Like Sheep Without a Shepherd

 

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Have you ever noticed two groups of people who hold God’s attention? You wouldn’t think an impartial God would have specific categories for certain people, but amazingly, He does: orphans and widows. You’re right; they’re not the groups anyone wants to join. There’s no line to sign up, which is precisely why God keeps a keen eye on these two flocks. Yet surprisingly, He promises to be their Father and Husband. Not only do we find Him sharply protective, but He’s moved with tremendous compassion. So much, that it overflows into the everyday lives of you and me. We can’t help but want to go the extra mile in helping the child without a dad and the woman without a husband. They look just like us, but when learning of their plight, we soften. Our hearts touched by God’s finger for our involvement.

It was that way for my dad. His father died when he was only nine, making his already orphaned mother a widow in her early 30s, and he and his brother fatherless. It couldn’t have come at a worse time. America was just crawling out from the rubble of The Great Depression and everything was scarce. Everything, but God’s endless pavilions of provision. Despite their destitution, He provided for them. He touched people’s hearts and caused others to open their homes and dinner tables.

“A father to the fatherless and a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely.” (Psalms 68:5-6a)

God makes it known that He protects the weak. Weakened only by circumstance. Perhaps you’ve never considered that one as busy as God has time to be concerned with the small details of the fatherless child. It is here we see His sterling character sparkle yet again. It’s far too easy to think the Lord’s uninvolved with our struggle; hasn’t got the time or interest for those that society’s forgotten. Yet look how He taught His disciples by the widow’s mite or the boy willing to share his fish sandwiches with 5,000 men. It moves God. Deeply. Passionately. Protectively.

“Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

It bears repeating, “Like sheep without a shepherd.” Notice, they were distressed and dispirited. Did my dad, uncle, and grandmother struggle? Yes, we have tribulation in this world. But were there people that rose to the occasion, allowing their hearts and hands to be an extension of God’s? Absolutely. Despite hardships, my dad remembered a happy childhood filled with people willing to pause for involvement. Mentors available to lead and point when my grandfather’s voice was silenced.

Perhaps you know a child in this very predicament. Perhaps you are that child. Perhaps your dad is living but you still feel fatherless. Grown or young, the void is there. I would encourage all to step up and make a positive difference in the fatherless around us. It doesn’t have to be earthshattering. My father recalled the kindness of being given oranges after going months without fresh fruit; a simple candy cane at Christmastime, or a street vendor’s hot baked potato on a snowy winter’s night. Small acts of love confirm our heavenly Father’s goodness, and the tangible proof He cares and works through people. This is the religion that Jesus’ brother James wrote about as being pure and faultless … to look after widows and orphans in their distress. It’s a loving embrace received by the child whose hair is no longer tousled by an absent father.

How like God. No matter how much love we give away, He’s ensured we’d never run out. This Father’s Day, let’s remember to thank God for being our Abba Father and keeping us from being spiritual orphans. And let’s relentlessly search for that one who’s whispered prayers for fatherly love and kindness.

Copyright © May 24, 2013, by Susan M. Watkins. Used by permission.

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https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/Like-Sheep-Without-a-Shepherd


 

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Mom Obeyed God

By Linda Wall – May 12, 2019

Hardly a day goes by that I am not reminded of my Mom in some way. So often lately, I have had the opportunity to share about her with people I meet in my day to day journey. She wasn’t perfect but she taught me so many “golden nuggets” for life that I use constantly.

Just a few days ago I found myself sharing the ‘Golden Rule’ with the cashier at the Dollar Tree store:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” 

I told her Mom was always reciting it. She listened attentively and as I walked away, I hoped I had dropped one of my Mom’s “nuggets” into her life.

It wasn’t always love and sweetness between Mom and me. I attended college out of town so I could get away from her ‘old fashioned’ rules and having to attend church meetings. I wanted to go and do “my own thing”.

That rebellious attitude of mine eventually led me down a path of drugs, homosexuality and away from my Christian upbringing. For almost ten years I was so lost and on my way to hell. I even contemplated taking my life…but, I had a praying Mom!

In time, the Lord answered her prayers and healed her aching heart. He called me unto Himself. I surrendered, confessed my sins, asked for forgiveness, and turned from my wicked ways to begin following Him.

Many thanks to my Mom, for obeying God’s instruction:

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

She did train me according to the Bible and I knew it was the Lord I needed when I reached the end of my rope. Instead of suicide, I chose Jesus Christ and life eternal because Mom obeyed God.

