Three Ways Adult Children Can Honor Their Mothers

3 ways children honor

Every second Sunday of May Americans, Canadians, Filipinos, and countless others around the globe celebrate Mother’s Day. This celebration centers on honoring mothers. Although this tradition originated in ancient pagan festivals, the motive embedded in this tradition is biblical. In fact, God in His fifth commandment demands that we honor our mothers: “Honor your father and your mother…” (Exod. 20:12).

Unfortunately, many children only remember to honor their mothers on Mother’s Day. They forget that honoring their mothers is their daily duty to God. Of course, our mothers are not perfect; they commit mistakes. Yet, we must still respect them in the Lord. If we ever disagree with them, let us do so using respectful language and gestures. Remember that when we disrespect our parents we sin not only against them but also against God, for God has commanded us to honor them.

Do you honor your mother? Here are three ways you can honor them.

Firstprize them. To honor our parents means to place a high value upon them. Our mothers, despite all their shortcomings, are precious gifts from God; and thus, we must treasure and love them. Remember, our mothers will not always be around with us. Most likely they will die first before we do; so while they are still alive, let’s tell them how much we appreciate them. Let’s show them our love in word and in deed. Sadly, it is when they are gone that we begin to realize how precious they were to us. Don’t wait until their funeral to say words of appreciation.

When was the last time you thanked and appreciated your mom? Again, she may have many flaws, but she is still your mom.

Secondprovide for them. In Matthew 15:4, Jesus understands the fifth commandment as referring to both submission to and provision for our parents. As God enables us, we should help our mothers (especially our widowed mothers) in their physical, material, or financial needs. If you grew up with a caring and responsible mom, just think of what she had done for you from the time you were born until you became an adult. For several months she carried you in her womb; she fed you, changed your diaper, rocked you to sleep in the middle of the night, took care of you when you were sick, and the list goes on and on. The least thing that we can do in return for our mothers’ loving care for us is help them in their time of need. The truth is we cannot pay them back for all the many good things that they have done and continue to do for us, even in our adulthood.

Are you concerned with your mother’s welfare?

Thirdpray for them, especially for their spiritual life. And pray for them regularly. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. If your mother is not yet saved, ask God to grant her faith in His Son, for the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). If you have a godly mother, thank God for that tremendous blessing. And as Abraham Lincoln once declared, “No man is poor who has a godly mother.” Indeed, the “mother is the central sun of the child’s early life, and without her it is a poor home.” I personally thank and praise God for giving me such a loving and God-fearing mother. Part of what I am today, I owe to my dear mother.

Conclusion

Now, if we are honest with ourselves, we all have failed to honor our mothers as we should. There’s only one person who honored His mother as He should. His name is Jesus. Born under the law (Gal. 4:4), Jesus honored Mary (His earthly mother) and Joseph (His foster father). Jesus indeed kept the fifth commandment perfectly, so that through His perfect obedience to the law, we who are sinners may be justified through faith in Him.

And here’s our comfort: Yes, we are all guilty of not honoring our mothers as we should. But we can always come to God for forgiveness. We can borrow the words of the prodigal son in Luke 15:21 and apply it to our mothers, “‘Mother, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’” Our heavenly Father delights to forgive repentant sinners (1 John 1:9). We trust, too, that our mothers will pardon us: “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

The command to honor our mothers should humble us before God, because it makes us realize that apart from God’s help we cannot honor them according to God’s standard.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms!

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Mother

The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Lived

I’ve lived in different places in the world. I’ve visited many beautiful places. Yet, I can say that the most beautiful place that I’ve ever lived was my mother’s womb. Let me repeat what I’ve just said: the most beautiful place that I’ve ever lived was my mother’s womb. I remember when my wife and I heard the heartbeat of our first child for the first time. After hearing our baby’s heartbeat, my wife made this comment, “That was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.” That sweet sound came from a mother’s womb.Tarsier and Chocolate Hills In Bohol of the Philippines

Why do I think a mother’s womb is the most beautiful place on earth? I will give you two reasons.

Here’s the first reason: We are conceived in our mother’s womb. David writes in Psalm 139:13[God] formed my inward parts; [He] knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” God created David, putting all his cells, organs, and parts together. Then in verse 16 David adds, “[God] saw my unformed substance.” In Hebrew the term “unformed substance” can also be translated “embryo,” which refers to the unborn baby from the time of conception through the eighth week of development. Notice God regards David in the womb as a person not as a thing. David became a person the moment he was conceived.

