Mothers Day 2021
Worship Night – Wed 7pm
Meeting following Wed 18th May 9.30am….
Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White
Sunday 9th May, 2021
As I was preparing for this morning, I felt as I always do on Mother’s Day – that today is about honouring women – all women!
Of course, when we consider what our own mothers have been through to give us life, and in most cases, nurture us through our childhood and beyond, we rightfully honour them.
We honour those women who have had the opportunity and privilege to raise up and care for the next generation – whatever that role looks like.
I hope that every married man in this place looks upon his wife with incredible gratitude.
When I really think about the ways my wife has given of herself throughout the years – for me, for our children, for God, for others… I’m overwhelmed. I’m a man blessed beyond measure.
Today is a good day to remember that the things that make us
rich, are not things at all. They are the people we love and those who love us.
For those men who no longer have your wife by your side, I hope the precious memories and the ongoing fruit of your lives together are a blessing and comfort to you.
But I have a word for every woman here today.
I was going to make some stupid joke right here about how profound and deep these four words are that I want to say… because they actually aren’t that profound at all. But they are true!
I realised, it’s never God’s heart to be frivolous about our true identity.
And that’s what I want to talk about this morning. I want to say to all of you women:
Be who you are!
Be true to yourself.
Continue to become the fully redeemed, new creation that Christ has called you to be. That’s the best version of you – it’s the true version of you!
You are not who you once were. Your past doesn’t define you.
The words others might have spoken don’t make you who you truly are.
You are not any other woman sitting here this morning. So you never have to measure yourself according to the life lived by another.
You are not defined by the standards and values, successes and accomplishments that are celebrated by the world we live in.
And if you are looking for your sense of self, sense of worth and place of peace by searching out your own inner world and inner strength – you’ll always come up lacking.
If you don’t hear anything else this morning, please hear this:
You are a unique, one of a kind, valuable and precious woman. You are loved by your Father in heaven more than you could ever comprehend.
And the only thing that truly speaks to your identity as a woman, is what God says about you, and how well you are able to embrace and live out life – simply being your true self!
Let me just share these few familiar verses with you from Ps. 139, to set the scene. And of course, men – these verses speak into your life as well.
New King James Version
“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.”
This truth is the foundation of your life! Everything that speaks against these words is a lie.
In a moment, I want to take a look at a few women in the bible. The amazing thing is that they were all extremely influential, their lives were so noteworthy that God made sure they were recorded for every generation to see.
But it’s incredible just how different and unique they all are.
They are all strong women – but their strength is expressed in many different ways.
I want to make sure that we as a church – and particularly us men in the church – never make derogatory remarks about strong women. Strength, whether it comes through men or women, is to be celebrated.
I’m talking about strength of character, strength of conviction, strength of belief, a strong sense of justice and righteousness….
There’s a strength in knowing who we are – and reaching for our God ordained destiny. And sometimes you have to stand up and fight for that. It can take courage in the face of intimidation – but courage to be you is your strength.
Those women from our more recent history who have fought for things like prohibition – because their men and their families were being destroyed by alcohol… those women who fought for the right to vote – the right to be seen of equal value….
Women who are even now standing up and saying sexual violence cannot be tolerated….
These are strong women! But their strength is in their conviction for what is right.
Well, the women I want to talk about this morning have that same level of conviction about influencing those around them for God’s sake – for the kingdom’s sake.
And one of the reasons I want to briefly share their stories with you, is because it shows us that God looks beyond our background, our circumstances, our cultural differences…. He is willing to use us whatever our personality is, whatever our different giftings and abilities are….
And ladies, these are great examples of not only God’s love – but His mighty power, grace and provision at work.
So the first woman I want to mention is one I’ve spoken about in recent times.
Her name is Deborah.
Deborah was a Prophetess – but she was also Judge of all of Israel. She would sit under a palm tree in the hills of Ephraim and people would come to her to judge their situations.
Deborah was a powerful leader of God’s people. She was strategic in guiding their lives with discernment and wisdom, and leading the people of God as a whole.
Deborah has a prophetic word for Barak, the commander of Israel’s army. She said God had called him to fight against Sisera – their enemy and their oppressor.
I love Deborah’s matter of fact attitude when Barak says he’ll only go up against Sisera if she comes too.
New King James Version
“So she said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless there will be no glory for you in the journey you are taking, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman…”
Now that might seem a bit weak on Barak’s part, but I imagine he recognised that Deborah had authority in God, and where she went, the present of God would go too.
And even though it seems Deborah is speaking about Sisera being sold into her own hand – it’s more likely that she’s speaking prophetically about another woman – Jael. We’ll come to that in a second.
Deborah lets Barak know when times right, and says to him – “Up!”
