Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

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Mothers of Faith and Promise

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Mothers of Faith and Promise

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Mothers of Faith and Promise

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Mothers can have an incredible impact on their families and society. We can look at the examples of the mothers found in Hebrews 11 to gain insight into characteristics of a godly mother and we can use those examples in our Christian life.

Transcript

[Richard Kennebeck] You know, my wife comes from the hollers of Northeastern, Kentucky, deep in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. To get there to their house, you would go down a blacktop road to a gravel road to a dirt road that would sometimes have a little bit of gravel on it. And then you'd finally reach her house. It's an amazingly beautiful place. Nestled in those hollers, at one time, they made moonshine, and tobacco was grown. Up on their land, if you follow one of those hollers back far enough, you'll find a huge, or you would find a huge Poplar tree that contains the markings of the history, the loves and the lives, and the families that came out of that holler. Etched into that old Poplar tree where dates and ages of my children, of their cousins, and of others, and the grandchildren and the children of Oscar and Opal Smith, the parents of my wife.

Oscar and Opal Smith first carved their initials into that tree back in the 1960s. If you could find it, you'd see carved deeply into that tree, a heart with my initials on it, and my wife's initials put there in the late 1970s. Three of my children have their initials carved into that tree. I don't believe carving of initials in trees is as popular now as it used to be. But at one time, it was a way of pledging your love to somebody or just living into immortality and immortalizing your name like you would putting your initials in concrete before it cured.

You know, it's relatively easy to carve your name into a tree and leave your legacy behind, but it's harder and much more rewarding to leave a true legacy behind in the lives and in the character of our children. As fathers and mothers, we want to etch into our children, the qualities that make for good citizens of the world and to help them follow the way of God. We want them to have a positive impact on their lives that lasts a lifetime. And we hope into eternity as they go into the Kingdom of God.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day here in the United States and actually in many parts of the world. It's a time that we set aside to honor the mothers of this world. Show appreciation them for all that they do for their sacrifices and their hard work that they've put into raising us, or are now putting into raising their children. Mothers can and do have an incredible and tremendous influence on the lives of their children. And when balanced by fathers, a good father, they set up for a fertile environment to raise children in and to build a family.

Today, I would like to look at the lives of several godly mothers that we find in the Bible. I'm going to specifically look at the lives and the examples of the mothers of faith and promise that we find in Hebrews 11. We can glean lessons from these mothers as we look into their examples, lessons that can help us whether we have children or not. We can learn from them ways to have a greater impact in the lives of others, whether you're a wife or a mother now, will be a mother in the future, or like me, will never be a mother. We can still learn from these mothers of faith and promise.

You know, Proverbs 14:1 Proverbs 14:1Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands.
American King James Version×
in the contemporary English version says, "A woman's family is held together by her wisdom, but it can be destroyed by her foolishness." There's a poem written in the 19th century by poet William Ross Wallace that reminds us of the importance of mothers in society. In 1865, he released a poem by the name of What Rules the World, which is an ode to motherhood and the incredible impact that they can have in changing the world. I'd like to read just a couple of verses from that poem. It's well-known. You may not remember the poem itself, but you'll definitely remember the lines that are repeated throughout it.

What Rules the World

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard her strength and grace;
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Women, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal soil;
Keep— oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Mothers and motherhood are true gifts of God created to be an important cornerstone of humanity and of society. We are called by God to respect and honor them. The 5th commandment tells us in Exodus 20:12 Exodus 20:12Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long on the land which the LORD your God gives you.
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that we're to “honor our father and our mother that our days may be long upon the land.” You know, Proverbs 6 reminds us of the importance of following the wisdom and training of wise and righteous parents.

