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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood - Part 1

Allen Jackson - The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood - Part 1
TOPICS: Motherhood, Mother's Day

This is kind of fun. I did a Mother's Day sermon last night, and I have a different Mother's Day sermon today. This is kind of fun. You know, for many years, I preached the same message four times on the weekend. And now because of circumstances and other needs and opportunities, the messages are different. And so this weekend I got two Mother's Day messages. Made me smile. The title for this one is, "The Unwanted Parts of Motherhood" and there are some of those. Some parts of it are wonderful. I see the joy on the more experienced mom's faces when they see a new mom with a new arrival. And then I suspect they don't tell 'em the whole story. Because it's the best memories that bring that irrepressible joy. When you see a mom whose children are grown and they see a new baby, there's a joy that shows up on that mom's face.

And I think it's appropriate, though, to take a few moments with a biblical perspective. And I just wanna, as a preface to that, preface to that, I wanna be certain we understand that women, wives, and mothers have a place of inestimable significance in scripture. You are necessary for our culture, for our communities of faith, for our congregations. And I don't mean just because of the need for reproduction, you have a role in the purposes of God throughout the story of scripture, throughout the history of the church, throughout the history of God's covenant people. And while there is some enormous pressure to upend that or confuse that or disrupt that, I'm telling you in God's sight, you are of great, great value.

And I hope we don't ever lose sight of that. I'm more aware than I have ever been of a need to speak with clarity and frankness within the Christian community. Candidly because it seems to me that deception is just washing over us like waves breaking on the beach. I accepted an invitation about 18 months, two years ago now, I guess, to visit the new pastor's conferences in cities across the country, really as just an expression of concern for the church. We weren't being compensated for it. It truly has been a desire to see the church strengthened and so we've been in over 20 cities. And last week, we're just about to wrap that up, and last week we were in Columbus, Ohio, and it reinforced this to me.

My brother has a church there, and we had a wonderful gathering in his church. The enthusiasm, the people's, the room was overflowing with people hungry to be with the people of God and celebrate what God was doing in their community. And it truly was encouraging. The presence of the Lord was there and the people's hearts were so open to God. And the next morning, we gathered with groups of pastors from across the city and it was equally encouraging. They had a hunger and a unity and a willingness to stand for the truth of the gospel. And there's a church that I've known in that city for a long, long time. I knew the pastor that founded it, and they were celebrating or advertising a conference that they were launching on supporting sexual minority Christians. And I thought, that doesn't, it didn't feel like the church that I had known. I'd been to that church and been in their building.

And so I went and looked at their website and it was the most confusing repudiation of orthodoxy that I've seen in a long time. In one sentence they would affirm that they were...and they're very well put together and trained and educated. I mean, the language was not sloppy. It was very technical. They said, you know, we support orthodoxy in the Christian tradition and all the things. And then they would list all these things that are clearly outside and beyond what the Christian church has represented for two millennia. And I thought, how deceptive, how manipulative for a casual reader or a new believer or somebody that wasn't informed. And we're gonna have to tell the truth with a clarity and a determination and a perseverance, or we will lose the younger generations.

I had a call yesterday while I was preparing the lessons from a friend of mine. He's been a leader in a national way in the body of Christ, in some ways far beyond anything I've ever done. But he called to ask a couple of questions and talk about some things, but he asked me to pray. He said a group he was involved with, 1000 pastors just signed a proclamation in support of Hamas. So when I say it's time to tell the truth, there are many layers and many perspectives, and the confusion isn't about people beyond the umbrella of Christian, and there's so much confusion within. A lot of reasons for that but I think that to speak with clarity is important and Mother's Day is an important day. God created us male and female. Those are the biblical options. Other choices and experience require repentance and forgiveness.

I'm not saying there aren't other choices and options, but if you've chosen them, they require repentance and forgiveness. God created us as sexual beings. It's important to say that in the church, we don't have to be inappropriate, but sex was not the devil's idea. It's really important to understand that. You know, now, the devil's taken everything God created for our good and found ways to pervert it and use it for our destruction. We don't have to be any more complicated with that than food. God said at the beginning chapters of the Bible that everything in the earth, he gave it to us for food. And so those things are all good, but we all understand you can kill yourself with a fork. You put the wrong things on it and you lift it too many times, it won't work out well.