One of the arguments for abortion is that the embryo or the fetus (the unborn baby after the second month) is not yet a human life; and thus, pre-born babies may be terminated. Some pro-choice individuals would even dare to say that the fetus is just a bunch of tissues woven together. In sharp contrast to the pro-choice movement, God sees a fetus as a human being even if the fetus is not yet fully developed. Abortion therefore is sinful for it deliberately destroys a living human being in the womb. Sadly, what I call the most delightful place has become the most dangerous place in the world for this is where the murder of unborn babies happens.

The second reason why I think a mother’s womb is the most beautiful place on earth is because this is where we had our first reason to praise God. In verse 14 of the same chapter David proclaims, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” When you cannot find a reason to thank God, remember the time when you were in your mother’s womb. Someone has noted, “We cannot begin too soon to bless our Maker, who began so soon to bless us [in our mother’s womb]: even in the act of creation he created reasons for our praising his name.”

Do you know how God created you and me? Fearfully and wonderfully! We were fearfully made. The making of us is astonishing and should create in us a sense of reverence toward God. It should inspire us to bow down before our Creator in worship. Pregnancy is indeed amazing! If you are pregnant, think about this: there is another person in your womb. Unfortunately, some pro-choice mothers think that the fetus is only an internal organ connected to a woman’s body. But God tells us otherwise. The pre-born baby is not an organ but a person.

We were also created wonderfully. We were separated from the other creative works of God, for he created us in his own image. We are special creatures, and the proper response that we can give to our Creator is praise: “From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you” (Ps. 71:6). Yet, I thank God not only for creating me in the womb, but also for recreating me in Christ. I praise him not only for my physical birth but also for my spiritual birth (John 1:13). God caused me to be born in order for me to be born again (John 3:3).

 

Abortion Mother

A Biblical Look at Mother’s Day

Every second Sunday of May Americans, Filipinos, and countless others around the globe celebrate Mother’s Day. This celebration centers on honoring mothers. Although this tradition originated in ancient pagahappy-mothers-day-2014-ukn festivals, the motive embedded in this tradition is biblical. In fact, God in His fifth commandment demands that we honor our mothers. Unfortunately, many children only remember to honor their mothers on Mother’s Day. They forget that honoring their mothers is their daily duty to God. Of course, our mothers are not perfect: they commit mistakes. Yet, we must still respect them in the Lord. If we ever disagree with them, let us do so using respectful language and gestures. Remember that when we disrespect our parents we sin not only against them but also against God. Children, do you honor your mothers? There are three ways to honor them.

First, prize them. To honor our parents means to place a high value upon them. Our mothers are precious gifts from God; and thus, we must treasure and love them. Do you show to your mom that she is precious to you?

Second, provide for them. In Matthew 15: 4, Jesus understands the fifth commandment as referring to both submission to and provision for our parents. As God enables us, we must help our mothers in their physical, material, or financial needs. Do you care for your mother?

Third, pray for them, especially for their spiritual life. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. If your mother is not yet saved, ask God to give her faith in His Son, for the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Do you pray for your mom regularly?

On this Mother’s Day, can you honestly say that you cherish, care for, and commune with God for your mother?

Mother

Dedication, Doubt, & Declaration: A Graveside Service for Mrs. Joan Jacoba Elshout

Note: This is a revised version of the message I delivered on May 13, 2013 at the grave-side service for my dear mother-in-law Joan Jacoba Elshout (March 6, 1949 – May 6, 2013).

Joan Jacoba Elshout (1949-2013)

Joan Jacoba Elshout (1949-2013)

To read or print this message in a PDF file, click here.

 

Introduction

Before proceeding to God’s Word, allow me to first commend my dear father-in-law for his forty years of faithful and patient love for his wife. Dad, thank you for the good example that you have left to us your children. You kept the vow that you had made to your wife on your wedding day—to love her in sickness and in health. I understand that without God’s grace, you would not have been able to love her in this way; therefore, praise God for His grace upon you.

Let’s now read our text for this short meditation—John 20:24-28.

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Sadly, we remember Thomas as “Doubting Thomas.” But, as Joshua Harris asserts, “God didn’t give the name ‘Doubting Thomas’, we did. God never defines us by our failures. He defines us by the perfection of his Son.” In the gospel God defines us not according to our sin but according to His Son’s righteousness.

You might ask, “What is the gospel?” Interestingly, in Mark 1:15 Jesus says, “[R]epent and believe in the gospel” and you will be saved. Then when the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” they replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:30-31). Notice that Paul and Silas did not say, “Believe in the gospel,” but instead, “Believe in the Lord Jesus.” Observe also that Jesus says, “[B]elieve in the gospel,” and not “believe in me.” Here then we see that the gospel and Jesus Christ are essentially synonymous. The gospel is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the good news. And here is the good news: He “came to seek and to save the lost” (John 19:10).

