Like a Mother with Her Child – Group Study Questions

Intro: Share your most dominant memory of your mother…

Read Psalm 103 and Isaiah 66:10-13

Ask a few parents to share their experiences of how their feelings toward their children deepened their understanding of God. Choose a few from the following list:

  • the faithfulness of God,
  • his unconditional love,
  • God’s protection (Ps 17:8);
  • God’s patience (Hosea 11:3);
  • God’s desire to protect from harm (Matt 23:37);
  • God’s comfort and compassion (Is 66:13);
  • his desire for his children to thrive (John 10:10)

Discuss the extent and limitations of projecting our experiences onto God (the theological term is ‘anthropomorphism’ – how we speak of God in human terms so we can understand him better). Is there ever a time when this is inappropriate?

How does the reality of Jesus as true man and true God impact on this question (above)? Read Hebrews 2:10-18 for some additional information.

Close: share some prayers of praise for God’s human-like attributes, and for how these have come to expression in Jesus.

Like a mother and her child – Mothers Day 2015

Mothers Day Interview at Gateway Community Church

Mothers Day Interview at Gateway Community Church

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so we left the DEEP series and focussed ministry and teaching around the mother’s day theme.

A few week’s ago I thought it would be good to focus on the idea that a mother’s love for her children opens our eyes to God’s love for his children. In fact, what we learn about God’s love in parenthood is so unique and profound it probably cannot be learned in any other way.

So, a mother’s love teaches us much about God’s love. There were three elements to how we explored this on Sunday

First up, we viewed a brief clip from The Skit Guys which established the basic premise. This clip was an absolute gift, and considering it was not available when I first started planning, it was just brilliant that it suited the theme so well.

Moms – Portraits of God

Next, I interviewed three mothers, stating with the idea that their own feelings of love for their children, their desire to comfort and protect them, reflected God’s own love. Willy Pike is a grandmother and Head of Primary at Rehoboth Christian College, Kenwick. Kylie VanderZee is mother to Aidan, who is just a little over one year old. Stephanie Hondema is a young mum of Nora (2) and Boaz (1). The video of the interview can be dowloaded here.

Finally, I drew the thoughts together and concluded with a short sermon, the edited text reproduced below.

Like a mother with her children…

Psalm 103:13, Isaiah 66:13

As we think about our mothers, some of us will be thinking of childhood memories. Experiences. Adventures. Celebrations. Holidays. But some memories stand above them all, and they are when we remember our mother’s character. Her love, her commitment, that she was always there, words she spoke into our lives, time she held us in times of sadness. When it comes to memories, character wins every time.

So, what is a Godly mother’s character? One that reflects God’s loving nature.

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;” (Psalm 103:13, NIV)

The word for compassion speaks of a deep inner love from a superior to an inferior. In Isaiah 66 God speaks of himself as a mother:

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”” (Isaiah 66:13, NIV)

The word ‘comfort’ coveys a sense of consolation. It pictures a mother holding her child close, rocking back and forth, breathing deeply, and whispering sweet, soft comfort into the ear of her child. Which mother hasn’t done this when a little one falls, or when a favourite toy breaks, or a pet dies.

Can you see what’s happening? The writers imagine moving scenes of warmth and closeness, a profound relational connection where comfort and compassion is more embodied than spoken. And they are saying, these feelings we have for our children are just like feelings God has for us. God’s feelings of compassion. God’s desire to comfort his children. And God has valued the thoughts of the writers, those word pictures, so much that thousands of years ago he recorded them in his word. He did so in order that mothers today might read and be encouraged to believe that when they love their children, when they forgive, when they comfort, when they support their children in times of trouble, they are actually like God. Such feelings can teach us things about God’s love which we never would have learned by other means.

Now, the terrific thing is, God does not just reveal these things and say “Mums, lift yer game.” He actually enables and empowers mothers to develop a godly mother’s character. As Paul writes to the Colossians Christians he says

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6–7, NIV)

A mother’s capacity to reflect godly compassion and love comes because she is in relationship with Christ Jesus. It’s not just a matter of imitation, of copying an attitude. Christ transforms us, and through his Spirit refashions our values, our attitudes, so that Christ’s life flows into ours and through ours.

Paul goes on to say those who are in Christ have a change of mindset:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1–3, NIV)

Through Jesus Christ a mother is enabled to live and love in a new way:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NIV)

Mums: here’s the thing: If you want to overflow with a godly mother’s character, if you want to embody God’s compassion, if you want to comfort your family as God has comforted us, you need to be in relationship with Jesus.

See, not only does a mother’s love and compassion say much about God’s love and compassion, it’s also true that through her own godly motherhood, she will reveal something of God’s grace, his wonderful love, his free forgiveness, and his glorious faithfulness to her children.