I’ve got an awesome wife who occasionally gives me the encouragement I need – if I’m feeling apprehensive or in self doubt. She’ll say “Up!” Sometimes it’s just to get me out of bed. And I love her for it!
So Barak and his army have miraculous victory over a much larger and well equipped enemy. And Barak proves his own courage in defeating the enemy and pushing them back until they were completely destroyed.
The only one left was Sisera – the enemy commander, who was hiding in a woman’s tent. Her name was Jael. But by the time Barak chased him down, Jael had already put a tent peg through his temple and nailed him to the ground. So the Lord literally sold Sisera into the hand of a woman as Deborah had prophesied – and her name was Jael.
You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.
I want to make the point here, that the fact that Deborah became the Judge of Israel – in a time when culturally, it was a very patriarchal society – it speaks to the fact that God is not bound to culture or gender. He is able to position the best person for the job regardless of gender – regardless of background.
Deborah knew the Word of God that was written up to this point. She heard the voice of God for the season and the situations she faced.
All of chapter 5 is a song that she sings to glorify God, and it describes her as one who arose as a mother of Israel. How relevant is that for today? Imagine being the mother of a nation!
But as much as she was a driving force behind Barak, she never dishonoured him. She never sought to usurp his role or his authority over the army.
She honoured his position as Commander of the Army. She worked with him. In fact, she lifted him up through her encouragement to be the leader he was.
But she knew also who she was. She was clear on her place of influence and authority. And her strength was ultimately in God.
She was determine to bring glory to Him and be obedient to Him.
If you have the heart and spirit of Deborah, then I’m really glad to have you around.
Some of you intercessors and prayer warriors have plunged a few tent pegs through the enemy’s plans to rob, kill and destroy from the life of Seacoast – even from the nation of Australia – just like Jael did with Sisera.
Our battles and victories might not be as visibly bloody, but they are just as brutal and forceful against the devil.
To all the Deborahs’s out there – go for it!
The second woman I want to mention is someone we know very little about, but she gets a mention as a strategic influence in her own family.
Lois – Timothy’s grandmother.
2 Timothy 1:3-5
New King James Version
Timothy’s Faith and Heritage
Paul says toTimothy: “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, 5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”
Some of you might be sitting here thinking – I am definitely not a Deborah!
Well here is a woman who has what Paul describes as genuine faith. Her faith is the real deal. It is her gift. In fact Paul talks about this same gift that is in Timothy. She’s not a nation changer – but she is strategic in raising a grandson up who is.
I had a grandmother who I believe grew up in difficult times. I actually don’t know much about her early life, but I get the impression it was hard.
She was an incredibly faithful, committed, hard working woman. From my observation as a child, it was my grandmother’s strong and yet quiet influence – her sacrificial life – that held the family together.
I knew she had some level of faith. She attended church occasionally. Running a small business, and her home, kept her busy.
But it wasn’t until about six months before she died, that I discovered there was much more to her faith.
I have some notes that I’ve kept in her devotional – notes that I shared at her funeral.
This is part of it:
“About six months ago I visited Dossie (that’s what we called her) on my own. I shared probably the most memorable time with her that I have ever had. We prayed together and I heard her tell Jesus how much she loved him and trusted him.
When we finished, she went into her bedroom and brought out this little book.
It is called “Help For The Day.” And it has a reading for every day of the year.
It talks about the love of Jesus, how He supernaturally touches people’s lives and carries us through the dark valleys.”
And so I was able to testify at her funeral that she really knew Jesus and had a deep and yet quiet faith.
Well, when Dossie passed away, mum asked me if there was anything in her home that I wanted. At first I said no…. But then I remembered the book.
I said all I want is the little devotional in her bedside table. When I went to get it, I found it with this little picture of Jesus.
She was my Lois. Actually, her real name was Lorna. Close.
So to all the women here this morning, and watching on video – your gift of faith is something powerful that that will pass on to your children and your children’s children. You might not be powerful and bold and out there like Deborah, but you may very well be a powerful Lois – prayerfully raising up children and grandchildren who will change the world.
The third woman that speaks to us today is Ruth.
Obviously we don’t have time to delve too deeply into her story, but Ruth is the testimony of a woman who refused to allow her past, her pain, and her grief to determine who she was and what her future would hold.
She was a widow. A Moabite – not from Israel. Her husband died without leaving her with children.
She lived with her mother-in-law Naomi, who was from the people of Israel.
Naomi lost her two sons and her husband, and decided to move back to her family in Bethlehem.
And as much as she encouraged her two daughters in law to return to their own family, one of them, Ruth, refused to leave her side.
She recognised that her future was with Naomi and her God.
