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The Hand that Rocked the Cradle

Date: 05/13/2000 
This sermon honors Christian mothers. It is the most important role in the world and holds great honor. The influence of a mother, especially during those formative years of life, has changed the course of history. Some of the mother's in the Bible referred to include Jochebed, Hannah, and Mary the mother of Jesus.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

We’re going to in a special sense today dedicate our message today to mothers and to that important office. This, I’ll admit, is a bittersweet message for a number of reasons. I know that there are some here maybe who are mothers who have lost their children. Mother’s Day for them is a tough day. There are some here who have always wanted to be mothers but it never happened. It can be a tough day for them too. Today in a special sense here in a Christian setting we want to honor and think about Christian mothers. Not everybody here had a Christian mother. We’d like to be idealistic and talk about all the glowing things that mother is but not everybody had that kind of mother. And for them Mother’s Day is not always a sweet experience. I struggle sometimes with Mother’s Day. I had a loving mother. She was not a Christian. Made no profession of being a Christian. I’m very grateful to my mother.

I would never want to say anything that would be disrespectful. I also do not want to be dishonest and paint her with colors that she did not posses. But in the same breath I would like to emphasize in this message the importance of the office of a mother. I don’t want to neglect to give those who are mothers… one thing we all have in common… how many came from a mother? Ok, let’s get that settled. I want to just establish that right at the beginning. So we all in some way can tie into this message I assume. But I don’t want to neglect to give the well-deserved accolades and kudos that the mothers among us have. It is not only the most important job in the world… Did you hear me? It is the most important job in the world. But as is true with other things that which is the most important is often the most difficult. Those things that have the greatest honor and responsibility are often the most trying. Being a mother is no exception.

Now the sermon title “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” comes from that often quoted phrase, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” You know I looked all through my resources this week to find out who first said that. I couldn’t find who the author of that quote is. Anyone here know? Well, maybe it’s anonymous. May be so old that they’ve lost who first coined that phrase. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” And that of course signifies how important it is to rear our children because when it’s done well it can have a global impact.

I remember reading a story a number of years ago about a mother in South Wales who was going cross-country with her young babe and she was caught in a blinding snowstorm, in a blizzard. And the next day some men went out searching for her because she had never reached her destination. She had become lost on the way and off the side of the trail they saw a mound of snow. They swept away the snow and there was the frozen body of the mother. She had taken off most of her clothing and wrapped it around the little boy who to their delight when they unwrapped the bundle she had curled her body around the baby plus wrapped him up in all this clothing to keep him alive knowing that she would perish and the baby was fine. He grew up to be George Lloyd Wright… Now I don’t know if I’m saying this right. It was actually David Lloyd George. I’m sorry I was thinking about Frank Lloyd Wright. David Lloyd George, who was the great Prime Minister of Britain during the World War, am I getting that right, Mike? Great Prime Minister of Britain during World War I. One of the reasons he grew to such greatness is he never forgot about his mother’s love and sacrifice. It forever impressed him that someone died that he might live and he saw that he had a great purpose in life and so because of that concept he rose to greatness.

All through the Bible we can see these examples of a mother’s love, sacrifice and how the influence of a mother, even though it might be very brief especially during those first few formative years of life, because of that godly influence the course of history has been changed on many occasions both in Biblical and in modern times. And we won’t have time to look at all the examples, but I’d like to spend some time and talk about some of those mothers that we find in history. There is something about being a mother that those of you who are mothers can not really take credit for because it’s natural. I know that in the mountains in Northern California we’ve got a lot of black bears and generally they’re harmless. On the few occasions when black bears have attacked in most cases it’s because somebody got between the mother and her cubs. And God wired mothers, not just humans but even in the animal kingdom, to be a sacrificial and to be highly motivated to protect and to save their young. I heard one story about somebody up in one of the National Parks found a little baby black bear. And you know baby bears sound like human babies crying.

One of my friends was telling me he went outside one day, my friend Joe, up in the hills and he heard “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!” and he thought there was some baby lost in the woods and he found out it was a baby bear that got stuck up a tree and couldn’t get down again. And when he saw that he said, “I got out of there in a big hurry!” Because he knew the mother might not be far away. Someone else once was up in the woods in northern California one of the National Forests they heard this baby bear crying and they thought, “How cute!” You know they grabbed the little thing by the back of the neck and as it was scratching put it in their Volkswagen Van, drove down the road to the hunting lodge, stopped for drinks, told their friends, “Yeah, I got a baby bear out in my car I caught. The mother wasn’t anywhere around.” By the time he got out to his van it was absolutely demolished. The mother bear had torn the metal off, had busted the windows out to get to her baby. Perhaps you remember when Elisha cursed the children who were disrespectful it was two she-bears that came out of the woods. That’s mother bears. Evidently these kids had gotten between the mothers and their cubs and they mauled the children on their way back to their cubs. So the Lord has wired mothers with this kind of tenacious love.

