Monday, April 8, 2013

Lessons from Samson's Mom

I don’t’ know about you but I need examples in the Christian life. 
I have no idea what I am doing. 
So, where can we find good examples?
They are sadly few and far between.
If you have a local older woman who is investing into your life and discipling you, thank God! She is a gift. 

Let's dig into the Word and try to find examples of good parents...
Can you think of any?

 Job was a great father… 
"When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.   
This was Job's regular practice."

Job 1:5

Moses’ mom was a great mother… 
By faith, she entrusted Moses to the Lord and God cared for him and saved his life. She raised Him to know and walk with the Lord.

 Hannah was a great mother… 
“So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” 1 Sam 2:8 

Abraham was a good father… 
God said, “For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just” 
Gen 18:19

But not long ago, I unexpectedly ran into some really great parents in Scripture.
Samson's Mom and Dad!

If you really want to get the most out of this post, stop here and read Judges 13 before we jump into it.

Judges 13
 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. What was the culture like in when Samson’s parents were living? 2 A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. 3 The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 
You ARE sterile. If any of you struggled to have children or know someone who is struggling with infertility, what an encouragement this is! It is amazing to me how many mother’s of spiritual giants in the Bible were sterile. UNABLE to have babies. But God....

Can you name some? 
Rachel (Benjamin & Joseph's mom)
Sarah( Abraham’s mom)
Hannah (samuel’s mom)
Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mom) 
The Bible talks about the Lord opening wombs. I just taught on Ruth and in the book of Ruth is says, “the Lord enabled her to get pregnant”. 
There is something so powerful that happens when a woman who has been trying to get pregnant for years finally conceives. There is a gratefulness and a reverence in the heart of a childless mother when God opens her womb. Manoah’s wife (wish we knew her name!!) was also given more children because it talks about Samson’s brothers later in Judges. So, Manoah’s wife is just going about her business out in a field when all of the sudden an angel appears out of nowhere. 
How awesome would that be? Literally awesome! 

 4 Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean,5 because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines." 

The angel gives her a clear prophecy with clear instructions. I think it is very interesting that the angel appears to Samson’s mom first. You would think he would appear to the dad. Makes me think of Mary knowing about her BABY before Joseph. Sometimes, God allows wives in on things before husbands. I don’t know why. When we were on our honeymoon, God spoke very clearly to me that He had brought us together to raise up godly children. I was simply reading through my Bible asking the Lord why He had blessed me with a gift (a godly husband) that I didn't deserve. I happened to be in Malachi that day when I read this...

  “Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.” 
Malachi 2:15 

I ran screaming to find Tim... "Tim, Tim, Tim!!!! God told me He wanted us to have kids!!!" He was like,  "Um, ok. We have been married for about 29 hours now. Wanna go swimming?". God had placed a promise so deep in my heart. I treasured it. It would take time for Him to move in Tim's heart. 

 What an incredible experience this must have been for her! I wonder how long it was before she got pregnant. I love it that it says, “set apart to God from birth”. I want my children to have been set apart to God from birth. The angel also tells her the job that is given to Samson from God… to begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines
Wouldn’t that be incredible to know about your child?  Exactly what God has called them do. 
Can you imagine an angel telling you... "You are going to have a son. He is going to be a medical missionary. He is going to save lives and spread the gospel in Africa. Now, teach Him my Word and send Him to medical school."
 You would know exactly how to encourage him as he grew. God may not be that specific with all of us but I do believe He can show us "which way they should go".
"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it."
Prov 22:6

 So,  this sweet wife goes to tell her husband all that just happened to her. I am imagining her RUNNING to find him. 

 6 Then the woman went to her husband and told him, "A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, 'You will conceive and give birth to a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from birth until the day of his death.' "

Sometimes our husbands think we are crazy ( sometimes THEY ARE RIGHT). 
. But, this didn’t seem to bother her. She must of knows her husband needed time and to hear from the Lord. If the Lord has layed something kind of radical on your hearts for your children, then He will speak to and confirm it to your husband… if your husband is truly seeking to hear from Him.  Don't be manipulative or  a nag. WAIT ON THE LORD. TRUST THE LORD. PRAY.

