Monday, May 01, 2006

"Faith Mothers" part one

My Mother passed away in January 2004. When May came around, I knew I would have a difficult time with “Mother’s Day.” So, I asked our pastor if I could do the sermon on Mother’s Day. I knew that if I was focused on the service, I could deal with it better - and I did…

The following is that sermon. As I usually do with writings this long, I will break it up into a couple of posts.

For at least part of May, I will be writing for and about "Mothers".

Faith Mothers

Turn in your Bible to Paul’s second letter to Timothy - 2 Timothy 1: 1-5. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy from a Roman prison and most scholars believe that this was the last letter Paul would write before he was executed.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy.

For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.

We first meet Timothy in Acts, chapter 16, verses 1 and 2 as Paul is beginning his second missionary journey.

Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek,
and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium.

We” meet Timothy here, but Paul probably met him 3-4 years earlier on his first missionary journey through Lystra, and now he is so delighted to see Timothy’s spiritual growth. Also, (as Luke says) “He was well spoken of by the brethren...” This is much like Christ’s growth as the Scriptures tell us that “He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”

Timothy, you might say, was a “good boy,” we find out why in 2 Timothy. He had good “raisin’s.” We don’t know a lot about Timothy’s parents, except that his mother was Jewish, and his father was Greek. Many believe that his father was either dead, or had left his mother, which is why they were living with his grandmother. And as little as we know about his parents, we know even less about his grandmother except that she had a “sincere faith.” She taught her daughter well, and she taught her grandson well. And that’s all we know about her.

There are many instances in the Bible where we see the results of faithful teaching without knowing much about who was actually doing the teaching, or who might have been doing the teaching in the background.

For instance, when Nehemiah kneeled before King Artaxerxes and requested permission to return to Jerusalem, we only read about Artaxerxes granting it with very little questioning. And not only that, but Artaxerxes sends him with enough provisions to rebuild the city walls. Why did he do that? God’s prompting? Yes, but most likely God worked through someone. You see, King Artaxerxes’ step-mother was Queen Esther. Remember the story of Esther, and this passage from the book of Esther? “Who knows but that you are in this place for such a time as this?” I believe she was there for more than one reason. She was there to teach the young king.

The Bible admonishes us to teach the scriptures to our children and grandchildren. But of course, not everyone does.

Paul says later in his letter that Timothy was taught the scriptures from childhood.

Timothy was fortunate; he had a good grounding in the faith. And I am fortunate; I have had a good grounding in the faith as well. You see, the greatest single influence on my walk with God was my Mother. It’s funny - that never occurred to me until she died. I never realized how much of what, and how I believe, was taught to me as a child.

I don’t know how my Mother came to be saved. She just always was. I don’t remember my grandparents going to Church, but I never remember Mother missing.
She was a devoutly Christian woman. She wasn’t perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but her attitude toward God was nearly so.

I’m an “idea” person, but she would never let me call my ideas “brainstorms”. I had to call them “inspirations.” She truly believed that every good thing came from God. And I can never, ever remember being told “That’ll never work. You can’t do that. It won’t work.” She and Daddy believed in me and supported me.
She held nearly every position within the Church at some point. I grew up having Bible readings every night before bed and prayer before every meal, no matter where we were, no matter who was present.

And she had this one phrase - you know how a lot of us are when we pray - how we gravitate toward saying the same things, using the same phrases? Well, Mother had this one phrase, if you ever heard her pray I’m sure you heard her say it. I reckon she used it in every prayer I ever heard her pray. And I would hear it coming, I knew when she was getting ready to say it, and God forgive me, I would roll my eyes. Here we go again…

She always thanked God for “the means of Grace and the Hope of Glory.” Now, that word “hope” doesn’t mean “oh, I hope so, I wish, I wish, I wish…” It means “hope” as in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” A “hope” - a certainty. “The means of grace and the certainty of Glory.”
And now that “hope” - that “certainty” has been fulfilled.


Tomorrow - the challenge!


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