Sunday, May 13, 2012

[Matt's Messages] "Nurturing the Faith of the Next Generation"

Photo by Heather Mitchell
“Nurturing the Faith of the Next Generation”
Mothers’ Day :: May 13, 2012
2 Timothy 1:5

This is a distinctly Mothers’ Day message. Everyone else is invited to listen in and make personal application, but I aimed my preparation at the many mothers among us – especially the mothers of small children.

If you are the mother of grown children, you probably remember what that is like!

If you are not yet a mother, or never will be a mother–like all of the men here, then you might not know what it is like to be the mother of small children.

And you might wonder, “What exactly do those moms do all day?”

Has anyone ever made the mistake of asking a stay at home mother of small children that question?

I found this article on a popular website that I frequent.  The author says:
On occasion I have heard people who do not have children make a comment along the following lines: “What exactly do moms do all day?” Behind the question lies the impression that most mothers sit around all day on bean bags, eating Skittles and reading the latest issue of Real Simple. But nothing could be further from the truth.
So, for all of you who have wondered what it is like to be a mom, here are some simple things you can do to simulate motherhood.
1. Carry around a 30 pound sack of flour all day. Do not, I repeat, do NOT set the sack of flour on the ground for any reason. If you do, the sack will immediately begin screaming.
2. Place a large industrial fan in your kitchen. At every meal, make sure to dump at least one full plate of food directly into the fan. This works especially well with Cheerios and peas.
3. Go to the local pet shop and purchase two howler monkeys. Take the howler monkeys home and release them into your house.
4. Try to hold an intelligent conversation or do a craft with the howler monkeys.
5. While carrying the sack around and taking care of the howler monkeys, make sure to read your Bible and pray.
So, ladies, how is that?  About right? Not quite enough?

Thank you, Moms, for your ministry, especially to children still in the home.

You have an incredibly important job.

Today, I want to talk about the most important facet of your job if you are a Christian mom and that is: “Nurturing the Faith of the Next Generation.”

Godly moms nurture the faith of the next generation.

And to think about this, I want us to consider 2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 5.

We’ll start reading in verse 1 and read through 7, but our focus today will pretty much just be on verse 5.

It’s the story (in miniature) of two moms named Eunice and Lois.
And the next generation–a man named Timothy.

Let’s read it and then pray together. Verse 1.
 2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,  2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.  4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  5 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.  6 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.
 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (NIV)
It’s obvious that Paul loved Timothy and that Timothy loved Paul.

This passage introduces the book where Paul is going to ask Timothy to do some hard things. But it is based upon their love for one another.

Paul prays regularly for Timothy, thanks God for Timothy, remembers how Timothy cried when they were last parted, and wishes that they could be together again.

Paul even calls Timothy his son, though that was merely spiritual.

We learned back on Acts chapter 16 that Timothy was the son of Greek man, almost certainly an unbeliever.

So, he’s kind of an adopted son for Paul and Paul tells him to fan to flame the gift of God, fully use his spiritual gift in courageous ministry because that’s what Christians do. God has hasn’t given us a Spirit of timidity, Timothy, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.  Go get ‘em, Tim!

That’s the point of this passage.

But tucked into the middle of this passage is this great verse, verse 5, that is one of the chief reasons why Paul is thankful for Timothy–and that is that he knows that Timothy has a sincere faith living within him.

Timothy is what I call a “Real Christian.”  He is a true believer.

And that gives Paul joy.

And Paul knows where that sincere faith came from.

It didn’t come from nowhere.

Verse 5 again.

“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.”

Godly mothers nurture the faith of the next generation.

That was Timothy’s experience.

He had a godly mother, and he had a godly grandmother [!] who passed on their faith to him.

For those of you who are trying alone to nurture faith in your children (single moms and spiritually single moms), this should give you great encouragement.

It can be done!  Timothy’s dad was no help, but Timothy became an assistant to an apostle and a pastor and a church planter!

It can be done.

Godly mothers nurture the faith of the next generation.

That’s the way it’s supposed to work.

That’s how the family was set up in the Old Testament.

Parents, including mothers, passing on the faith from this generation to the next generation to the next.

Listen to Psalm 78.

Asaph says, “O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old–what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. [That’s Liza’s grandchildren!] Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”

Proverbs 6 says, “My son, keep your father's commands and do not forsake your mother's teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck.  When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life...”

All godly moms are teachers.

They nurture the faith of the next generation.

Mothers are nurturers in general, but godly mothers are faith-nurturers.

They feed and care for the faith of the next generation.

Thank you, godly moms, for doing that.

I had a godly mom like that. I still do!

Mom looked out for the spiritual needs of her boys and desired for us to know Christ and to grow in Him. She still does.

I am thankful for being the recipient of a longer line of godly moms. Both of my grandmothers were believers intent on nurturing faith in their children and grandchildren.

And the line goes back farther than that, as well. I am blessed.

Not everybody can say that. Some of you are first generation believers, no godly heritage to be thankful for.

But that heritage can now start with you. 

Godly moms nurture the faith of the next generation.

Now, I only have two points this morning so that everybody can get to their Mothers’ Day lunch.

Only two points, but they are both important.


First, godly moms nurture their own authentic faith.

Notice the flow of verse 5.

“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.”

What is the order?

Where did this faith first live?

In Lois, Timothy’s gram.
And in Eunice, Timothy’s mom.

Gram and Mom THEN son.
Gram and Mom THEN son.

Now, it doesn’t say that Lois had it first and passed it to Eunice. They might have both come to Christ at the same time.

And it was a team effort between the two of them to reach Timothy (that says something about the relationship between godly grammas and godly mommas, too, doesn’t it?), but the order was Gram and Mom then son.

First, godly moms nurture their own authentic faith.

