Exodus 2: 2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket[a] for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,[b] saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
One of the most courageous moms in the Bible is a lady named Jochebed. She defied the Pharaoh in Egypt who ordered all of the Hebrew baby boys killed. Pharaoh was concerned that the Hebrew people were growing too numerous and would overtake the Egyptians, and so he decided to kill the baby boys to prevent that from happening. Jochebed risked her life to protect and save Moses’ life. Even though he grew up living in the palace, she got to spend time with him and taught Moses about God and his Israelite heritage. Moses went on to be the great liberator, the great hostage negotiator, the great leader of God’s people out of slavery into Egypt and took them on the journey to the Promised Land.
What I want to highlight from Jochebed’s life is the need we as parents have to protect our children from the things that would seek to take their lives. One of the greatest blessings and greatest enemies of our time is technology. Everything evil that exists that could damage your children’s mind and corrupt their heart is now available in the palm of their hand. That is a scary thought. The more violence they see whether on TV, in movies, in video games, or in images on the Internet, the more warped their conscience gets and the more de-sensitized they become to compassion, reality and right and wrong.
The access to sexual content is unbelievable, and what they see can change their view about themselves, their expectations of others, can corrupt their mind about what sex is supposed to be, can create addictive desires that can never be satisfied and will mess with their ability to be appropriately intimate and faithful to someone in the future.
Do you have any control over your TV, your Internet, and the kind of music that is on your children’s phones? Perhaps your TV has a way to block certain channels. Take advantage of that feature. Did you know you can go to “pluggedinonline.com” and research the content of movies from a Christian perspective? Do you understand that online predators are banking on you blindly trusting your children and your children’s inability to say “no” to their curiosity? Did you know there is a “private” setting on the Safari web browser on your kids’ Ipad and Ipod? Do you know about the Incognito search option on Chrome’s web browser? Have you checked the Internet history to check up on your child’s search habits? Do you have appropriate firewalls and software that prevent unnecessary garbage from entering your home? I know we have to trust our children to a degree, but the degree of temptation that is out there and isn’t just out there, but that is seeking to take over your child’s life way outweighs the benefits of blind trust. Who will stand before God and answer for how technology was used in your home? Think about it, and ask God what you can do to try to protect your child from the harm that can come through technology. I will give you the name of someone in our congregation who can help educate you on what is coming into your home and help you make it safer.
The statistic is that 64% of teenagers say they do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about. Perhaps there are some students here today who have been hiding some things from their parents when it comes to their use of technology. If that is you, you are hurting yourself by exposing yourself to things that are ungodly, and you are hurting your relationship with your parents by trying to hide what you are doing. Here are some more statistics: 17% of 8th-graders, 33% of 10th-graders and 47% of 12th-graders have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. 47% of high school students reported having sex. Students, if you have parents who have placed appropriate boundaries in your life it is because they love you and they are playing the role God designed for them to play in your life, and for you to violate that and sneak around that is not only to disrespect them, but to say to God, “I don’t care what You say.”
I want to make it as safe as possible for you to come clean today and let your parents know you are sorry for sneaking around. If you are a Dad or Mom here today, and you would be willing to hear a confession from your student without going off the deep end, but would thank them for their honesty and work towards a peaceful and supportive solution, in just a moment I am going to ask you to stand. I didn’t say there wouldn’t be a consequence like taking a phone for a while or checking phones on a regular basis or losing another privilege for a while, but if you are willing to hear that your student has been hiding something or is struggling and you are willing to help them as they seek to make a different choice, stand right now. Students, the people who are standing are giving their word that they won’t react with unnecessary emotion and heavy-handedness, but with a calm and rational approach to help you make a different choice.
King David made a wonderful decision when he decided he wouldn’t look at vile and worthless things (Psalm 101:3). Do you know when he made that decision? He was an adult when he did. We never outgrow our need for boundaries. Our job as parents is to help our children understand that we aren’t just protecting them while they are young, but when we say “no” to a lot of things it isn’t because they aren’t fit for children, but they aren’t fit for Christians. No Christian should ever say, “Now that I am 21 I am old enough to responsibly view pornography.” That would be ridiculous. There is a way Christians are to live. It is the way of holiness and righteousness according to God’s standards, and we don’t outgrow His standards!
Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” It doesn’t say train a child up in the way he should go as a child, but when he becomes an adult it’s all fair game! I pray to the God of Heaven about many things that I don’t ever want my children be part of whether they are 16 or 66.
Parents, we have to protect our children. Besides setting limits and checking up on our kids, one huge thing we can do is model a godly lifestyle ourselves. We have the potential to make the greatest impact on the lives our children if we will take our role seriously. If we can live as people our children look up to and aspire to be like, and if we walk in the way of holiness, that kind of commitment will be reproduced in our children’s lives. Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”
The second mom I would like for us to talk about shows up in 1 Kings 17. She is a single mom, a widow with one son. She finds herself living during a draught and only has enough food for one more meal for herself and her son, or so she thinks. The Prophet Elijah was directed by God to go to her, and when he got there, he asked for a little bit of water and a piece of bread. I am sure from her perspective the Prophet had come to her as a taker, an extra burden. He was asking for what she couldn’t even think of giving to him when she only had enough for one more meal for her and her son. We pick up the story in verse 13:
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’” 15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
The Widow of Zarephath struggled in this story to make ends meet, to provide what was needed. She was dealing with economic hardship. This is a real struggle for many if not most of us as parents at some point. We want the best for our children. We want to meet their needs and their wants. We want to be able to pay for college. We worry about what Christmas will look like compared to what other children will receive. It can be especially hard for a single parent to provide what they feel is needed on one income.
What I see here is a parenting principle that has little to do with the parent/child relationship, but everything to do with the parent/God relationship. Without any physical evidence, this single mom chose to trust the Word of God in her crises. She couldn’t provide any more for her and her son, but God could. She believed the Word of God in faith, and she obeyed that Word. When she did, she experienced what God could do. His resources are endless.
As parents, we often think of ourselves as providers, when we need to be modeling to our children that we believe in the God who will provide, that we pray to the God who will provide, that we obey the God who will provide.
What great faith she had. She made something for the Prophet Elijah to eat first. Her son saw her giving to God in a sacrificial way and trusting Him to supply more. What a great spiritual example!
One of the names of God is Jehovah-Jireh, which means “God will provide.” Providing is in God’s wheelhouse. It is what He does. It is what He wants to do as we are in relationship with Him and as we listen and obey His Word. He is a Giver not a Taker. “And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
It isn’t just physical resources that God wants to provide as we parent our children. He will supply wisdom when we ask. He will bring people into our lives that will benefit our children if we ask Him to, whether adult mentors or friends. It is a blessing to me when other adults whether teachers or coaches or church members, speak words of encouragement and instruction into our children’s lives. I am not threatened when my children ask to spend time with other godly adults or when they are messaging other Christian adults to talk about their struggles. It does take a village. We do need help. If you get your kids here for Sunday School and Wednesday night instruction, we have people who are ready to help reinforce what you are saying at home. We have people who are ready to teach them the Word of God. We have people who are ready to pray for them and instruct them and listen to their struggles. You don’t have to go it alone when God has provided godly people to help shoulder the parenting burden. You just have to take advantage of God’s people and the programs that are offered through the ministry of the church.
The last mom I want to highlight for you is Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Obviously she was chosen by God for a special task. No one wants to have people say bad things about them, especially when you are a teenager. No one wants to be labeled and bullied and gossiped about. Mary surely was. She was pregnant before she and Joseph married and trying to explain to anyone that she was a virgin, but that the Holy Spirit had overshadowed her body and caused her to conceive was no doubt met with stares, disbelief and verbal assault. But Mary was committed to the task of motherhood even if it meant she had to suffer some drama personally.
Mary was a present mother. She didn’t want to miss anything. She wanted to take in every minute as a mom. She knew what I know now; children grow up quickly. Blink and they are sixteen, right? She didn’t want to miss a moment. I believe if Jesus had been born to her today she would have been a scrap booker. She would have been the mom who made Jesus pose for a gazillion pictures. She would have captured His first camel ride. She would have had him pose with a hammer and nail as Joseph taught Him how to pound it into the wood. She would have had everyone hold up at the Wedding at Cana to make sure she snapped a shot of His first miracle. She would have been organizing the servants who carried the water jars in two rows according to height, the water jars would be in front of the two rows, and she would want Jesus to sit in front of all of them and say “Cheese!” Why do I say that? Because she was always pondering stuff, remembering stuff, and soaking in the moment.