Also, the Lord asked her to raise her child DIFFERENT than others were to be raised. Sometimes God calls us to do things that don't make sense to the world. I am sure her friends talked about her behind her back. I am sure people didn't understand. I am sure people must have tried to get her to relax and have a glass of wine or a barbecue pork sandwich. Yet, she KNEW that the Lord had given her instructions that He hadn't given them and she had to obey.  Obey the Lord. No matter how "weird" you may feel or seem.
He only asks us to do things in order to bless us. We have to trust Him and aim to please Him not men.
God may be impressing you to homeschool. He may be impressing you to send them to school. Whatever it is, DO IT.

 8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: "O Lord, I BEG you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born." 

 I love this. O LORD, I BEG YOU. I BEG YOU, let the man of God come again and teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born. This is my new prayer. Lord, I beg you to teach us how to bring up the children you have given us. The Hebrew words for “bring up” here mean: “to fashion, to accomplish, to squeeze, to press” Our children are clay and we are to mold them. Especially when they are little. Our children are our arrows that we have to fashion, shape, form so that they will fly straight and hit the target. What is the target? Success? A good job? A sports scholarship? The bulls eye is the glory of God and completing the WORK He has given them to do. We have all been given work to do. 
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34 
 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 

My goal is to be able to say this at the end of my life. And what do we all want to hear? WELL DONE! And the work that He has given us moms is to fashion, squeeze, train, and “bring up” our children. But, just as Manoah and his wife have no idea how to do that, I DON’T EITHER!! Do you? 

That is why we BEG. "I beg you, O Lord, to let the man of God you sent come and teach us how to bring up our children." Notice He calls Him a man of God. She called Him a man of God too. He looked like an angel and was very awesome. Who was this? This was Jesus appearing in the Old Testament. This happens a few times and I think it is so cool when He does. This time we see Him appear to a mom to tell her how to raise her child. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So, do you think He will appear to us and teach us how to raise our children? One of the times He left heaven specifically was to help a mother know how to raise a child. That encourages me! He will come and teach us, girls! He will!! 

  9 God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. 10 The woman hurried to tell her husband, "He's here! The man who appeared to me the other day!" 11Manoah got up and followed his wife. 

Now, again… normally you see the wife following the husband but here he is following her. She was leading her husband TO JESUS!!! Wives, where are you leading your husbands? How are you influencing them? 
I truly think God gives us insight as mothers into how to raise our children. Motherhood is a privilege, a high calling. Yet, we are to gently share with our husbands what is on our hearts and let the Lord work in their lives. Most moms I know who have stepped out to homeschool had to be patient with their husbands as they took this leap of faith. 
I asked Tim why He thought the Lord sometimes did this with moms and he said, he thinks it is because the husband is wired to be the more logical number cruncher. Wives are wired to follow. 
So a wife may be more prone to believe by faith that the Lord will accomplish the impossible.
Now, the problem is that wives are also more likely to be deceived so be careful. 
(1 Tim 2:14,15 and 2 Cor 11:3)

 You can tell that Manoah respected his wife. She had earned his respect. Earn your husband’s respect by being godly, being submissive, being in the Word, being gentle and quiet. Then when the Lord lays something on your heart, your husband will listen. 

 When he came to the man, he said, "Are you the one who talked to my wife?" "I am," he said. 12 So Manoah asked him, "When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule for the boy's life and work?" 13 The angel of the Lord answered, "Your wife must do all that I have told her. 14 She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her." 15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, "We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you." 16 The angel of the Lord replied, "Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord." (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.) 17 Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, "What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?" I was talking to Tim about why he thought that sometimes God tells the wife something first. He said because guys are so analytical. Number crunchers. Need information and wives are more likely to just believe by faith. Here Manoah is still struggling to believe… He is like. Um, can I see your badge? How do I know this is true? Zechariah did the same thing about John the Baptist and he got in trouble for it. 18 He replied, "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. " 19 Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. 

This part convicted me. It made me wonder what I am sacrificing to the Lord and if my sacrifices are acceptable and pleasing. We don’t offer young goats any more but we are definitely to still offer holy sacrifices. 
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 
Am I offering my body to God as a living sacrifice? 
My hands for his use?
 My feet to follow Him and bring good news?
 My mouth to teach my children and build others up? 
The problem I have found with living sacrifices (especially MINE) is that they like to climb back off the alter when the coals start to get hot. Like when I surrendered my life to the Lord in college, I had no idea he was going to call me to have a large family and homeschool my children. When the coals start to get hot, it is easy to want to say… “wait, did I really say I would do anything you wanted me to?”…
 But when we stay on the alter and continue to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing unto Him, we get to see MIRACLES… 

And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: 20 As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. 

 When our lives are living sacrifices, when we are living by faith in close fellowship with God, we are going to get to see AMAZING THINGS. Think about Peter. He is the only one that got out of the boat. He is the only one that got to experience the supernatural. 

 Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. 

This is exactly where great parenting begins. It is the SECRET to be a great mother. 
Get your face on the ground. Realize your desperation. Realize your dependence. Realize your place.
 Manoah and his wife were off to a powerful start.

What have we learned so far? 
1. God gives us our children 
2. He has specific work for them to do here 
3. We need to beg Jesus to come and teach us how to raise our children (He will!)
4. Good parenting WILL require sacrifice.
 5. We will see AMAZING THINGS 
6. Get your faces on the ground. 

21 When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. 22 "We are doomed to die!" he said to his wife. "We have seen God!" 23 But his wife answered, "If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this."

 I love how gentle Manoah’s wife is with her husband. She doesn’t say, “good grief, honey... of course he isn’t going to kill us, He just told us we are going to have a baby!! Well, He might kill you for your lack of faith. Would you get it get it together?"   
She encourages him toward faith. We need to be this kind of wife. MOST OF THE TIME OUR HUSBANDS KNOW WAY MORE THAN US but when God reveals something to us first, we need to be gentle, patient, and wait on the Lord to work in our husbands hearts without belittling them or manipulating them. 

 24 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

 Isn’t this what we want for our children? For them to grow and for the Lord to bless them and for the Spirit of the Lord to “stir” them? 

The word “stir” there means to thrust, push, like a propeller pushes a boat. Oh, that the Spirit would STIR in the hearts of our children so that they may complete the work that God has given them to do!!
I think it is remarkable that there is never a mention of Samson’s stature. Nothing says he was huge or extraordinary. It was all the Lord in His life. Are your kids pretty ordinary? Are you pretty ordinary? Nothing noteworthy about you?
Be encouraged. It is the LORD who will come upon our children and come upon us, stirring them, stirring us, pushing them, and changing the world through them. Sometimes it is easy to look at other kids and say ,”well my kid can’t play the violin or win the debate competition… and compare our children to others. 

 Listen, God has a plan for each of our children’s lives. They have been born into a hostile culture just as Samson was. The world needs DELIVERERS, warriors, preachers, evangelists, pastors, teachers, worshipers more than ever. I believe with all my heart we are living in the final battles. I tell my boys (and I will tell Hope when she is older) that they must have been some of his best soldiers for Him to place them here now… right before His return. And, girls… God has chosen you to raise them up. To mold them, fashion them, teach them.
Did Samson finish the work that God had called him to do? YES.
He began the deliverance of the Israelites.
Was he perfect? NO.
But, God used him in a mighty way.
How did his life end?

"Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time...Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands,  he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.” And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.
 Later his brothers and other relatives went down to get his body. They took him back home and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol, where his father, Manoah, was buried. Samson had judged Israel for twenty years.

You are RIGHT.
You can’t do it, momma. 
You don’t know how. 
But let’s beg Jesus to come and teach us how. We have been given a high calling but we haven’t been left alone. We have the Word of God. We have the Spirit of God. We have each other. If you know me, you know I have to encourage you to get in the Word and out of books written by man. Go to the source. Skip the books. 
Make sure your diet is pure milk and meat. 
God will speak to you through His Word. 
Meet Him there.

Be encouraged, mommas.
We can do this.
But not unless our faces are on the ground.
And never forget this verse....

"It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven's Armies."
Zec 4:6

1 comment:

Ruth Warren said...

Great Bible study and what an encouragement to Mothers and wives!Thank you Stephanie!