She chose a hazardous journey to Bethlehem and an unknown future in a foreign land – but something greater than familiarity and comfort was drawing her. It was her destiny.
She courageously left her past behind. She bravely walked into her future – beyond her grief and pain.
The rest of the story is a beautiful testimony to God’s faithfulness and provision. Ruth meets and marries Boaz – a rich relative of Naomi. And both women are abundantly provided for.
And the thing that seals this whole story is that Ruth has a baby to Boaz. His name is Obed. People actually said – look – Naomi has a baby…. It was a beautiful way of acknowledging Naomi’s place in the story.
But Obed became the father of Jesse who was the father of King David.
So Ruth, through Obed, Jesse and David, was a significant part of the lineage of Jesus.
Ruth chose to follow her heart and her faith. She knew her destiny lay in the hands of Naomi’s God.
There’s a message here for all of us – but I’m speaking mainly to the women today. Don’t allow circumstances to keep you bound and locked in to the past. There is hope for a future that is good. Follow your heart and your faith toward your future – your destiny – not your past.
The next one is Mary – Martha’s sister.
There’s uncertainty about whether this Mary and Mary Magdalen are the same person. Mary Magdalen was the sinful woman who had seven demons cast out of her.
But for the point I want to make today – it doesn’t matter. Both Mary’s had the same heart and devotion towards Jesus.
Mary – Martha’s sister – was the one who poured expensive perfume over the feet of Jesus, and washed his feet with her hair. She was in effect preparing him and anointing Him for His death and burial.
But Mary’s heart is that no cost is too great in her expression of love and sacrifice towards her Saviour.
And the fragrance of the perfume is symbolic of how your lives as women are an expression of your love for Christ – not just for yourself, but for others.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15
New King James Version
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
As women, your devotion, your worship, your sacrificial giving of what is precious to you – it is a testimony that speaks to both those who are saved and those who are yet to be saved.
For some of you, it is a testimony to your own loved ones. Don’t compromise, stand firm in your expression of your love for Jesus – regardless of what others around you choose. Let your heart stay sweet.
Mary Magdalen never left Jesus side. She followed him to the cross – was there also to help prepare His body for burial. She stayed close when even the disciples abandoned Him.
And just one last example….
Esther – a woman who was called, appointed and positioned for her time.
I believe we have all been called for such a time as this.
God called Esther and placed her in a position where she was able to speak into the King’s life – to save her own people – God’s people – from destruction.
She was given a voice. But she had to find the courage to use it.
New King James Version
“…if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
I’d really love for all of you to go away and read the full stories of these incredible women, because I just don’t have the time to do it here.
But with Esther, she had a choice. If she didn’t respond to the call to open her mouth and speak to the King – which in itself was a great risk – God would have saved His people by other means.
But here’s the thing. What a terrible thing it would be, to stand before Jesus one day, and find out that you had forsaken the greatest opportunity of your life.
If God has positioned you and called you, then find the courage to do it. Who knows what a difference your words, your influence, your position can make.
So just quickly, as we prepare to take communion together this morning, be encouraged – particularly as women – to become the best, redeemed, unique, precious version of yourself that you can be.
Jesus paid the price of His own blood so that you could flourish in life – simply be being who you truly are.
Don’t compare yourself to others.
Don’t allow yourself to remain locked into the past.
Don’t be driven by the success and expectations of the world to find your true value.
It’s who you are in Christ – what He says about you – that means everything.
Whether you are a strong, prophetic woman like Deborah whom God has placed beside other strategic leaders…
Whether you are a faith filled, interceding woman like Lois, who lifts up her family and believes for God’s plans to be fulfilled through them…
Whether you’re like Ruth – a woman from a background that has no connection with God at all – and perhaps a past filled with grief and hopelessness…. But someone who has found hope in Christ and new life of God’s love and provision…
Or whether you are an Esther – positioned in a season and a place of influence within life – within your family… a woman who has a voice and a message to share…
Maybe you’re all the things.
But the thing is – you are you! You’re not anyone else. You were perfectly created to be the only you in the world.
As we share communion together, let’s celebrate life in Christ! Let’s celebrate the gift of womanhood.
Because this is what Jesus gave His life for – that we might have life – and have it more abundantly.
New King James Version
Pressing Toward the Goal
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”
We need to know ourselves through the gospel message. That God loved us so much, that He gave His One and only Son – Jesus Christ – to die for us – but then to lead us – to go before us – into resurrection life.
The bread and wine – or in our case – the biscuit and the juice – are His body and blood – given for us.
This is a moment to be thankful for Jesus – and thankful for one another.
Men – women – children…. We are a gift to one another.
Let’s eat and drink and give thanks.
In Jesus name. Amen.