Proverbs 6:20 Proverbs 6:20My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother:
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, Proverbs 6:20 Proverbs 6:20My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not the law of your mother:
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, "My son, keep your father's command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the ways of life." We are to hold the law and wisdom of our mother's instructions in high esteem. The power of a godly mother can be an incredible example in our lives.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "No one is poor who had a godly mother." You know, Proverbs 1:8-9 Proverbs 1:8-9 [8] My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother: [9] For they shall be an ornament of grace to your head, and chains about your neck.
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, if we read that, says something similar, something similar to the verses we read in Proverbs 6. Proverbs 1:8 Proverbs 1:8My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother:
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says, "My son hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother." Verse 9, "For they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck." The new living translation translates verse 9 as what you learned from them will crown you with grace and clothe you with honor.

The instruction we received from godly parents will help us build character and personality within us that will help us greatly in our life. You know, I purchased a poster about 15 years ago that I hung in my wall in the office here at work at the home office for many years. I thought it encapsulated many of the ideas that you can read in the book of Proverbs. When I purchased that poster, I had ABC students working with me each year. And they would work in my office and I hoped from time to time, they would read some of that poster and it might reinforce some of what they were learning in their ABC classes.

The posters called “21 Suggestions for Success.” It was written by H. Jackson Brown, author of many books, including Life's Little Instruction Book. And in the list, he dispenses virtues for successful life, including, but not limited to: “Be forgiving of yourself and others, be generous, have a grateful heart, commit yourself to constant improvement, be honest, take responsibility for every area of your life.” And then, at the end of the list is a suggestion that it will help you live a good life and should help guide you in making decisions. Suggestion 21 is “Don't do anything that wouldn't make your mom proud… Don't do anything that wouldn't make your mom proud.”

As I said, many of these suggestions come right out of the Bible, right out of Psalms or Proverbs. Don't do anything that wouldn't make your mom proud. Turn with me to Proverbs 23. Proverbs 23 beginning in verse 22… Making your mom proud isn't the ultimate measure of how we determine what to do in life or how our life is working out. God, the Father, and Jesus Christ and the Bible, and the words written in the Bible are our ultimate measure. But, you know, if you have a godly mother, these are a good starting point. Proverbs 23 beginning in verse 22 says, "Listen to your father who begot you and do not despise your mother when she is old. By the truth, do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding." Verse 24, "The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice and he who begets a wise child will delight in him." And verse 25, "Let your father and mother be glad, and let her who bore you rejoice."

In other words, make your mom proud, make her rejoice. Follow the instructions of a godly mother. You know, the Bible contains quite a few examples of godly mothers throughout it that have left a legacy for us. A legacy of courage, a legacy of faith, a legacy of commitment to God, a legacy for us to follow in our lives as we go through our lives. Let's look today at a few of those examples. Examples of mothers who left us a legacy. Let's take a look at Hebrews 11 and we'll find a few examples and see what we can glean from these examples in Hebrews 11, the faith chapter.

If you turn with me to there, we'll find two women who are named, two mothers listed among the faithful here. But we will also find two other mothers that are listed, but we don't know their names. They're not listed by name. So we're going to actually take a look at four mothers in Hebrews 11 and take a look at their character, what they were like, some lessons we can maybe learn from them.

The first mother we come to at faith is Sarah. Sarah, beginning in verse 11 and 12, we find Sarah mentioned. Sarah was a mother, who through faith, bore Isaac long after she should have been able to bear children. Hebrews 11, beginning in verse 11, "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised." Verse 12, "Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead," and his wife who was as good as dead as far as being able to have children. "Therefore from one man, him as good as dead, and his wife were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude— innumerable as the sand, which is by the seashore."

Let's notice two characteristics or attributes of Sarah that are mentioned in these two verses. The first is by faith she received strength. By faith she received strength. It was through relying on God and having faith in Him that Sarah received the strength and capability to have a son. By faith she received that strength. We can do the same thing. We can receive strength as we go through obstacles. As we go through trials, as we have walls in front of us. You know, Psalm 23 is always a scripture I think of when I think of strength and the help that God gives to us and promises us. Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." God is our source of strength and comfort.

