Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Sermon

2 Timothy 1:1-5 – “Faith of our Mothers”

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt FIRST in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Second Timothy was the last letter Paul ever wrote. He had already written 9 letters to specific churches - 3 notes to friends – and NOW – from death row, he picks up his quill one last time to convey a parting challenge to a young man who answered the call to preach under his ministry – words that would prod his conscience long after his mentor’s martyrdom. Just weeks before his ministry would be cut short by the executioner’s axe, Paul writes Timothy.

These are not, however, words of fear or dread we might expect from one so near the end. Far from it - Paul is never more hopeful than he is here. His mind raced through years of memories, like flipping through pages of a photo album. I’m sure he lingered over the lives that had been touched, the churches founded, and the many men who had answered the call of God under him. It is not pride that brought these thoughts – but humble gratitude for the opportunities God had given him to shape lives. The reality that HIS LIFE, his work MATTERED

A bit Introspective? Who WOULDN’T be? ‘Had he been effective?’ ‘If he could go back, would he do things differently?’ – These are the musings of a preacher at the end of his ministry.

Alone with his thoughts, his mind settled on Timothy. He knew this young man would be devastated to learn of his death. Paul recalled their last meeting - how Timothy had wept over the knowledge that his friend and mentor was being transferred to a Roman prison where he would make his final appeal before Caesar.

All these years, Paul had been such a “presence” in Timothy’s life – a Father he could turn to for counsel in confusing times. With Paul gone, Timothy would be forced into the role of mentor… THIS LETTER (Paul hoped) would stiffen his resolve.

Timothy was special. In fact, over in Philippians chapter 2, Paul confessed with remarkable frankness, “I have no man likeminded…” no one who shares my passion for the work “…like Timothy.”

What was it that made Timothy so special to Paul??? Recalling his many sterling qualities, Paul singles out ONE in particular in verse 5 – his “sincere faith.” “Sincere” – without hypocrisy – a pure faith that had been poured with deliberateness into the heart of this young man by his mother and grandmother. To put it simply - Timothy was the man he WAS – because of these two godly women!

What a tremendous reminder of the impact of godly women on the lives of young people!

Let me ask you, are you making that kind of impact on YOUR children and grandchildren? When they think of YOU, are they challenged to live for the Lord? Does your memory bring them under the conviction of the Holy Spirit to be something MORE - something BETTER?

Every woman here - SHOULD aspire to this. And you CAN have this kind of impact – IF you will model your life after these 2 women. If you want to be the kind of woman whose example challenges the generation to come, you must do 3 important things with your faith:

1. First, you must OWN it. … EVERYDAY - long to know Jesus better - fill your spiritual cup - bask in HIS greatness and glory. Before it will EVER be real to THEM it must be real to you. As any child-psychologist would tell you - far more is CAUGHT by your children - than TAUGHT to your children.

If you were to study the verses that refer to Timothy’s upbringing, you would find that his Grandmother and Mother enjoyed a faith based solidly on the scriptures. According to what Paul says in chapter 3 of this book, his mother and grandmother knew the Word of God – they hid it in their hearts. It was their LOVE of the scriptures that had brought them to saving faith in the Lord Jesus.

That’s what the Bible does – for “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” David said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” The Word of God has a cleansing effect, as Paul noted in Ephesians chapter 5, when he told the church that “GOD sanctifies and cleanses the church by the washing of water by the word, 27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

The Bible doesn’t just save you - it transforms you… the priorities of your life… the strength you need for every challenge… the wisdom you long for in the hard decisions… ALL you need for this important task of parenting - is found in God’s Word.

Are you building your life on God’s Word? Are you hiding it in your heart? Do you turn to it daily for wisdom and encouragement. Do you allow it to shape your parenting?

OWN your faith. Take responsibility for feeding yourself spiritually. Cultivate a prayer time that is rich and real. Look for opportunities to worship and grow. Surround yourself with OTHER spiritual women who will encourage you in the things of God. Be in church every time the doors are open even when you feel there are so many OTHER things vying for your time.

Your faith won’t mean anything to your children, until it means something to you. Own it!

WHAT are YOU doing on a daily basis that proves God is your TOP priority? Does your family see YOU reading the Bible - do they hear you praying? Are they learning by your example to serve God OR to make excuses? If we want to see our children living for the Lord, if we want to see them resisting the pull of society and the pressure of peers, you must OWN your faith.

2. Secondly, You must SHARE it. Not only must you OWN it, you must SHARE it. Not only did Timothy’s mother and Grandmother learn the Bible themselves, they discussed spiritual things in Timothy’s presence - teaching him the ancient stories of God and His people. Repeating the principles from God’s Word that would lodge in that young boy’s heart and produce fruit later.

According to Acts chapter 16, Timothy’s mother and grandmother were brought to a saving knowledge of Christ through the preaching ministry of Paul. They already knew the OT scriptures – and that knowledge made their hearts ready for the preaching of Jesus. And the word of God had made Timothy’s heart ready for the Gospel as well – for Paul explains in chapter 3, “and that from a child you have known the holy scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ.”

