God - in His wisdom and goodness - didn't want me to have any occasion to speak in my own strength. Already nervous and feeling incompetent about leading any kind of a study, I was slapped with a totally unforeseen circumstance - our very first baby shower was for a beautiful young highschool girl, pregnant out of wedlock. God, couldn't you have made this a little easier on me? I wondered. What do You want me to say?
Well, God provided the message for that morning's devotion - amazing how Scripture speaks to EVERY situation in life! And in due time, God provided safe delivery of a sweet baby girl, a precious addition to our fellowship of faith. Here are my notes from that very first baby shower (with names changed) - perhaps they can be used in some way to encourage a young woman you know.
BABY SHOWER DEVOTION FOR AN UNWED MOTHER
WHY are we having this devotional?
* Became king of Judah when he was 8 years old
* Came after a long line of evil kings who had abandoned God and served idols
* Began repair of the Temple, which had been neglected and was in terrible disrepair
* Hilkiah, the high priest, FOUND the book of the Law and delivered it to Josiah (2 Kings 22:8)
* Upon reading God's word, Josiah tore his clothes and wept: "Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book." (2 Kings 22:13)
* Began reforms in Judah; destroyed idols, prophets, and temples to false gods
* Josiah "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (2 Kings 22:2)
Note: The people were held accountable for their disobedience, even though the generations before them hadn't told them about the Law of God. God's demands on us (and on all of mankind) in Scripture are in force, whether we accept them or believe in Him or not. Our generation, like Josiah's, urgently needs to re-discover the Word of God, and to then respond to the truths presented in Scripture in repentance, submission, obedience, and gratitude.
TITUS 2 MANDATE - Older women are to be sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness; to teach what is good; and to train the young women....to love their children. Like Josiah, I'm beginning without having been mentored by an older generation. Still, I'm accountable for responding obediently to what Scripture teaches. Therefore, I feel a great deal of trepidation, and need MUCH GRACE, as I seek to be an obedient "older woman". I've been blessed by the example and encouragement of fellow (not older!) sisters: Example of Linda - Zechariah 8:21 - "The inhabitants of one city shall go to another and say, 'Let's go at once and entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going!'" I need Christ - and you need Christ - Come, let us go to Him together.
Lara, I don't know the details and circumstances surrounding Hannah's conception, beyond that her father is a man who is not your husband. I do know that you are an active member of the visible body of Christ, professing faith in His substitutionary work on your behalf, and that Hannah, as your child, is a covenant member of this family of believers.
I think I can safely speculate that you have already been advised - perhaps by classmates or others - that you would have been better off to have killed this baby instead of keeping her, and I think the fact that you have chosen to keep her is a testimony to the working of God's grace in your life. You have already demonstrated courage in the face of adversity. The reactions of friends, classmates, and relatives to your pregnancy has no doubt been mixed and sometimes surprising. Being pregnant is a confusing, physically draining, emotional time, even under the best of circumstances. Given that, I hope to communicate this morning some of the truths of Scripture concerning baby Hannah, to counter the lies the world will be telling you.
LIE - This baby was an "accident".
Movie - My Sister's Keeper (book by Jodi Picoult) Note: This movie was playing locally.
Anna: "I'm telling you, if aliens landed on earth today and took a good hard look at why babies get born, they'd conclude that most people have children by accident, or because they drink too much on a certain night, or because birth control isn't one hundred percent, or for a thousand other reasons that aren't very flattering....On the other hand, I was born for a very specific purpose. I wasn't the result of a cheap bottle of wine or a full moon or the heat of the moment. I was born because a scientist managed to hook up my mother's eggs and my father's sperm to create a specific combination of precious genetic material....See, unlike the rest of the free world, I didn't get here by accident."
(Note: Sara, Anna's mother, concludes at the end of the book, "I realized then that we never have children, we receive them." Sadly, the movie gives viewers no such hope, no "gospel".)
TRUTH - Every child - even those conceived because of our sinful behavior - every child is created by the will and purpose of God, although we may not understand His purpose or timing.
*Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you... (Note: Jeremiah lived during Josiah's reign.)
* Psalm 139:13-14, 16 - For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well....Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book are written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Lara, God knew this baby - and YOU - before He even began creating the earth. He has a plan and a purpose for Hannah, and for you. From a human, wordly perspective, this baby may seem like an "accident" - but she is NOT an accident according to God's creative plan and purpose.
LIE - Babies are a burden and a liability, something you don't want to have. They are nothing but work, work, work, and trouble. They rob you of sleep, drain your finances, and put a complete end to your freedom.
TRUTH - Babies are a blessing! Yes, caring for a baby/child seems to take all your energy and resources and will sometimes leave you hanging "at the end of your rope," but a child is a valuable gift, a treasure of infinite worth, an image-bearer of God Himself.
* Genesis 1: 26,27 - Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.
* Psalm 127:3-5 - Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man (or woman!) who fills his quiver with them!
When the stress and demands of being a mother drive you to look at this baby as a burden or a curse, remember the Word of God and affirm this truth - this baby is a blessing!
LIE - This baby will ruin your life. Having a baby out of wedlock, and when you're so young, will ruin all your plans. Your life will never be what you want it to be after this.
TRUTH - You have plans for your life; God has plans for your life. Sometimes, those plans coincide. But when they don't, and God takes you in a direction you haven't planned, you can be assured that God's plans will always be better for you than the plans you came up with yourself. Everything that God brings into your life - everything - is for your good and His glory. God is using even this pregnancy and this baby to conform you to Christ. Plus, the Holy Spirit and Christ Himself are interceding on your behalf as you mother this child!
* Romans 8:26-28 - The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
LIE - There's no way you could be a Christian. You are obviously a sinner, and God's love and promises are not for you.
TRUTH - Christians are sinners, but we are reconciled to God, once for all, by the blood of Christ. God's love for us - and faithfulness to us - is not based on our righteousness (or lack of righteousness), but on the perfect righteousness of Jesus.
* 1 John 3:1 - See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are!
* 1 John 2:1b - If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins....
* Romans 8:31-39 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died - more than that, who was raised - who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword, (or unplanned pregnancies?)....NO! I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
* John Owen -"There is a traitor residing in our hearts, waiting to betray us."
* Justin Westmoreland - "Satan wants to destroy our relationship with God by mercilessly loading guilt on our backs."
When you are inclined to believe the world's lies, Lara, when you are accused or devalued by Satan, or by your conscience, or by your peers....counter the lies with the truth of God. Nothing can separate you from the love of God (Rom. 8:31). It is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8-9). Wear your Bible out - drive the Gospel of Grace H-A-R-D!
ARMED WITH THE TRUTH OF GOD'S WORD, EMBRACE THIS BABY...
You have been given charge of parenting an eternal being, created in the image of God. This is a HUGE calling. You will need to turn to God daily for strength and wisdom.
G.K. Chesterton - "Anyone who makes himself responsible for one small baby as a whole, will soon find that he is wrestling with gigantic angels and demons."
Charge to motherhood:
* Seek to live by these truths, and to teach them to Hannah.
* This is not a call to perfection, but to live honestly and by faith.
* In your failures and weakness, run to Christ - teach Hannah by example that your strength and hope and security, and hers, lie in Christ. "I need Jesus - You need Jesus. Come, let's go to Him together."
* You are not alone in this labor. Call your older sisters in Christ into account regarding the Titus 2 mandate. Do not hesitate to bless us with the opportunity to serve you.
PRAYER FOR LARA AND HANNAH