We need to have faith in God's promises to us during difficult times, knowing that what God has promised, He will fulfill. God can give us additional strength through His Holy Spirit to overcome obstacles. It's a source of power and peace and a sound mind. And that brings us to the second point that we read here about Sarah. A second characteristic is that she judged Him faithful, who had promised. She judged Him faithful, who had promised. The New Living Translation translates this verse as “She believed that God would keep His promises.” She believed God would keep His promises.

So not only is God a source of strength, but we know He keeps His promises. We can depend upon Him, rely upon Him. Know that He will accomplish in our lives that which He has started. And He'll always be there. He will always accomplish that, which He sets out to do. You know, but at first, you might say, “How can this be? Sarah laughed. She didn't trust this. She laughed at God.” You know, if we look at Genesis 18, when God comes to Abraham and tells Sarah about… that she's going to have a child. Remember what happens to Sarah? She gets caught laughing. She laughs. Why? Because how can she give birth to a child as old as she is?

If I was in my 90s, I think I'd laugh too if I was a woman. How could that be? Genesis 18:11 Genesis 18:11Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
American King James Version×
, "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing." Verse 12, "Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my Lord being old also.'" And in verse 13, "And the Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old? How can that happen?”’” And then God asks, in verse 14, "Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." Verse 15, "But Sarah denied it, saying, 'I did not laugh,' for she was afraid. And He said, 'No, but you did laugh!’" You know, but apparently, sometime after this, Sarah learned that God could and would follow through and honor His commandments and His promises. Originally, Sarah's laughter was out of skepticism, unbelief, "How could I have a son? "

Let's go to Genesis 21:6 Genesis 21:6And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
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, Genesis 21:6 Genesis 21:6And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
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. This is shortly after Sarah gave birth to Isaac and we read Genesis 21:6 Genesis 21:6And Sarah said, God has made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
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, "And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh.'" Now, this could be translated, "God has made laughter for me” or “has granted me the ability to laugh and rejoice." "And all who hear will laugh and rejoice with me." And rejoice with me. Her skeptical laugh had turned into laughter of joy and rejoicing in the fulfillment of God's promises to her and her husband Abraham. By faith, God was able to do the impossible to begin building the nation of Israel. By faith, Isaac grew up under the guidance of his mother and father. Sarah is an example of a mother of faith who looked to God for her strength and who believed that God does fulfill His promises.

The second mother of faith out of Hebrews 11 is Moses' mother Jochebed, Jochebed. In Hebrews 11:23 Hebrews 11:23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
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, we read about Moses' mother and father. Hebrews 11:23 Hebrews 11:23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
American King James Version×
, it says, "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command." By faith, Moses' mother and father hid their new baby. We're not told the names of the parents here, but we can find their names in other parts of Scripture.

One of the places in Numbers 26:59 Numbers 26:59And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bore to Levi in Egypt: and she bore to Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.
American King James Version×
, where it says, "The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam." So we now know the name of this mother of Hebrews 11, Jochebed. Jochebed's name means God is glory, God is glory. We know the story of Moses, but I'll rehearse just a little bit of it for you.

A small Hebrew clan had come down to Egypt from Canaan hundreds of years before Moses was born during a period of particularly bad famine in the land of Canaan. At the time of the famine, Egypt had an abundant supply of grain because of the man Joseph who had stored aside grain during seven good years of harvest. Over time, the Hebrews and their descendants had grown into a large group of people, mighty until they were a nation unto themselves. The former respect and honor of Joseph who had saved Egypt during the famine was forgotten. And Egypt began to oppress the Hebrews.

The Pharaoh of Egypt grew worried about his country, about his country's safety and security as these children of Israel grew larger and stronger and bigger and became a group to be worried about. So he decided to devise a scheme to control them. He enslaved them, made them slaves, and then he made a mandate that all male children must be killed at childbirth.

