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Mother’s Day Sermon 2012 – Two Wives, Four Mothers, Twelve Sons May 14, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Genesis, God's Goodness, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Mother's Day, Providence, Rachel, Religion, Sermons.
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TWO WIVES ON MOTHER’S DAY
Genesis 29:1-30:24

Erwin Lutzer once “asked a woman about the tattoo on her arm, she explained, ‘My former boyfriend did it-he was an abusive alcoholic.’ …every day she was reminded of the pain in her past. She would have preferred to remove that tattoo, but it was burned into her skin” (from Putting Your Past Behind You by Erwin Lutzer).

A. Many of us come from less than ideal situations, less than ideal families. For many Mother’s Day is a wonderful holiday but for others it brings sad memories and unfulfilled dreams. I doubt that they celebrated Mother’s Day in Jacob’s house, especially before Joseph was born. There were two wives, two concubines, and four mothers in this household. One wife was unloved; the other was for many years childless. The expectations of both women remained for years unfulfilled.

1. Our expectations are not always fulfilled (29:31-30:8).
i. It may be that certain things that we expected in life to happen never came to pass. That is what we have in this passage, especially in the life of Rachel, who wanted a son with all of her heart.
ii. It is also possible that things we expected to be fulfilling left us wanting. Leah had six sons, a mother’s dream in that day, but the pride of having children left her dissatisfied.
iii. It also may be that we had no expectations in life and life gave us exactly what we expected, nothing. Jacob’s handmaids, slave girls fall into this category. They became pawns in the hands of Jacob and his wives and at least in one case, in the hands of Jacob’s oldest son, Reuben (Genesis 35:22).

2. We sometimes try to manipulate the situation (29:15-30; 30:14-16). There are different types of manipulation. Perhaps Rachel tried to use guilt on Jacob to manipulate him to take her handmaid, although in this case he pointed out that the situation was beyond his control (30:1-6). Only God can give children.

3. We must depend on God for solutions (30:17, 22-23). We learn of God’s faithfulness and provision in his Word but the clearest way to depend on God is to flee to him in prayer. “In John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, a young woman and her children are seen knocking on the Wicket Gate. In a moment a ferocious dog begins to bark, making the woman and children afraid. They face a dilemma: If they continue to knock, they must fear the dog; if they turn away, the gatekeeper will be offended and they will not be admitted. They continue to knock ever so fervently. Finally, they hear the voice of the gatekeeper asking, ‘Who is there?’ and instantly the dog ceases barking.” Erwin Lutzer comments, “The moment we are serious about prayer, a thousand dogs begin to bark. If we listen to them we will turn away. If we continue to know, we will hear the voice of our Master and we will be encouraged to press on.”

B. God’s plan is not limited by our dysfunction (32:9-12). There is a story of a “beautiful piece of cloth on which some ink had accidentally been spilled[.] Though the ink could not be removed, an artist painted a picture on it and used the blotch as part of the scenery” (adapted from Erwin Lutzer).

1. His expectations are always fulfilled (32:27-28). That is why we should pray according to God’s will, desirous that God’s will be done. “When we pray for a promotion, or that a child will be healed, or that God will give us a marriage partner, the question of the will of God always emerges as a part of the picture. In instances like these we must end our prayer with ‘If it be Thy will.’ On the other hand, there are some requests we can make with absolute certainty that we are praying in His will” (Lutzer).

2. He always controls the situation (45:3-8). “When Edmund Gravely died at the controls of his small plane, his wife kept the plan aloft for two hours. She radioed for help and her distress signal was picked up, but communication was impossible because she kept changing channels. Eventually she made a rough landing, but it would have been so much easier if she had stayed tuned to the right frequency” (Lutzer). God is in control, there is no doubt about that. Are you listening to him?

3. His solutions always good (Joshua 24:1- 13). How long did this take? From the time of Abraham to the time of Joshua was well over five hundred years but God’s solution was good. It was another thousand years before Jesus came but God’s solution was good. It had been two thousand years since Jesus promised that he would return but his solution remains good.

