The Potential of a Willing Heart – If Thou Wilt
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate those who brought life to us and raised us. The role of a mother is special.
Mothers are amazing. We all have had a mother, whether they are here today or not, whether we were raised by them or not, whether we are close to them or not… We all had to have a mother (in the physical) in order to be here today.
As I was studying, I had many thoughts flood my mind. But I kept coming back to the meaning of the word “Mother.”
There are many definitions of the word mother… And, I won’t be talking about all of them today, but there are a few that I want to focus on…
1. the qualities characteristic of a mother, as maternal affection:
2.. something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else
3. to care for or protect like a mother; act maternally toward.
There is this natural feeling that anyone can have … to mother someone or something.
We see it when a young child starts playing with her dolls, she begins to dress, coddle and take care of those dolls.
When a little boy is taking care of a small animal, he takes on nurturing traits; it needs to eat, it needs warmth and comfort.
When a teenager is watching over smaller children, they need direction, and an overseer.
“Mothering” is a term that doesn’t have to be describing a woman… It could be man, woman, girl or boy. It doesn’t matter who “we” are… when someone is hurting, we want to try and comfort them. When something is broken, we want to fix it. We might not have the words to say or know how to fix it, but we feel something in us that wants to react to the need.
1 And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.
2 And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin King of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles.
3 And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel.
Judges 5:1-2, 6-7
1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoab on that day, saying,
2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
6 In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, … in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through the byways.
7 The inhabitance of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
Here we find the scriptures telling us that the children of Israel did evil “again” in the sight of the Lord. And that He sold them into the hands of Jabin, King of Canaan.
The children of Israel were … constantly inconsistent in their walk with God. Time and time again, they were given leaders to lead them in the ways of the Lord, but whenever that leader died… and they were left to their own devices, they would pick up old traits and old habits and fall back into that pit of evil again.
This was after 80 years of prosperity under previous rulers, Judges Ehud and Shamgar. The Israelites had shown no gratitude toward God for all the good He had done for them, so we find them here, being oppressed by Sisera, the leader of King Jabin’s army. The Bible tells us they were “oppressed”. Sisera would burden them with cruel and unjust restraints, or subject them to harsh exercises of authority… his intent was to literally crush them.
The people who had thought that they no longer needed God now had to experience His distance. When He withdrew His protection, they became powerless against their enemies and peace disappeared.
It took many years of them living under the hand of Sisera before they realized how unbearable and unsettled their lives had become. The farmers didn’t want to be out in the field for fear that there would be an enemy attack. Trade was paralyzed because people weren’t traveling through the valley of Jezreel.
But… not all of the roads were deserted. There was one that was still frequently traveled. More and more people were seeking wisdom, direction and comfort. And they were finding it from a woman who dwelt under a certain palm tree.
Her name was Deborah. She was a woman, who knew her calling. The Bible tells us that she was a prophetess, and that she also judged the children of Israel during this time. She was the only woman of 12 judges who ruled during the years between Joshua and Samuel.
This was a woman of God. She was secure in her Lord… and so much so that she was recognized as a leader of her people. She had a two-fold position among her people… as judge, she was their national leader and as a prophetess, she was a spiritual leader.
Like so many other times before in their tumultuous history, the distress in their lives was causing the Israelites to seek God. And Deborah had the privilege of being an instrument of God!! Because of her willingness, obedience and faith. She allowed God to use her in events that would change history.
I’m sure she saw a change in her people as they came to her… tired of the way it had been going, wanting direction and words that would bring back the peace they felt so many years before. She must have prayed many prayers petitioning God to free His people, her people. She had even begun to think of herself as their mother. Judges 5:7 says, “…until I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.” A mother would want to see them succeed and prosper in the Lord. She must have recognized the potential that would come from their seeking the Lord.
She understood that all human authority was, in fact, delegated authority. The only one that had the real and final authority was God. Although, she was leader with her people, God had placed other leaders around her to work with, such as Barak. She worked with him, and was an encourager when his faith wasn’t as strong. She said, “Rise up, this is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands… has not God gone out before you? Don’t be afraid.”
Deborah was right about them being delivered from Sisera. She had also stated that ‘the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ And she was right about that too, for Jael was the woman God used to take the life of Sisera.
