MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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A. Yes, today is a very special day! I know that for many, Mother's Day is difficult. For some it's because children weren't possible. For others, Mother is no longer physically present for you to honor, & for some, Mother wasn't the perfect picture of Christ's love in your home.
But on our journey through life nothing can compare with the impact made by our mothers. Their words, for good or for bad, are never fully forgotten, & the memory of their presence lasts a lifetime.
ILL. Abraham Lincoln said, "No one is poor who had a godly mother." And I believe he was right. The influence of a godly mother on her children cannot be overstated.
B. There are some notable examples of motherhood in scripture. But this morning I want to mention two special passages that we ought to consider. One is found in Proverbs, chapter 31. Listen to a few selected verses.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies… She selects wool & flax & works with eager hands… She considers a field & buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard… (Proverbs 31:10,13,16)
“She sees that her trading is profitable, & her lamp does not go out at night… She makes linen garments & sells them, & supplies the merchants with sashes… (Proverbs 31:18,24)
“Her children arise & call her blessed; her husband also, & he praises her; ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’” (Proverbs 31:28-29)
And the 2nd passage was written by the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois & in your mother Eunice &, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)
Whether you’re a “stay-at-home” mom like Timothy’s mother, or one who works like the mother praised in Proverbs 31, the emphasis of my message this morning has to do with a mother’s influence upon her children & her family.
And I urge those of you who have no children or whose children are far away, look around & take note of those who may be in need of a "parent figure," or a "second mom or dad." You may be just the mentor or friend that someone else desperately needs.
C. Mothers, & fathers too, I encourage you today to recommit yourselves to the task God has entrusted to you - the task of building a home according to the blueprint of Proverbs 24:3-4.
Listen to what it says, "By wisdom a house is built, & by understanding it is established; & by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious & pleasant riches."
Wisdom, understanding, & knowledge, passed on to your children so that they might build their lives on a foundation that is sufficient for all their needs.
ILL. There were once 4 scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he thought that the King James Version was the best because of its beautiful & eloquent style of speech.
Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its accurate translation of the original text. A third preferred the New International Version because of its modern language & ease of understanding.
After thinking about it for a moment, the 4th scholar said, "I have always preferred my mother's translation." When the others expressed surprise, saying that they didn’t know that she was a translator, he responded, "Yes, she trans-lated it. She translated it into life, & that's the best translation I’ve ever seen."
D. We have already mentioned one young man who saw such a translation of God's Word in his lifetime. His name was Timothy. He lived in the 1st Century, & it is to him that Paul's New Testament letters of 1 & 2 Timothy were addressed.
Paul was Timothy's older friend & mentor. As Paul sat in a Roman dungeon, facing impending death, he wrote to Timothy to encourage him in his ministry.
But 1 & 2 Timothy are also letters filled with nostalgia. Paul draws upon his memories & recalls the examples of faith & commitment he has observed in the life of Timothy.
Particularly in 2 Timothy 1:2-7, Paul reminisces about the way Timothy's faithfulness is largely a reflection of the examples & instruction which he had received from his mother & grandmother. And, in the process, Paul pinpoints 4 contributions that they made to his life; contributions we'll consider this morning.
Listen as I read. “To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy & peace from God the Father & Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night & day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
"Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois & in your mother Eunice &, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love & of self-discipline.”
PROP. This entire passage deals with the contributions Timothy's mother & grandmother had made to him as he was growing up.
I. A LIVING FAITH
The 1st contribution they made, & I think the most important one, is "A Living Faith." In Vs. 5 Paul refers to the "…sincere faith, which first lived in your grand-mother Lois & in your mother Eunice &, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
The word "sincere" here is a word that means "without hypocrisy, genuine." In essence, it's a faith that is real, that has been applied realistically & consistently to the issues & situations of life.
Where Lois & Eunice came from originally we have no idea, but we do know that they eventually settled in the Roman town of Lystra. They had been born Jewish, but they came to know about Jesus, & they DID take their faith in Christ very seriously, seriously enough to make sure that Eunice's young son knew all about it.
What did Timothy hear & see in his home? Assuming that he was a normal kid, everything! That is the way it works. Despite all the aggravation that our children give us by apparently not listening to what we tell them, they still hear & see, & it does make an impression - for good or for ill.
Those of us who have, or have had, young children are amazed at the things youngsters pick up. They see commercials on the cartoon channels & then, when it’s time to go to the grocery store, they’re already prepared with a mental list of all the brand names that have attracted them.
They repeat words or phrases that they hear around the house, sometimes to mommy's & daddy's embarrassment. They remember things that parents quickly forget. They might be naive & easily led, but kids will not be fooled for long.
And just as they’re not fooled by anything else, they’ll not be fooled about religion either. So if you really want to share the Gospel with your children, or with anyone else, you had better take your own faith seriously. Paying lip-service to Christ & the church will never give the proper message.
By your own attendance at Sunday School & Worship, by your own participation in the life & mission of the church, by the effort you put forth in the deepening of your own relationship with the Lord, you will determine what lessons about the Lord & the church your children will learn first.