 

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Mother’s Day Encouragement: God’s Guidance for Happy, Respectful, Obedient Children

By Larry Tomczak – May 12, 2019

 

I heard a man of God rehearsing his upbringing when he inserted the following, evoking a hearty laugh from the audience:

“People ask me in my mischievous childhood if I ever got spankings? I surprise them when I say I was never spanked. But I sure got some ‘wuppins!’”

Enjoying Turner Classic movies and reruns of wholesome family shows like Andy Griffith or Lassie, an occasional spanking for little children was just the norm when they persistently misbehaved. A little protoplasmic stimulation to the backside of learning got a wayward child back on track with a lesson learned.

Celebrating Mother’s Day brings  pleasant memories for moms along with some persistent questions like the appropriateness of spanking in our hyper politically correct culture.

Years ago I authored a book now titled, “The Little Handbook of Loving Correction.” It was formerly called, “God, the Rod and Your Child’s Bod” but I changed it out of cultural sensitivity.

For every wonderful mother in America struggling with this nagging issue, receive this biblically informed reassurance as a gift. May it bring peace from alignment with God’s plan for raising happy, respectful and obedient children.

Realism in Raising Kids

Raising children requires a realistic perspective on our inherited sinful nature and a rejection of the “inherent goodness of man.” Adam rebelled and all of us have ratified that rebellion because of our inherited sin nature.

We don’t have to teach children to be selfish, lie, hit their siblings, steal or pout when they don’t get their way.  We do have to train them to learn to control themselves and do what is pleasing to God.

Don’t you just love it when parenting “experts” expound their views on TV in their world of Utopia? A couple living together with no children confidently shares their “wisdom” philosophy about raising their future children by simply reasoning with them, calmly affirming them and ignoring clear cut disobedience as “a stage they’ll grow out of.”

Yeah, right. Wait ’till they confront strong-willed little Grayson in all his glorious defiance one day! This is why seasoned veterans wince at this idealism and understand bumper stickers reading:

“Insanity is inherited. You get it from your children.”

Going God’s Way

Better to approach parenting God’s way and embrace the truth that appears on a plaque we had in our home:

“It is better to build children than to repair men.”

If you permit a child to nurture destructive habits, which they will one day be forced (with greater difficulty) to break, you are living beneath the revealed will of God concerning your role as a parent.

There is a difference between abusing a child and lovingly, responsibly disciplining him. Children know the difference between an objective spanking ministered in love and a smacking springing from pent up anger.

  • “Correct your son, and he shall give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Pr. 29:17).
  • “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Pr. 22:15).
  • “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame” (Pr. 29:15).
  • “Do not withhold correction from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and deliver his soul from death” (Pr. 23:13).
  • “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Pr. 22:6).

God’s method for curbing harmful attitudes and nurturing healthy ones in young children is not parents going ballistic, threatening, screaming, hauling off in anger, or tuning out destructive conduct, bribing with candy or by banishment to a room to brood and fester in resentment.

Loving correction, which includes spanking at times, is an expression of love! Though not literally, have you ever experienced a “spanking” from the Lord for persistent, ungodly conduct?

“My son, do not despise discipline from the Lord nor grow weary when you are rebuked by Him for whom the Lord loves He disciplines” (Heb. 12:5-6).

Loving, Legal and Logical

Research reveals that in America up to 85% acknowledge they’ve used corporal punishment. Every state in America allows corporal punishment of children.

Due to disciplinary problems in schools many are reevaluating their policies like the Arlington school district outside Memphis, Tennessee. They voted to reinstate corporal punishment saying:

“Teachers need all tools possible.”

Former NBA superstar, Charles Barkley, has joked:

“If corporal punishment is a crime, then every black parent in the South is going to be put in jail!”

10 Essentials of Loving Correction

May this acrostic for CORRECTION reinforce the “basics.”

  1.  CLARITY: Loving correction always begins by clearly defining and communicating reasonable boundaries before they are enforced.
  2.  OBEDIENCE: Spankings can occur if there’s persistent, deliberate disobedience. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph. 6:1).
  3.  RIGHT ATTITUDES: We are to “serve the Lord with gladness” (Ps.100:2), so persistent whining and complaining have to be addressed.
  4.  RESTORATION: Embracing and reassuring a child afterwards enables us to avoid leaving them feeling guilty or rejected.
  5.  EXPLANATION: Taking time to explain the offense as well as enabling the parent to calm down (if needed), makes this essential.
  6. CONSISTENCY: Loving correction requires an investment and persevering commitment… “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him dearly” (Pr. 13:24).
  7. THOROUGHNESS: Shaping the will without breaking the spirit requires being authoritative not authoritarian so the child experiences some pain, versus simple “love pats.” “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying” (Pr. 19:18 KJV). “Now no discipline seems to be joyful at the time, but grievous, yet afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness in those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).
  8.  IMMEDIATELY: With exceptions, loving correction should be given in the moment not “when daddy comes home” hours later. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed swiftly, the heart of the sons of men is fully set to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11).
  9.  OUT-OF-SIGHT: Discipline is administered in private so as to not humiliate or embarrass a child.
  10.  NEUTRAL OBJECT:  Scripture states a “rod (a small, flexible branch) of correction” not a hairbrush or the nearest object. Hands should be instruments expressing affection and tenderness; we don’t want children flinching or retreating when a hand is raised.