Ann just sang that song El Shaddai. You know what the word El Shaddai means? God Almighty. But the picture translation there is in the Hebrew. It’s El Shaddai the many breasted one. And what it means is it’s a picture of a mother’s ability to supply all of the needs for her child. That’s one of the pictures that God uses for Himself. We always try and peg God with some kind of sexual gender. He is our Father in Heaven, but Jesus also says that when He wept over Jerusalem, “How often I would have gathered you together as a mother hen her chicks.” You’ve heard the story about the ranger who was looking at a cabin that had been burnt in the woods and he was kicking the debris from this burnt cabin to try and analyze what had started the fire and he saw the burnt carcass of a quail and he thought, “How sad.” And he instinctively took his boot and he kicked it over and all these baby quail ran out from underneath of it that were still alive.

She had shielded them from the fire to save them. So this sacrificial love, this tenacious, vicious at times, love. I mean you start criticizing a woman’s children and watch how she reacts. So we’re wired that way, those of us who are mothers. You need to give God the glory for that. But beyond that there are things that we must choose as parents and mothers and recognize the power we have in molding human souls that they might not only be prepared for eternity but they can make a difference in what happens in the world. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

We have some examples in the Bible where you can see this principle is true. Look first of all in the example that you find and I could of course talk about Abel. And wait. I told you that this is a bittersweet message. Let me add one more reason for that. There are mothers here who have done their best and in spite of that some of their children have chosen not to serve the Lord. You of course have God Himself who did His best in Adam and Eve and they made the wrong choice. Now I’m not saying that we’re perfect but keep in mind there is also the fact that in spite of our best efforts God still wires every human with a free will. Amen? Eve probably did her best with Cain and Abel. Cain was carnal. Abel was spiritual. And one killed the other. Talk about a grieving mother. But then God gave her another son and she maybe intensified her efforts and Seth became of course the heir of salvation. Christ came through his line. He was a godly man in the image of the Lord.

Well, you can see other examples of this in the Bible but probably one of the prominent ones that stands out is a woman named Jochabed from the tribe of Levi married to a man named Amram. Incidentally Jochabed means “Yaways Ya… Ja” Yaway’s Glory. She was named God’s glory. You know the Bible tells us that all we do should be done to God’s glory. She was a slave but she had that same mindset as Joseph before her. If she was going to be a slave she would still be faithful to God wherever he placed her. She had a boy named Aaron. Of course he followed a girl named Miriam. And then the king of Egypt legislated that all the male babies should be thrown into the river. They were to all be executed because there were too many baby Israelites and they were afraid that if a war broke out that this nation of slaves would join their enemies. Well, during this time when it was politically incorrect to have another baby boy and they were recommending late-term abortions, you with me? Basically that’s what they were saying. They were telling these Hebrew midwives that, “As soon as you identify that that baby born is a boy, kill it!”

You know that they are actually discussing in Congress whether this is ok or not? That’s pathetic. And if anybody had a reason to pursue a late-term abortion Jochabed had an excuse. It was politically understood. She economically could not afford more children. She was a slave. But in spite of all that… You know I think it is interesting it says, “When she saw it was a beautiful child…” Almost sounds like she looked at him and said, “Well, I was going to kill him but he’s cute!” That’s not what it means. And the word “beautiful” there means that you know there’s a lot of young ladies who have unplanned pregnancies. Sometimes they’re out of wedlock and they choose to give the baby up for adoption after it’s born. And of course that is the wise choice when you consider the alternative of abortion. But often after they carry the baby and the baby is born they rescind their decision and so it makes it a real problem for those who are hoping to adopt.

You know what it is? After the baby is born that tie that the mother has been wired with even among some of these young mothers and unwed mothers they can’t let them go. And this is what it is talking about when Jochabed saw Moses her heart yearned for this baby and she thought, “I can’t do this!” And so she hid him as best as she could for three months. And I believe that even for that first three months there was an influence that was felt. Finally when she realized that he was becoming… you know when they’re little like that they spend a lot of time sleeping and going through diapers and eating. That’s about all they do. But as they get older they start to gurgle and cry and play and it’s a little harder to hide them and so she knew she needed to do something and she prayed and she basically gave her child to the Lord. She prayed. She knew she couldn’t keep him in the family. Put him in a little ark. Pitched it with tar. Basket.

Set it among the reeds and prayed that somebody, some Egyptian, would find the baby and have mercy on it. God in his providence of course designed where the princess of Egypt found the child and she did have compassion. He was a beautiful child. Of course every mother thinks her baby is beautiful, right? Not only did she spare the child, Miriam, who was watching from a distance recognized in the face, you know Miriam was a prophetess and I think she had that gift of discernment. She saw in the face of the princess that she was looking kindly on the child and the baby now started to cry and Miriam went, said, “Would you like me to find a maid to nurse the child?” And she said, “Go.” Now chances are she knew it was a Hebrew child. Not only because of the edict to kill all the baby boys but you know Hebrew baby boys stand out in a way from the Gentile or Pagan baby boys by virtue of circumcision. And it was a Hebrew baby.