But when it came time to give the victory song…the victory wasn’t only hers as she tells it… although she was one of the instruments that God used to bring about His plan. There was something she recognized, (like a mother proud of her children) back at that palm tree… there was a change in her people as they came to her. She and Barak sang, “Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.”
There is a nurturing that a mother does… when a mother recognizes a need, a desire, a hunger.
So, a question to you today is… not of a mother but of the children… or the people. Are we in need of mothering? Are we hungry, are we in need, do we have desires? And I’m talking about for God… and the things of God! Are we ready to willingly offer ourselves?
In I Kings 9 starting in verse 1 (1-9), it says,
1 And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished the building of the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he was pleased to do,
2 That the LORD appeared to Solomon the second time, as he had appeared unto him at Gibeon.
3 And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
This is God’s response to Solomon after he had prayed to the Lord. Over and over in his prayer, he had asked God to forgive the sin of His people. If they do this, and then if they come to You… forgive them.
I was struck by the fact that Solomon knew that the people would falter. They would mess up, they would fall short of what the expectations were on them. How often are we the same? It is like we have our mind made up… this is just the way it is. We will fall!
We are even so quick to make promises because what we know of promises… is that they really don’t matter. That is what we have grown accustom to… “there is always a way out.”
Have we come to the place where we really don’t believe what God said He will do? Oh, we believe the miracles and the promises of prosperity… (It’s like a mother with her child… the child can’t always get away with everything they do. There are guidelines, etiquette, correction, common sense … so many things that go into forming this little person/this child God has given her.)
So… what of the things that aren’t so beautiful and nice… when it comes to God? What about a place called Hell and a judgment that will come? Do we hear the words He is saying? Or are we still speaking while He is trying to show us how to obtain what we want? Are we talking over Him?
Listen… this is what he is saying… And if thou wilt… (I’m talking about having a willing heart)
4 And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
5 Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
If thou wilt… Then He will.
But He is also saying…
6 But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
7 Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
Do you hear those words? Oh, my heart stirs within me. To be cut off from God, to be cast from His sight… Our prayer should be, Lord, Help me not to turn from you! Help me to keep your commandments! Help me to recognize when I have placed something before you, and help me to be rid of it… so that I may be pleasing in your sight!
He goes on to say…
8 And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?
9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.
This house which we have built… is our testimony. What we have given up to God as our testimony of His blessings, and healings. What testimony have you given? What word of truth have you spread for the sake of the Gospel? What becomes of it when we turn from God and follow after the pleasures of this world and the gods of this world? Will they say, “This calamity was brought by God because they turned from Him.”?
I want to pray, Lord, protect my testimony! Keep me close to You! My testimony and my life effects people around me and their walk with God. My actions are seen by others… what are my actions showing?
Where is my heart? Am I willing?
Will I be like Deborah? In a time of distress, will others be looking to me because I have kept my relationship with God. Will I be a mother to them in the time when they need leading? Or will I have become a stumbling block, that keeps others from getting to God.
Will I be like Solomon? Who prays that God will forgive the people of their sins… knowing they will need to come to Him asking for forgiveness?
Or will I be like the people?
After Solomon prayed unto God… and before God answered, he got up from where he prayed and turned to the children of Israel…
and it says in
I Kings 8:57-62
57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:
60 That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.
61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
Vs 58 said, That He may incline our hearts unto him. This is just not about what we feel in a moment. There will be times when you will have to pray, “Lord, incline my heart to you, cause me to lean unto your understanding, help me to want your ways.”
Lord, that You may incline my heart unto You!
Vs. 61 said, Let your heart be perfect with the Lord, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments.
Then… Verse 62 says…
62 And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the LORD.
ALL Israel… offered sacrifice before the Lord… this was their being willing… offering their sacrifice as a agreement with God.
If we return to our opening scriptures…
Judges 5:2, where Deborah and Barak are singing, it says,
Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
There is something about when we ask God to incline our heart to Him… that he opens this willingness in us…
John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
John 14:21 says, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
John 15:10 says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
All God wants is that we incline ourselves to Him, allow Him to work in us… and that we offer ourselves willingly to Him… our life… a living sacrifice to Him.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn fro their wicked ways; then I will hear fro heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
So, will we be constantly inconsistent with our walk with God?
Or Will we strive to be constant with Him?
All He is asking is… If thou wilt… and Then He will!