Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 3)

This week, leading up to Mother’s Day, we are looking at Seven Magnificent Mothers from scripture who exhibited characteristics to be admired, imitated, and praised.

momMagnificent Mother #3: The Promise-Keeper

Our third “Magnificent Mother” is one I will call “The Promise-Keeper”.  We find her story in the first chapter of I Samuel.  Her name is Hannah – one of Elkanah’s two wives.  And when we are first introduced to her, we find that she is barren – unable to have children.  Hannah’s barrenness is especially painful, because Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, is little miss “Fertile Myrtle”, and she taunts and belittles Hannah for not being able to have children.

So Hannah goes to the Tabernacle to pray, and Scripture tells us that she “was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (I Samuel 1:10).  In fact, she weeps so bitterly that Eli the priest overhears her and thinks she is drunk.  She pours her heart out to the Lord and promises that if God would grant her a son, she would return that son to the Lord.  Eli then asks the Lord that He would grant Hannah’s request, and Samuel is born.

How often do we make “deals” with God and never keep up our end of the bargain.  “God, if you’ll just help me do thus-and-so…”  “Lord, if you’ll help me out with this one thing…”  “Jesus, if I could just have this…”

It would have been easy for Hannah to justify to herself that “it would be better for the boy to be with his mother,” or “God wouldn’t really expect me to give up my son.”  But she didn’t make any excuses.  Once the boy Samuel was weaned, she brought him back to Eli and dedicated him to the Lord, leaving him there with the priest to be trained.  God gave Hannah a great gift – the gift of motherhood, and Hannah the Promise-Keeper honored her commitment to God.

~ Matt Kinnell,
NHIM Board Chair

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Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 2)

This week, leading up to Mother’s Day, we are looking at Seven Magnificent Mothers from scripture who exhibited characteristics to be admired, imitated, and praised.

momMagnificent Mother #2: The Mother-In-Law

The second of our “Magnificent Mothers” is The Mother-In-Law.  The mother-in-law is sort of a stereotypically dubious character in our culture.  (Unless you are one, then they’re lovely.)

Perhaps you’ve heard this one:  A man was out shopping one day when he saw six women beating up his mother-in-law.  As he stood there and watched, a bystander said, “Well, aren’t you going to help?”  He replied, “No.  Six of them oughtta be enough”.

Or this one:  Two women were discussing their mothers-in-law.  One says, “My mother-in-law is an angel.”  Her friend replies, “You’re lucky.  Mine is still alive.”

I could go on, but I won’t.  Our “magnificent” mother-in-law is found in the book of Ruth.  I don’t think I need to tell you that it is Naomi to whom I am referring.  Naomi and her husband Elimelech and their two sons moved from their home in Bethlehem to the land of Moab, because there was a horrible famine in Judah.  Elimelech died, the boys got married, then about ten years later Naomi’s sons died, leaving two widows of their own – Orpah and Ruth.

There are two things that let me know that Naomi was a “Magnificent Mother.”  First of all, she was more concerned about her daughters-in-law than she was about her own happiness.  She told the girls to go home, find husbands, and be happy.  I’m sure Naomi would’ve preferred the company of her daughters-in-law to the loneliness of an empty home, but she wanted them to be happy, to find happiness in a new marriage.  And she selflessly believed they wouldn’t be able to find that if they tagged along with an old widow woman.

Secondly, Naomi must have been a “Magnificent Mother”, because when she tried to release her daughters-in-law, they didn’t want to go!  Both of them wanted to go with her, to leave their families behind and stay with Naomi.  What does it say about the love and kindness that must have been in Naomi that these women couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her!

But Naomi insists, and Orpah finally goes back to her family.  But not Ruth.  Ruth gives us that beautiful passage of commitment:  “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Oh, that our lives would be so attractive to those around us that they would say to us, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  How many would come to the Kingdom if we had the selfless, compassionate, and magnetic character of The Mother-In-Law, Naomi.

~ Matt Kinnell,
NHIM Board Chair

Seven Magnificent Mothers (Part 1)

momA teacher gave her class of second graders a science lesson on the magnet and what it does. The next day in a written test, she included this question: “My full name has six letters. The first one is “M”. I pick up things. What am I?” When the test papers were turned in, the teacher was astonished to find that almost 50 percent of the students answered the question with the word mother.