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What Lemuel learned from his mother (part 2) Another Mother’s Day Sermon May 9, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Mother's Day, Proverbs, Religion, Sermons.
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WHAT MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME – PART TWO: THE KEY TO BEING A WISE MAN (Proverbs 31:10-31)
Theme: A man is considered wise when he finds a future-seeking, spiritual woman.
Introduction: Earlier in this chapter we have the instructions of King Lemuel’s mother. Although it is not absolutely certain that this acrostic poem is also from King Lemuel and his mother, the poem follows naturally her instructions.
One of her instructions in verse 3 is not to give your strength to women. The word “strength” is not necessarily speaking of physical strength but rather can refer to military strength, financial strength, administrative strength, in other words that which gives you the ability to accomplish a task.
The word “virtuous” in verses 10 is the exact same word as that in verse 3. In other words, this chapter is saying to young men, do not give your strength to women in riotous living but rather find and marry a woman of strength, a woman who enhances your ability to accomplish what a wise man attempts.
When a man finds such a woman, he can treasure her and trust her because she gladly brings good things into his life (verses 10-13).
He can treasure because she is his most valuable possession. Now I do not mean to use the word “possession” in a demeaning way. What I want us to understand is this: there is nothing that a man has that is more valuable than a strong woman.
The first part of Proverbs 12:4 puts it this way, “An excellent (by the way, this is that word “strong” again) wife is the crown of her husband…” In other words, she brings, through her worth, recognition of his worth. Young men, do want to be admired? Find an excellent wife.
Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds something good, And obtains favor from the LORD.” Young men, do you want God to favor you? Find a good wife.
Now how do you find a good wife? First, you find out the characteristics of a good wife and look for them in every young lady who catches your eye. That is part of the purpose of this Mother’s Day sermon, to help young men know what God wants them to be looking for in a wife.
Secondly, seek your wife from God. Proverbs 19:14 says, “Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD.” Young men and young women, if ever there is a reason for you not to date the unsaved, this is it. Just as you cannot expect God to give you clean water out of the sewer, you cannot expect God to give you the spouse you need from an unsaved person. I know that God does miracles and I praise Him for every case that has ever worked out and I continue to pray that God will bring the spouses of some of our ladies to the Lord. If, however, you want God to give you a wife or a husband who will enhance your ability to please God and accomplish what he wants you to in this life, you need to narrow the playing field to people who are saved and are serving the Lord.
Not only can a man treasure a strong woman but he can trust her. There are two reasons:
One (verse 12), she only does good to him. She never attempts to hurt him, to cut him down, to manipulate him, to get even with him. By the way, girls, this is also true in finding a strong husband. If that person you are dating continues to hurt or abuse you in some way, break it off. Find someone who only wants to do you good.
Also, her responsibilities as wife and mother bring her pleasure. If you are interested in someone who is always complaining about whatever task they are given, whether it be schoolwork or chores or a job, be kind to them, pray for them, but do not consider them as a partner. Grudging labor will poison your relationship. Find a positive person for your life’s partner.
Now how is it that a strong woman brings good things into the life of her husband? She can do this because she is diligent in her vision for the long-term security of those she loves (verses 14-18).
A strong woman dreams for the future. Many a young lady has a dream for her life. There are ladies who dream of being a princess but a strong woman’s dream go beyond that. There are ladies who dream of being in a safe environment. Young men, look for a young lady whose dreams go beyond a fairy tale wedding day and the protection of her husband, which protection, men you owe to your wife. Look for a lady who dreams for the future of others.