God created us as sexual beings but, biblically, sex is restricted. There's a context for sexual activity. It's restricted the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Other choices and other experiences require repentance and forgiveness. The biblical definition of marriage involves a man and a woman. It's presented as a covenant, the most binding agreement described in scripture. There is no stronger form of commitment offered to us in scripture than a covenant. Male and female are not categories which we choose. They are determined by physiology.

As Christ followers, we're called to yield to the authority of scripture and the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth. That's a calling on our lives, an assignment if you prefer non-biblical language. We are directed to have love and compassion for those who do not know God and thereby don't adhere to his principles. We have that assignment. We are also called to encourage one another as believers to pursue godliness and holiness. We are not assigned to be tolerant of ungodliness nor to encourage its practice in the midst of God's people. We are not admonished to cultivate diverse definitions of marriage and sexuality. In fact, what the Bible warns us and tells us in very plain language is that for someone to tolerate sin and to support ungodliness brings personal culpability for the behavior which is being overlooked. If you want it in plainest language, you're included as guilty of the wrong behavior if you support it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it this way, "Silence in the face of evil is evil itself". Women, wives, and mothers are essential for family, community, and the purposes of God. God himself said that it was not good for man to be alone. That was God's idea, fellas, women didn't make that up. And he created a woman in recognition of men's condition. Godly women, godly wives, and godly mothers are desperately needed today. I would submit to you, just as a matter of observation, that the ferocity of a godly woman, a godly wife, a godly mom, they are essential for our families to flourish. It's true, they deserve a holiday. I would also add as a matter of observation that the feminist movement has been a demonic assault on women in the family. It has not been grounded, typically, in a biblical worldview. It has promised freedom and opportunity.

And yet after some decades of that movement being fostered, cheered for, celebrated, lauded, women remain subjected to predators like Jeffrey Epstein and his defenders. They're being trafficked on our border and in many of our communities today. They're competing against biological males in athletics and we seem to lack the courage to object. And unfortunately, our daughters are less safe in public spaces than they were just a few decades ago. On top of all of that, more than 60 million of our children have been sacrificed to abortion. If you ask me for my response, it's simple, it's enough. It is enough. Women were promised freedom, but those making the promises garnered power and influence and betrayed the trust of those they purported to represent. The church has a response if we have the courage to give it. God has given us a message. He's given us a blueprint. He's given us a pathway forward.

And with that in mind, we're gonna talk a little bit about mothers today. Some of the parts of motherhood that we wanna celebrate and some that are a bit more challenging. I'd like to use Mary because I think she's a very familiar character. There are many mothers we could take, many women in scripture that have very prominent roles. Because you know the story of Mary the best, I suspect, it requires a little less background work on our part to have the discussion. I would submit to you that God's provision for Mary and her future was complete. I'm back on your outlines, if you were wondering if I was ever gonna go there. In Luke chapter 1, Luke gives us the birth narrative of Jesus, but he presents it to us from Mary's viewpoint. It's predominantly from Mary's perspective.

In Luke 1 and verse 26, it says, "In the sixth month," that's of her aunt Elizabeth's pregnancy. "In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.'" Now we have a statement delivered by an archangel, a message from God himself. So we have a little window now. The declaration that's being made is: you are highly favored. The Lord is with you. I would like to be highly favored by God. I would like to be absolutely certain that God is with me. Wouldn't you like that? Well, I think from that statement and then some observations, we can begin to deduce what that brings. And I would submit God's provision for Mary and her future was complete. I gave you a brief list.

I'm not gonna substantiate 'em all with verses, we could do that, but she's been chosen by God for a very unique role. I think we could all agree on that. You know, God has a unique role for you. It may not include the virgin birth. In fact, I probably wouldn't try to assert that. But nevertheless, he writes for every one of us a unique role. Just as your fingerprints are unique or your many parts of you are unique, where everyone different, God has an assignment. We don't all stand in the same place. It's not like government issue where we all come out with the exact same specs. You know that if the government were in charge of making people, we'd all be the same height and the same weight. We'd all like the same music. You know it's true. We'd be widgets. But Almighty God and his creativity and his omnipotence, he can do anything. He makes every one of us unique. And he has a chosen assignment for you in your life. And it's inseparable from who he created you as a man or a woman.