Turn with me to Exodus 1. Let's continue that story. Exodus 1:15 Exodus 1:15And the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
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, continue the story of Jochebed. Exodus 1:15 Exodus 1:15And the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
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, "Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.'" You know, if we look down to verse 22, we can see how they killed these poor little boys. They drowned them in the Nile. Threw them in the Nile.

You know, we get additional added information about the story from Josephus who writes in the Antiquities of the Jews that, "A sacred scribe had told the Pharaoh of Egypt that a child would be born to the Israelites who if reared would bring about the downfall of the Egyptians and would increase the Israelites. The child would also have great virtue and would obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages." And it's because of this prophecy that the Pharaoh determined to kill all Hebrew boys. He wanted to stop this prophecy from coming to pass. And Josephus even includes more details about the Pharaoh's edict to kill all newborn boys.

The Pharaoh had commanded that all these babies be killed. And if the parents tried to hide their newborn boy, and they were caught, the entire family was supposed to be killed, not just the little baby boy. Let's continue the story in Exodus 2:1 Exodus 2:1And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
American King James Version×
, "And the man of the house of Levi went and took a wife a daughter of Levi." Verse 2, "So the woman conceived." Let's stop here. Can you imagine the fear of this woman? She's conceived a child. She's pregnant. How difficult it's going to be? What happens if this is a boy? I'm sure they worried about this. They would have to make a decision at some point if this was a boy, life, and death of that little boy. And they knew of the edict that if they tried to hide that child, the whole family might die.

Amram, Jochebed, Miriam, Aaron, and possibly other parts of the family might all be killed because this one boy was hidden. Can you imagine having to go through pregnancy like that with that worry on your mind? You know, Josephus again shed some additional details of this event, after Jochebed had conceived, but before she gave birth. He writes again in the Antiquity of the Jews, he says, "A man whose name was Amram, one of the nobler sort of the Hebrews, was afraid for his whole nation, lest it should fail by the want of young men who were brought up hereafter and was very uneasy at it, his wife being then with child, and he knew not what to do. Here upon, he took himself to prayer to God.”

“Accordingly, God had mercy on him and was moved by his supplication. He stood by him in his sleep and exhorted him not to despair. And here's what God told Amram. He said, 'Know therefore that I shall provide for you all what is for your good and particularly for yourself, what shall make you famous. For that child, out of dread of whom the Egyptians have doomed the Israelite children to destruction, shall be your child and shall be concealed from those who watched to destroy him. And when he is brought up in a surprising way, he shall deliver the Hebrew nation from the distress they are under from the Egyptians. His memory shall be famous while the world lasts and this not only among the Hebrews but foreigners also.'"

So God tells Amram that this son will give Israel a separation from the Egyptians and that he will be able to be hid and that he will live. And Amram told this dream to his wife. Now, she knew that she had a son, that she was going to bear a son, and that God would take care of him. And even provided, I think an interesting riddle that the child would be raised in a surprising way.

Continuing in Exodus 2:2 Exodus 2:2And the woman conceived, and bore a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
American King James Version×
, "So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the rivers bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him." Again, we can go back to Josephus and see what he adds to his story. He adds that “Fearing that Moses would be discovered, his parents determined that it was time to trust the safety and care of the child to God and to fully believe that God could bring to pass what He had promised.”

Can you imagine giving up your child like that? Putting your little baby in a basket and watching that basket float away? How difficult it must have been to willingly kiss that little boy goodbye, possibly for the last time, and push him out into the river. But Amram and Jochebed had faith and believe that God would fulfill His promise to them. You know, and Miriam, scholars think she was probably about 14 at this time, followed that floating ark down to Nile until it floated into the area that the daughter of Pharaoh was bathing in. There it caught the attention of that daughter of Pharaoh. She looked into the basket, saw the child, and decided she wanted to keep it as her own.

