A Mother's Gift 5

Ephesians 6:1-3

Many people are familiar with the concept that we can learn from our mistakes. Doing something incorrectly or falling victim to some deception can be an immense learning experience that helps us grow and improve in life.

But we can also learn from the mistakes of others. Our parents can offer us teachings through the mistakes they have made and we can avoid these same mistakes if we are attentive to what has gone on before. They can also provide us with wisdom and insight based on their own faith struggles.

The message for the church at Ephesus has some instructions about a relationship with parents. What should children do? Why is this important? What is the promise contained in the fifth commandment?

The author of this letter makes it quite simple. Children are told to obey their parents, but it is qualified by the words “in the Lord.” Young people should obey their parents when it comes to matters of faith.

This is all based on the Ten Commandments. The fifth commandment from God is to honor our mother and father. With it comes the assurance, or promise, that it will go well with us all the days of our lives. If we can learn about faith and a relationship with God from our parents then we will have a deep and rewarding relationship for our entire life.

Faith is not always something which simply emerges inside us. We usually learn faith. We are taught about spiritual matters. We learn about a relationship with God.

As children we should embrace the teachings of those who have gone before us. We should learn from our elders, especially our parents, the essential pieces of our faith. And as faithful children of God we are all responsible for sharing our faith with those younger than ourselves or those new to faith.

Each of us should be willing – eager, in fact – to talk about our own relationship with God. We should be willing to share all the strength and guidance we have received from our deep belief in the Lord.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What lesson of faith can you teach?

A Mother's Gift 4

Proverbs 6:20-22

Our children are reaching adulthood and are encountering more and more situations where they must act as adults. With each experience we have learned that we need to guide our children in these encounters, something we take for granted as experiences we have all the time.

When our son needed to go apply for a job I had to draw a map for him so he could find his way. When our other son needed to order flowers for his girlfriend I had to write out an outline of what to say in the conversation to get what he wanted.

As adults we may take so many situations in stride. Our own experience may be our guide, but our children need direction from us. What does Proverbs say about parental teaching? What should the young person do? What comment is made about this teaching?

Coaching an inexperienced teen on how to act during a job interview is important for the success of the child. Providing guidance in driving and social behavior is also important. But as parents we are also responsible for the spiritual guidance and encouragement of our children.

If we are able to share our own faith and talk about our own spiritual growth – not with strangers, but with members of our own family – we can provide wisdom and experience that will assist them in that all-important walk with God. If our children can learn from what we have experienced and see our own growth in our walk of faith we can provide them with teachings that will indeed guide them through the challenges of life. Our teachings can watch over our children as they sleep and can speak to them when they encounter situations similar to what we have had.

As parents we are responsible for laying that foundation of belief and faith in God. We are responsible for the primary teachings of faith which will help our children grow and increase in their relationship with the Lord.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you teach your children about your faith?

A Mother's Gift 3

Acts 16:14-15

Many believers, those who have accepted Jesus as Lord, wear a cross around their necks as a sign of their faith. Others may have an ichthus symbol – a fish – on their car, or they may wear a shirt with an inspirational saying.

These are all indications of our faith. They are public displays of our belief. But there are other ways of showing people you believe in God and have accepted Christ as Savior.

Attending public worship is an outward and visible way of showing your faith. Living a life of kindness and compassion is a way of being public in your commitment to God. Baptism is also a public demonstration of a person’s commitment to faith.

In Acts 16 we have the account of Paul traveling in ministry in the company of other faithful believers – Timothy and Silas. Who did these men encounter? What did God do for her? How did Lydia respond?

We know only a little about the woman named Lydia. She was a dealer in purple cloth, which means that she was probably a wealthy merchant since purple cloth at that time was very expensive. We know she was a worshiper of God.

As she listened to Paul preaching God moved her heart. She allowed her faith to deepen. She was no longer just a worshiper of God, but was moved to become a devout believer in Jesus Christ.

Her response to this conversion moment was to be baptized. She no longer simply worshiped in public, but went through the act of being baptized, a public declaration of commitment to God. And this public display of faith was shared by the members of her household. These may have been servants or family members or both.

In any case this woman’s change of heart, this move to a deeper more profound faith was shared with others. Through her commitment other people also were committed to following Jesus.

We can be like Lydia. We can allow God to work in our hearts to help us deepen our faith. And if we can be an example of one who truly loves God we can lead others to salvation and a life of genuine faith too.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you make your faith visible to others?

A Mother's Gift 2

Acts 10:44-47

So often the question will come up about the time a person became a Christian. To many there is a specific day, a specific moment when they turned their lives over to God. There may be a precise memory of that realization that they desired salvation and they accepted Christ as Savior and Lord.

For myself, I can’t remember the first day that I confessed Christ as Savior. What I recall is that I was raised in the church. It was simply part of who we were as a family. We always attended church.

In Acts 10 there is a lengthy account of the disciple Peter and a Roman centurion named Cornelius. God has spoken to Peter about expanding his ministry beyond those of the Jewish faith, reaching out to Gentiles. At the same time an angel sent a message to Cornelius to summon Peter to his home.

What happened in Cornelius’ house? Who was the Holy Spirit reaching? What did Peter want to do?

This was a profound moment in the life of the early church. Prior to this event those who had come to follow Jesus as the Christ were Jewish believers who saw Jesus as the Messiah. Now God was reaching out to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish. Christ’s salvation was being offered to all people in all the world. The sacrament of Baptism, the act that signifies a commitment to the Lord and a life of faith, would be offered to all people.

This monumental shift in faith was able to happen because Cornelius was willing to obey the Lord and host the disciple Peter. Cornelius allowed a relationship with God to come into his house.

As we consider our relationships with other members of our family as well as our relationship of faith with the Lord, we must remember that each of us has the responsibility to be obedient to God. Each of us must be willing to allow God and the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of those we love. Our devotion to God as a parent, a brother, a sister, may open up a life of faith in others.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What can you do to help others find salvation?

A Mother's Gift 1

2 Timothy 1:5-7

I recall vividly the day I went to my mother’s house to ask for money that I might enroll in a seminary class so I could begin in ministry. She willingly handed me a check for what I needed and told me, “This is from your grandmother.”

I asked her to explain. She told me that her mother had always wanted one of her grandchildren to enter into the ministry, so the money, in a sense, was coming from my grandmother so that I might fulfill her desire.

Today’s passage comes from the second letter to the young man, Timothy, as he develops his faith. Where does Timothy’s faith come from? What should Timothy do? What type of attitude should he have in his faith?

When looking at our faith we may feel that we are completely on our own with our relationship with God. And in many ways we are indeed alone in our walk of faith. It is up to each of us to determine what type of connection we will have with our Lord.

But we cannot dismiss the influence of our heritage. Our faith, for good or for bad, is influenced by the family that has come before us. Those who are our parents, our brothers and sisters, cousins and grandparents all have a bearing on what type of faith we will have.

Timothy is a young man of growing faith. His faith is not just his own, however. His connection to the Lord began with his grandmother and lived also in his mother. Through the influence of these women Timothy was able to have a powerful faith.

Our family will have an influence on our eagerness to be with God. Our family’s attitude can affect how deep we will go in our beliefs and how we will live out our faith in Jesus.

Those of us who are parents must keep in mind the influence we will have on our children. Will we by the example of our lives guide our children into a holy attitude and faithful life? Even if we are not parents we can influence how other relatives will connect to God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you remember where your faith comes from?