Upon my mother-in-law’s request, I would like to proclaim this gospel to you. And I can only preach the gospel if I preach Christ to you. My mother-in-law would have agreed with Charles Spurgeon who rebuked ministers that did not preach Christ: “Leave Christ out? O my brethren, better leave the pulpit out altogether. If a man can preach one sermon without mentioning Christ’s name in it, it ought to be his last, certainly the last that any Christian ought to go to hear him preach.”

This brief message will present the gospel by looking at Thomas’s life under three headings: (1) his dedication, (2) his doubt, & (3) his declaration.

 

I. His Dedication

In John chapter 11 Lazarus whom Jesus loves is sick. Actually, as the story progresses we discover that Lazarus eventually dies. Jesus wants to go to Judea to revive Lazarus, but listen to what His disciples tell Him:

Then after this he [Jesus] said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”16 So Thomas, called the Twin,said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Please note Thomas’s remarkable dedication to his Master. He is courageously willing to die with Jesus. He is loyal to the Lord’s work. To some extent my mother-in-law was like Thomas. She was also committed to the service of the Lord. Her passion was to serve others. In fact, even when she was sick, she was still thinking of how she could minister to others. When she became severely ill, she was greatly disappointed that she could no longer help others, especially an older lady who became like a mother to her. No one who knew my mother-in-law would question her dedication to the Lord’s work. She evidently loved the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, like Thomas, although she had a strong commitment to Jesus, her faith in Him was weak. Like Thomas, she also struggled with doubt.

 

II. His Doubt

In our passage, the dedicated Thomas shows his doubt to the testimony of his fellow disciples concerning the resurrection of Jesus. Thomas tells them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (v. 25). Before Jesus died, He Himself had informed Thomas of His resurrection (Mark 8:31). Thus we learn that you can be dedicated to the Lord’s work, and at the same time doubt His word. Are you like Thomas—dedicated and yet doubting? You actively serve God, but doubt His promises. You faithfully attend church services every Sunday, but you doubt the gospel promise that if you believe in Jesus you will be saved.

Nevertheless, despite his doubt, Thomas is an honest seeker of truth. He does not want to remain in his state of doubt. He eagerly looks for the truth. Do you recall his dialogue with Jesus in John 14:5-6? In this passage the confused Thomas asks Jesus about the way to His Father’s house—the way to heaven:

“Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Thomas doubts, but he is not content to remain doubting. He wants to be certain, especially of matters pertaining to everlasting life. Sadly, some Christians seem to be content to stay in the place of doubt. They don’t seek the truth. Perhaps you are struggling with assurance of salvation. Well, seek the truth that will set you free from the bondage of doubt. Read books about assurance of salvation. Attend bible study where your faith can be strengthened. Learn more about the gospel promises. Attend a church where the gospel is preached faithfully. Charles Spurgeon once mentioned, “Many a believer lives in the cottage of doubt when he might live in the mansion of faith.” My friend, you do not need to live in the cottage of doubt. Leave that place and live in the mansion of faith.

You might ask, “Can I really know if I am saved?” Oh, yes, my friend, you can! As John the Beloved articulates, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Take note, the Bible has been written in order for believers to have absolute knowledge of their salvation in Christ. Can you honestly sing with Fanny J. Crosby?

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

Now it is not necessarily true that once you become a Christian, you will never experience doubt. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains in his book Spiritual Depression, “Doubts are not incompatible with faith…. Some people seem to think that once you become a Christian you should never be assailed by doubts. But that is not so, Peter still had faith (as he panicked in the storm in Matthew 14)…. His faith was not gone, but because it was weak, doubt mastered him and overwhelmed him and he was shaken…. Doubts will attack us, but that does not mean that we are to allow them to master us.”

With love let me challenge then those of you who are like Thomas. Are you allowing your doubt to rob you of the joy of assurance of salvation? Are you allowing your doubt to keep you from growing in your faith in Jesus? Are you making an effort to stay away from the cottage of doubt? Again, like Thomas, my mother-in-law struggled with doubt, but she strove for assurance. She wanted to be certain of her salvation. Thankfully, after a long struggle, she experienced full assurance of salvation and could echo Thomas’s declaration.

 

III. His Declaration

Thomas doubted. But, look what he declares in our text after he has been confronted by Jesus, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). This confession is the clearest confession on the deity of Christ. Of all the twelve disciples, only Thomas explicitly calls Jesus God. In this sense, Thomas has surpassed his fellow disciples.

