A Mother’s Influence


Good morning and welcome to Journey Church.  My name is Phil Human and I am the Lead pastor here.  Happy Mother’s day to you all.  And in a moment we will get back to Mother’s Day – but first I think it’s important to start with a word of gratitude.

Last week we asked our regular attenders at Journey to make a pledge to the future home for Journey Church – and you responded wonderfully.  On Monday when we heard the amount that was pledged we were simply speechless.  And we all felt very humbled.  You all have pledged more than a million dollars to the future of Journey Church.  And here it is a week later and I laugh a little every time I say that because it is incredible.

I’d like to thank those of you who have turned in a pledge card – and currently we have about 70% of our regular attenders who have submitted a card.  And I will tell you that I personally was blessed because I received a note from a family that said – listen right now we have a lot of financial pressure on our budget and so we don’t feel we could responsibly pledge anything – but I wanted you to know that we are behind this project and support it with all of our heart and should our situation change we promise we will do what we can…  that blessed me tremendously.  It really did.

If you haven’t had the chance – and would like to you can grab a card and put it in the bucket.

And so now some have asked – what is next?  And what’s next is a request to begin to pray that God might lead us to the promised land.  The land he knew from eternity past would be the place we would build upon.  So begin to pray that God leads and directs us and that should he desire to provide land to us – perhaps thee is a person out there God is nudging to donate some land or provide it at a favorable price – just pray that God directs and leads correctly.  And we promise to keep you up to date.

But today we turn our attention elsewhere.  Today is the day that we celebrate our Mother’s.  The day we set aside to make sure that we express our gratitude to those special people out there who love and lead their kids.

John 15:13 says that “No greater love exists than this, that one lays down their life for another.”  And the reason we celebrate our mothers is because they are the kind of people who love sacrificially.  Who lay down their lives on a daily basis for the sake of their kids.

And so today is the day we officially remember to do what God tells us to do each day – which is to honor our mother and father.  Father’s day is next month.  And since many of your dads will not be here on Fathers day – you’ll be out golfing or sleeping in – allow me to say an early happy father’s day to you.  But

This morning we are starting a new series – we are going to look at the life of one of the most important people in the entire Bible.  Today we begin a study on the life of David.

David was one of those amazing people – incredibly gifted by God.  When we first meet him he is a young shepherd boy – the youngest and surprisingly easy to overlook son of Jesse.  By the time we get to the end of his story he has defeated giants, become King, murdered a man, and  written half of the psalms. He is spoken of in the Bible more than any other man, other than Jesus.  He is referenced more than 50 times in the NT.

Famously, he was described as “A man after God’s own heart”.  And yet we will find out that he is quite clearly – only a man – an imperfect man at that.  As a matter of fact I’d like to propose that we think of David as “A messed up man after God’s own heart.”

Maybe that describes you today?  Are you a messed up person after God’s own heart?  You have within you a deep-seated desire to follow God but you feel like you are crashing into the walls as you stumble along the way?  You, like David, have experienced some highs and lows along your journey?  Well this series will be an interesting journey as we watch the transformation of David from Shepherd to a King.

But before we jump right in David, we can’t talk about David without talking about Samuel, the prophet.  Samuel plays an important role in David’s life.  It’s Samuel who anoints David as King of Israel.  It’s Samuel who David turns to when things get rough.

Samuel is a rock for David – a strong godly influence.  But we can’t talk about Samuel without talking about Samuels Mom – Hannah.  And since it’s Mother’s day it seems extra right that we begin with her.

We find her story in the first chapter of the book of 1 Samuel.  the books of 1st and 2nd Samuel are where we can turn to find the majority of the story of David.  And it starts with Hannah.  So let’s jump in and find “Mother’s Day reminders from the life of Hannah.”

1 There was a certain man…whose name was Elkanah… 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.

3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. (Now some versions say that it was a choice portion – and the deal is that the term in Hebrew is uncertain – but either way she is treated kindly by her husband – who feels the pain she is experiencing of not being able to have children.)

And it’s worth noting that from the very beginning the reason for Hannah’s inability falls on God.  We do not yet understand the why – but we do understand the who?  It’s God.  And though we know that at the end of this story Hannah is going to have a son named Samuel – I already spoiled the ending – right now in the story we stand with Hannah – who can only say I know who is responsible for my pain, I just don’t know why.  And that can be a terribly difficult place to be.

It can also be – the most ideal place to demonstrate faith.  To trust that God knows what he is doing even in the middle of pain and anguish.

6 Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Okay – First reminder –  You are loving your children when you love your spouse.

Let’s set aside for just a moment the craziness of multiple wives.  I remember sitting in the home of the Malian governor of the region we are building these homes in – and he introduces his family – this is my wife – and this person here is my second wife – and this is my third wife.  And then he looked at me and he knew that this would be something unusual for me – and then he looked at me and asked a question that was basically the equivalent of – is this fact blowing your mind?  Is this blowing you mind?