So here she goes and she calls her own mother to raise the baby. What would you do if you were Jochabed and you knew that you just had a few years to nurse and raise this child and then it was going to be annexed by the palace and be brought up surrounded with paganism? Back in Bible times they used to nurse the children longer than we do today. We’ve got all these artificial milks and formulas today and so you know a lot of mothers don’t nurse or they can’t but those that do you know just one or two years. Back then they would nurse maybe up to four or five years. I know. That’s scary, isn’t it? But you read about… Especially after they go through teething. You read about Hannah with Samuel, we’ll get to her in a minute, and he was about five years old when she brought him to the temple. “When the child was weaned.” That’s what it says. What would you do? How much could you teach a child in that short period of time? Evidently the lessons that Moses learned at the knee of his mother were so profound and so indelibly impressed upon his soul that even though he was now surrounded with paganism and pagan customs in the palace that he never forgot who he was. He never forgot who his people were. He never compromised and began to worship pagan gods. And most of all he never forgot that God had a supreme plan for his life.

Now it took a while for that to blossom and you can bet that Jochabed spent forty years praying for that baby that the seeds that she sowed in Moses’ heart would bear fruit. And they finally did. It took forty years before he tried to act upon the things and he sort of took his stand with God’s people. He did it wrong at first, but she saw that it bore fruit. He would not identify himself with the Egyptians. The Bible says “he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Where did he learn those principles? At his mother’s knee, a little child. How big an impact did Moses have on the world? There have been few, if any, men who have ever lived next to Christ Himself that have had more impact on not only religion, Judaism and Christianity, but indeed the laws of the world, as Moses did. Who gets the credit? Of course ultimately God gets the glory, but who did He operate through to really mold the character of that man who would change the world? It was the hand that rocked his cradle. It was the hand that made the little ark that ruled the world. You know the reason I think this is a very important message is because we’re living in a time right now where motherhood and the office of being a mother, and a mother that stays home with her children in particular, is frowned upon.

It’s looked upon as antiquated. And you know in some of the political scuttlebutt that we hear in government somebody alluded to “mothers that stay home and make cookies” and it was almost derogatory. Who was it that said, “It takes a village to raise a child”? I categorically reject that. I think the reason that we have so much crime and decadence in our world today is we think that it’s the… “village” sounds like a nice homey word, but what that means is the kids are raised on the streets is what it means! It doesn’t take a village or the streets or the neighbors to raise the child. The mother is supposed to raise the child. The problem in our world today is we’re letting everybody else raise the child. Politically we’re being told you just you drop them off at daycare… And I’m not trying to criticize those that have done that. The Lord knows we’ve had babysitters we’re very grateful for. But what I’m telling you is that is not supposed to be the plan.

That’s not the ultimate way that kids are raised in groups like barracks and they’re surrendered to “the village” to be raised. No, they need the personal one-on-one attention of the mother because in a child’s life for the first few years in particular the father and the mother represent God and we need to pray that God will give us the grace to reflect and reproduce in them a reverence and a respect. You know there’s few times I’ve been more convicted in preparation for a message than I have this week. I’ve been studying mothers. I’ve been reading about some of the great mothers. And you know my first reaction was to pile all these books up and hand them to Karen. I did give her one actually. But I have been really convicted because what we’re talking about is parents. And incidentally when we’re talking about mothers we’re not just talking about moms. We’re talking about aunts and grandmothers and every woman really that has an influence in the life of a child. But Jochabed because of her influence she made a difference for eternity and I think we’re going to be surprised when we see how God values that. I’d like to read a quote with you.

This is from the book Patriarchs and Prophets in context with what we’re talking about. “To a very great extent the mother holds in her own hands the destiny of her children.” You notice she doesn’t say, “completely” but to a great extent. “She is dealing with developing minds and characters working not alone for time but for eternity. She is sowing seed that will spring up and bear fruit either for good or for evil. Especially during the early years the responsibility rests upon her of forming the character of her children. The impressions now made upon their developing minds will remain with them all through life. Parents should direct the instruction and the training of their children while very young to the end that they may be Christians. They are placed in our care…” What is our ultimate goal in raising children? Their comfort? Their happiness? No, that they might be Christians. You know we are constantly being told to indulge our children. If you administer corporal punishment there are those who threaten to take them out of your home because you’re abusing them. The ultimate thing is that they are always happy and entertained. No, that’s not the principle. That they are prepared for eternity. Amen? “…that they might be Christians. They are placed in our care to be trained not as heirs to the throne of an earthly empire but as kings unto God to reign throughout unending ages.” --Patriarchs and Prophets, page 244. The work of the mother cannot be underestimated.

