I like spring. If this is not your favorite season, it is still an enjoyable time of the year. Spring break, Easter, our world refreshed, restored, renewed. Mother's Day, graduations, Memorial Day. School almost 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 we celebrate mothers. This is biblically right, Gal. 1:24. We glorify God for and through the people God puts in our lives.
One reason we like Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring -- these are times of celebration. Nostalgia, tradition, heritage. In celebration we merge the past, present and future. When we celebrate, we 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 today Scripture reading, 2 Tim. 1:3-7.
The context is 2 Tim. 1:3-14. We need to hear it, again and 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 the church, for God, for this nation, for families, for mothers. I become aware of the dynamics of life. Three things the passage suggests.
I have an IDENTITY. Remember your IDENTITY.
This identity is from God
This identity is God's will
This identity is according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus. When you find this identity, you find the genuine, authenitic life Jesus came to provide, abundant, overflowing, meaningful. Jesus gives us identity by reidentifying life, saying that death is not final, destroying death, demonstrating genuine life and eternity through the gospel. For every person whose life has been shaped by this gospel, our identity has been refocused, we are new in ways that we never knew before.
In today's world, identity is a tough commodity. 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, asked them to draw a picture of self, and then wear it around their necks. Every time someone threatened self-esteem, self-worth, or diminished identity, they were to tear off part of paper. At the end of day, some students had little more than the string around their necks.
Our world is like that. It is hard to find spiritual identity in our world, for the world ridicules. It is not easy to be a Christian at school, at work. It is not easy to take the gospel into our spaces. It is easier to lose Christian identity when our alarm clock rings tomorrow. But when we have a clear view of our identity, we know whom 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.
I have a HERITAGE. Celebrate your HERITAGE.
I have a heritage of faith, just as Timothy. Likely, all of us have some kind of heritage of faith. Someone has gone before us--trailblazer, tree cutter, road builder. Someone taught us the gospel. People are Christians because someone told them. We seek to evangelize, minister, we go on 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, Arkansas clearing. Singing was boisterous if disharmonious, hearts were sincere, life was more difficult, God was more real. 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. Our heritage is in family. So important. Build families, celebrate families, encourage families.
Also, our heritage of faith is 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, cultivated. The writer of Hebrews reminds that gifts are developed through use.
Our heritage of faith calls us to imitate our models, follow them because they are like God, they make us more 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, since Abraham, showing us how God acts, and how people of God act. 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 called and saved and sanctified, by his purpose and gifts in Christ Jesus.
I have a PURPOSE. You have a purpose. Live out your PURPOSE.
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 driving force 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 his ambassadors, he has entrusted to us his ministry of reconciliation. 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.
When life loses meaning, as it did for Billy Crystal in the movie City Slickers, the restoration of life is in the "one thing." 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 you find that one thing, that genuine purpose in life, you will know you have been called to significance, importance, continuing a long line of those who have gone before. Answer that call with courage, boldness.
Answer that call with power, love, and self-control. Thank God today for your mother. Celebrate your heritage, live out your purpose.
In any group of people, there are those who deep in their hearts know they 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. They worry about whether life can be brought under control. Today, God may be reminding you of the role of mothers 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 Holy Spirit who lives in you.
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