And of course I was trying to be polite so I just said, wow.  But what I was thinking was – no – what blows my mind is that I’ve been married for 22 years and I am learning new things about my wife every day.  What blows my mind is that I can love someone more and more every day I know her.  That blows my mind.

And so here’s the deal – Hannah had a husband who cared for her.  He was not perfect – but he adored Hannah.  And so Samuel was born into a home where love between mom and dad was already established.

So I would simply say that if you are a mom and you are married – that one of the most loving things you can do for your kids is to love your husband.  And men – if you love your kids – then make sure you pull out all the stops when it comes to loving your wife.  Make sure you plan for and protect date night.  Get away from your little angels/monsters depending on the day, and spend time together.

Now I know that some of you are like – Phil you sound like a broken record – anytime you get the chance you say, “The most loving thing you can do for your kids is to love your spouse.”  You keep repeating yourself…

Well, come on Mom.  You know how this works.  You repeat the things that are important.  How many times have you said, “Look both ways before you cross the street.”  “Remember to say Thank You.”  Chew with your mouth closed dear.  Go to the bathroom before you get in the car.  Stop acting like your father?  We repeat the important things.

So I’ll keep saying it – invest in your marriage – it’s the surest way to invest in your kids.

Now, that said, sometimes life throws you curve balls – and maybe you find yourself in a non-tradition home right now.  Maybe you are divorced or widowed or maybe you are a single mom…

I think the next lesson we learn is that You can be a godly influence on your kids even in adverse conditions.

Let’s be real – the family dynamics that Samuel was born into were a little less than healthy.  I mean you have mom and dad love one another but you have this other wife in the mix?  And these half brothers?  And the other mom is mean to Hannah?

It would appear that Hannah was Elkanah’s first wife – and he loved her – but when it became apparent she couldn’t have kids – they went with the culture – and he took another wife in order to have an heir.  And that was extremely important to the culture.  But it just created a mess – and there’s jealousy and spite and anger and contempt and just plain meanness and Hannah and Samuel are in the middle of it.

Listen – you might be here today and feel like you are in the middle of it too- that your home is barely hanging together.  You might even be worried for your kids because they are in the midst of it.

I don’t know all of your home situations.  Maybe you have kids that go off and spend a week at a time with your ex and their new spouse who despises you and you are wondering what the ex will say next to the kids about you and even though you know it’s impossible to control that stuff it irritates you and you wonder if, at the end of it all, you think are my kids going to grow up okay?

The answer is that yes – they can because you can be, like Hannah – a shelter from the storm of dysfunction and unhealth.  You can choose to create an environment of love.  That might be your greatest calling and greatest challenge.

And maybe that means you need to stop the tit-for-tat of bickering ex’s.  Maybe you need to be the one to absorb it so your son or daughter can live in an atmosphere of love when they are with you.

Maybe it’s time to let God define you, instead of your ex and their spouse.  And when God defines who we are we can let go of having to defend ourselves, or let go of the feeling and the desire to tear down your ex in front of your kids.  I wonder what it was like in that house for Samuel as a young man.  You just don’t get  the feeling that Peninnah got any better – one can imagine the stress – but even in a less than ideal home situation – Hannah was able to develop in Samuel a loving and kind heart.

And I would say – by the way – that the reason that Samuel turned out to be a strong and godly man was more from the influence of his mother than it was from Eli – and we haven’t gotten to that point yet in the story, but at about 5 years old Samuel goes off to live with Eli to begin his studies about how to become a priest – and we assume Hannah sees her son Samuel whenever they go to Shiloh to worship.  But he even though Samuel is not living at home after that, in a short amount of time it’s obvious that Samuel is more Godly and righteous than Eli ever is…  so whose footsteps were Samuel following behind?  Not Eli – I believe it was his mom.

So listen, even there – highly unusual home life – but Samuel turns out fine because his mom created an environment of love for Samuel. She learned how to be a godly influence on Him even in the middle of a less than ideal family situation. (Indeed it was quite messy and even ugly at times). You can do the same thing.  Yes you can.  You can choose to be the one who says, The crazy stops in my house.  The crazy stops here.  When my kids walk into my house they are walking into a house of love and respect.

I just want to encourage you that even in the midst of an unhealthy family dynamic – Hannah raises Samuel to Love the Lord.  Hannah becomes a godly influence – a shelter from the storm of crazy – because she trusts God.  She leans on Him.

9 Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. 10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.

Not being able to bear children brings with it an anguish all it’s own.   It’s an anguish that, as one translation puts it – was bitterness to Hannah’s soul.

It affected her on the deepest level.  Why would God close her womb, dash her dreams, toy with her desires.  Why would God repay her dedication and love to God with such a devastating decision?

And for us, we can read on a few paragraphs to see the end of the story – we can read 1 Samuel and see the beginning and the end – but for Hannah – in that moment in the temple – all she knew was she deeply desired a child and God seemed to be completely deaf.  Completely uninterested.

