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Jack Graham - The Legacy of a Godly Mother


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    Jack Graham - The Legacy of a Godly Mother
TOPICS: Legacy, Motherhood

A legacy is not just to be left, it is to be lived before it can be left. And we all have a legacy. It is either a good one or a poor one. It is either an influence for Christ, the Gospel, the Word of God, the testimony of faith, or else it is a legacy for something else that is far less. But today we're speaking of the "Legacy of a Godly Mother". I want us to celebrate womanhood and motherhood! We celebrate the faith and the courage and the sacrifice and the devotion; the prayers of godly mothers! When you read your Bible you can't help but notice the influence of women of faith: from Eve, the mother of all, to Sarah the mother of Israel, to Jacobed, the mother of Moses, the deliverer: and on and on we could go. Old Testament heroines of faith like Ruth and Naomi, and over in the New Testament we meet the women of the Bible who changed the world: Mary and Martha, and Mary the mother of our Lord.

Now we know that men and women are different. And all the men said, "Viva la difference". Right? As the French say. And I would say that there is a uniqueness of the woman that is far superior to a man... at being a woman; just as there is a uniqueness to the man that is far superior to the woman at being a man. God has created us to be one in Him, but there is a distinctiveness and a uniqueness of both the man and the woman. And the uniqueness of a woman is in the role and responsibility of childbearing and nurturing children. That's not the only thing, of course, that a woman does. That is not the final and ultimate influence of her life. And yet God has set the woman apart for special honor. We are to honor the women in our lives. Husbands are told in the Scripture that we should love our wives as Christ has loved the church and sacrificially, sanctifyingly gave His life for the church. Children are to honor their mothers and their fathers.

There in the Proverbs 12:4 for example: "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband". Proverbs 31:10: "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels". Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 11:7 that "the woman is the glory of man". The very church of the Lord Jesus Christ is identified as the bride of Christ. We're also told that a woman is to give leadership and influence to her home. The fact is the Christian faith elevates womanhood to extraordinary status. Among the earliest followers of Jesus were the women, unheard of in that day, a man's world in the day of Christ, and yet Jesus blessed women and their children, He raised their dead, He forgave their sin, He exalted the status of womanhood in society, and He honored His own mother at the cross and made sure that she was well taken care of.

So today when we come to 1 Samuel chapter 1 we meet one of these powerful, passionate women of faith, and her name is Hannah. Beautiful name, it means grace. And she is the graceful and beautiful expression of motherhood. And yet, as we're going to discover in this text, there was a time that she was desperate for a child, thinking that because God had closed her womb that she would never bear a child. She was from a very dysfunctional family. As a matter of fact her husband, Elkanah, was a loving husband, and yet he was a bigamist! And in that sense he was breaking the perfect law of God. It was never God's will or God's word to practice bigamy, and yet she was in a home where this man had two wives. Hannah was most likely the first of these wives, but because she could not bear a child and because of the importance of childbearing in Israel in carrying on the name of the family and the legacy of the family, this man stepped out of the will of God and took another wife. And that causes, as you can imagine, incredible rivalry and dysfunction within this home and this family. And yet, because this woman persisted in prayer and passionately cried out to God to give her a child, God blessed her. God blessed her beyond measure and through her prayers and through her family the whole world was blessed.

So look in your Bibles at 1 Samuel chapter 1. And I want to talk first of all about the profile or the portrait, if you will, of a godly mother. We're told that Hannah was obscure woman living in a remote part of Israel. Verse 1: "There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim". The hill country was the outskirts, so Hannah was just a country girl! And his name, the husband's name: was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. Now I practiced a long time to get all those names just right! "He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other (that is the other wife was) Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children. Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts". In other words, this was a religious family. And I won't doubt the sincerity of this man and his faith. But there as they went to sacrifice: The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

Now that's a problem, because not only did Hannah live in a very dysfunctional family, she lived in a very distressed nation, and primarily because the religious quality of the nation was in total disintegration and really, degradation, and depravity. Eli, though a decent High Priest, had two son that were totally out of control! They were stealing from the coffers of the Temple or the Tabernacle. They spent their times not only stealing, but chasing women and hosting prostitutes. You can read all about that, 1 Samuel chapter 2. So as you look first at the profile of a portrait of this woman, here is a woman, first of all, who is broken... the brokenness of this woman! Because she is living in this home and in this nation where there seemed to be very little hope and very little prospect of a future and any kind of legacy. She was a country girl from nowhere, and yet God raised her up! God chose her as a godly mother.