A closing question:

“Where is the rod administered?”

God in His wisdom prepared a strategic place on the anatomy of our toddlers and children which has ample cushiony, fatty tissue and sensitive nerve endings to respond to Spirit-led stings. “Fannies” are gifts from God! In 47 years of ministry, I’ve discovered that all children come equipped with one!

“On the lips of him who has understanding wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense” (Pr. 10:13).

Here’s the deal: Scripture tells us:

“reproofs of instruction are the way to life” (Pr. 6:23).

May this Mother’s Day gift of God’s timeless wisdom educate and encourage moms across America. God’s ways are always best when carried out consistently and in faith for His glory.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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VIDEO 8 Moms in the Bible Who Served God Well

 

Eight mothers in the Bible played key roles in the coming of Jesus Christ. None of them was perfect, yet each showed strong faith in God. God, in turn, rewarded them for their confidence in him.

These mothers lived in an age when women were often treated as second-class citizens, yet God appreciated their true worth, just as he does today. Motherhoodis one of life’s highest callings. Learn how these eight mothers in the Bible put their hope in the God of the Impossible, and how he proved that such hope is always well-placed.

Eve – Mother of All the Living

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God’s Curse by James Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

Eve was the first woman and the first mother. Without a single role model or mentor, she paved the maternal way to become “Mother of All the Living.” She and her mate Adam lived in Paradise, but they spoiled it by listening to Satan instead of God. Eve suffered terrible grief when her son Cain murdered his brother Abel, yet despite these tragedies, Eve went on to fulfill her part in God’s plan of populating the Earth.

Sarah – Wife of Abraham

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Sarah overhears the three visitors confirming she will have a son. Culture Club / Contributor / Getty Images

Sarah was one of the most important women in the Bible. She was the wife of Abraham, which made her the mother of the nation of Israel. Yet Sarah was barren. She conceived through a miracle in spite of her old age. Sarah was a good wife, a loyal helper and builder with Abraham. Her faith serves as a shining example for every person who has to wait on God to act.

Rebekah – Wife of Isaac

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Rebekah pours water while Jacob’s servant Eliezer looks on. Getty Images

Rebekah, like her mother-in-law Sarah, was barren. When her husband Isaacprayed for her, God opened Rebekah’s womb and she conceived and gave birth to twin sons, Esau and Jacob. During an age when women were typically submissive, Rebekah was quite assertive. At times Rebekah took matters into her own hands. Sometimes that worked out, but it also resulted in disastrous consequences.

Jochebed – Mother of Moses

Jochebed and Baby Moses
Public Domain

Jochebed, the mother of Moses, is one of the underappreciated mothers in the Bible, yet she also showed tremendous faith in God. To avoid the mass slaughter of Hebrew boys, she set her baby adrift in the Nile River, hoping someone would find him and raise him. God so worked that her baby was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. Jochebed even became her own son’s nurse. God used Moses mightily, to free the Hebrew people from their 400 year, bondage of slavery and take them to the Promised Land. Although little is written about Jochebed in the Bible, her story speaks powerfully to mothers of today.

Hannah – Mother of Samuel the Prophet

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Hannah presents her son Samuel to the priest Eli. Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (circa 1665). Public Domain

Hannah’s story is one of the most touching in the entire Bible. Like several other mothers in the Bible, she knew what it meant to suffer long years of barrenness. In Hannah’s case she was cruelly taunted by her husband’s other wife. But Hannah never gave up on God. Finally, her heartfelt prayers were answered. She gave birth to a son, Samuel, then did something entirely selfless to honor her promise to God. God favored Hannah with five more children, bringing great blessing to her life.

Bathsheba – Wife of David

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Bathsheba oil painting on canvas by Willem Drost (1654). Public Domain

Bathsheba was the object of King David‘s lust. David even arranged to have her husband Uriah the Hittite killed to get him out of the way. God was so displeased with David’s actions that he struck dead the baby from that union. In spite of heartbreaking circumstances, Bathsheba remained loyal to David. Their next son, Solomon, was loved by God and grew up to become Israel’s greatest king. From David’s line would come to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. And Bathsheba would have the distinguished honor of being one of only five women listed in Messiah’s ancestry.

