BECOMING A DIFFERENCE MAKER
Part I: It Pays To Be a Good Mother
Pastor Ed Young
May 9, 1993
Ask someone the following question, “What is that you want to do with your life?” An overwhelming majority will say, “I want to leave a legacy. I want to make the world a better place. I want to make a difference.” For the next twelve weeks, we’re going to discover how to become a difference maker. We’re going to look at the life of one of the greatest difference makers of all times. His name: Moses. And today I thought it would be appropriate, today is Mother’s Day; right, to talk about Moses’ mom, because Moses’ mom was a difference-maker mom.
I’ve found over the years, and here’s today’s sermon in a sentence, that difference-maker moms have difference-maker children. Difference-maker moms have difference-maker children. Moses’ mom was named Jochebed. Don’t you love that? Jochebed. Her husband, Amram. Kind of reminds me of my in-laws. Their names, Mendell and Elva Lee from Columbia, South Carolina. I always tell Mendell and Elva, “Are you sure you weren’t supposed to be born during the Old Testament times?” Jochebed. Jochebed demonstrates in her life, mothers, three absolutes that made her a difference-maker mom. In fact, if you want to become a difference-maker mom, and I believe every mother wants to become a difference maker, you take these three absolutes that Jochebed demonstrates in her life, you apply them into your mothering, and you will see your children turn out to be difference makers.
Take your Bibles and turn to the book of Exodus. Exodus is the second book of the Bible, so men, you can find it. Genesis, Exodus. Exodus chapter 2, because I want us to take our photo lens and kind of get a tight shot of this amazing, dynamic woman and mother, Jochebed. Exodus 2, I’ll begin reading with verse 2. “And the woman (the woman is named Jochebed) conceived and bore a son.” When she conceived during this particular era of history, it was not a wonderful time to have a child. She didn’t run around with her sonogram pictures going, “Look! We’re expecting!” And she didn’t enroll Amram in child-birthing classes. Nor did she call her friends who lived next to her in the Hebrew shacks by the Nile River, “Oh, you’ve got to come over. In two months we’re having a baby shower. It’s going to be a little boy.” She didn’t do that because the times were tough.
Let me explain. Three hundred years earlier, the children of Israel had migrated into Egypt because there was a famine in their land and everything was fine. Joseph was the prime minister there in Egypt, a Hebrew, and everything was honkey dory. Suddenly, though, the Bible says, there arose a Pharaoh, a leader, a new administration, who had no concept of Joseph and they made these Israelites their slaves. This Pharaoh one day, sitting on his throne, looks around the countryside and he sees all of these Hebrew children, this giant Israelite baby boom, and he’s thinking, “Wait a minute. I’d better do something about this.” So, what does he do? He puts task masters over the Hebrews and he tries to tire them out and work them so much that they don’t even want to think about multiplying and then he instructs the Hebrew midwives as they’re assisting the Israelites in birth, if it’s a boy baby, to take the boy baby and throw the baby into the crocodile-infested Nile River. The Hebrew midwives come back to Pharaoh and they say, “Pharaoh, these Hebrew women, they are so vigorous; they’re having children so quickly, we can’t get to them fast enough.” He was paranoid. He didn’t want these people to revolt against him. He didn’t want the Israelites to leave because the economy in Egypt would crash. These were great days. This is the situation where Moses was born.
”The woman bore a son and when she saw that he was beautiful…” I love that phrase, “she saw that he was beautiful”. Mothers, especially young mothers, do you realize that your children are a gift from God? They’re beautiful. Every one is unique. Every one is different, and God has a special plan, a special agenda for each one; and He’s given moms, and also dads, the responsibility to be used as instruments, to mold them into great difference makers for God. “She saw that he was beautiful.” Then this line blew me away, “She hid him for three months.” Now are you ready for this? She hid, that’s right, a baby, for three months, in a little Hebrew shanty, Egyptian soldiers going back and forth, the Nile River right there. You know how sound travels over water. I’m sure little Moses would go, “Wah, wah!” “Shh! Be quiet.” They might sing a song like “The man, the man, the man”, to kind of drown it out. That’s a song I made up about my son, that’s why I sang “the man, the man”, because my voice is so loud you can’t even hear him crying when I sing the song at the same time. Maybe Jochebed did the same thing. I don’t know. But she hid Moses.
