Monday, May 13, 2013

Children are GIFTS: Part 1

Meet my friend, Nicki! I have invited her to post here all week to continue the celebration of Mothers.

Nicki and her husband, Brad, are faithfully raising three cheerful kids.

I love her comforting smile, her humble determination, and her rumbling hunger for more of God's Word. I know you'll enjoy this week-long study of Biblical Motherhood.
We're looking at five moms in the Bible and learning how to grow as a parent. Children are GIFTS. Each day this week, we'll look, at a different letter in the word "GIFTS".

Here's Nicki...

G is for "God - centered." First, we must raise our kids in a God-centered environment.

The first mother I want to mention is Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
1 Samuel 1:9-18

Hannah was married to Elkanah and Elkanah had two wives. One was Hannah and the other was Peninnah. Peninnah began having children but Hannah was unable to conceive. This was hard for Hannah, and Peninnah didn’t make it any easier. She would make fun and torment Hannah to the point of tears. One day Hannah decided to go to the Temple to pray to God. She vowed that if God would give her a son she would give him back to God. When Eli, the leading priest, saw Hannah while praying, she had so much anguish and sorrow that he actually thought she was drunk and told her to leave the Temple. But I want you to notice her response in verse 15...

“No my Lord, Hannah replied. I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the LORD.”

Hannah had suffered, but in her suffering she knew to whom to go. She prayed to God. Her heart was right and she lived a God-centered life. She knew God was the only one who could heal her broken heart.

To have a God-Centered Home, you must first have a God centered heart - one that desires to know the heart of God. How do we know the heart of God? Three ways: Read the Bible, Pray, and Submit.

1. Read God's Word. - This is the way we begin to know the heart of God. This allows us to know who He actually is. I think many of us have made up these gods in our minds who aren't the God of the Bible. What we have learned growing up from our parents or pastors or our circumstances have skewed our view of who God really is. We must learn to open God’s word with an open heart and mind. My father-in-law once told me that he always prays before opening God’s Word, saying, “I know nothing LORD, teach me.” That is how we should all go to the Bible - with an open and teachable heart.

2. Prayer - Once we know the Word of God, we must align our hearts and desires with His. That doesn’t always come naturally and that is where prayer comes in. God is not a genie and prayer is not a wish list. I feel like we as Americans live a privileged life, and that somehow we feel entitled to get married, have kids, have a perfect home with lots of money, never be sick and ultimately die at a ripe old age. I’m not sure where it all comes from. We have all these things that we feel we deserve, and when things don’t go as we plan, we tend to think God gave us the short end of the deal. We have got to understand that we actually deserve nothing and expect nothing. Then we will see the many blessings that God has actually given us. Our prayers must begin to resemble that of Christ's when in the Garden, he prayed to His Father, "not my will but Yours."

3. Get Ready to Change - There is no way that you can honestly allow your heart to get that close to Him and walk away unchanged. He will humble you and show you areas in your life that need change. This is because He loves you and wants what is absolutely best for you. Change is scary. We are many times willing to give God 99% and just hold back that 1%, but he wants all 100%. Many times, as mothers, that one percent involves our kids.

I went through about a year of tug-of-war with God concerning my kids. I would give them to Him, and when I would get scared because things weren’t going just like I thought they should, I would snatch them right back. Somehow, in those faithless moments, I thought I knew what was better for my kids than God - Who is their true Father.

I am so thankful for His patience. Not that I don’t - every now and again - still try to hold them back, I do truly know they're God's and they are exactly where they need to be when I give them to Him.

Consistent Bible reading, constant prayer, and humble readiness for change - these can bring about a truly God-Centered life. When our lives our centered on God, our homes will reflect the same.

Hannah gave birth to Samuel, and just as she had vowed, she gave him to back to God. Many commentaries say that he was probably between the ages of six and ten. Can you imagine giving your 6-year-old away? But after Hannah gave Samuel to Eli the priest, she prayed this prayer:

"My heart rejoices in the LORD;
My horn in lifted up by the LORD.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in Your salvation.
There is no one holy like the LORD
There is no one besides you!
And there is no rock like our God."

She had a God-Centered life, and that must be our first goal as a mother. We can’t raise Godly children unless we ourselves have a relationship with Him.

I think Billy Graham said it best when he wrote,
"Women should first cultivate their souls
that in-turn
they may cultivate the souls of their children."

What happy habits help you provide a God-centered home? We'd love to hear your thoughts:)
Come back tomorrow as we continue this series!