This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day when we honor our mothers.  How many of you have ever had a mother?  That’s what I thought.  And you know, motherhood is much more than giving birth.  There are many mothers who have never carried a child in their body, but they have carried a child in their heart, and we want to be careful to include those wonderful women as we honor mothers.

This week, as we approach Mother’s Day, we are going to look at seven Biblical mothers who are praiseworthy.  Some of these “magnificent mothers” are well-known in Scripture, some of them get more of a fleeting look, but all of them have characteristics that are to be admired, imitated, and praised.

Magnificent Mother #1: The Protector

The first “magnificent mother” is one I’m going to call “The Protector”.  We find her story in the book of Exodus.  You know it well.  Her name is identified in Exodus 6:20 as Jochebed, the mother of Aaron, Miriam, and Moses; but she is most well known for what happens in the first ten verses of chapter two.  That of course was the time when Pharaoh was ordering all the Hebrew boy babies to be thrown into the Nile River.

Exodus 2:2 says when Jochebed gave birth to Moses, “she saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months.”  Now, I never met a mother who didn’t think her son was a special baby, but I think Scripture is trying to tell us that Jochebed saw something even more in this child that she had brought into the world.

She protected him.  She kept him hidden.  And when she could keep him hidden no longer, she made a little basket for him out of papyrus reeds, waterproofed it with tar and pitch, hid him among the reeds along the banks of the Nile, and set his sister to watch out for him.

I know that most mothers would do anything to protect her child, but Jochebed really goes to it.  She thinks of everything.  Imagine the care and effort that she must have put into that little floating basket.  She does what it takes to protect the life of her son.  And how is she rewarded?  When Pharaoh’s daughter rescues the baby, she ends up hiring Jochebed to take care of Moses.  Jochebed, a slave woman, ends up getting paid to nurse her own son!  (Some of you mothers out there wish you could’ve been paid for watching your own kid!)

There is nothing in our world today to compare to a nationwide policy of drowning all male children of a particular race.  But there are plenty of things for a mother to be worried about.  And God never made a better worrier than a mother.  There are pitfalls and dangers that every child will face, and every mother, like Jochebed, wants to protect her child.  No good mother wants harm to come to her child.  But, you know, there comes a time when The Protector has to let go a little and allow her child to grow, to learn, and maybe even fall down a little.  There’s a beautiful song that Bill Gaither wrote for his children that says:

Mom and Dad would love to collect you
And shield and protect you
And save you from hurts if we could
But we must let you grow tall
To learn and to know all
That God has in mind for your good

So, like when a child is learning to walk, sometimes Mom has to let her child fumble around and get its own footing; but when the child falls, The Protector is always there to kiss the bumps and bruises and to love and encourage.

~ Matt Kinnell
NHIM Board Chair

Shackles on Our Ankles

ankleshacklesAs the years have continued to pass by, my memory has become less reliable when recalling details. Such is the case with a quote that surfaced in my mind recently. While discussing with friends the moral climate of our day, this line came to mind: “In our headlong pursuit of freedom to do as we please, we are dressing our souls in chains.”  I cannot remember who made the statement or where I heard it, but its impact on me has lingered.

We seem to be onlookers as the moral fabric of our society degenerates to the place where each person is a ‘law unto themselves’. Respect for authority is on a downward spiral. Our situation seems reminiscent of days in the Old Testament referred to in book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eye” (Judges 25:21, KJV). Even in our religious communities, we seem to have thrown off the restraint of scripture and church ordinance in order to do as we please. A line from an Isley Brothers’ song captures the ethos of the day: “It’s your thing, do what you wanna do”. 

A phrase from “You Light Up My Life”, Debbie Boone’s Grammy-winning song, captures the spirit of our day, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.” A person with the slightest bit of self-awareness can recognize that the claim is utterly false. Lots of things feel really, really right at the time but are really, really wrong. A life of self-pleasing, lived outside the parameters of God’s word , has a curse on it. Noted theologian Emil Brunner said, “We have forged the shackles of sin that fasten our ankles, with the hammer called ‘freedom’.”