Then, the Bible says, (you’re talking about a creative mom), she decides, “Well, something has to be done,” and she takes a step of faith. She runs to the bank of the Nile River and there grooming the Nile River, the papyrus reed, 16 feet tall. She takes the papyrus reed and she fashions a little boat, a little ark, and she puts Moses in the ark, covers the ark, puts the ark right on the edge in the reeds because she knew that Pharaoh’s daughter, every afternoon, would sashay down to the Nile River to bathe and her giant entourage would come along with her. So she thought, “Maybe, just maybe, one of the people would see the little wrap and have pity on Moses.” She prayed, she trusted God, and she also used her common sense. She asked her daughter, Miriam, to hide in the distance to see what would happen to little baby Moses.
Here’s Miriam. She’s watching and she sees Pharaoh’s daughter coming down, and sure enough, Pharaoh’s daughter sees the little boat. She gets a servant to bring it to her. She opens the boat and she sees Baby Moses and the Bible says she has pity on Baby Moses. Women have pity on children, don’t they? Every time you bring a baby to a party or up here on the stage, all the women do this, “Aah!” That’s the maternal, God-given instinct. It’s great. And that’s what, if we could translate this Hebrew term “she had pity on him”, “Aah, isn’t he cute?” She also discerns quickly, “This is a Hebrew baby. I’m around all these Hebrew huts here; the features.” Then Miriam, she leaps from behind the giant papyrus reeds. She runs over to Pharaoh’s daughter and she goes, “I can find a nurse to nurse the baby for you,” and sure enough, Pharaoh’s daughter says, “Go ahead,” and she goes and gets Jochebed, the baby’s mom, Moses’ difference-maker mom. She rushes to the scene and then, let’s read verse 9. Exodus 2:9, “Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me…” I’ll bet Jochebed’s about to faint right there in her sandals, “…then I shall give you your wages.” In other words, it pays to be a good mom. Now, mothers, Pharaoh’s daughter is paying her cash money to nurse her own son. What did Jochebed think about when Pharaoh’s daughter gave her own child back to her as she took him back to her shack along the Nile River? The word “nurse” there means she would have him for five years. Jochebed didn’t realize it then, but psychologists tell us that 90% of a child’s personality is formed by the time he or she is three years of age. What happened during that span of time? What happened during that little block there? What did Jochebed do? She built into Moses’ life a foundation of faith like the world has never, ever seen.
You’re thinking, “Come on! Little kid? Two, three, four, five years of age? She built a foundation of faith in a child that young?!” Yes. Moms, take advantage of those early years when your children are confined to the home to build the right stuff into their lives. Jochebed worked outside the home. She had to work in a brickyard or in the fields. She had a tough, tough life, and here she knew she would only have this baby Moses for five years and she put the real stuff into him. She reflected three absolutes that made a difference.
The first absolute she reflected, she modeled her faith. Jochebed, for the first five years of Moses’ life, she modeled her faith. How many in here have ever been to a fashion show before? Lift your hand. My wife recently was in a fashion show – a mother/daughter fashion show. She modeled with LeeBeth and I was there at this hotel and there were a lot of people there, and as Lisa and LeeBeth would go up and down the runway, I couldn’t take my eyes off them. In fact, Lisa had a beautiful jacket on and I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to maybe buy that for her for Mother’s Day?” So I asked her, “Lisa, how much is the jacket?” She said, “$740.” I go, [choking sound], “I won’t touch it. Take it off very gingerly and put it away.” Mothers, you are always modeling. You’re thinking, “Ed, I’m not Christie Brinkley or…”. Yes, you’re always modeling. In fact, you’re modeling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; you’re always on the runway. You’re doing this and…you know, [laughter] you’re modeling, and your children are watching you, “Oh, look at mommy! She’s a model.” And what are you modeling?
Jochebed modeled a robe called faith. A robe called faith. What are you modeling, moms? What kind of language are you modeling? What kind of attitudes are you modeling? What kind of love toward your husband are you modeling? What kind of conflict resolution are you modeling? Because, like these big-time fashion shows, our little children, and our big kids too, because this fashion show doesn’t stop until you graduate from this life to be with the Lord, they’re taking pictures [makes clicking sound of camera], and they’re taking the pictures and they’re putting them in the permanent photo albums of their mind. And kids, we go back and forth through the photos, I know I do, our entire lives…how did mom model that? How did mom react to that? What kind of attitude did she have? Because the best training ground for modeling your faith is not a church. No. It’s in the home, especially during those early years.