She prepares for the future. Dreams without plans and preparations remain just that dreams. Dreams without plans and preparations are often forgotten. Dreams with plans and preparations have a chance to be fulfilled. You need to talk with your future wife about the future. Find out not only what her dreams our and tell her what your dreams are but discuss how you might bring those dreams to fruition.
She acts for the future. When a merchant wants to make money through shipping, he plans a trip and then he actually carries out his plans. When a farmer buys a farm, he works the land and invests right back into his farm. When a vendor goes to the market, he or she checks their wares for quality and then rises early so that they will not miss one sell. That is the kind of strong woman you young men need to be seeking for.
Her husband is considered wise on her merits because her future-seeking value is evident everywhere (verses 19-24). There is not an area of life where her value is not recognized. Within her family, behind closed doors, the strong woman’s future-seeking value is recognized. The poor are not only aware of it but are cared for by her because her value has given her abundance. The neighborhood sees the evidence of her successful planning. The merchants at the marketplace know all about her value. Verse 23, however, is the kicker. Her husband is esteemed among men of responsibility because of his wife. He is judged on her merit.
Earlier I read the first part of Proverbs 12:4, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband,” but the second part is also revealing, “…she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.” Young men, it does matter what kind of a wife you choose. Your choice of wife shows something about your character and if you choose a short-sighted lady, a lady who does not fear God, a lady who is negative, a lady who cannot be trusted, a lady who is manipulative, a lady who nags to get her way, a lady who fusses and fumes when things do not go her way, you can blame her all you want but your choice reveals your lack of wisdom at the time that you made that choice.
Some think that Paul was too hard to expect that the wives of elders and deacons also be held to a high standard but this is one reason why it is not unreasonable. The actions of the wife reveals the level of spiritual leadership in the husband.
Her future-seeking, spiritual character is praised because it bears fruit (verses 25-31).
Verses 25-27 list the spiritual fruit of a strong woman as if they were a string of jewels hung around her neck, each one glistening in all its glory, reflecting off the others and emanating a beauty as a whole that is much greater than the individual parts.
Now this word for strength is closer to what we normally think of as strength. This woman’s character is seen as spiritually, mentally, emotionally, strong and honorable.
Her end is joy. She may go through tough times but she will rejoice at the end of her life because of the way she lived it.
Her words are wisdom. Her words would reflect the truth of the book of Proverbs. The book is written for young men but young women should learn it also, that they might be able to teach others wisdom.
Her words are kind, merciful, loving according to the law (see 2 Chronicles 35:26). What is the law of kindness? Jesus explained it this way, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” This woman forgives. This woman cares for others, especially those who are her enemies. This woman reflects the love of God.
She is attentive to those under her. She does not ignore her children or her husband or her servants, should she have servants but attends to their needs.
She is not lazy. This certainly has been alluded to throughout this whole passage. This woman does not see life as a vacation to be lived.
She is praised but not for her beauty and charm. Those things can deceive and will not last. No, she is praised because she fears the LORD and her character and the fruit of her life reflects that fear. This is a woman of God, a strong woman, a woman of eternal significance in God’s kingdom, a woman whose spiritual character is an honor to her husband.
Do you fear the LORD? That is really the foundation. We began this series reminding ourselves that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. That means that you are trusting in a God who could and should snuff you out but chooses instead to show you mercy through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus rose from the dead that you might fear Him, that you might trust Him, that you might be saved from your sin. Will you begin your walk in the fear of the LORD today? Will you trust Jesus for forgiveness of sins and begin a new life in Him, a fruitful life and an eternal life, a life who end is guaranteed joy. Be wise today and trust Christ!
NEXT WEEK: Psalm 78:1-11: Why Should We Memorize Scripture?

When Mother’s Day and Pentecost Sunday fall on the same day (a sermon) May 11, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Acts, Mother's Day, Religion, Sermons.
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THE WOMEN OF PENTECOST

Acts 1:12-15; 2:14-18

 

There has been a lot of talk about how early Easter was this year and how that none of us will probably see Easter come again as early in the year as it has this year. Because of the quirks of the calendar, this year Mother’s Day lands on the same day as Pentecost Sunday, which means that mothers have to share their holiday this year with the Holy Spirit. The last time this happened was 1951. The next time this happens will be in 2035. I will probably preach this same sermon on that day, so you can go ahead and make plans to be elsewhere.

 

Mother’s Day became an official national holiday in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a decree that the second Sunday of May be a day “for a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.” This year, the fiftieth day after the Resurrection and the second Sunday in May are on the same day — May 11, 2008. Now usually, we do not think of mothers, or of women in general as being important at the first Pentecost but the Scriptures indicate that they were important.

We know that at least one mother, Mary the mother of Jesus, was present in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost and as we will see later, possibly several. Certainly, there were a number of women present on the day of Pentecost and they were not there simply as window dressing. They had an integral and important part on that day which we will look at today.

 

These women were from the very beginning recognized as an integral part of the body of Christ (Acts 1:14).

They were devoted disciples. They continued to follow Christ after He ascended to heaven. Luke’s tells how that a group of women from Galilee accompanied Christ on His last trip to Jerusalem (Luke 8:1-3; 23:49; 23:55-24:10). Some of these women like Mary Magdalene were notable for the miracles Christ had performed in their lives in either casting demons out of them or in healing them of some infirmity. Others of these women were known because of their husband or because of their sons. They had ministered to Jesus and to the disciples during this last trip. They had heard many of the great teachings that we find in the book of Luke regarding following Christ. They had been there as He was crucified. They had watched as He was laid in the tomb. They were the first ones to see the resurrected Christ. It is no wonder that they were also there, as devoted disciples.

They were waiting with the apostles for the promise of the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8). They were not there ignorant of Christ’s purposes. They were waiting for the promise of the Spirit. John the Baptist had proclaimed that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself had promised that baptism. This promise had not been fulfilled but Jesus had assured them that it was coming.

“…the Spirit on the day of Pentecost came to these people in answer to the prayer of Jesus, not in answer to their praying…but entirely and absolutely in answer to the request…of Christ Himself (G. Campbell Morgan)” (John 14:16). This waiting was evidence of their faith and trust in the promise of the Father and the prayer of Christ. Probably there is nothing that shows more evidence of trust than patience especially when you are out of the limelight.

One night, a group of ladies were having dinner celebrating the return of a friend form a fabulous trip. One of the ladies was a mother who felt sorry for herself when she compared her life mired in Little League car trips and peanut butter with that of her traveling friend. As she was feeling sorry for herself, her friend turned to her with a package and said, “I brought you this.” It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. Later she read the inscription: “To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.” It does not matter whether you are a mother or whether God has you in some other position that is overlooked and ignored. God sees and it is the patience you have when no one is looking that indicates the depth of your trust in God.

These women were waiting for the promise of the Spirit. They did not know what would come of this promise or how it would work exactly in their lives but they knew that it was necessary for them to wait with the apostles and the other men for that promise. They knew that it was meant for them also.

They were involved in worship with the apostles (Acts 1:14). It is interesting to see what they were doing as they waited. They were praying continually. One of the most common words for worship in the New Testament is connected to continual prayer. It is service to God. When we despise prayer, whether as individuals or as a group, we are despising the service and worship of our Savior.

This prayer meeting strengthened those who were sad and sorrowing because Christ had gone away. Remember, many if not all of these women had spent many days with Christ, serving Him and listening to Him teach. Their lives had been radically transformed by Christ. Their hearts had a huge void that was aching with longing for their Lord but He was gone. I’m sure they were praying for wisdom and strength and praising God for His greatness and mercy but no doubt they were also pouring out their heart in longing for Christ.

The successful prayer meeting is the place where God’s will and the carrying out of God’s will intersected one another. Perhaps I should mention what I mean when I say that the prayer meeting was successful. If they had not prayed in this manner, it is still possible they would have received the Spirit of God. The reason we can consider this prayer meeting successful is the fact that God’s will and man’s will melded together in that upper room. The prayer meeting in a sense is the evidence of this melding and welding together of God’s will. Successful prayer is not my changing God’s mind and will but rather the evidence that God is changing my mind and my will.

The prayer meeting was possible and successful because they were of one accord. This is obviously unnatural. In those days women were not considered significant. There was no Mother’s Day in the Roman Empire. The Pharisees used to thank God that they were not a woman but Jesus had made a change in the lives of these people. The apostles had the positions of authority and the women were at the bottom of the religious and social ladder but they were all in one accord praying. It is likely that some of the apostles’ mothers were there. We know that at least two of them had traveled with Jesus. The mother of James and John had tried to politic for her sons in the kingdom of heaven. There is no hint of such a thing now. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, is there but notice she is mentioned as an equal with the others in her involvement in prayer and waiting for the Spirit as a follower of Christ. Oh, that we had such a unity in worship. How pleasing that would be to our Lord and Savior.