Let’s talk about Hannah. Hannah means grace. Jochabed meant God’s glory. Can you imagine having a child and you know from the time that he is born… Now you notice both with… one of the characteristics you’ll notice with Jochabed and with Hannah is they knew while their children were in their care it was limited and they really were going to someone else. These great mothers had the concept that their kids were really leant to them for a short time. Some of the greatest mothers had the right understanding, the right philosophy, because they knew “they’re not mine but for a short time for a very important purpose that I might teach and train and prepare them for eternity not just for their own salvation but that they might be used of God to save others.” Now did you get that? You don’t’ need to get a letter from the government or in the mail that says, “We’re going to get your children in five years before you recognize this principal. They’re not yours.

They belong to God and you have them for a short time. They are “leant to us that we might train them for eternity.” Hannah knew that. She had no children. She prayed and here she had a partner, wife. I don’t know what you call a fellow wife that you share a husband with. There must be a word for that. The enemy, the adversary is actually the word that was used in the Bible. It says, “Her adversary, Pinena, tormented her” because Pinena had all these kids and Hannah had none. She went before the Lord and she prayed that God would give her a child and God answered her prayer. She prayed and vowed, “If you give me a child I will give him back to the Lord.” You know the Bible says that the firstborn was to be consecrated to the Lord. They usually redeemed the firstborn child with a sacrifice. Hannah said, “I am really going to give him to the Lord to stay with God all of his days, forever.” So God answers her prayer and she has a baby, a beautiful, healthy baby boy and you know how that mother’s heart must have yearned but her covenant to God was so important that she would not even consider going back on her word. And she spent those first tender years raising that child and then she had to relinquish that child into a temple where there were problems. Church had corruption back then. Eli was wishy-washy and the sons of Eli were making people hate the sacrifice of the Lord. They were sleeping with the women that came to the temple. I mean there was problems in the church. Would you leave your child in that situation?

Five years old such a tender age. But because she had committed him to the Lord and she had been so thorough in teaching and training and impressing her child that even though, even though Samuel was surrounded with these compromising influences he would not sacrifice his relationship with the Lord. And don’t you know even after Moses was in the palace, even after Samuel was in the temple what were those mothers doing? Was their work done? What do you think those mothers were doing? Praying for those children every day. What they could not do for them in person any more they followed up with abundance of prayer. Those of you who are mothers if you have kids that are surrounded by bad influence, they may be out in the world don’t give up on them. Because of the influence of Samuel a revival was brought around in Israel. Matter of fact it was the influence of Samuel that brought the revival that prepared the kingdom for David. He changed the world. The hand that rocked the cradle ruled the world.

You know, I should also mention that just before this time there was another mother. We don’t know her name. You know so often these mothers that change the world shrink into historic obscurity because we say, “Well, we had a mother, yeah.” But we forget about the influence of the mother. There was a woman, all we know was she was Minoah’s wife. She was so important to God that the angel came to her in advance and gave her prenatal instructions about what to eat because her child would be mighty. God had a great work for him to do. Had great possibility. He was bright and he was strong. Don’t you know that it must have broke her heart when Samson, God had all these plans and she probably did her best to raise him right, but he began to sleep with the enemy. He began to compromise. He began to squander his gifts and use them for show. Did she stop praying for him? She prayed for him all of his life and you know what? He was converted just before his death. Her prayers were answered and the last act of his life was one of sacrifice. In the last act of his life the Bible says, “he slew more by his death than he did in his life.” He was raised up by the Lord to deliver God’s people from their enemies and he did it but it didn’t happen until the end. Mothers don’t stop praying for your sons, not to the very end. You never know what the Lord might do. Well, God answered Hannah’s prayer.

And then you know there’s a lot of mothers in the Bible that I could talk about and there’s a lot in history but I thought I’d go right away to Mary. Now this is an unusual exception. For one thing the word Mary is the Greek equivalent of the name Miriam. Her name means “bitter”. It doesn’t mean she was a bitter person. It meant that her lot would be bitter as a mother. You know I remember my grandmother telling me we had a mutual friend who’s son died and Grandma Lily who is still alive she said, “You know it’s terrible to bury your spouse.” This is some vintage wit of a Jewish Grandmother. She said, “It’s terrible to bury your spouse and it’s hard to bury your parents,” she said, “but it’s especially difficult to bury your children.” And Mary had to watch and attend her son’s burial. And I might add, to clear up some confusion, Jesus was Mary’s only child. Now some of you always go, “What?” when you hear that because the Bible says Jesus had brothers and sisters. Evidently those brothers and sisters of Jesus were from a former family that Joseph must have had. They were older. Now how do you know that? Well, several reasons.