Again, Josephus adds to this, a little interesting note to the story. He says that “No matter how hard the Pharaoh's daughter tried to find somebody that the baby would nurse from, it would nurse from no one. And Miriam, watching all this happen to the Pharaoh's daughter and said that maybe the baby would nurse from a Hebrew woman. And she just happened to know one, her mother.”

According to Josephus, this is how and why Amram and Jochebed we're able to keep their baby for up to three years until it was weaned. And you can imagine how much they taught that little child during that time, knowing they'd have to give that child back. Jochebed is a powerful example of faith and conviction that God will perform what he promises. That God will perform what He promises. She didn't let fear overtake her. When she faced life's challenges, faced fear, she made a choice to believe in God, to follow Him, to not give in to discouragement or fear, to not allow fear to rule over her, but to put into God's hands what He has promised. She's a courageous example of a woman of faith, a mother of faith who relied on the promises of God.

The third woman of faith in Hebrews 11 is Rahab. Hebrews 11:31 Hebrews 11:31By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
American King James Version×
, you can read about Rahab, "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace." We turn back to Joshua 2, we can see the story of Rahab. You know, the story of Rahab is an incredible story of faith and works and change. It's a story of sex and sin and intrigue and spies and lies and armies and war and miracles and repentance and redemption. It's an incredible story.

She was a Canaanite woman from Jericho who through faith believed and provided a means of escape for the spies of Israel. Because of her faith, she was saved during the battle and destruction of Jericho. She was a Gentile, an idol worshiper who changed their life and became accepted by God and Israel for her faith and her deeds. Her reputation as a harlot and a prostitute are known by all. Some people, even some scholars try to make it less of a sinful profession that she had by saying she was an innkeeper or a tavern keeper because the Hebrew words are similar between the two. But in the New Testament, both Paul and James use the word for her that means a prostitute. To me, that shows the incredible power of God's life within us and His ability to forgive and show mercy.

In Joshua 2, the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land and two spy secretly enter into the city of Jericho, which is a major city at the time of its conquest. Verse 1 of Joshua 2, "Now Joshua the son of Nun sent out two men from Acacia Grove to spy secretly, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially Jericho.' So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, ‘Behold, men have come here tonight from the children of Israel to search out the country.' So the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, 'Bring out the men who have come to you, who have entered your house, for they have come to search out all the country.'"

You know, Rahab has a choice here to make. Does she hand over the men to the king? Surely, if she does, she'll be saved and possibly even get a reward from the king. Or does she forsake her country, her way of life and her king and hide the spies? She's got a choice. Verse 4, "Then the woman took the two men and hid them. So she said, 'Yes, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. And it happened as the gate was being shut, when it was dark, that the men went out. Where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for they may overtake them.'" Verse 6, “But she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order on the roof." She protects these spies. Her decision is to protect them.

Why does she do this? Verse 8, "Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: 'I know that the Lord has given you the land, and the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.'" Verse 10, "For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon, and Og, whom you utterly destroyed." Verse 11, "And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord, your God, He is God in heaven, above and earth beneath."

We see two things here about Rahab. One is that the people of Jericho had an incredible fear and were afraid of Israel. Their hearts melted. They had no courage in them, but we don't see any indication that they wanted to change or even make offers of peace. But yet, Rahab is different. She hides the spies, not just because she's afraid. She probably was a bit afraid, but she also hides them because verse 11, she had come to believe that the God of Israel is the true God of heaven and earth. And she was willing to do something about that.

Rahab begins to trust and believe in the God of Israel. She begins to make the God of Israel, her God, rather than the idols and god she had previously worshiped. She begins a process of change, from the old unrighteous ways to the new ways. We don't know how long this might have taken place or taken to happen. We don't know how long it took. Many of the events that they heard about and they were afraid of, they weren't eyewitnesses to. They only heard about the accounts of Israel coming out of Egypt and the the death of these kings.