This nation, as I mentioned, was a very dismal period in Israel's history, the time of national decline, of moral degeneracy and spiritual darkness. The judges tell us (this was the period of the judges) that every man did what was right in his own eyes. It was chaos! It was carnality everywhere! And ultimately the very presence of God would depart from Israel and the Tabernacle, the place of worship., God would write Ichobod across the door, 1 Samuel 4:21 "The glory is departed". And yet God was preparing, in these distressing, despicable days, God was preparing a leader, a deliverer, a prophet! And in preparing His leader, He first prepared a mother: a mother who seemingly was barren and therefore, broken. Her husband was really not much help.

If you read down in the first chapter, verse 6: "and her rival", that is, the other woman, "used to provoke her grievously to iterate her because the Lord had closed her womb". So it went on year by year! Remember, this time seemed short to us, but this must have been an interminable period of time for Hannah as she's crying out. And so depressed that she wept and would not eat! "And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, 'Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?'" Not helpful, guys! She's crying! She's weeping! She's distressed! And he's pounding his chest, and saying, "Look at me! You got me! Why should you cry"? Not winning; not helpful.

Verse 10 says that: "She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly". She prayed and she prayed and she prayed and she prayed again, and seemingly no answer came. But God's delays are not His denials. God always answers prayer. Sometimes He says no; sometimes He says slow. And in this case God was saying slow, whoa, hold on, because before the prayer could be answered, He was preparing the heart of the one who prayed. He was getting Hannah ready for the adventure of faith in her life! She desired to be a mother! The holy ambition of her heart was to bring a child into the world. She believed that God had called her to be a mother.

Now motherhood is not the only calling in life. We know that the Scripture tells us that some women, as men, are called to live a single life, and others, for reasons that we do not know, are called to be childless. You do not have to be married or a mother for God to use you mightily. But it is clear in Scripture that marriage is a sacred commitment for most women, and motherhood is the highest calling of a woman's life. This is the one unique design that God made woman physically, psychologically and spiritually to be a mother, and that the home and family is to be the essential, vital part of a woman's life. Anything outside of your home, ladies, anything else out there is secondary.

The highest calling of a woman's life is her family. And yet in today's culture, of course, the role of mom is often devalued and degraded, and even dismissed in the name of women's rights and equality and a lot of other things that we don't have time to mention today. But this is the portrait of this woman, full of stress and distress, anxious, burning with desire to have a child, and yet no answer on the way. But let's note the prayers of this godly woman, and therefore the prayers of all godly women that connect and create the answer. From the beginning God desired the women to love her children and her husband and to influence the world through her home, and therefore, she prayed. She prays and she prays again.

When you read this prayer, this is not a "Oh, by the way, now I lay me down to sleep, good morning, Lord" kind of prayer. This prayer is passionate; it is fervent. She is crying out to God. In fact, down at verse 15 she says, "I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord". "Pouring out her soul". Verses 12 through 17 says: "As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. And Hannah was speaking in her heart; and only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. And therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, 'How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.' But Hannah answered, 'No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation'. And then Eli, seeing the sincerity and the devotion of her heart says, 'Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to Him.'"

he prayed for a child. Verse 11 tells us she vowed a vow. Now this is a key verse' note it in your Bibles. "She vowed a vow and said, 'O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son... (She prayed specifically for a son) ...give your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head". Now just pull up a chair, and listen to your pastor for just a moment. Is this the burning desire and ambition of your heart, ladies? Men? I really want to talk to you moms today. Is this the burning compassion and passion of your heart to raise up a godly children that are given completely to the Lord, sacrificially to the Lord?

I see a trending taking place among families today. We have ambitions for our children that they will succeed in sports and academics and in their careers and financially. There's this desire to put our kids out there so that our kids are winning in the eyes of the world! But who today is praying that their children would grow up to be great in the kingdom of God!? What mother today in dark days is crying out, "O God, raise up my children as a light in this dark world"! Are you praying that your child would be called to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Are you praying that your daughter would go as a missionary to the nations to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world? Or are you praying little small prayers that your kids will make "A's" in school? God has called us to something greater, something higher! And that is to raise a new generation of young men and women that will boldly proclaim Christ in this generation until Christ comes again! And that, ladies, is your calling!