First of all, you remember that Jesus committed his mother Mary to the apostle John on the cross. How many of you remember that? Why would he do that? Naturally she would have been taken into the home of the oldest son. But they were not her children. They were stepchildren. Furthermore, if Jesus was the firstborn it would have been considered an insult to the father to leave the family business and become an itinerant preacher. The youngest might do that but the firstborn was to take over the family business. He was to get a double portion of the father’s inheritance. Jesus wasn’t. He was free to go and do the itinerant preaching without dishonoring his parents. And so many people are shocked when they discover that. Christ did have brothers and sisters. It names them, but they were half-brothers and sisters through Joseph. It’s possible back in Bible times a man might go through one or two wives because the women’s lot was so hard because of childbirth and those difficulties. One more bit of evidence. Joseph must have been a little bit older than Mary. He also had had a previous family. Part of the reason for that is when Christ begins his ministry Joseph is never seen which leads us to believe that he had died. He’s spoken of in the past tense when he is referred to so he was a little older than Mary at that time.

So you start piecing together the evidence and Mary was the second wife of Joseph. His first wife had died. When you see these postcards of Joseph and Mary and the donkey going into Egypt don’t forget there was another brood of children. Now that means that Mary, think about her lot. You come into a situation where you’ve got a blended family and all of a sudden, Bingo! You get married. You’re not only pregnant and you’ve got four boys and it says, “sisters” we don’t know at least two so let’s assume a minimum of six children plus Jesus being the seventh. Isn’t that interesting? It says “his brothers”. It names four brothers and sisters, that means plural it must have been at least two. Jesus would have been the seventh then and the last. And all of a sudden Bingo! You’ve got this instant family. Mary had a tough row to hoe. But she knew because of this angel’s word and because of the divine nature of her pregnancy that this child was not hers but He would be “the Son of the Highest” the angel said. Christ was naturally by virtue of being God’s son vested with some of His Father’s attributes. This is a mystery that we can never fully understand how Jesus could be half man and half God. And in spite of the fact that He was the Son of God the Lord committed Him to the care of a human mother for His raising and training.

The Bible says that He was subject unto His parents. Now talk about having a big responsibility. For those of you who are mothers, would it make a difference to you if you knew that you are raising that Savior of the world? How seriously would you take your responsibility? Can you understand why Mary was wringing her hands when they lost track of Jesus for three days? “I was given the Son of God and I don’t know where I put Him!” Can you understand why she says, “We’ve sought you sorrowing”? That’s an understatement. They were in anguish. “God Almighty entrusted the Savior of the world to us and we’ve misplaced Him!” You ever lost track of your kids in the market or K-Mart or something and you start thinking the worst? You know you hear these scenarios about how kids are abducted and you start picturing this and you’re running around frantic. I’ve been there and I’ve seen it too. I’ve seen mothers rushing to the service desk saying, “I’ve lost my kids!” and you can just see the anguish on their faces. Well should our attitude about raising our children and our concept of the responsibility of raising our children be less than Mary?

That’s my question. Why should it be less? Are your children a gift from God? Are you to be raising them for a great work? Are you to be raising them for eternity? Are you to be raising them that they might reflect the glory of God? You ever thought about that? The work that God gave to Mary He’s given to every mother that we might raise our children for the ultimate and the infinite glory of God. That’s a big responsibility. You know one reason I think that Mary’s name means “bitter” when Christ was taken as a baby and dedicated in the temple you know what Simeon said, “Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.” Mary’s heart was pierced through when she saw her Son hanging on the cross. I don’t think Mary fully understood that He would be a sacrifice. I think that even her theology liked to cling to the idea that Jesus would sit on the throne and she would maybe be beside Him at some point. You know motherhood is not appreciated. I read somewhere where somebody said that, it was on a church sign, “If evolution is true how come mothers still have only two hands?”

Being a mother is a very difficult job. It’s a difficult job if you have one child and with each additional child the complications and the intensity increases and it’s a lot of strain. You remember what I told you it’s the most important job but that means it’s also a very difficult job. I was reading a story I thought that was interesting to share with you. A woman telephoned a friend and asked how she was feeling. “Terrible,” the friend responded. “My head’s splitting. My back and legs are killing me. The house is a mess. The kids are out of control and they’re driving me out of my mind.” Very sympathetic the caller said, “Listen. You go lie down. I’ll come right over. I’ll cook lunch for you. I’ll clean the house. I’ll take care of the children. You can get some rest. And by the way, where is Sam? Why isn’t he helping you?” The mother said, “Sam? Who’s Sam?” The caller said, “My heavens! I think I’ve called the wrong number!” And there was a long pause and the mother said, “Are you still coming over?” You ever had one of those days? There was a cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post. Showed a young boy about five years old.