You know, besides having faith and being able to change, we find another attribute of Rahab in James 2. James, 2:14-26. In these scriptures, in these verses, James is commenting on faith and works. You can't have faith without works. James 2:14 James 2:14What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
American King James Version×
, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe— and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was accounted to him for righteousness? And he was called a friend of God."

Verse 24, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." And now we come to Rahab. "Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?” James uses Rahab as an example of faith through works. When she was hiding and protecting the spies of Israel, she was doing works that showed her faith, putting faith into practice. She just didn't say to the spies, "Oh, watch out the king knows you're here. Be real careful when you leave the city because they're probably after you. Be careful. We hope you make it, be safe, be warmed and be filled." She put her faith into action. She hid the spies and then helped them escape.

And that was accounted to her as faith. She was willing to sacrifice everything, to put into practice, her faith, to save these men. Surely, if she was found, she was in jeopardy of death, she would have lost everything, but she was willing to put it into faith… or into practice. Rahab put her faith into action. She had faith combined with works.

This is often where we stopped the story. But what about a mother? What is her legacy as a mother? In years after the destruction of Jericho, Rahab marries an Israelite named Salmon who was a very prominent member of the tribe of Judah. Being married to this prominent Israelite indicates that Rahab had made a long-term change in her life. It wasn't just a short-term change to save her skin. Together, Salmon and Rahab had a son, the upright and honorable Boaz, who married Ruth and whose descendants include King David and Jesus Christ. Rahab had character. She was a mother of faith, a mother of change, also known as repentance, and a mother of works.

I'd like now to move on from physical mother, mothers of Hebrews 11, into the fourth mother of Hebrews 11, a spiritual mother, the Church the spiritual organism, the mother of us all. The Church is our spiritual mother, all those have been called throughout the whole history of mankind who have been called by God are part of this spiritual organism, including us today. All the heroes of faith we find in Hebrews 11, they're part of the spiritual organism. I'm not going to take much time to discuss how we get that the Church is the mother of us all and our spiritual mother, not going to go into detail, we'll just touch upon it.

Galatians 4:21-26 Galatians 4:21-26 [21] Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? [22] For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a female slave, the other by a free woman. [23] But he who was of the female slave was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. [24] Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which engenders to bondage, which is Agar. [25] For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. [26] But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
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, we're not going to turn there. But Paul talks about a bondwoman, whose name was Hagar, who represented the Old Covenant, and a free woman, whose name was Sarah, who represents the New Covenant. And talking of the two covenants, in verse 26 of Galatians 4, he refers to the New Covenant when he says, "Jerusalem above, who is free, which is the mother of us all." And then in Hebrews 12:22-24 Hebrews 12:22-24 [22] But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [24] And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel.
American King James Version×
, Hebrews 12:22-24 Hebrews 12:22-24 [22] But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, [24] And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel.
American King James Version×
, we read that this Jerusalem above is symbolic of the church. Hebrews 12:22 Hebrews 12:22But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
American King James Version×
, "But you have come to the Mount Zion to the city of the living, God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel." So the Church is the mother of us all. She's our spiritual mother.

You know, there are amazing connections between the physical mother and what a physical mother does and what our spiritual mother, the Church, does. They both teach us and train us, love us, help us to improve, exhort us, help us to grow and mature. And from time to time, both will give us correction as we need it as part of our growth process. Physical mothers provide encouragement and a loving environment to help us and promote a successful outcome.

The same is true with God's Church, the spiritual Church. Who is the Church? Who is the spiritual mother of ours? Is it just your minister? Is it the physical organism? Is it the physical organization? Is it the home office? Well, hopefully, it's all of those, but the spiritual Church has made up of each one of us. We're all part of it. We make up this Church, all those who are called of God to be in it, to be firstfruits. And we all have a responsibility to the Church and to each other.

