I like spring--most do. If spring is not your favorite season, it is still an enjoyable time of year. Spring break, Easter, refresh, restore, renew. Mother's Day, graduations, Memorial Day. School out, pointing to summer.
Today is Mother's Day. If you have a Christian mother, you are blessed. If your mother is alive, you are doubly blessed. Mothers are special. Today, we celebrate Christ, but celebrate mothers. This is right, Gal. 1:24. Glorify God through the people God puts in our lives.
One reason we like holidays, one reason we like spring is that these are times of celebration. Nostalgia, tradition, heritage. Heard yesterday, in celebration we merge the past, present and future. When we celebrate, look backward with insight, around in awareness, to the future with hope. We become more confident. We become more loving. We become better. These are reflected in our reading, 2 Tim. 1:3-7 (note the larger context of vv. 3-14). This we need to hear again. In this passage are principles for life, perspectives to guide, preparations to be made.
When I read this passage, I am thankful for my life, for church, for God, for nation, for families, for mothers. I become aware of the dynamics of life. Three things passage suggests.
I. I have an IDENTITY. Remember your IDENTITY. Remember WHO you are.
In our world, identity is a tough commodity. Almost 20 years ago, when Jan and I taught parenting classes in Michigan, we met a middle school teacher who told us of her "IALAC" exercise. I Am Loved And Capable. She gave students a sheet of paper, the drew some representation of themselves, wore it around their neck on a string. Every time someone threatened self-esteem, self-worth, diminished identity, they tore off part of the paper. At end of day, some students had little more than the string around their necks left.
World is like that. Hard to find spiritual identity in this world, for world ridicules. Not easy to be a Christian at school. Not easy to be Christian at work. Not easy to take gospel into our sphere. Easier to lose Christian identity when alarm rings tomorrow. But with identity, we know whom we have believed, are convicted, trusting. He is able to guard. He is able to protect. He is able to deliver. He is worthy of our trust, our faith.
Paul writes to Timothy to remind him of his identity, who he is. Mother's Day reminds me, I have an identity. Physically, spiritually. Remember who you are--and keep on. When I recall my identity, I find empowerment, courageous love, and the will to go on: power, love, self-discipline.
II. I have a HERITAGE. Celebrate your HERITAGE. Remember WHERE you came from.
I have a heritage of faith, just as Timothy. All of us have some heritage of faith. Someone has gone before us--trailblazer, tree cutter, road builder. Someone taught us the gospel. Yesterday we were reminded that one OVC graduate is a Christian because of a brother in this church who went to a foreign land. Wednesday night the missions committee met, helping send students on summer mission trips. This is heritage.
For many of us, Mother's Day is special because we can see how our heritage of faith has been nurtured by our mothers, or our grandmothers. Church was never more fun as a boy than when we went to church at grandma's house. Cedar Hill, almost to King's River. Little white building in an Arkansas clearing. Singing was boisterous if disharmonious, hearts were sincere, life was more difficult, God was more real. We sang, "We shall see the king someday," and I wanted to see the king. Faith is a strange thing, for it passes from one generation to the next in little things that we remember.
I would like to meet Timothy's mother. What a woman. Unique, special, powerful, important. Heritage is in family. So important. Build families, celebrate families, encourage families.
Also, our heritage of faith expressed in the gifts God has given. Timothy has perhaps received special gifts, but all of us have spiritual gifts from God. Gifts are not given in full bloom. Gifts must be nurtured, coddled, cultivated. The Hebrew writer reminds that gifts are developed through use.
Our heritage of faith calls us to imitate our models, as they are like God. The God who has made me like him is no timid God. He is a God of Spirit, a God of the fire. He is a God of deliverance. His are a people of boldness, courage, faith. Such has been the case for at least 40 centuries since Abraham. The stage of life has been set for yea these 40 acts since Abraham, showing us how God acts, and how people of God act. Now as Act 40 is concluding and Act 41 is beginning, my heritage of faith demands that I walk with God. This is my heritage. Boldly, without shame. Suffering if necessary, but always according to the power which saved and called and sanctifies, by his purpose and gifts in Christ Jesus.
III. I have a PURPOSE. Live out your PURPOSE. Remember WHERE you are going.
What puts the fire in a person is purpose. The source of confidence and boldness is purpose. Enthusiasm is literally "God in us," and the drive of life is the God who is in us. He became like us so we might be like him. No spirit of timidity is ours. We are not cowering, fearing, overwhelmed or overcome. We are bold, courageous, spirited. We are powerful and able because of him. We are loving and caring in meaningful relationships because we are like him. We are controlled.
Our source of boldness, as for the apostles in Acts 4:13, is the presence of Jesus in our lives. That presence is reinforced by our daily walk with him. That presence is what enables us to go forth into our world with the saving message of Jesus Christ.
When life loses meaning, the restoration of meeaningful life is the "one thing" Paul writes about in Phil. 3. All of life is finding the fire of the "one thing." For Paul, life could go one despite the problems because he was focused on "one thing." Jesus said to the rich young man, "One thing is necessary." One thing. The pearl of great price, the lost coin. The one thing.
When we find that one thing, that genuine purpose in life, we will know we have been called to significance, importance, continuing a long line of those who have gone before. Answer that call with courage, boldness. Answer call with power, love, self-control. Thank God today for your mother. Celebrate heritage, live our purpose.
In any assembly, there are those who deep in heart know are falling short of God's eternal purpose in their lives. Do not know where to begin. How to continue. Boldness and courage have flagged. Worry about whether life can be brought under control. Today, God may be reminding you of the role of mothers in this passage to call you back to him. Remember the prayers, recall the tears, be reminded of the faith, fan into flame the faith gift God has given, today--what you have heard, keep as the pattern--act in faith to wash sins in the crimson flow of baptism. Come home in faith when you have wandered, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. Resolve to live with power your purpose, with the help of the HS who lives in you.
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