He’s talking on the telephone to a friend and he says, “Mom’s in the hospital! The twins and Roxy and Billy and Sally and the dog and me and dad are home all alone!” Gives you a little concept about when Mom is gone everyone feels like it’s not home anymore. We’re alone. The Lord designed us where mother are what makes a home a home. You know I got a book this week. I was actually thinking about talking about Susanna Wesley. Any of you read some of the history of Susanna Wesley the mother of John and Charles Wesley? And I was listening on one of the Christian radio programs where this woman was talking about Susanna Wesley and she had a book she had written and I wanted to read the book so I went to the Berean bookstore and they didn’t have the book. I had to order it. I said, “No, I need it before Mothers Day.” So I found another book on Susanna Wesley. I had to fly to 3ABN this week and it’s the first time in a long time I’ve read a whole book in one day. I had lots of time on the plane and on America West when they lean back the chair you can’t open your laptop. About all you can do is hold a book out. And so I read this whole book. And you know I was moved twice I was moved to tears (I’m glad nobody was looking) from reading this story about this godly woman. In twenty-one years she had nineteen children. That brought a groan right there. Two of them were twins. Two sets of twins. I got my calculator out this morning. Karen usually does this when she figures out how many kids a person has she calculates how many years of pregnancy that is. This is twelve years of pregnancy. I don’t know how many years of nursing that would be. She was the daughter of a minister, a very leading minister in the Puritan Church in Britain.

She was a brilliant girl. Let’s give credit. She was an unusually bright child. She was the youngest of eleven children of her father who was a minister in the Puritan Church. Her mind was so keen… first of all, very few women in England knew how to read back then. She had learned how to read and she was a prolific reader. And by the time she was thirteen years old she was sitting with her father and the leading ministers in England when they would debate the issues of the Puritan Church and the Church of England and the Separationists and Non-Conformists. And there were all these theological battles they were wrestling with that came out of Henry VIII separating and all that back then. And she would not only, like Jesus in the temple, she would not only ask questions she had such a profound grasping mind that she was engaging them in the debate and they invited her because she was such an addition to the conversation. Thirteen years old! She wrote a commentary on the Bible that she gave her children to help them understand. She took the Apostles’ Creed apart word by word. And you know I was reading it this week, her commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, which basically is theologically sound for the most part, and you know what really impressed me? How similar her writing style was of E. G. White.

Matter of fact, I really thought I was reading E. G. White. Well, that shouldn’t surprise you because Ellen White was born shortly after Wesley died, John Wesley. And John Wesley and his brother Charles who basically founded the Methodist Church and they brought a revival to North America and to England and Europe he was his principal instructor was his mother Susanna. Now John wrote her one time. He says, “Mom, so many people have asked about how you managed to raise children for the most part they were all godly Christians. What were some of the rules?” Well, by today’s standards you would have said she was strict. But you know what? If you have nineteen kids you’ve got to run the ship with an iron fist or you’ve got chaos. One thing, she would not let the children cry loud. If they cried loud there was another punishment. They had to learn to cry softly. Those who visited… Oh, incidentally, she was married to a pastor too. Dad was a pastor; she was married to a pastor and her kids several of them were ministers. People who visited her home said you never knew there was a child in the home because there wasn’t all this shouting and screaming. When they addressed their mother and father it was always with reverence and respect. They would not interrupt. He asked his mom to jot down things she did in raising her children.

Here’re some of the eight rules that Susanna Wesley followed. You might want to get your pen out some of you mothers and fathers. No child was to be given anything because he cried for it. That’s how you spoil them. If a child wanted to cry, cry softly. In her house was rarely heard the sound of cries by children. No eating or drinking between meals except when they were sick. Needed some soup or something between if they were sick. That’s very important. I don’t eat between meals. I eat one meal… all day long. No, I don’t eat… you can ask Karen. I don’t ever eat between meals. I really don’t. I’m very strict about that. And sometimes people are insulted because I’ll be visiting someone and they’re cooking and they say, “Taste this. See what you think.” I won’t even taste something because it’s like Lays Potato Chips, you know. Once I taste something I can’t stop. I go into a frenzy. I’ve got to eat. So I don’t eat anything between meals and it’s helped me actually. Sleeping was also regulated. When very small a child was given three hours in the morning, three in the afternoon. Two three hour naps! This was shortened until… when they’re babies, first born, they do that anyway. This was shortened until eventually there was no sleeping and they worked all day long either at school or in other practical labor. Punctual.

The little ones were laid in the cradle and rocked to sleep at 7:00 p.m. Each child… the older children were put to bed at 8:00… she left the room. She never allowed herself to sit by their bed until they were to sleep. They were told to go to sleep and they went to sleep. Now let me tell you something. John Wesley lived up to I think it’s eighty-seven. Somebody help me. Is that about right? Yeah, I think it’s eighty-seven years of age. He preached often six times a day. He went from place to place on horseback. Someone asked him, “To what do you attribute your long life?” He said, “My mother taught me to sleep on command.” John Wesley took a nap every day. I try and take a nap every day. I use him as my mentor. But he whenever time afforded he could close his eyes and go to sleep like that because his mother said, “It’s time to sleep. Go to sleep.” He went to sleep. Now Karen can do that. I can’t do that. She was telling me, “All I have to do is lay down and go to sleep.” She goes to sleep. It doesn’t matter where it is. And Stephen is a little more like that. Nathan, he’s a little more like me.