In effect, the Church is our spiritual mother to us. And yet, as part of that Church, we play an important part of being that spiritual mother. We all have positions in the Church. We are fitly joined together, supporting each other, helping each other, encouraging each other. In effect, being a mother to each other. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 1 Thessalonians 2:7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:
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, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 [7] But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: [8] So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.
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, Paul tells the Thessalonians about his feelings towards them, feelings we should have with each other. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 1 Thessalonians 2:7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:
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, "But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children, so, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us."

Paul treated them like a mother, cherishing them, loving them, caring for them. We need to cherish each other and love each other and care for each other like a mother. Hebrews 10:22-25 Hebrews 10:22-25 [22] Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. [23] Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) [24] And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: [25] Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×
tells us some additional functions that we need to be doing as part of the mother, the spiritual mother of the Church. Hebrews 10:22 Hebrews 10:22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
American King James Version×
, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up with love and good works,” verse 25, "not forsaking the assembling together, or of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching."

So we need to be drawing closer together as family in the faith, holding fast in a truth, helping each other, exhorting each other, and having many of the characteristics with each other as a mother would to a child. And there are so many other aspects of a mother physical mother that we can see that we need to be like as spiritual mother, as the Church, rejoicing with each other, suffering and comforting each other, as we need to, all coming together and helping each other towards God's eternal Kingdom.

All these are mothers of faith and promise. All these mothers look forward to and are looking forward in faith that a promise that God gave to them. We all want the promise of a better world. We want to see our children and ourselves and our family in the Kingdom of God. You know, mothers have an incredible impact on their children, families, and society. Whether you are Sarah or a Jochebed or a Rahab or a part of the spiritual mother, the Church of the living God, we all have an important part in incredible part in helping each other.

You know, Erma Baumbeck has a short illustration about an incident that changed her life as a mother. She wrote, "For the first four or five years after I had children, I considered motherhood a temporary condition - not a calling. It was a time of my life set aside for exhaustion and long hours. It would pass. Then one afternoon with three kids in tow, I came out of a supermarket pushing a cart when my toddler son got away from me. Just outside the door, he ran towards the machine holding bubblegum in a glass dome. In a voice that shattered glass, he shouted, 'Give me! Give me!’ I told him I would give him what-for if he didn't stop shouting and get in the car.

As I physically tried to pry his body from around that bubble gum machine, he pulled the entire thing over. Glass and balls of bubblegum went all over the parking lot… I told him he would never see another cartoon as long as he lived, and if he didn't control his temper, he was going to be making license plates for the state. He tried to stifle his sobs as he looked around at the staring crowd. Then he did something that I was to remember for the rest of my life. In his helpless quest for comfort, he turned to the only one he trusted his emotions with - me. He threw his arms around my knees and held on for dear life. I had humiliated him, chastised him and berated him, but I was still all he had. That single incident defined my role. I was a major force in this child's life."

We have a chance to make a difference. We have a chance to be a major force in our lives and those around us in their lives. We have a chance to do all of that change and encourage others. You know, I began my message today, talking to you about names carved in a tree up a holler in Northeastern Kentucky. How those carvings are the history and legacy of our family, of the loves and lives that are written on the bark of that tree. But that tree and those carvings are gone now. Several years ago, that tree toppled in a windstorm, the mighty Poplar tree with all those memories and carvings no longer exists. It's gone.

Just recently, my youngest daughter and her family have started their own initial tree to continue the legacy and the history of her family. It too will one day fall down and be remembered no more. These things in life are temporary, but mothers of this world, and especially mothers of the Church, have a great opportunity to have an impact, an impact on people's lives that can last forever, to impact multiple generations with their wisdom, their hope, their faith, their love, and their example. This impact is not something that is carved into the bark of a tree, but it is carved into the hearts and lives of those they touch. All of us, as part of the spiritual Church, the mother of us all, have that same opportunity to impact the lives of each other for all eternity.

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