Summary: Mothers are unique and gifted in various ways in order to shape their children according to God’s ways.

Iliff and Saltillo United Methodist

Mother’s Day

May 12, 2002

illustrated sermon

“One of a Kind”

Ephesians 1:15-23

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10

INTRODUCTION: Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May is a tradition going back to 1907 when Anne Jarvis of Philadelphia arranged for a special service at her church on the anniversary of her Mother’s death. The idea spread rapidly and by 1914, Mother’s Day was named a National Observance by the U. S. Congress.

Although Mother’s Day is observed in a pretty standard, similar way each year, Mothers are in no way mass-produced like these standard Styrofoam cups that are all exactly alike.[SHOW STYROFOAM CUPS] Rather, Mothers are very unique individuals like these hand crafted cups I brought. Today’s scripture says, “We are all God’s workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Although this scripture applies to all people, today the focus is on Mothers in particular. Women at all times in history have displayed a variety of characteristics that have not only benefited their families but their communities, and extended out to the world.

Some women of the Bible displayed characteristics that are very much needed in our society today and can be exemplified by us today. I would like to focus on four women of the Bible who made significant contributions in showing Courage, Prayer, Faithfulness, and Leadership.

1. Jochebed--COURAGE: [Show one of the sturdy mugs]

STORY: Two children were standing on the street corner bragging about who had moved from state to state the most. Josh said, “My family has moved three times in the last three years.”

“Hey, that’s nothing,” said Travis. “My parents have moved five times this year and I found them every time!”

Moses Mother sure didn’t want to leave him on the river that day. She would have done everything possible to keep him with her but his life was in danger. I see Jockebed, Moses’ Mother, as a person of COURAGE. At the time she probably didn’t feel the least bit courageous when she finally had to make the best decision for her endangered baby. She couldn’t keep him any longer or she knew if he were found he would face sudden death. She didn’t know at the time that her small act of courage changed history because Moses later led the Israelites out of slavery. We know that she was more courageous than she realized because Hebrews 11:23 tells us she was “not afraid of the king’s edict.” She had courage to go ahead and trust her son to God.

Today children are surrounded by every bit as much danger in our society as was Moses on the Nile River. When you do all you can do to protect your children, you have to have the courage to entrust them to God’s hands because you know that all your efforts alone are insufficient.

Story: Erma Bombeck said, “I see children as kites. You spend a lifetime trying to get them off the ground. You run with them until you’re both breathless--they crash--they hit the rooftop--you patch and comfort, adjust and teach. You watch them lifted by the wind and assure them that someday they’ll fly. Finally they are airborne: they need more string and you keep letting it out. But with each twist of the ball of twine, there is a sadness that goes with joy. The kite becomes more distant, and you know it won’t be long before that beautiful creature will snap the lifeline that binds you together and will soar as it is meant to soar, free, and alone. Only then do you know that you did your job well.

Have the courage to trust your children to God’s care.

2. Hannah--Persistent in Prayer: [Show the black Over the Hill Mug]. Hannah was a person who was very persistent in prayer. She felt that life had passed her by because she had no children. In those days it was a stigma to be childless. People looked down on her and made snide remarks about her. She could have said, “Well my life is useless. I’m over the hill now. I don’t have any value. Others have it better than I do.” Although she was “in bitterness of soul, she prayed unto the Lord and wept sore.” Eli thought she had been drinking when she knelt and he talked sharply to her when he said, “how long will you be drunk? Put away the wine from thee.” Hannah was not only sorrowful but treated rudely. She said, “I have not been drinking wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.”

As she prayed she made a vow to the Lord that if He would answer her prayers and give her a son, she would give him back to the Lord. She said, “As long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord.” God honored her persistence in prayer and gave her the son she had longed for. She kept her vow and lent him to the Lord. He became one of Israel’s greatest prophets and was a man of prayer who finished the work of the judges. Because of his mother’s prayer for him and her obedience to God, Samuel from the very beginning was used to lead the nation back to God.

STORY: Like Hannah, R. G. Lee’s mother gave him to God as is evidenced by a letter she sent him while a student at Furman University. She said, “We are praying for you every day. I want to live on in my preacher son after I’m dead. So take care of yourself, study hard, and preach your best. I am counting on you. I gave you to God before I saw your face. Don’t rob God of what I gave him.”