Elizabeth – Mother of John the Baptist

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The Visitation by Carl Heinrich Bloch. SuperStock / Getty Images

Barren in her old age, Elizabeth was another of the miracle mothers in the Bible. She conceived and gave birth to a son. She and her husband named him John, as an angel had instructed. Like Hannah before her, she dedicated her son to God, and like Hannah’s son, he also became a great prophetJohn the Baptist. Elizabeth’s joy was complete when her relative Mary visited her, pregnant with the future Savior of the World.

Mary – Mother of Jesus

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Mary the Mother of Jesus; Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1640-1650). Public Domain

Mary was the most honored mother in the Bible, the human mother of Jesus, who saved the world from its sins. Although she was only a young, humble peasant, Mary accepted God’s will for her life. She suffered enormous shame and pain, yet never doubted her Son for a moment. Mary stands as highly favored by God, a shining example of obedience and submission to the Father’s will.

Watch Now: Learn About Mary, the Mother of Jesus


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What Did Mary Know? (Selected Scriptures) John MacArthur


 

Mother’s Day: Honoring Moms,Teaching the Next Generation ‘The Noblest and Most Precious Work’

May 10, 2019 By John Stonestreet

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On Mother’s Day, most of us take intentional time and effort to show our moms how much we love and appreciate them, and how much we’re thankful for their love and sacrifice. I’m not always as intentional as I should be about honoring the moms in my life, especially the one who gave me life and the one who’s currently doing the really heavy lifting caring for our kids.

But especially in this cultural moment, Christians should be the first, not only to honor current mothers, but also to celebrate and encourage future mothers.

Andrea Burke, writing at For the Church, suggests that we’re not always very good at this. As a result, for too many young Christians, cultural attitudes toward motherhood are setting the tone. And it’s not a positive tone.

Burke calls motherhood “the one life dream that makes a girl blush.” In her work directing her church’s women’s ministry, Burke regularly sits down with single, young women to talk about the future. They often confess that although they could pursue further education or a successful career in any number of fields, what many of them want is to get married and raise a family.

By Burke’s account, these young women are smart and accomplished. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Still, they regularly talk as if choosing to be a wife and mom is a silly cop-out—somehow a waste of their lives. “When a 21-year-old sits across the table from me and tells me that she wants to be a mother,” Burke writes, “she blushes and gives a thousand caveats as to why she knows it’s not the optimal choice.”

Where do young women get this low view of motherhood? Well, look around. According to a New York Times article last year, the average age at which women become mothers is now at a record high—30 or older in some parts of the country. The Times reported this as if it were a good thing, talking up the wonders of a “fulfilling career” and all-but-openly suggesting that the only reason any woman would have children young is because she couldn’t achieve the ideal professional life, and needs a substitute rite of passage to adulthood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the average birth rate failed to rebound after the Great Recession, and now sits at a rock-bottom 1.77 children per woman on average—that’s down over 16 percent from a decade ago.

So now there’s a gap in our culture between the number of children women want to have, and the number they end up having.

The Times explains, “it’s unlikely any future baby boom will be able to fully offset the baby bust of the last 10 years.” This means that “millennial women are likely to experience the largest shortfall in achieved fertility verses their stated family desires of any generation in a long time … .”

What does all this have to do with young women embarrassed about wanting to become mothers? Well, they need honesty from us—specifically from their parents, that whatever society says about the wonders of a successful career, they’re statistically likely to regret prioritizing promotions over parenthood.

At BreakPoint.org, my colleague Shane Morris recently wrote a beautiful letter to his six-year-old daughter, in which he encouraged her to think of marriage and motherhood as callings worth pursuing, not as afterthoughts. Shane described how his daughter already is in the habit of tucking her little brother’s trucks to bed. Shane is right in seeing in those nurturing instincts things worth celebrating and cultivating.

His letter reminded me of Martin Luther’s praise for nurturing tendencies in his commentary on Genesis: “How becomingly even little girls carry infants in their arms,” he wrote. “And how appropriate are the gestures with which mothers dandle the little ones when they hush a crying infant or lay it in the cradle … .” Elsewhere he says: “In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work.”

If you’ve got daughters (like I do) or granddaughters or even nieces, proudly tell these young women that if motherhood is their dream, they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

John Stonestreet is President of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint co-host.

https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/mothers-day-honoring-moms-teaching-next-generation-noblest-and-most