Let us hear the spiritual wisdom of Solomon concerning those who use their freedom to depart from following God’s way: “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak” (Proverbs 14:13-14, MSG).

Do not be fooled: You cannot cheat God. People harvest only what they plant. If they plant to satisfy their sinful selves, their sinful selves will bring them ruin.
(Galatians 6:7-8, NCV)

~ Brother Roy

Exposed

trunksMy Sunday School teacher made an interesting observation recently. He was commenting on the fact that things are not always as they seem on the surface. He said, “You are never really sure who has their swim suits on until the tide goes out.” After some laughter, you could see heads nodding in affirmation as the truth of the colloquial saying sunk in.

The sobering reality that we all need to be aware of is this, “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known(Luke 12:2, NKJV). Scripture says, “All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account,” (Hebrews 4:13, NKJV). The Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah says of the Lord, You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 32:19). 

If we have unsavory things hidden beneath the surface of our lives, we need to bring them to the Lord while there is time for confession and forgiveness. We know that “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). We also know that if sins are hidden, and not confessed and forgiven, while we are alive, they will be exposed at judgment.

The tide will go out. Don’t be exposed! Today the Lord would say to us, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). He pleads with all who have covered their sins to repent. “Tell them, ‘As sure as I am the living God, I take no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I want the wicked to change their ways and live. Turn your life around! Reverse your evil ways! Why die, Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11, MSG).

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)

~ Brother Roy

Abiding Hope Food Pantry

 

Abiding Hope Pantry

The Abiding Hope Food Pantry has been an important part of our ministry in Eastern Kentucky since the beginning of our partnership there. Eugene Spencer, the pastor of Bear Pen Community Worship Center, oversees this vital ministry. Lewis Roberts manages the day-to-day activities of the pantry and, with other volunteers, provides invaluable service managing the acquisition and distribution of food to needy families. The pantry is located at Bear Pen and currently serves approximately 350 families a month.

ahfp 1The pantry started as an outreach to the community when David Spencer, now director of the church planting ministry, was pastor at the Bear Pen Church. On Sundays after service, the pews in the small church were moved to the platform so the floor of the sanctuary could be used to stack the food. The food was sorted and boxed for distribution by volunteers from the congregation.

ahfp 2

Later, a rough shed was constructed on the property.

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As time passed and funding became available, a concrete floor was added and other improvements were made.

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The building was finally brought to its current condition and shelving was added.

truckThere are other improvements that should be made, and the pantry also needs ongoing financial support. Fuel and upkeep on the box truck as it makes the roundtrip journeys from Bear Pen to God’s Pantry in Lexington necessitate a regular flow of money. Utilities costs for the building also provide a recurring challenge. If you would like to help support this outreach in the name of Jesus, you can make your checks payable to NHIM and mark in the memo line – ‘Abiding Hope Food Pantry’.

Jesus said, For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat.” (Matthew 25:35)

Storms Happen

stormDuring man’s sojourn on earth, there is one certainty: Storms will happen!

The Old Testament is replete with many accounts of God’s children who went through all manner of storms and by God’s grace survived. Not the least of those was Noah who went through the ‘Great Storm and Flood’ (Genesis 7). The New Testament also records a multitude of storm events. As an example, the Apostle Paul survived ‘The Storm of Euroclydon’ (Acts 27:14, KJV), a hellish hurricane that held the ship on which Paul was traveling for 14 days in its deadly grip.

Jesus also experienced storms while He walked on the earth. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:37-39, NKJV). 

Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NKJV). Allow me to substitute the word ‘storms’ for tribulation. In this world, we will all have storms. But, if we are walking with Jesus, we can be of good cheer because He overcame the world. He overcame the greatest of all storms, death and the grave.

When storms inevitably come, Jesus can speak peace into the storm-tossed life. Although the wind and waves may blow across the surface, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27, NKJV).  Scripture declares, “Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand” (Isaiah 40:10, NKJV). When the tempest rages, we may rest assured that He is in control. He is the Master of the Sea and the Master of Life’s Storms.

Jesus said, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.”
(Mark 4:39, NKJV)

~ Brother Roy