He’s wired and up and running around. But we’re working on it. Pray for us. The Batchelor family is like all the others. Number five the little ones had their own tables near the main table. When they could handle a fork and knife and get most of the food in their mouths they were promoted to the family table. They were to eat and drink everything before them. They were always to say “please” or they did not get anything. Children must address each other as “Sister John” “Brother.” No! Not “Sister John” “Sister Suki”. One of the girls was named Suki. Matter of fact, her first daughter was named Susanna after her. She died. They named the next one Susanna also but nicknamed her Suki. That was her name. Or “Brother John” or Charles. She never allowed herself to show through her ill temper or by scolding. She would always explain and explain. She gave the reasons and the principals to the children for everything they needed to do. When she told them to do something… Now this isn’t in the list but this is just from reading the book. When she told them to do something they were to do it and then if they had questions they could come later and ask questions but first they were to obey without questioning. It’s ok for kids to question their parents but not until they’ve obeyed them otherwise you’ll be saying, “Get out of the street.

The car is coming.” “Well, why should I get out of the street?” You need to teach your children to obey immediately. Amen? And you know the other thing is as soon as she understood they heard her and they did not obey there were consequences. I get so irritated when I hear parents say, “I’m going to count to thirty-two! And if you by the time I get to thirty-two… This is the seventh time! When I tell you the eighth time…” You’re training your children to wait until you count to thirty-two or you turn red in the face and start yelling. As soon as your children know what you want and you’ve told them you don’t have to raise your voice or they’ll always wait for you to raise your voice. You don’t have to tell them ten times or they’ll always wait for you to…

Now I’m not telling you because I’m an expert. I’ve learned by default some of these things, friends, and you’ll save yourself a lot of grief and if you are firm with them when they are young the teenage years are a lot more bearable. Some people wait until they are teenagers before they try to get them to obey. It’s very difficult at that point. They’re stretching their wings then. You know being a parent is a paradox. Who was it that said, Eric Frombe, “The mother/child relationship is paradoxical. In a sense it’s tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side and yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother and become fully independent.” You’re loving them and teaching them to obey you so that they can go out in the world and learn how to succeed and be independent. And it sounds like a paradox but that’s the way it works. You know the most important thing you can teach your children?

I think the most important practical thing, first of all teach them that you love them, but the most important practical thing that you can teach your children is self-control. If they do not learn self-control they will not succeed at anything else and that’s something that must be taught by example by word and by principal. Amen? Who was it? Albert Shweitzer that said, “There’s three ways you teach your children.” You know what they are? Example, example, and example. I’ve got so much to share with you about motherhood and I’m out of time, friends. It’s a wonderful subject and I’m glad that God made mothers, aren’t you? Amen. Wouldn’t be here if He hadn’t. Desire of Ages, page 51, “Jesus knows the burden of every mother’s heart. He who had a mother that struggled with poverty and privation sympathies with every mother in her labors. He who made a long journey in order to relieve the anxious heart of the Canaanite woman will do as much for the mothers of today.

He who gave back the Widow of Main her only son, He who on his agony upon the cross remembered his own mother is touched today by the mother’s sorrow. In every grief, in every need, He will give comfort and help and strength. Let mothers come to Jesus with their perplexities. They’ll find grace sufficient to aid them in management of their children. The gates are open for every mother who would lay her burden at the Savior’s feet. He who said, “Suffer the little children to come to me…” (they were brought by the mothers, remember?) “…forbid them not.” Still invites the mothers to lead up their little ones to be blessed by Him. Even the babe in its mother’s arms may dwell as under the shadow of the Almighty through the faith of the praying mother. John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit from his birth. If we would live in communion with God we too may expect the Divine Spirit to mold our little ones even from their earliest moments.”

You know I was reading this week about a man. His name was James Lawson. Lived in San Bernardino. Left for work at six o’clock. A little while later his wife left to go teach fifth grade she and her two children. There was a baby that was, let me see here… Thirty-six year old wife Patsy left for teaching fifth grade. She had her five year old daughter Susan and a two year old Gerald to be dropped off at the babysitters. Eight hours later she had not shown up. The father retraced the windy road there in San Bernardino. He saw that his wife’s car had gone off the edge down into a creek where it had been upside down for eight hours. His daughter had died and he figured his wife was dead. He heard some cries and he went down there hoping she was alive, but what it was was the two-year-old baby Gerald. His wife’s car turned over. The mother was trapped inside. The little girl died. But the little boy Gerald the mother held him out of the water rather than try and rescue herself because she couldn’t do both for eight hours until she finally died in the forty-eight degree water and her arms were actually locked holding the baby up out of the water.