She cried! And so God answered her prayer. Verse 18 says: "And she said, 'Let your servant find favor in your eyes.' And then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad". My goodness! Her mission at the Tabernacle was complete, and that was to pray and get the answer from God. She is now ready to receive the answer. She is now at the place of total surrender and consecration that she can receive from God what God already desires to give. Remember, when we pray, Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". James tells us in James 5:16 of the power of believing prayer: "The prayer of a righteous person has great power and is working". The moment she prayed, the answer was on the way. Effectual, fervent prayer is working!

Today we have a Bible full, she had a partial revelation, but we have a Bible full of the promises and the provisions of God! Why don't you ladies, take the Word of God and believe the promises of God and start expecting God to work in your life and your families' that will blow you way, and make the kingdom come in your own life and your own family! It will happen! First Peter 5:7 says: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you". Just write Hannah's name next to that verse! The key to this prayer is the faith and the consecration of Hannah, and the desire and the delight of God to answer the prayers of His children. So God gave her the gift of a child.

Prayer was working, the answer was on the way; the young child was born. And her heart, in chapter 2, overflows with praise and gratitude to God. This is verse 1; "my strength is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation". And she says, "there is no rock like our God. She says, the Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor, the Lord makes rich; He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, it says that He will be light in the darkness. The Lord will judge of the ends of the earth; he will give strength and exaltation to all the power of his anointed".

It is a powerful praise, obviously a woman who knew God and knew His word and His truth. Overflowing with devotion! Lost in wonder, love and praise. She is in awe of a holy God who loves her and who has blessed her beyond what she could have imagined. The promise of a godly mother? The son was born, He became a living example of the faithfulness of God and the future of the family in that day. His name means "Ask from the Lord" or "Ask of the Lord". He was given to the Lord. Now initially... let's wrap up this story very quickly. Initially before he was to be given to be a minister at the temple. Hannah had the opportunity to give herself in nursing the child, weaning the child, teaching her child, nurturing her child, teaching him to love God and obey God and serve Him.

And, of course, we know that the first three to five years of a child's life is critical in the formation of that child's intellect, that child's personality, the very makeup of a child is in those first years of a child's life. Young Samuel was a child prodigy. We discover as we meet him that he was wise beyond his years. He was a prayerful man; he was a vibrant follower of God. The mother's heart had taught him well! Ultimately Samuel served for forty years as a judge, as a prophet, as a priest. He anointed the king of Israel, the great king of Israel David! He became a great man because he was raised in the arms of a great woman! And she stayed good with her promise.

But there's one final word that I want you to see. Look at verse 19. No doubt, Hannah, even when... Can you imagine dropping that boy off and going home without him, how lonely? I can still remember dropping our kids off at college and crying all the way home. She drops her little three year old Samuel, the one she'd called upon the Lord, and leaves him there. And yet she knew that this was her promise and she kept her promise to God. She stayed involved in his life. Every year and perhaps multiple times during the year they would make a two-day trek to the place of worship, to the Tabernacle, and 1 Samuel 2:19 says something else. "And his mother used to make for him a little robe", a little garment, most likely from the best cloth, the best wool of Elkanah's sheep, and she made him this little robe and, "took it to him every year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice".

Can you imagine every year as she sewing this little garment, she's also sewing the seeds of faith into the life of her son, offering prayers in faith for her boy. And I can only imagine Samuel, one by one as he's growing up and the Scripture says he grew up in favor like Jesus, in favor with God and man. And as he grew physically and he would hang a little robe and then a little bigger one up, and then another, and another, and year after year, these became reminders of the devotion and the prayers and the love and the service and the sacrifice of his godly mother. You don't have to be a sewer of robes to invest in your child's life something that he will, she will remember forever. Make it your mission above all to love God and to love your family. Do what Hannah did: forget about yourself because it's not about you! It's about your God and God's calling and God's purpose for your children and your family! Worship God for the blessing of life.
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