Could there be a higher calling? Than being a mother who reveals God? His protection, comfort and compassion. The reality is there’s nothing ordinary about being a mum. Mothers have a glorious calling. Because of Jesus, any mother can pray and ask him to pour his love more and more into their lives. They can ask his spirit to continue the work of change and transformation, so that with each day, they are drawn more into Jesus, reflecting his grace, love and compassion.

Mothers: you are not alone. You’re not without power. The Jesus who is with you through his Holy Spirit always promises to reveal his love, comfort and compassion to the world through you and through your love.

DEEP – Thirsty – Group Study Questions

Read Psalm 42


  • Think of a time when you were really thirsty: what was it like? How did it affect you?


  • How would you define spiritual dryness? What would be the symptoms of spiritual thirst in a person’s life?
    • Do you think it’s possible for a Christian to feel spiritual thirst? How common might this be?
  • What kind of life circumstances might contribute to spiritual thirst?
  • Do you think God sometimes allows us to feel spiritual thirst – what purpose might this serve?
  • What did the Psalmist do to resolve his spiritual thirst?

Read John 4:1-26

  • Jesus talks about living water in John 4:13-14 – what do you find appealing about the metaphor Jesus uses?
  • What do you think it means to drink Jesus’ living water (v.14)?
  • Share some stories about people whom you thought seemed to be ‘overflowing with living water’ – how was this seen in their life?


  • Spend some time praying for one another’s areas of thirst, asking that Jesus would pour his living water into our lives

DEEP – Thirsty

Deep promo sm banner

Read: Psalm 42:1-5

Last weekend I spent four days on a fishing charter. So that I would not succumb to sea sickness, I decided to take some motion sickness medication. These things are great, but one of the side effects is that you get an incredibly dry mouth. I found this out when one morning I took a piece of cake for morning tea and I found that I couldn’t taste it and it was very difficult to swallow. That’s what happens when your mouth is dry.

What about when you’re dry on the inside? What happens then? Are you even aware of it when your soul is thirsty?

As the deer pants

Israel, where Psalm 42 is written, is an arid environment. Most of the year there is very little rain, and most streams are nothing but gullies. Stories around water are prominent throughout Israel’s history. One of their formative experiences was 40 years in a wilderness. At one stage people were so dry that Moses prayed to the Lord, and he provided water out of a rock – an event celebrated every year during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Generations earlier, Patriarch Jacob dug a well which is still present today, in the West Bank city of Nablus. Generations later, Jesus’ own teaching reminded his people of how blessed it is to give even a cup of water to the thirsty.

Psalm 42 speaks about thirst. But it’s not physical thirst which is in view. It’s a deeper thirst. A dryness of soul. A withering thirst of one’s entire being.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1–2, NIV)

This man is thirsting for God. How come?

In the OT times, the only place people could meet with God was in the temple in Jerusalem. The problem was that the psalmist was nowhere near Jerusalem. Something has happened, and he’s acutely aware that he’s a long way from God’s presence.

How do you know when you’re dry on the inside?

Apparently, when you’re dying of thirst: you lose your taste, your tongue swells, you become disoriented, you have a terrible headache, you lose strength.

What about spiritual thirst? Sometimes, it seems, we end up in a wilderness of soul. Spiritually dehydrated. God seems remote, far away; there’s no taste for God, no sense of his presence, faith seems weak; no desire to read; no heart for prayer; the things of God seem abstract and foreign; your soul feels dry and withered. Faith, love for Jesus, desire to praise, love for the church just seem to have evaporated in the dry heat of life’s harsh realities.

The interesting thing about spiritual thirst is that it tends to come when conditions are adverse. Trouble, trial, pressure, stress, tension. Spiritual dryness can creep in. Dryness of soul can invade slowly and imperceptibly – and all of a sudden you realise “I am so thirsty inside…” How does this happen?

Part of the problem is our lives are so busy. Diaries are chock full, work demands are high, spouse is doing this, kids are doing that, we’re bombarded by stimuli like email, the internet, iPhone, the iPad, who knows what else. And you know, we don’t sense the dryness of our soul. We are so busy with life’s demands that we scarcely notice how thirsty we are. In relation to the baptism vows we make about our children, we must think carefully about the lifestyle we lead, the sheer busyness we accept, and ask if that is the best way to lead our children to spiritual health.

Me? Thirsty?

So, when was the last time you took stock of your heart? Listened to your soul? Are you thirsty? Thirsty inside? Has your taste for God waned? Jaded with worship? Your spiritual life dull, grey, and you’re wondering where the sweetness of grace has gone?

“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” (Psalm 42:2–4, NIV)

Sometimes these feelings come because we’re living in disobedience to God. Thirst, then, would be hardly surprising. But sometimes we just kind of end up in the wilderness.