More important than the ABC’s; more impactful than any principle found in Dr. Seuss or nursery rhymes, the word of God will transform a young life and make it sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit of God.

Don’t think you can leave this vital ministry to someone else. Don’t make the mistake of hoping they will find it on their own. Don’t assume Sunday School a sufficient surrogate for the calling of God upon Mothers. If moms want their children to grow up to love and serve the Lord, they need to know the two ways their faith is communicated:

First, your faith is communicated through Personal Education. YOU must take responsibility for teaching your children the ways of the Lord. It’s good to have your kids in church. I am so thankful for the role of Sunday School and Children’s Church and Youth Camp and that my kids were involved in all the activities of the youth group. PRAISE GOD for those things - But that must NEVER be a substitute for MY teaching. Supplement? Yes. Substitute? No! Again, according to chapter 3 and verse 14, from his earliest days, Timothy was taught the Bible at home.

This obligation is clearly communicated by God in Deuteronomy chapter 6. There, the Lord told His people, “thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

Far too many parents take a “hands off” approach to their children’s faith. We are afraid of it seeming like we are making their choices for them - I get it. BUT IT IS A MISTAKE to leave the faith of your children to chance. You cannot simply hope they will eventually catch on, or assume they will somehow find the truth on their own. Raising Godly children isn’t accomplished by accident. We must be intentional, deliberate if we would pass our faith on to our kids.

The Lord went on to say in Deuteronomy 6, “And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Why? So, whether their children were going or coming, they would be reminded that “their family lives by a DIFFERENT standard.” Personal education.

And second, our faith is communicated through Practical Demonstration. You can tell your children about God and the ways of God all day long – but if you aren’t living the life YOURSELF, if it isn’t changing YOU, you can forget about it changing them. Your example is much more powerful than words.

Timothy saw something extraordinary in his mother and grandmother. Their faith enveloped everything they were and all that they did. Their example made him the man he was.

Ask yourself, ladies, are you sending mixed signals? Do they see you serving, believing, praying, giving, forgiving… You must OWN your faith... you must SHARE your faith - and finally...

3. You must LIVE it. Paul says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”

Paul knew this family well. He had seen the lives of these two women up close and personal. He was impressed by their love for Jesus. He commends these two women for two reasons:

First, for the lasting influence of their faith – not only in Timothy’s life, who, by the way, grew up to become a great man of God – but for 2,000 years, their names have been listed on the sacred page as an example of godly parenting!

Has it ever occurred to you that the most priceless treasure a man or woman can leave his family - is faith? The world tells us MONEY is EVERYTHING. But the WORD tells us - only FAITH pleases God. Money might make you friends… but only FAITH will make you a HERO. Remember all those folks listed in Hebrews 11, the spiritual hall of fame… they are listed - because of their faith.

It is perfectly natural for us to want to leave our children and grandchildren a FINANCIAL inheritance. But, the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can leave them is faith! Money might buy a lot of things, but it can’t buy heaven! Only faith makes us acceptable to God. Only faith provides us a home in heaven. Money disappears - faith lasts forever.

But not only does Paul commend the Lasting Influence of their faith, but also the Living Relevance of their faith. Times may change, fashions come and go – but godly mothers are never out of date! Amen?

The other day in Baltimore, the news showed young people throwing bricks at police officers, when all the sudden one mamma, flashed like a blur, snatched up her son, beat him in the head, and cussed him all the way home! People all over the country called this woman “Mother of the year!” But I disagree. Only women who teach their kids in the ways of God, deserve THAT title.

Moms, like no one else, can shape the next generation for God. I know it helps to have BOTH parents working on it. It helps when your husband is preaching the same message, praying the same prayers. But we need Godly Mothers who will say, “with God’s help, I will raise my children to love and serve Jesus. No more excuses – I won’t wait on someone else to do it - I won’t wait for my circumstances to be ideal. If my children will be different than their peers – I have to do it.”

They ARE following you... the question IS, Where are you going?

It was a busy day in her home… but then again, with 10 children and another on the way, EVERYDAY was hectic. But on THIS particular day, Mrs. Dalton was having trouble doing even routine chores – all because of ONE little boy; Len… he was three and he kept following his mother everywhere she went. Whenever she stopped and turned, she would trip over him. Several times she tried to get him doing other things that would be more fun, but he refused. He would say, “Oh, that’s all right mommy, I’d rather be here with you.”

After stepping on his toes for the 5th time, she lost her patience and insisted that he go outside and play with his brothers and sisters. When he refused, she asked why. He looked up at her with sweet green eyes and said, “Mommy, in Sunday School my teacher told me to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Since I can’t see Him… I am walking in yours.”

They are walking in YOURS too, mom. Where are you leading them?

Maybe you want help with that this morning. Maybe you are beginning to see the need in your life to lead your children in the things of God. I know it’s hard. And I know you are going to need help. Won’t you come to this altar and ask the Lord to help you?