Secondly, God's provision for Mary was sufficient in every season of her life, and we're gonna look at several of them, what was needed was provided. If it required wise men from the East with the resources to make it possible to make a little vacation to Egypt, whatever was needed, God provided for Mary. And third, she had a most remarkable set of experiences.

Folks, there's a myth, it's a lie. And I wanna do anything in my power to disrupt it. That if you honor God with your life, if you serve God, if you go all in, you push all your chips into the middle of the table with God, that your life will be diminished. Less exciting, less joyful, less fulfilling. That the best way to live, so the myth goes, is full in on ungodliness. It's a lie. I've spent too much time with people that have been all in with ungodliness and the brokenness that had been the result. Mary has the most remarkable life, and it begins when she's a teenager, a very young woman. And this angel Gabriel rolls in and says, "Have I got an assignment for you"? And four, all of this took place in God's will. See, I think we've imagined that God's will is like a skip down the yellow brick road. That you can eat chocolate and you won't gain weight. That you can run and you won't grow tired.

Folks, serving the Lord should not be confused with easy. Giving God your best should not be imagined to be without challenge. The best things in life are on the other side of difficult. I think motherhood represents that. The wonder, the amazement, the gift. Every time I look at a new baby, how can you look at a new baby and not believe in God? But that little child arrives with months of sacrifice. And when you get right down to the point of delivery, I've never given birth. I'm not a birthing person in case, but I've been around the hospitals and, when that's been happening quite a bit and I've been around where the farm where a lot of that happened, and I can tell you that point of delivery, that does not look like a party. And if epidurals aren't involved, it creates some very colorful language even. It seems that that's a stressful season in life. So the best things in life are often on the other side of being willing to do difficult things.

God's provision for Mary and her future was complete enough that it sustained her through heartbreaking moments because that was a part of the journey as well. And she had a victory in knowing Jesus. Imagine knowing Jesus as only Mary could have known him. We're gonna look at some windows into her story where Mary seemed to understand something that nobody else in the room understood. That seems very plausible to me. And finally, for Mary to complete her assignment, she had to be willing to surrender some dreams. She had to surrender some dreams regarding Joseph. She had to surrender some dreams regarding her children. I doubt that in that stable in Bethlehem, when Mary first held Jesus in her arms, that she could imagine the brutality of a Roman cross. She had to surrender some dreams.

So let's take a few moments and look at some of the unwanted challenges. We'll do 'em briefly. I brought you some references for these 'cause they're too easily dismissed. And I don't want you to, because I think they're informative for our own journey. I think they're certainly appropriate for the women and the moms, but I don't think they should be limited to you today. Following God and God's plan for our lives and his purpose for us. I have found in my own journey, it's not what I expected. In fact, there's been very little about my journey in trying to say yes to the Lord. And I've done it imperfectly and I've done it in a halting way, and I'm still working on all of those things but there's very little bit of that that has looked like I expected it to. And I think we could start by saying, for Mary, timing was a bit of a problem.

I read you the angelic announcement in verse 26, the sixth month Gabriel showed up in Nazareth to see a virgin that was pledged to be married to a man named Joseph. Mary, the timing on this is just messed up. You know, this would've been a much easier conversation to add before we'd gone public with our commitment to one another. Before the whole community knew, before the announcements had been sent out. We could have dealt with this quietly or privately. Now this is a public matter. In all the years I've walked with the Lord, I think my most consistent complaint has been about his timing. I have a pretty good idea of what God should do and when he should do it, but he does not always check my calendar. Do you ever find that to be true? Not about my calendar but yours. You don't care that much about my calendar, I know. But it's God's sense of timing.