It goes on. The Bible says she got a wicker basket, covered it with tar and pitch. Verse 3, “…Then she put the child in it, set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River.” Verse 4, “And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.” I read that over for one purpose. The names of the people are not mentioned in this section of Scripture. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Now Ed, how do you know they’re named Jochebed and Amram?” Because Exodus 6:20 tells us. Why did I just read that section of Scripture? Because this section of Scripture leaves out the names, I believe, to emphasize the fact that it was God at work doing all of this. It was God who gave Jochebed the ability to model the faith. How do I know she modeled the faith? Well, take a giant turn to Hebrews 11:23 because this chapter is the Hall of Faith. You see the first two words? It says “by faith”, circle those two words. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents because they saw he was a beautiful child and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Remember, moms? You’re modeling. And, this is going to hurt you a little bit, step on the toes, and, even to dads, and whatever we model around the home, our children will end up modeling it and wearing the same wardrobe one day. Whoa! That’s pretty heavy, isn’t it? In other words, what I say, what I model in my thought life, the kind of things I watch, what really attracts me, one day, EJ and LeeBeth will be wearing the same garment that Lisa and I model; and Jochebed modeled the garment of faith. Here’s the question. Mothers, do you really concern yourself with your daily wardrobe? I’m not talking about the physical clothes. I’m talking about your true wardrobe, that spiritual wardrobe. Do you think about what you wear? Because you need to if you’re going to become a difference-maker mom. Some of you are thinking this, “Well, I want to model a garment called faith,” but you don’t have it. You’re trying to model something you don’t have. You’ve got to have the faith, a maturing faith, a growing faith. You’ve got to know Jesus Christ personally in order to model it.
Here’s the second question. Is my wardrobe really the kind of wardrobe I want my children to wear one day? Is it? Is it? Jochebed modeled her faith. Not only did she model the faith, though, she did something else. She marked Moses with her faith. That’s the second absolute. The first absolute, she modeled it. But she didn’t just model it, the second thing was that she marked Moses with her faith. Look at verse 24, Hebrews 11. The first two words in verse 23, “by faith”, Moses, parents. Now, look at verse 24, “By faith”, it says, “Moses, when he had grown old, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Isn’t that amazing? Jochebed, again, had taken off the robe of faith and she had given the robe of faith to Moses and Moses wore it his entire life to become a difference maker. You’re talking about a struggle in Jochebed’s life, when Moses was five years of age, she had to make the long journey from her little shack all the way up to the palace and she had to give Moses to Pharaoh’s daughter. You’re talking about something that was tough! What do you think her last instructions were to Moses? “Moses, be sure to make your bed up. Moses, be sure to say ‘thank you’. Be sure to clean your plate.” The last time she dressed him, the last word she said to him as she watched him walk hand in hand with Pharaoh’s daughter down that long path behind the unknown gates of a beautiful, beautiful palace. She had marked him, though, because when Moses left, yes, he had on physical clothes, but he also had that robe of faith because spiritually, she had given the robe of faith to Moses in the first five years. She marked him.
Recently, I was involved in some face painting. I had an art background and I had a bunch of children in this class, about 20 kids and they wanted me to paint their faces. Now, I’m really into the art deal and so I got these markers out and we’re painting all these things on their faces and I painted the faces of white kids, black kids, Hispanic, Asian, you name it, a cross section of backgrounds, I was painting their faces. Every time I painted one child’s face, I thought, “I wonder if their mom and dad have really marked them with faith? I wonder if they’ve really taken the time to give them the greatest gift, the greatest mark possible, which is marking them with faith, taking that robe off and giving it to their children? Because the greatest thing I will ever do is not preach a sermon, it’s not to grow a church, or for my wife, it’s not going to be a pastor’s wife, to be involved in ministry here like she does, it is that we will have godly children, children of faith, and that’s the greatest thing you can do. I don’t care if you make $10 million a week. If you have not marked your children with faith, if you are not modeling faith, you’re missing the boat and one day you may be sitting up in your palatial mansion overlooking the Mediterranean and you’ll think, “I blew it. I spent so much time worrying about this private school and worrying about the aerobics classes and going here to this party and event” that you missed, moms, that opportunity to build that true, lasting stuff in their lives.
Moses made the decision at a pivotal time in his life to refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. That’s a big statement. Moses was next in line to become the Pharaoh of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the land, and when I say “the land”, I mean the entire world. Millions and millions and millions of dollars. The world put on a great disguise for Moses. However, Moses had his eye on a much greater king than Pharaoh. He had his eyes on the King of kings and he was not going to trade heavenly things for earthly things and I think one of the joyous times in Jochebed’s life when she was older, as she noticed Moses making a decision of faith like that, I’m sure in her spirit she said, “It pays. It pays to be a great mom.”