These women received the same Holy Spirit as the apostles even though their responsibility was not the same (2:14-18). Now before we see the implications of this for women, we need to understand what Peter is trying to tell his listeners.

He is making clear that equality in the Spirit was prophesied (2:14-18) and that it was to a certain extent being fulfilled before there eyes. Obviously, not everything that Joel predicted was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. That fulfillment is still to come when Jesus returns to set up His kingdom. What was fulfilled though was the indwelling of all God’s people with the Spirit of God, young and old, free and slave, man and woman and that the purpose of this fulfillment was to call people to turn to Christ as the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

What Moses wished for (Numbers 11),

What Joel predicted (Joel 2:28-29),

What Peter explained (Acts 2:16-20),

Is now available to every believer (Acts 2:21).

And will be completed when Christ comes to set up His kingdom on this earth.

Now in this case, the ability to prophesy or to speak in tongues was the immediate method God used to testify of the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). God has not always used these methods and in fact, I believe, does not use these methods anymore. The significance is not in the method God chooses to use nor in the persons He chooses to use but the Holy Spirit which empowers those persons and methods enabling the gospel of Christ to be revealed through our witness and testimony. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that takes away any excuse not to be bold in our testimony for Christ (Acts 1:8).

Ladies, you need the power of the Holy Spirit just as much as I do. People often pray that I would be filled with the Spirit and I need to be. I need the power of the Spirit to preach, to pray, to work, to minister. The mother, however, who is trying to teach her children the ways of God needs the filling of the Holy Spirit also to empower her, otherwise her efforts will be powerless. She will not be able to pass on to her children the witness of Christ. The ladies who teach our preschoolers need this power. Our teenage girls need this power. Our teenage boys and retired men need this power. We all need this power, otherwise, we will fail in our witness for Christ.

There is more to this though that is implied but not directly taught in this chapter. Equality in the body of Christ was accomplished on that day (I Corinthians 12:12-14). On the day of Pentecost, the believers were empowered and they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit but they were also baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ. When does this baptism take place? Galatians 3:26-27 answers the question clearly: “You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.” The order here is crucial. First there is faith which makes you a son of God, then you are baptized into Christ with the result that you are “clothed with” Christ. All of this happens at the moment of conversion. (Parts of this paragraph with thanks to Ray Pritchard). Let’s go on to verses 28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” There may be a difference in gifts or position but every person, no matter there status is equal in the body of Christ because they were all put there the same way. They put their faith in Christ and the Spirit baptizes them into the body of Christ. Now just in case you still doubt that the Spirit makes us equal in Christ, look in the next chapter of Galatians (4:6), “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’”

This Baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is important because it takes away any excuse we have not to work together, love each other, or forgive each other (Galatians 5:13-16 and 5:22-26). It allows us to walk in the Spirit and not according to the ways of the flesh.

This unity with each other in Christ is the basis of the effectiveness of our service to God (I Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4:7-12).

This unity with each other in Christ is the basis for the way we treat each other as believers (I Corinthians 13; Ephesians 4:1-6).

Ladies, I trust you see the importance you have in God’s family. People, tend to evaluate themselves by what they have and why they do not have. Some women see themselves as lacking because God has not blessed them with children. That pain is real. Those who are mothers often see their weaknesses or compare themselves with career women and feel inferior. Please, let me remind you that your importance as a lady, as a mother, as a person is not based on your outward circumstance but is established in Christ. If you have trusted Him, you are a part of His body by a special working of the Holy Spirit by indwelling you and empowering you and baptizing you into the body of Christ. Walk in that Spirit. Witness in that power. Live with confidence that you are significant to God and to His people as a member of Christ and His body.

Next Week: The Fold and the Feast – Psalm 23:1-6