I have to say he's always been faithful and typically he's far exceeded what I would've imagined or expected or had the courage to ask for. But it is seldom if ever arrived on the timeline that I thought was absolutely necessary. And so I have been known to complain. There's no recording of Mary complaining. In fact, what Mary said was, "I'm in". But it's amazing to me 'cause from an outsider standpoint, it looks like God was just not paying attention. And then the timing problem, it may have exceeded by the disruption of Mary's plans and dreams. In Matthew 1 and verse 18, he said, "This is how the birth of Jesus came about". If Luke tells us the birth story from Mary's perspective, Matthew tells it from Luke's, I mean, I'm sorry.

Matthew tells it from Joseph's perspective. "This is how the birth of Jesus came аbout: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and he didn't want to expose her to public disgrace," he said, "We'll just have a quiet divorce. We'll break this thing apart quietly. I'm not gonna humiliate you anymore than you've already humiliated yourself". I think it's safe to say that Mary's plans and dreams were a bit disrupted. That wasn't the ideal. I mean, I know there's angels involved and supernatural things involved and it's a God story. In some point in the future, it's all gonna be more clear and there'll be validation and there'll be exoneration. But in the moment, it's just awkward.

Really, are you emotionally prepared to follow God when it's awkward? No, I only wanna lead a small group of people that like me. Who arrive early and bring snacks and stay afterwards to clean up. And then write me lengthy thank you notes and appreciation for my sacrifices and my sage wisdom in convening the group. I only wanna volunteer in the nursery for children that sleep while I hold them. And parents who are appreciative when they pick them up. That has not been my experience. We sign up to follow the Lord when it's disruptive and the ideas of how I thought it should work, seldom do. And yet Mary persevered and so did Joseph. I think we could say without being disrespectful, Mary had stretch marks both physically and emotionally. It wasn't easy. In fact, that's highlighted in your next point. There was gossip and hatred and rejection.

In Luke chapter 1, Mary says to the angel, when he visits to Gabriel, "'I'm the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said.' And the angel left her. And at that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea". If you're not familiar with the geography of Israel, Mary lives in Nazareth. It's a village in the Galilee in the northern part of Israel. Her aunt Elizabeth lives in the south, a little community adjacent to Jerusalem. And I don't think it's by accident that Luke butts these two things together. And some of your bibles, they're separated by a little interjection of the editors that says Mary visits Elizabeth. But the narrative when it was put together doesn't have that, that's just put in there for publishing's sake.

When the angel leaves, it says, "Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea". She knew her aunt was pregnant way later than she should have been. And now Mary's pregnant a little earlier than we had anticipated she would be. Nazareth was a small town, maybe 1500 people in the time when Mary and Joseph lived there. That's a small enough town where news travels pretty quickly. You all know one another. Your kids went to school together, you played soccer together, you were in PTO together, you know one another. That Mary, didn't expect that. So, it's just simpler to get out of town. Following God, taking a godly path, owning a godly perspective will not always bring you the applause. I didn't understand that as a younger person. I never, I didn't imagine that God would put me on pathways that, from time to time, would lead me through shadowed valleys. I was completely unprepared for that.

In fact, I thought God had broken trust the first time that happened to me. I talked to him about it. In my mind, I'd imagine that following God would be like running a 5K. That the pathway would be lined with people doing this... People that you don't know, people that you're never gonna see again. Strangers handing you Gatorade. "Here, have a piece of fruit. You look tired". I am tired. And following the Lord is not always like that. Mary said yes to a very disruptive proposition, to something that would change her life forever, her relationships forever. She said yes to that. There's nothing to suggest she's been inappropriate, she's been outside the bound, there's nothing about that. And yet there's significant pressure directed towards her. There are times and places where honoring the Lord brings that pressure. Honor him anyway. Choose him anyway. It's important.

Being a parent is a gift from God. Children very clearly in scripture are a gift from Almighty God himself. Having said that, it's a difficult gift, and we need God's help and his wisdom, his strength, his correction, even his discipline in our lives. Let's pray:

Heavenly Father, I pray for every mother, every parent, every dad. Lord, give us your wisdom. May we guide our children in a way that brings your very best to their lives and your blessings to us. I thank you for that help. In Jesus's name, amen.

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