We want our children, when they are away from us, when they are grown, to make those critical decisions, don’t we? And that’s what Moses did. Moses attended the University of Egypt. He studied Mathematics, Hieroglyphics, Astronomy. He studied Chemistry. All his peers said, “Moses, you’re the man! You’ve got the throne. Just hang out here for a while. Don’t worry about it. Once you get the throne, then you can help everyone for God and do all that thing. But right now, just hang where you are. You’re it, Moses.” And I’m sure Pharaoh kind of tightened the screws, “Now Moses, you’re thinking about leaving, about turning your back on this? What’s gotten into you, boy? I’m the one who brought you here. You would be dead if it weren’t for me. Look what I’ve given you – all my credit cards, my Ferrari chariot, and you’re sitting there and going to turn your back on all that? Come on!” Moses, though, had a faith.
I want just to briefly compare the Hebrew mom, Jochebed, to the Egyptian mom. The Egyptian mom gave Moses affluence; his Hebrew mom gave him influence. His Egyptian mom gave him resources; the Hebrew mom gave him a relationship. The Egyptian mom gave him something that was fleeting; the Hebrew mom gave him something that lasted forever. A difference. She built things of eternity into his life and the Egyptian mom said, “Okay, the servant will take care of that. I’ll just go ahead and pay for that.” However, God used both to form him into one of the greatest leaders of all time.
Mothers, are you serious about marking your children? Are you serious about marking your children? I pray that spiritually, when God looks at your family, He’ll go, “Oh, there’s a boy, there’s a girl, they are marked with a woman who is a difference maker.”
Some theologians were arguing over what translation of the Bible was the best. These were young men. One said, “I think the King James Version is the best.” The other one said, “I think the American Standard is the best.” One chimed in, “Well, it’s the Jerusalem Bible that’s the best.” Finally, they realized their old colleague, Dr. Jones, hadn’t said a word. They all turned to him and said, “Dr. Jones, what do you think is the best translation?” The room was silent. In a very low voice he said, “The Scriptures that my mom used, because my mom translated them into life.” Mothers, that’s our calling. That’s our agenda. That’s our purpose. That’s our goal…to translate the Word of God into life. Every exchange, mark them. Every exchange, model for them. I talked to a gentleman a couple of weeks ago who is a difference maker. He told me his mom had died when he was very young. He looked at me, though, across the table and said, “Ed, she modeled it and she marked it and that’s why I am a man of faith today.” It’s got to be passed on from generation to generation.
The third absolute…Jochebed had a maturing faith. She had a maturing faith. How do we know her faith matured? Look at the life of Moses. In fact, I want to read to you Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and these were words that Moses penned later in life. He penned these words after Jochebed had modeled, marked and matured in her faith and helped Moses do the same. Deuteronomy 6:5, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your might and these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your hearts and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” …a lifestyle. A lifestyle of faith. I grew up in a Christian home. My father is a pastor. My mom, of course, is the pastor’s wife. People always ask me, “Did your parents force you to be in the ministry? I bet you didn’t have a choice, did you?” Just the opposite. My parents never forced me to read the Bible. They never forced me to pray. They always brought me to church. There were a couple times I really didn’t want to go and they said in a very nice way, “We’re going to church.” But they never took this Bible and said, “Here you go,” kind of like Marlon Perkins force-feeding an anaconda. They never did that. My mom, though, and the reason she is such a great woman of God, she lived a life of faith. I mean, she wore a garment of faith and naturally, as children, we are usually around our mothers a little bit more than our fathers. That’s just the way it is. They have that nurturing instinct. Don’t they? And women are so gifted, multi-faceted. To be a good mom, you’ve got to be a chauffeur, an economist, a CEO, a psychologist, a sports analyst, but you’ve got to be a woman of faith. She matured, Jochebed.
How do we mature as women, as mothers? I want to suggest a couple of things to you. First, you’ve got to spend the time in God’s Word. Second, you’ve got to get involved with other mothers, I’m talking about peers, I’m talking about mothers who have children around your age and the only place to really meet them is in a local body of Christ. If it’s this church, great. If it’s some other church, excellent; but do that. We have so many ministries here just for women. We have our Women’s Day coming up next weekend for single and married women. We have Women’s Ministry. We have Heart to Heart. We have programs where you can really connect with an older mom. That’s what I’m talking about. And I’m sure Jochebed, as she was rearing Moses, and I’m reading between the lines a little bit, talked to her friends, to other mothers, and that’s the way you mature and develop, because moms, you give out so much to your children, you’ve got to have time where you take in. Are you maturing in your faith? Are you giving a maturing, developing faith?
One final question and a challenge, mothers. Listen to me now. Mothers, are you doing the three Ms? Modeling, marking, maturing? Because if you are, something great is going to happen. Who knows? You could have a Moses on your lap. I’ll say it one more time. Are you doing the three-M thing? Modeling, marking, maturing? Because who knows, you could have, that’s right, a Moses on your lap – a male or female who could rock the world because they had a difference-maker mom.