing above-mentioned skills in conflict resolution. Must be able to withstand criticism, such as "You don't know anything." Must be willing to be hated at least temporarily, until someone needs money to go shopping. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Also, must have a highly energetic entrepreneurial spirit, because fund-raiser will be your middle name. Must have a diverse knowledge base, so as to answer questions such as "What makes the wind move?" on the fly. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

ADVANCEMENT/PROMOTION POSSIBILITIES: None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: You pay them, offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurances, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered, job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life.

Every mother here this morning knows that mothering brings more joy and love and fulfillment than seem possible. [Adapted by Leonard Sweet]

***** Men make their mark by what they do, women leave their mark by whom they are. *****

"Making the decision to have a child-it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." --Elizabeth Stone


I.         Women provide Comfort through generosity.

“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” [Proverbs 31:20]


            A.        Generosity comes from seeing a need.


                        1.         The word “poor” means “depressed in mind or circumstances.”


                        2.         The word “needy” generally refers to those who are destitute . . . often those who are oppressed or abused.


                        3.         Honestly . . . who typically champions the cause of the oppressed or abused?


            B.        The widow of Zarephath [1 Kings 17:7 – 16]


                        1.         Here was a single mom who was in deep need herself but was willing to be generous with the last of what she had.


                        2.         Willing to give the “last” to help someone else in need.


                        3.         Often those closest to the edge are more willing to help those on the edge.

(Ill.) The church in Peru is recovering from an earthquake. They heard that the people of Haiti are eating clay t have something in their stomach. The church in Peru took up a special offering to help feed people in Haiti.

(Ill.) My Mom would often help others who came to our door. Even though we were “poor” she would tell me, “help others without expecting a return and God will take care of you.”

“Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” [Ecclesiastes 11:1]


II.        Women provide Optimism through persistence.

“She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. [18] She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” [Proverbs 31:17 – 18]


            A.        Optimism is the attitude and persistence is the behavior.


                        1.         The idea of working vigorously comes from a personal inner strength.


                        2.         The idea of “sees that her trading is profitable” is actually knowing that the work will pay off.


            B.        The Canaanite woman. [Matthew 15:21 – 28]


                        1.         The exchange between Jesus and this mom was to meant to dispel common misunderstandings. (Often seen in the plight of many women today.)


                                    a.         [v 23] She was “ignored.” “ Jesus did not answer a word.”


                                    b.         [v 23] She was pressured to be quiet. “So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”


                                    c.         [v 26] She was “insulted.” “He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.”


                        2.         She “knew” that Jesus would help her (optimism) so she kept asking (persistence).


                                    a.         This was a lesson the disciples needed to learn. Their culture did not value either a foreigner (someone who was not like them . . . the Hebrew word for “gentile” and “dog” were very similar) or a women (whom the disciples saw as a distraction to their own purposes . . . they were on vacation).


                                    b.         This woman who was not like them, did not share their religious heritage, came to the point of belief... she believed Jesus could help her.


                                    c.         This woman became an example of faith. While the disciples were always struggling with their faith, Jesus said about the woman, “you have great faith.” [See Matthew 15:28]

(Ill.) One winter day, I decided to demonstrate my superior snow ball talents. I packed the meanies, nastiest, hardest snowball and threw it with precision accuracy and my chosen victim. Unfortunately when I threw the snowball, my new class ring . . . that I dearly and sincerely loved . . . went flying with the snowball.

Mom’s calm response was, “God will help you find it. That’s what God is good at, finding lost things.” [See Luke 15] What she didn’t tell me was that every day, after I walked home, she would ask me if I had found the ring. Since the route was also the walk to the Post Office, she did it to dad as well . . . Months came and went, every day she asked me and she asked dad if we found the ring like she expected to hear us say “yes.”

One day in frustration, because no boy or man likes to be reminded of his stupidity or failure . . . I told her to stop asking. She calmly said. “I prayed and God said you would have your ring back.” She stopped asking me if I found my ring but she didn’t stop asking dad . . . One day, on the way home from the Post Office, dad “happened” to look down and see the gleam of . . . my ring.

I never wore my “treasured” ring after that because it wasn’t the ring I wanted anymore. It was mom’s prayers.