Her supreme thought was to save the child. You know Jesus asks this question in His Word, “Can a woman forget her nursing child?” Isaiah 49:15-16, “, “Can a woman forget her nursing child and not have compassion on the son of her womb?” Strongest earthly tie is that of a mother for its baby. And the Lord goes on to say… In spite of that, yes, there are rare, sad, tragic occasions where even they forget. You hear about the mothers that abandon their babies. They’re trying to make laws that legalize this. Worse yet, mothers that kill their babies. It’s perverted. It’s so unnatural because we think of the strongest earthly love as that of a mother for its child. “Yes, these even may forget” it’s rare “but I will not forget you,” the Lord says, “I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” Romans chapter 8 verse 38 and 39. Paul says, “For I’m persuaded,” speaking of the love of God, “that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any created thing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Think about the strong love that a mother has for a baby and God says, “I love you infinitely more than a mother’s love for its child.” You know as our closing hymn 191 I picked that, you know why?

It’s written by Charles Wesley “Love Divine” and I can’t help but wonder if he was thinking of his mother Susanna. When John Wesley and Charles were called to her side she knew she was dying. With her last breath she said, “When I’m gone I want you to sing a hymn. I don’t want you to cry.” And so the family that was still surviving (She buried ten of her children, ten of nineteen children.) Her children that were still surviving stood around the bed there and they sang a hymn, praised God for their mother’s life. She lived to be seventy-three and her influence on the children really did change the world. And I can’t help wonder if Charles was thinking of his mother when he wrote about “Love Divine” that incredible love. John Wesley preformed the funeral for his mother and he said it was the largest assembly he had ever seen in England. Many of the Methodists, they called them the Methodists back then, came to the funeral.

He said an innumerable company came to honor this woman. And on her tombstone now, they’ve changed it from what John and Charles put on her tombstone, on her tombstone now they put that she is the mother of the imminent theologians John and Charles Wesley. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Adam Clarke speaking, he’s the Bible commentator, who was a contemporary, speaking of Susanna Wesley he said, “She was the epitome of what you find in Proverbs 31 ‘who can find a virtuous woman’. She lived that out in her life.” You know friends this should be our goal, Amen, as fathers and mothers to raise our children and to love each other with that kind of priority. Let’s stand together and sing about this love that God has for us that’s greater even that the love of a mother for her children. 191

Before we sing the second verse I think as I’ve talked about mothers today that I maybe stirred in the hearts of some of the mothers here a yearning for the salvation of their children. It’d be silly of me to think that every mother’s child here is on the right path. And I wonder how many mothers here would like to say, “Please join me in praying for my children.” Can I see your hands? You’re really lifting them in the presence of God. Just to give you an idea of how many are interceding right now like Minoah’s wife, Hannah, Mary, Jochabed, and Susanna, thousands of other mothers that their children might make a difference for eternity. What you can’t do after they leave home you can do still by your influence, your example and your prayers. And we want you to know that we’re praying with you. Let’s sing verse number three of “Love Divine”.

I’d like to offer an opportunity at the end of each message for people to bring special burdens to the Lord. There may be some here who have wandered from the love of their Heavenly Father which is greater than the love of any earthly mother and you’d like to return to Him now. There may be some here today who have special burdens and prayers. Mothers yearning for their children or other issues. We’d like to invite you to come to a loving Savior and bring those requests. And there’ll be pastors that will be here if you’d like to council and pray further. But come then and bring these requests to the Lord. Or if you’d like to make a decision to come to Jesus for the first time or return to Him don’t miss this opportunity. Come as we sing verse four.

Beautiful words. Amen? Written by Charles Wesley. Susanna Wesley would bring her children in once they turned five. She’d start teaching them to read. She home schooled her children. First she’d teach them the alphabet. In one day they’d learn the alphabet. Second day she’d start teaching them to read. First word was “in” next word “the” third word “beginning”. Her textbook was the Bible. By the time they were six years old she said they could read anything printed in English. She taught them all from reading the Bible. John and Charles Wesley changed the world and others like them.

Father in Heaven, Lord, we’ve been inspired today first and foremost by your love for us which is greater than the love of any earthly mother. We’ve been moved and inspired by this power that you’ve placed within mothers that they would tenaciously defend their children and die for them. Lord, this we know is a picture of Jesus and His love for us. Also, Lord, we’ve been moved and inspired by these examples we find in scripture and history of mothers who have changed the world during the time they rocked the cradle. I pray that you will forgive the many ways we may have been negligent or indifferent to the sacred charge we have in our children. I pray that you will, as far as possible, overrule the mistakes that we have made in our children that are abroad. And, Lord, give us grace and wisdom and persistence and strength to rightly train our children to be prepared to live as Christians to live for eternity and to make a difference in this world for your glory. Thank you, Lord, for hearing this prayer, for your mercy, and your grace. And we ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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God's Promises




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