Earlier this week I was thinking: maybe we’re all feeling that a bit? After planting Hope Community Church, maybe we’re feeling a bit depleted? A few people move on, home groups change, worship changes, church changes, and we feel a bit down about that.

Isn’t that a kind of thirst? For the way it used to be? Maybe so.

Interestingly, I read this week that the early church fathers, and even John Calvin himself, spoke of a ‘spiritual desertion’. It’s bit of a surprising term. Not that God deserts us, for he doesn’t ever forsake his people. But sometimes he allows us not to feel his presence – like the jaded Footprints writer – who wondered where God was in his toughest and hardest times. Sometimes God allows us to get thirsty. Perhaps at those times he’s changing things to alert us to something: that we haven’t quite been trusting him as we should. Might that be part of our thirst? Worth considering, isn’t it?

Maybe God is allowing us to feel that emptiness, to sense that thirst, so we realise we can’t put our hope in people, or things, or experience, and that we can only trust him. Only when we are with God, when we trust God alone, the living God, will our thirst be quenched with his living water.

Living water

So, how do we do that? The Psalmist knew if he pulled more away from God his deep thirst would only get worse. Even if he didn’t know how God would help him, even if he didn’t know all the answers, or he couldn’t resolve his problems, he knew it was good to be near God:

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, NIV)

Centuries later, at Jacobs Well, a woman came along, and she was thirsty. Sure, she was thirsty for water, but she was more thirsty for God – though like most, she didn’t know it. She wanted water from the well. Jesus said what she really needed was living water, water that was like life itself. Life. which like water, would become part of her and enliven her entire being. Jesus said he would give this life, so freely, so abundantly, that not only would her inner thirst be slaked, but his grace and life and love would overflow from her into others, powerfully, satisfyingly, eternally.

You: Thirsty? Dried out?

Jesus is calling you to drink deep from his life. You don’t have to go to some Temple, like the psalmist, or to Jacobs Well, like the woman from Samaria. Jesus, the Son of God has come to us, and he has come full of grace and truth! His death on the cross and his rising again is the cure for your inner thirst. Through his death, Jesus forgives all your wrongs. Jesus cleanses all your sins. Jesus has borne all your guilt and punishment. His death and rising has conquered your inner darkness so comprehensively, so powerfully that his living water will flow into you, and you will never be the same.

“… “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”” (John 7:37–38, NIV)

Jesus is your water of life. Don’t push back. Don’t walk away. You have to drink. Step up, and drink deep.

Here’s a few things to do to drink deep his water of life:

  • Acknowledge your thirst: Lord, I am so thirsty: I don’t know how I got here, but I am so dry, and I am asking you to pour your water of life into me. Jesus, I trust you. I know you can do this. I know my failing and acknowledge my sin and my need. I don’t deserve your grace: but I know your water of life is what I need. Please, Jesus, quench the thirst of my soul!
  • Drink! That is, accept and believe in Jesus! If you’ve already done this, or you’re already there, just do it again, say it again! I believe you, Jesus! My water! My life! Pour your water into me, break my spiritual drought, moisten my withered heart with your loving grace
  • Trust! Follow the Psalmist’s example! Despite all his thirst, despite his agony and the taunting of his foes (Ps 42:10), he still said, “I will yet trust you! I put my hope in you, my Saviour and my God!” So you can say: Don’t let me trust in your things or your people – no matter how good! Lord, I need you! You, in me; you, one with me; you, like water in my soul’s belly. I trust your life, your grace, your forgiveness through Jesus, your faithfulness
  • Finally (and related to the above): Reconnect. Don’t wait to feel great to start praying. Don’t wait to feel healthy to get into worship with God’s people. Don’t wait to feel better to read your bible. Think about it: how will God speak to you and pour his life into you if you’re not listening? If you’re dehydrated, you don’t wait till you’re no longer thirsty to drink, right? You start drinking before you feel better. So, if you’re spiritually dry, turn around, repent, reconnect with God! Don’t wait until you feel spiritually healthy: do it now!

There’s a wonderful section in the letter to the Hebrews. We don’t really know who wrote this book, but we can see easily enough that the people addressed in the book were going soft on their faith in Jesus. They were in danger of given up. They were thirsty. Look at the advice they receive:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:19–25, NIV)

The confidence to reconnect is grounded squarely in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He has opened the way. He is our great priest. He has cleansed us and purified us. On that basis, because of him, we can hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful.

Are you thirsty? Then acknowledge, drink, trust, and reconnect.

  • Just open his word and ask him to speak you, to quench your thirst, to pour his Spirit water into you, to refresh you.
  • Go deeper into prayer, into worship, into community – your Home Group.
  • Let others pray for you. Let them be a channel of God’s grace, let them share God’s love.

God wants you deep in his living water. Come to Jesus, drink deep, and have him pour his living water into your life.