III.       Women provide Real faith through boldness.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” [Proverbs 31:26]


            A.        Real faith is the attitude and boldness is the action.


                        1.         The idea of “speaks” is to “open wide” or “let loose.” (Ok, so there are some negative images attached to this . . . but the idea is that speaking is skillful, or “with wisdom.”)


                        2.         The idea of “faithful instruction” implies “goodness, kindness, faithfulness.”


                        3.         It takes courage (boldness) to speak up when all the men are “spouting off” like a bunch of idiots. Let’s face it, when we talk without thinking we are displaying our ignorance. When our women talk they are giving us “a piece of their mind.” Literally, they are giving us themselves.


            B.        Hannah [1 Samuel 1:10 – 17]


                        1.         Hannah risked looking bad in front of others. In fact Eli thought she was drunk (and everything that implied) . . . “Do not take your servant for a wicked woman . . . ” [1 Samuel 1:16a]


                        2.         She was pouring her heart out to God.


                                    a.         “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.” [1 Samuel 1:10]


                                    b.         “... I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” [1 Samuel 1:16b] (“Anguish” is the word that means “contemplation” and “grief” can carry the weight of anger.)


                        3.         The point was that nothing short of divine intervention would console her crushed soul.

(Ill.) I learned that when mom prayed, there was no used arguing the point. Dad never got that . . . When I was ordained my dad tearfully confessed, “The reason I did not want you to go into the ministry was that I did not want you to do to your family what I did to mine.” Mom on the other hand said, “This is the answer to many years of prayer.”


IV.      Women provide Energy and Enthusiasm through originality.

“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” [v 12]

“She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.” [v 16]


            A.        Energy and enthusiasm are the attitudes and originality is the behavior.


                        1.         The idea of brings in verse 12 means “to treat” or “to ripen.”


                                    a.         Does it not seem that women use a lot of energy on civilizing the men and children? (E.g., dishes, curtains, clothing that matches . . . )


                                    b.         If the goal is “to ripen” then it is the same work the Holy Spirit does in making “the fruit of the Spirit.” Maybe women are the main force God uses to help bring those qualities into our lives?

"Mothers reflect God's loving presence on earth."-- William R. Webb


                        2.         The idea of “considers” means “to plan.”


                                    a.         This is not a passive victim of whatever systemic bogeyman or evil someone can think up to get a paper or book published. This is someone who thinks through her business dealings with careful skill.


                                    b.         Creating something out of nothing (buying a field, planting a vineyard) can take some time . . . it takes years and lots of work to get a vineyard to the point where it consistently gives the best grapes.


            B.        Lydia [Acts 16:13 – 16]


                        1.         She was known for two things.


                                    a.         She was a dealer in purple cloth [see v 14]. Purple was extremely rare and expensive. It was reserved for the ultra rich, such as nobles.


                                    b.         She was a worshiper of God [see v 14]. This was not a passing or casual practice. One gets the impression she seriously considered her beliefs and actions.


                        2.         She became the first recorded convert in Europe. In other words, every church in Europe, and eventually North and South America, can trace itself back to her influence.


                                    a.         She was quick to respond when “the Lord opened her heart.”


                                    b.         She understood the good news that Jesus saves.


                                    c.         She was persuasive in getting her “household” (family) to join her in believing.

(Ill.) I was once at a critical point in my life. My dad sat me down and did what he does best. He preached several of his finest sermons, all in one sitting, in hopes of persuading me. After all that effort, I was still on the edge. Mom noticed. One day she stopped me on the way through the kitchen and said, “I’m praying for you.” I say this honestly, I would rather have gotten a whipping from dad that to have my mother hand me over in prayer to the Heavenly Father.

I still believe that the prayers of a godly woman can undo the stupid, silly, stubborn, selfish, and foolish behavior of any man, teenager, or child.

(Ill.) I remember one basketball game that was really rough. It was so rough that the ref had allowed a player on the other team to punch one of our players. I set a school record in picking up three fouls in the next minute. When the coach pulled me from the game, probably for elbowing the guy in the throat, my parents were sitting right behind our bench. Dad has his head in his hands, mom was yelling . . . “Coach, let him hit him again!”

Men, children . . . lets be honest with ourselves. We’ve gotten Comfort through generosity, Optimism through persistence, Real faith through boldness, Energy and Enthusiasm through originality. The very CORE of our lives came from our mothers.

What should we do?


            1.         “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” [Proverbs 31:28]


            2.         “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” [Proverbs 31:31]

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