But Hannah did something amazing in her time of anguish.  She was in anguish and she was bitter and she prayed.  The next Mother’s Day reminder for us today:  When parenting brings pain, we pray.  It wasn’t she was in anguish and she was bitter and she walked away from God.  It wasn’t anguish, bitterness, accusations.  Anguish bitterness and prayer.

Who would have blamed her if it said she was in anguish and her soul was bitter and she cursed God and walked away from him and never came back to Shiloh again.  I mean that’s a very normal reaction – that was the reaction of Job’s wife – when Job lost everything – she advised Job to curse God and die.

But Hannah – in the spirit of Job – held onto the truth that God was good.  That he knew what he was doing.  And that it was right to bring her pain to God. Now moms – no one needs to tell you that parenting brings with it joys and it also brings it’s unique forms of pain.  When your child is sick you feel terrible. You try your best to shield your child as long as you can from the ugliness of the world but it’s just a matter of time before they discover it – and When your child experiences the ugliness of the world – it pains your soul.  When your son or daughter gets old enough to make their own decisions – It can be extremely painful to watch them make decisions you know they will one day regret.

Maybe this Mother’s Day is especially difficult for you because of something that is going on with your kids…  Your heart is in anguish – your soul is bitter – I’d say what’s next?  Hopefully, like Hannah, you will point your pain to God in Prayer.

You know what I find interesting about Hannah?  The first ten chapters of 1 Samuel chapter 2 are a song that Hannah composed.  It’s a psalm.  See Hannah took her pain, pointed it to God in a prayer, and then eventually wrote a song to celebrate God’s goodness to her.

It’s very David of her.  David grows up to be the same kind of person.  Just as honest and direct and at times very open about his anguish and his bitterness – read through some of his psalms and you will not read long before you find a man completely authentic – But He – like Hannah – brought his anguish and bitterness and pointed them to God through prayer.

That video talks about people walking in your footsteps and learning as they go – I can see a line – thin though it might be – between Hannah and Samuel and David.

Moving on…

11 And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

No razor on his head is a nazaritic vow – he will become dedicated to the service of the Lord.

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”

20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

24 After he was weaned… they brought the boy to Eli, 26 and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Lastly this morning, Hannah teaches us the power of palms up parenting.

There are some prayers that flow naturally and easy to a parent.  Praying for them to fall asleep quickly and sleep all night and have pleasant dreams?  Easy.  Make them behave!

Praying for your kids to make friends at school and to do well on their exams, and to get make the team or club they try out for… and to get the part in the play – keep them safe as they start driving….  help them to make it into the college of their dreams and to find Mr or Mrs. Right.

See we parents all pray our dreams for our kids – we want them to live happy lives.  Painless lives.  Abundant lives.

But what is it that God wants for your child?  But what if God’s plans for your child goes deeper than a life of happiness, success, and safety?

Hannah reminds us of the power of palms up – open handed parenting.  This child belongs to you Lord.  Do with him or her, what you need to do with him or her, so that your purposes may be accomplished.

When we pray the Lord’s prayer – your will be done – that’s a very palms up prayer.  I’m not clutching.  I’m open handed.  Your will be done in my child’s life.  Hannah reminds us of the importance of parenting with our hands open.  This child belongs to you God.

And there comes a time in every parents life when they must make a decision about their kids and about their God.  And the question is – Do I trust you enough to trust you with my child.  I remember one summer when I lived in Boston – before I had kids of my own – my friend Debbie and her husband and little baby girl were visiting us in Boston and we decided to go to a Red Sox game – and we were walking outside of Fenway and I’m carrying their little girl.  We walk past a hot dog vendor out in the street and he’s chatting up the crowd as they walk by – and he says – Look at that beautiful little baby – here give her to me – can I hold her for a minute.”

And like I said, this was before I had kids – I said – “Sure – hey that’s wonderful!  the guy wipes his greasy hands off – and I hand her my friends baby.  My friend was not paying attention – and when she sees me handing off her baby to some street vendor she bolts into action – that’s enough – give her back – and she gives me this look – you don’t give your baby to a Hot dog vendor Phil!”

Okay – I get it.  Let me ask though – are we comfortable with the idea of handing our children over to God himself?  Do we trust him enough to carry our kids? A palms up prayer is an important moment when a mom or dad says, “I trust you Lord.  I trust you with even my child.”  Your will, not mine be done in my son or daughters life.

Lord I trust that you will use my child’s successes, failures, sins, triumphs, joys, and sorrows to deepen their faith and mold them into the image of Jesus.  The truth is, only God knows what your kids need to make this happen. We surrender to God in prayer, not because we believe that he protects our children from disappointment, failure, and pain, but because we believe that God can and will work through all these struggles to make our children like Jesus.

Hannah was a godly influence on Samuel – who in turn was a godly influence on Samuel.  Palms up parenting.  Your will Lord, for my kids. I’m going to close in prayer and if you are the type who raises hands in worship maybe we raise our hands palms up as a symbol that we trust you Lord.

Post a comment