Notice the personal and possessive pronoun “my” in Thomas’s declaration: “My Lord and my God.” What Thomas is saying here is this: “Jesus is my Lord and my God, and I am His. Jesus belongs to me, and I belong to Him.” There is no more doubt here but assurance. Two days before my mother-in-law died, my wife and I sang for her the famous hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Despite her extreme fatigue, my mother-in-law still sang with us:

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

For many years my mother-in-law had struggled to call God her Father. Now by God’s grace she could prayerfully sing with full confidence, “O God my Father!” What a confession! What an assurance! Can you say by God’s grace that God is your Father, too? John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Oh, I urge you, my dear friend, to receive Jesus by faith; and you will be given the right to become a child of God. Are you His child, or the Devil’s?

Remember what Jesus says to the proud and self-righteous Pharisees in John 8:44, “You belong to your father, the devil.” They belong to Satan because they have not received Jesus. Have you received Jesus Christ as your only Lord and Savior? Consider this verse—“Jesus receives sinners” (Luke 15:2), but you must receive Him, too.

On her death bed, shortly before she died, my mother-in-law prayed with her hands lifted up toward heaven, “Lord Jesus…..please come quickly!” Unquestionably, my mother-in-law borrowed her prayer from John the Beloved who pleads in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus!” This is a prayer of a true believer who longs to be with Jesus Christ. This was my mother-in-law’s last prayer.

Amazingly, my mother-in-law had a calendar that provided her a daily verse. The verse that she was supposed to read on the day she died was John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans [or comfortless]; I will come to you.” Indeed, Jesus heard her request. He came quickly and gently to take her home to be with Him. What a comfort and joy to know that she is now with her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! She is now free from sin and sickness. Also, it is a comfort to know that Christ bought not only her soul but also her body. As the Heidelberg Catechism so beautifully states in response to the question: “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”

That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil….Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

This body then in the coffin that we are about to bury is Christ’s. He purchased it, and it will someday be changed into an immortal one (1 Cor. 15:51-54). On the great day of the resurrection of the saints, this mortal body will be raised from this cemetery to be with the Lord forever and ever and ever. It is with this glorious doctrine of the resurrection that the Apostle Paul exhorts us to comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18). Hence, as we bury my mother-in-law’s body, we do not need to say goodbye but only good night to her; for we believers shall see her again in heaven. May the precious reality also that her soul is now in heaven sweeten our sorrow! She is now in a far better place than we can imagine (Phil. 1:23).

 

Conclusion

Let me close this message by simply asking you: Do you belong to Jesus? Does He belong to you? Is He your Lord and Savior? If not, and you were to die today, you would go to hell for eternity. Oh, once again I beg you to come to Jesus by faith and be saved. Jesus promises, “[W]hoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Therefore, with the words of the hymn writer Joseph Hart, I plead with you:

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready waits to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r:
He is able, He is able,
He is willing, doubt no more.

Jesus says, “Stop doubting and believe” (v. 27).

 

 

 

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A Mother’s Struggle With Prayer

The Heidelberg Catechism (published in 1563) asks, “Why do Christians need to pray?” It answers, “Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us. And also because God only gives His grace and Holy Spirit to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking Him for them” (Lord’s Day 45, Question & Answer 116).

I have been familiar with this section of the catechism for many years and it often makes me feel guilty. I struggle with taking the time for “real” prayer: kneeling beside my bed, head bowed, hands folded, and pouring out my heart to the Lord. This struggle is partially due to the fact that I am a busy mom of four young children. Yet, my main problem is not really my busyness but my laziness. I need to reprioritize my life.

Lately I have tried to make it a habit to pray throughout my day, while life is happening all around me. If someone I know comes to mind, I lift him/her up in prayer. If I have a concern for myself, my children or husband, or something going on in our lives, I bring it to the Lord in prayer. I have struggled off and on wondering if this kind of prayer counts. I am not, after all, bowing my head, folding my hands or closing my eyes. I have had doubts that it is truly prayer, because it seems like I am just talking to myself in my head. But then I have to tell myself that God knows my heart. He knows my intentions. He knows that those “thoughts” are really prayers meant to reach Him.

Some mornings I say a quick prayer before getting out of bed. I ask for the will-power to actually get up instead of sleeping in. I pray for the strength needed for the day, and in regards to my children, patience and the right balance of loving nurture and firm discipline.

I read this quote the other day and, for myself, found it to be very true:

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day (E.M. Bounds).

When I get up early, before my kids wake up, and am able to spend some alone time with the Lord, my day goes much better and I seem to think of God much more often than if I do not get a good start to my day.

I would encourage all young mothers (and anyone else!) to start making time for God. Try to find a quiet moment where you can focus on Him. Read a Psalm or short devotional and spend some time in prayer. It can be difficult to make yourself do it, but it is so worth it!

 

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The article is by Catie Lobbezoo, wife to Joe and stay-at-home-mom/teacher to their four blessings: Sierra (7), Cody (5), Abby (almost 3), and Brooklyn (9 months), and a member at Dutton URC, Caledonia, Michigan.

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