One of our church members, Joni Cantrell, has a ministry on the West Side of Charleston where she teaches dance for free to under privileged children. They do a year-end recital. Last year, Brenda Kraft volunteered to help with the recital, and she took pictures of the kids in their costumes. She said it was obvious that they needed loved on, that while they hoped their parents would come to the recital, many wouldn’t, and that her being there to help them and to take their picture was something they were soaking up like sponges. They needed to know that someone thought their big day was a big deal.
Remember in Luke 2:19 when the shepherds came to see the baby Jesus? They came to Joseph and Mary and told them about the angelic visit that had tipped them off that the Messiah had been born. After hearing their story, we read that Mary “treasured up all they had said, and pondered it all in her heart.” It was a moment she would never forget. It was a highlight of her mothering when other people confirmed what she knew about her child; He was special. He was going to change the world. It moved her to think about it. Her mind was on her mothering. She took her role seriously. She wanted to get it right. She wanted to be what her Son needed. She wanted to be there for Him when He needed her.
In Luke 2:51 when Jesus had gotten separated from His parents and was teaching in the temple at the age of 12, when they finally realized He wasn’t in their caravan and they went back to Jerusalem to find Him, even though they had been worried sick, even though they were upset with Him for the lack of communication and for staying behind when they had started out for home, Mary once again was pondering the whole experience in her heart. It would be a moment she would also never forget.
Once a mother, always a mother, so even when Jesus grew up and left home she followed Him around some. She checked up on Him, not because she was afraid of what He was doing, but because she wanted to be part of it. She was often following Him around in the ministry, just like a mother would. She was with Him in the Capernaum synagogue when He was being rejected by His fellow residents (Mt 12:46). Just as she didn’t miss His first steps, she also didn’t miss His first miracle at the wedding in Cana in John 2.
As parents we need to be present, mentally and physically present in our parenting. I grew up singing a song the Gaithers wrote that says: “We have this moment to hold in our hands and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand. Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.” This is it. Time is fleeting. We need to make the most of it. We need to make a big deal out of successes and accomplishments of our kids.
I am thrilled when I see parents brag on their kids on Facebook. Keep posting! I love to see pictures of your kids breaking the school record, leading their peers in prayer, and twirling in their tutus. I love to post a note of celebration about it as well. I love to celebrate when kids in this ministry serve in a special way. I love to post positive things about my own kids, and I appreciate when you celebrate them too. Kids need to know someone is for them, and their parents need to be their BIGGEST cheerleaders. Dad and Mom, do your children know you are for them? Do they think you are proud of them? Do they believe you love them and see great potential for their life? Are you present when they are talking to you or are you nodding and scrolling through your phone at the same time? Do you make spending time with them a priority? We need to be present with them and cherish those moments in our hearts as we think about their futures and pray about who they are becoming.
We need to be present with our kids in the good times as well as the difficult ones. Few followers were there the horrific day Jesus died, but among them, at the foot of the cross was Mary, Jesus’ mom. No mother wants to see her child endure pain. I know her heart longed to trade places with Him, but she knew she couldn’t. She knew that His path involved pain and suffering. She couldn’t have been prepared for what she saw, but she stood there, right by His side until the end even though it must have been excruciating. You never outgrow your need for your mom. She knew He would need her, and though she longed to be a thousand other places, she wouldn’t have been anywhere else.
Parenting is tough. You need mental toughness sometimes when it gets hard. You need to trust God at all times and especially when it gets hard, whether your child is suffering because of things others are doing or whether it is from bad choices they have made for themselves.
And because she had been an incredible mother, in the midst of His incredible physical pain, with very little strength, through parched and bloody lips Jesus whispered to John, “Take care of my mom.” It is obvious there was a strong bond between Jesus and Mary.
Protection, Provision, and Presence. Three responsibilities. Three opportunities. Three challenges. Dads and Moms, will we rise to these challenges? On this Mother’s Day, be reminded it doesn’t all depend on you. If you will let God be the center of your parenting He will be involved in ways you couldn’t imagine, and He will gift you in ways that will help you succeed.