One thing is certain, parents can never fool their children with a message of "Do as I say, not as I do." Kids are too smart for that. If you tell them that Sunday School & attendance at worship is important but you yourself find other things to do on Sundays, what message will your children get?
If you tell them that a personal relationship with the Lord is important but they never see you opening the Bible or praying, what message will they get? You know the answer! Parents who want to make serious claim on the name "Christian" had better make sure that their faith shows in front of their children.
Apparently Lois & Eunice lived their faith in front of Timothy. They made whatever efforts they could to learn about Jesus. And then mother & grand-mother passed on the results of that learning to the impressionable boy. They left him an incomparable legacy – a living faith!
SUM. This kind of living faith is what we all should demonstrate to our children, through our actions as well as through our words.
II. A READY CONFIDENCE
A 2nd contribution is given in Vs. 7. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power…" This I call, "A Ready Confidence."
The term for power is the Greek word "dunamos" from which we get "dyna-mite." The word suggests "inner might." Mothers, as you demonstrate inner strength that is ready to tackle life's needs, your children will sense security & confidence & will begin to demonstrate the same kind of confidence themselves.
ILL. Harry & Ada Mae Day lived in a 4-room adobe house with no running water & no electricity, hundreds of miles from the nearest city. There was no school within driving distance. It seemed the future for their daughter, Sandra, was very slim.
But Ada Mae Day scrimped enough to subscribe to urban newspapers. She started an intense program of home-schooling. Later, she saved enough to send Sandra to the best boarding schools available to them. Sandra went on to Stanford, then to law school, & eventually, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman Supreme Court justice in the United States.
Sandra’s intelligence & inner drive had much to do with that. But I believe that credit must also go to the determined confidence of her mother, sitting in her adobe house at night, reading to her children hour after hour, not giving in to the "spirit of timidity" that Paul mentions, but tapping into the "spirit of power" instead.
SUM. Mothers, God's Holy Spirit can infuse your life with power unimaginable to you otherwise. Allow the Spirit to build you into a model of “Ready Confidence” in the face of life's obstacles.
III. A REMARKABLE LOVE
Thirdly, they contributed "A Remarkable Love." Paul also says in Vs. 7 that we have been given a spirit of "love." And this is not just any love - it's love that seeks the highest good for others.
It's selfless. It's love that's continues on even when you're tired, when it hurts. It’s love when it means staying at the task longer than you anticipated. It’s love when it means caring in ways & at times you had not planned. This is why we can only describe it as "remarkable" love.
IV. A RESTRAINING DISCIPLINE
And 4th, they contributed "Restraining Discipline." Vs. 7 says that God has given us a spirit of “self-discipline” - balanced, consistent self-control.
ILL. Dr. Stanley Coopersmith, in a study of middle-class boys, found that children have higher esteem & become more successful & independent when they have a home where sure & consistent discipline is present.
It's been said that children need two pats on the back: One high enough to encourage them when they do right, & one low enough to discourage them when they do wrong.
ILL. Dorothy Nolte wrote, "If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice." And the only way to be fair to our children is to praise where praise is appropriate, & to discipline where discipline is appropriate. And sometimes you will be making a difference in ways that you never imagined.
CONC. Yes, today is a special day. And for most of us there are many precious memories that we will always treasure. Please listen to this story.
ILL. The young mother set her foot on the path of life. "Is the way long?" she asked. And her guide said: "Yes, & the way is hard. And you will be old before you reach the end of it. But the end will be better than the beginning."
But the young mother was happy, & she would not believe that anything could be better than these years. So she played with her children, & gathered flowers for them along the way. The sun shone on them, & life was good, & the young woman cried, "Nothing will ever be lovelier than this."
Then the night came, & storm, & the path was dark, & the children shook with fear & cold, & the mother drew them close & covered them with her mantle, & the children said, "Oh Mother, we are not afraid, for you are near, & no harm can come."
The Mother said, "This is better than the brightness of the day, for I have taught my children courage."
The morning came, & there was a hill ahead, & the children climbed & grew weary but she said to her children, "A little patience & we are there." So the children climbed, & when they reached the top, they said, "We could not have done it without you, Mother."
And the Mother, when she lay down that night, looked up at the stars & said, "This is a better day than the last, for my children have learned perseverance in the face of difficulty. Yesterday I gave them courage. Today I have given them strength."
With the next day came strange clouds which darkened the earth - clouds of war & hatred, & the children groped & stumbled. The mother said: "Look up. Lift your eyes to the light." And the children looked up & saw above the clouds an everlasting Glory, & it guided them & brought them beyond the darkness.
That night the Mother said, "This is the best day of all, for I have shown my children God."
The days went on, & weeks & months & years, & the Mother grew old, & she was little & bent. But her children were strong & tall, & walked with courage. When the way was hard, they helped their mother; & when the way was rough they lifted her, for she was light as a feather. And at last they came to a hill, & golden gates open wide.
The Mother said: "I have reached the end of my journey. And now I know that the end is better than the beginning, for my children can walk alone, & their children after them."
The children said, "You will always walk with us mother, even when you have gone through the gates." And they stood & watched her as she went on alone, & the gates closed after her, & they said, "We cannot see her, but she is with us still." (Adapted from a sermon by Richard Burdette, Children at Play, 5/14/2012)