Today your prayers for your children will long outlive you. Be faithful and persistent in your prayers.

3. EUNICE AND LOIS--FAITHFULNESS: [SHOW the BEAUTIFUL CHINA CUP and the MUG WITH BUTTERFLY HANDLES] A team effort went into raising Timothy. Scripture tells us that Timothy’s Mother was a Jewess and a believer. His father was a Greek. Timothy would not have received the Word of God had his Grandmother Lois and his Mother, Eunice, had not faithfully and consistently taught it to him when he was a small child.

II Timothy 1:5 tells us that Paul encouraged Timothy to be faithful by saying, “ I have been reminded of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you also.”

Their teaching faithfully resulted in Timothy’s consistent spiritual growth. It happened over a long process of time, not just occasionally.

STORY: Setting his tracks toward church.

Near a church in Kansas there can be seen in a cement sidewalk the prints of two baby feet with the toes pointing toward the Church. It was said that 20 years ago, when the sidewalk was being laid, a mother secured permission to stand her baby boy on the wet cement. The tracks are seen today plainly. The mother had wanted her little boy to start out right. However, setting a child’s tracks toward church one time in concrete will have little or not influence on making that child a regular church goer. They do far better who set their children’s tracks toward church in the concrete of parental example and parental training. Duane V. Maxey

Faithfulness to teach and take to church will have lasting effect over a period of time. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

STORY: A woman in the West Indies, after dropping her own little gift into a missionary collection, put a small coin into the hand of her baby, and guiding it to the contribution box. let the baby drop it in. Some delay was caused by this at which time the collector became impatient. When the mother said, “Have patience, brother, I just want to bring the little thing up to it.”

4. DEBORAH--LEADERSHIP: [SHOW THE TALL HANDCRAFTED CERAMIC MUG] Deborah, wife of Lapidoth, didn’t have any children of her own but she was called a “Mother in Israel” (Judges 5:7). She cared for God’s people and was the fourth of the Judges in Israel. She had exceptional leadership ability and was the only one of the 12 judges who was a woman. She defeated Sisera and the Canaanites and later sang a victory song with Barak. After that she ruled a peaceful land for 40 years.

She developed her leadership ability and concentrated on what she could do best and she was a person who was willing to be led by God. She was available to God and to others around her. She knew how to plan--direct--delegate to others. Instead of bemoaning what she didn’t have, she developed the special leadership talents she did have and many people benefited because of her life. Deborah was not only responsible for leading the people into battle but more than that she influenced them to live for God after the battle was over. She was also a prophetess whose main role was to encourage people to serve God.

In our day Mother Teresa was also a person who could be called a “Mother of Israel” for her concern and care of the poor in Calcutta. She said that while riding on a train she received a calling from God to “serve him among the poorest of the poor.” In 1947 she moved to Calcutta’s slums to set up her first school. Her leadership ability was used to establish a home for the dying and an orphanage among other things.

STORY: Two brothers were quarreling over the last cookie that remained in the jar and each boy thought it was his. Taking the cookie from the boys their mother calmly announced, “I’ll solve the problem for you. I’ll eat the last cookie myself.”

The boys looked up at their mother in disbelief. Then the four year old said, “Oh, no you won’t Mom. Whoever heard of a selfish mother?”

Mother Teresa was an unselfish person herself who took to heart the great needs of those around her.

Today I would like to encourage you to develop your leadership skills whenever you can. Don’t sit back and say, “I’m a follower. I’m not a leader.” You are probably more of a leader than you think you are in your homes and among your families. Be available to God like Deborah was. Who knows what He has in mind for you to do that will benefit a lot of people.

CONCLUSION: Because Mothers are unique and multi-talented people, I would like to conclude with this poem asking you to think about your particular talents and abilities.

What talents are lying dormant that need to be developed? What gifts that God has given you need to be put into operation more today?

My Power and Art

I took a piece of plastic clay

And idly fashioned it one day,

And as my fingers pressed it still,

It moved and yielded to my will.

I came again when days were past--

The bit of clay was hard at last;

The form I gave it, it still bore,

But I could change that form no more.

I took a piece of living clay

And gently formed it day by day,

And molded with my power and art

A young child’s soft and yielding heart.

I came again when years were gone--

It was a man I looked upon;

He still that early impress wore,

And I could change him nevermore.--Author unknown

Shall we pray: