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Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers’ Day

Happy Mothers’ Day! For all who are mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, or mother figures - and for those who have tried to be mothers but who, for whatever reasons, have not been successful, since you have the heart of a mother - you are wished a good day as you live up to the very demanding but very crucial task you have of leading children in their growth.

Mothers are of course crucial in the physical growth of children. They are crucial in the emotional growth of children. They are crucial in the educational growth of children. For mothers who are Christians, there is one more piece that is important. Speaking eternally, it is the most important piece of growth. Christian mothers are crucial in the spiritual growth of children.

With that last piece in mind, today’s message will feature five Bible-based commandments for raising children. I will mention there are ten commandments on the list. You can guess that the other five will be presented next month on Fathers’ Day. For today, five commandments for parents, which of course includes mothers. Commandments that, when they are followed, will help children be spiritually sound.

There is a statement I read that good parents do not always produce good children. Children still have the right of free will. However, devoted, dedicated, hardworking mothers and fathers can weigh the balance in favor of decency and moral character in their children.

To help parents in their quest to be good at what they do, there are ten commandments. The second half are from the New Testament. The first five, all from the Old Testament, will be discussed in this message.

Commandment #1 - Teach your children, using God’s word.

That commandment is based on Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Deuteronomy records words from God. Words delivered by God to Moses, who then shared them with the people of God. They include the Ten Command.  All the way from having no God but the real God to not coveting what others have.

Everything that is taught in Deuteronomy and elsewhere in the Bible brings us to chapter 6, verses 4 through 9. In those verses are some very specific instructions about what to do concerning the word of God.

Verse 4. “The LORD our God is one LORD.” Tat is a reminder of the preeminence of God. He is the only one worthy of leading us and everyone else.

Verse 5 and 6. Because of His importance, “You [that refers to the adult people of God and, for our purposes today, that includes mothers] shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart.”  Mothers, that is step one. You are to love God with all you are. With that love, you are to know the commands - the teachings - of God. That is your first responsibility.

Then verse 7. “And you shall teach them [you shall teach what you know about God’s word] to your children, doing so diligently.” Diligently means carefully, intentionally, conscientiously, on purpose. What a challenge that is. To not make spiritual teachings something you might do every now and then if it happens to come up, but to make sure your children know what you know about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and how the three parts of the Trinity want you and your children to live.

As mentioned a moment ago, that will not be a surefire guarantee that your children will develop into people of God, but it will go a long way to promoting their acceptance of Jesus and good spiritual behavior for a lifetime.

Would you like some ideas about how to be diligent? Verses 7 through 9. 

Talk of God’s teachings “when you sit in your house.” Teach God’s commandments “when you walk by the way.” Which means make time at home to talk about God, and talk about God at least some of the time while you are out, in our case, driving or riding with your family. Not necessarily a theological sermon, but mentioning the glories of God, enjoying some of His miracles, singing songs about Him.

Talk of God’s teachings “when you lie down and when you rise.” That means at night and in the morning.

“And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand and wear them as frontlets between your eyes.” That refers to boxes Jews wore with important Bible verses in them. They were worn so the boxes hit them on the hand or on the forehead as they walked. Each hit reminded them of God. W may not do that literally. I imagine nowadays wearing such boxes would bring ridicule. But the gist is to keep God’s word in view of your family.

In a recent devotional in Our Daily Bread, there were a couple modern-day alternatives to wearing boxes. Write out a Bible verse and tape it to your mirror. Every time you wash your hands, read it and think about it. And before you go to sleep, read a short passage from the Bible, making it the last act of the day.

“And you shall write God’s words on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Again, that may not be what we do literally, but again, we are to saturate our homes with the word of God, making the knowing of God’s teachings easily accessible to our children.

Remember the word “diligently.” It means carefully, intentionally, conscientiously, on purpose. That is what all the examples challenge us to do. We are to make sure our children know what we who are adults know about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and how they want us and our children to live.

Commandment 1 for mothers - and grandmothers and mother-figures and fathers and others who have influence over children - teach them, using God’s word.

Commandment #2 - Tell your children what is right and wrong.

For this, I Kings 1:6, which contains actually a negative example.

The whole story begins with verse 1 of I Kings 1 and continues through verse 25 of I Kings 2. Perhaps you will read the whole account on your own. For the purpose of this message, here is a brief summary.

King David was near death. It had already been decided that David’s son Solomon would take over the position of king. However, there was an older brother named Adonijah who decided he would be king. He told himself that. He organized an entourage to help make him king. He sacrificed animals as a celebration of what he intended to do. All that happened while David was still alive. Apparently Adonijah did not want to wait for nature to take its course.

Adonijah was older than Solomon. It might have been thought - Adonijah certainly thought - his age made him the logical choice to replace King David. That is the way it would normally have happened.

However, Adonijah knew he was not the choice. He knew Solomon was David’s choice. So why did he not follow what had already been decided? It was because - listen to verse 6 of I Kings 1 - Adonijah’s father David “had never at any time displeased his son by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?’” In other words, Adonijah had never been taught right from wrong.

Verse 6 adds that Adonijah was a very handsome man, so pride was also part of the situation, but even that enters into the lack of proper upbringing. Adonijah was never taught that the heart is more important than looks.

What happened was that Solomon did become king following David’s death. Shortly after that, Adonijah began a plot to overthrow the new king. Solomon, who had been told by David to be strong, displayed strength by having Adonijah put to death, which was a tragic end to the passage.

But listen again to the issue. David never taught Adonijah the difference between right and wrong. David never questioned the decisions Adonijah made, using such a question to teach his son the right way to live.

Mothers, teaching your children what is right and what is wrong is still important today. That is also true for fathers and parent figures and everyone else who has influence over young people. Not teaching them right and wrong may not lead to your children’s physical death, but life will be easier when they have the knowledge of what they should do and what they should avoid.

Teach your children, using God’s word. Tell your children what is right and wrong.

Commandment #3 - See your children as gifts from God.

That commandment is based on Psalm 127:3, which makes that very point. “Children are a heritage [a gift] from God.” As it is worded in a commentary, it is God who gives children. They are blessings and not burdens.

I am not a parent, so I have no idea of the day-to-day pressures of parenting. I realize it is whole lot easier to preach these commandments than it is to do them. But they are teachings of God. Including the teaching to see your children as gifts from God. The gifts need to be taught and, as the list continues, they need to be guided and disciplined, but even in the drudgery of that, the challenge is to see your children as worthy of your time and effort. They are worthy because they are gifts from God.

Are you treating your children like gifts from God. Are we doing that as a congregation, thereby helping the mothers in this group? Can we - will we - keep doing that? Being loving to children will help our children and it will please God to know we appreciate His gifts.

Teach your children. Tell your children what is right and wrong. See your children as gifts from God.

Commandment #4 - Guide your children in godly ways.

Commandment 4 is based on Proverbs 22:6.

As we know, Proverbs is filled with usually short teachings about how to live in every aspect of life. Proverbs 22:6 is a teaching for parents. “Train up a child in the way he should go.” That includes telling them and teaching them. Training suggests what we talked about earlier, as in doing this diligently, meaning carefully, intentionally, conscientiously, on purpose. Mothers, grandmothers, mother figures, all adults are to make sure our children know the way to go through life, which we know is to go to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Why? It is because, as the verse continues, “when the children are old, they will not depart from the right way to go.”

Unfortunately, as already discussed, proper upbringing does not always bear spiritual fruit. As mentioned earlier in this message, good parents do not always produce good children. That is because of free will. However - this is the point of Proverbs 22:6 - devoted, dedicated, hardworking mothers and fathers can weigh the balance in favor of decency and moral character in their children.

Teach your children. Tell your children. See your children as gifts from God. Guide your children in godly ways.

Commandment #5 - Discipline your children.

When we talked about Adonijah - about his plans to be king despite his knowledge he was not the one selected for that position - remember we talked about the root of his problem being the fact his father David had never taught him right and wrong. In essence, David never disciplined Adonijah.

Remember the result of that failure to discipline. Adonijah died. In Proverbs 29:17, there is a positive promise for when discipline is given, “Discipline your son [for our times, that applies to daughters as well] and they will give you rest. They will give delight to your heart.”

A gain, I am not a parent. I do not know the ins and outs of family discipline. I do not have experience with the temptations to over or under react to misbehaviors. But I do know what the Bible teaches, which in this case is that when parents discipline their children, doing so with love and the correct purpose and teaching involved with it, they will feel better. So too, ultimately, will their children feel better. And it has to be a delight for parents to see their children being respectful and successful, including spiritually. That is to be the purpose of discipline. Discipline is a commandment of God for parents, including the mothers we are honoring today.

*       *       *       *       *

Next month is Fathers’ Day. That Sunday we will consider the next five commandments for parents. For today, the first five.

Teach your children, using God’s word. 

Tell your children what is right and wrong.

See your children as gifts from God. 

Guide your children in godly ways. 

Discipline your children.

For today’s closing song, the hymn Lord, We Bring to You Our Children. Except, since this is Mothers’ Day, we are going to change it to Lord, We Bring to You Our Mothers.

Lord, we bring to You our mothers

On this festive, holy day.

Grant to them Your benediction;

Grant to them Your help, we pray.

Now may they in honest worship,

In this glad and sacred hour,

Give themselves in true commitment

To You service and Your power.

To the task of Christian nurture:

Teaching, training, leading still

In the way of Christlike living

Till life’s purpose we fulfill.

Bless our children! Bless our parents!

May they grow in Christ our Lord:

Joined in faith and loving service,

In His Spirit and His word.

Lord, thank You for what You are willing to share with mothers, fathers, and mother and father figures. You have available for us Your power, Your love, Your insight, Your ability to rejoice on the good days and to stand firm on the difficult days. May not only mothers, but all who have influence over younger people, be dedicated and diligent in teaching and telling, in seeing children as gifts from You, in guiding and disciplining.

And may all our children respond positively to all those things. You will be pleased. Amen.

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