You’ve gotta have it to give it!

Notice what kind of faith Paul says they had.

“Sincere faith.”
King James, “Unfeigned.”

The Greek word is “anupokritu.”

It’s the opposite of hypokritu, hypocritical faith.

They were the real deal.
They were Real Christians.
They were true believers.

They weren’t playing a game.

Their faith was sincere, authentic.

You gotta have it to pass it on.

Moms, do you have real faith in Jesus Christ?

Yes or no?

If no, you can’t do your job. It’s your job to nurture authentic faith in your children.

Come to Christ. Turn from your sin and trust in Jesus.

Your kids can smell a fake.  They need the real thing.

Moms, do you have real faith in Jesus Christ?

If yes, what are you doing to nurture your own faith?

What are you doing to feed your faith and care for it?

Are you reading your Bible?
Are you in a small group or a prayer meeting or a Sunday school class to nurture your faith?

Are you in a mentoring relationship with someone?

Do you go to MOPS?

Do you have a friend that you can talk about spiritual things with?

Your kids need you to take care of yourself–spiritually.

I recommend that moms get away with other moms to talk about their relationship with Jesus.

Are you doing that?

Are you feeding your faith so that it is real and strong?

I know that you have a 30 pound sack of flour and a howler monkey or two, but you do still have to find a way to feed your soul.

And grow your faith.

It won’t look like it did before kids.

But don’t stop.

Godly moms nurture their own authentic faith, first.

Moms, what do you need to do today or today make a plan to do to grow your own authentic faith?

Is it a book you know you need to read?
Is it a relationship you need to begin?
Is it a time with God that you need to put on the calendar?

This principle, of course, goes for all of us, as well.

Because we may not all be nurturers, but we are all supposed to be passing on our faith to others.

So, all of the rest of us, guys included. What do you need to do to grow your own authentic faith?

Some of you haven’t been in church for a while.  This is where you belong.

We want you here.  Make a commitment to regular attendance to Sunday worship.

Because we can’t give what we don’t got!

Godly moms nurture their own authentic.


Verse 5 again.

“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.”

They passed it on.

It was real in Lois.
It was real in Eunice.
And now, Paul is certain that it is real in Timothy, as well.

Notice the phrase, “lived in.”
It could be translated “dwelt in.”

Faith had a home in these people.

Faith was internal. It lived at that address.

It was home in these people.

Passed on from one generation to the next.

Now, how did that happen?

How did the faith pass. That’s the big question.

It isn’t by magic.

That’s not how it works.

They did it, I’m sure by prayer for Timothy. He would have been much prayed for.

And I’m sure they did it by modeling faith for Timothy. They had sincere faith, and it showed.

And the key thing that Paul says that they did was teach Timothy the Bible.

Turn over to chapter 3 of 2 Timothy.  It’s across the page in the Pew Bible.

Paul tells Timothy that the world is going to get worse (and he was right), but that Timothy should follow Paul’s example. Look at verse 10.

“You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. [That should sound familiar to us since we just got done with Acts.] Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it [Paul?, I’m sure, but not just Paul],  and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Paul was not in Timothy’s life during Timothy’s infancy.

Who was teaching Timothy the Bible when he was in diapers?

Eunice and Lois.

Godly Moms Nurture Their Children’s Faith by teaching them the Bible.

By teaching them the Scriptures which are God-breathed!

Godly Moms Nurture Their Children’s Faith by teaching them the Bible which is useful [!] for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the child of God is ready for life.

All godly moms are teachers.

Now, you might not know very much about the Bible.

But you probably know more than you kids.

Give them what you know and then learn more and then give them that.

This is your incredibly important job.

It’s more important than making sure your kids are fed and clothed.

Please do that, too!

But teach them the Bible.

Nurture your kids in the Bible.

These words are God-breathed.

I recommend that every family have a bed-time ritual of Bible reading and prayer.

Sing, too, okay?

We call our time, “Bible stories,” and it has taken many different forms over the years.

Right now, I do the boys and Mom does the girl.

Isn’t not fair, is it?

We sing, we pray, we read the Bible or a story about the Bible, maybe a missionary story.

Of course, bed-time isn’t the only time.

The Bible says that we should do this all of the time.

When you’re whizzing down the road in the mini-van.

When you hit a teachable moment in the kitchen.

Bible teaching is not just for church-time.

Many Christians make the mistake of thinking that bringing their kids to church or Family Bible Week is enough in nurturing their faith.

It is not enough.

We, as a church, cannot be the primary disciplers of the children.

We are here to help!

But we are just scratching the surface. You, Moms, are on the front line.

Nurture the faith of your children.

Feed them the good stuff.

Most moms care about junk food versus healthy food.

Mom feeds us good stuff.

It’s same thing with what goes into our minds.

Moms, feed them the good stuff!

What are you doing on daily, weekly, monthly basis to nurture the faith of your children?

What biblical meals are you serving them?

I don’t know how Eunice did it.

But from infancy, she taught Timothy the scriptures, and it was just what he needed.

Godly moms nurture the faith of their children by teaching them the Bible.

Of course, this principle applies to all of us. We aren’t all moms, but we are all called to disciple others in the Christian faith.

We all need to be learning our Bibles and passing on what we learn.

What biblical meals are you and I serving to those we love?

Moms, it won’t always be fun to be a mom. Sometimes the screaming sack of flour and the howler monkeys won’t seem to appreciate what you are trying to tell them about Jesus.

But they need it.

They need it.

And if you don’t give it to them, who will?

Godly moms like Lois an Eunice nurture their own authentic faith and then they turn around and nurture the faith of their children.

Thank you, godly moms, who have done that.
Thank you, godly moms, who are doing that.
Thank you, godly moms, who will do that.

Keep up the good work.