Waynedale United Methodist Church
Thursday, June 29, 2017
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May 10, 2015 Sermon

“Women with Risky Faith”
Exodus 1:15 – 17, 22, 2:1 – 10

Ted Jansen May 10, 2015 Waynedale UMC

 
1.)        What is a risky thing you have done? Why did you do it? How did it feel?   What were the consequences of the risk? What happened to you after you risked?    

            I remember seeing people do flips off the diving board.   I thought I should try that. I have done a number of risky things in my life but I thought I am going to learn how to do a flip off the diving board. I realized the consequences of the risk is that I could get hurt and at times in the learning process I would smash my face or arms in the water. But when I was able to land a flip I felt great. (It has been a few years since I have attempted a flip off the diving board!)      

           

2.)        Do you have any stories related to risk in life? As you think about business ventures, relationships, money decisions, travel, vocation, what about them has an element of risk? 

            If you would take some of your money and invest it in a stock or mutual fund the prospectus tells you “Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.” That is a way of saying if you invest your money in this fund there is risk, no guarantees. I know that if you want an investment with a greater potential for gain you have to be willing to risk. 

 

3.)        I discovered a group of women that did something very risky. They not only did something risky they set a world record. 101 women from Russia in 2013 formed a flower in the sky as they jumped out of airplanes. The women linked hands with one another as they sped towards the earth. After they finish the rose formation they parachute and land safely on the ground. (Video clip is at https://youtu.be/ivVWgvQ9BZk.)      

 

4.)        Women, I encourage you to get out of your plane and link hands with other women as you express your risky faith. I invite you to consider the heritage of some women in the Old Testament and don’t be afraid of risk.     

            God was leading, guiding them and inviting these women to take a risk. God used them to fulfill God’s plan for History. Their names are: Shiprah, Puah, Jochebed, Pharoah’s daughter, a slave girl, and Miriam.  

 

5.)        Let’s explore the history of how these women expressed risk and became a part of God’s story. The Israelites are living in Egypt and have been a growing population in this land for several hundred years after Joseph had his family come to live here. 

            The Egyptian leaders have changed several times and the King/Pharoah is concerned about the size of the Hebrew population. They wonder if the Hebrews will turn against them in a time of war. So the King decided to put slave masters over the Hebrew people and make them work in forced labor doing building projects.   The Hebrews are being oppressed to keep them in line. 

            The King tells the Hebrew midwives, who help with the birth process, that you need to kill all the boys that are born. This was the law, decree, and command from the King. (Exodus 1:16) 

            The King gives another law/decrees that says all baby boys, not just Hebrew boys, are to be killed, they are to be thrown into the Nile River. (Exodus 1:22)

            This is the biblical context that sets the scene for these women and their faith.  

           

6.)        Shiprah, Puah - These were the Hebrew midwives. They expressed a risky faith when they let the Hebrew boys live. This was not legal in that day.   Yet, they did so because they feared God more than the Pharoah. (Exodus 1:17)

            They were brought before the king of Egypt and he could have had them killed. Their faith literally was a life and death faith. Yet, God honored their faith.     

 

7.)        Jochebed – She was Moses’ mother. Jochebed had a daughter and a son already but when she gave birth to this little boy she believed the child needed to live.    She expressed a risky faith when she kept her little boy alive for three months, even though it was against the law.    

            She hid her baby boy from the Egyptians for three months and then came up with a plan. She had to let him go and trust God.   She put him in a basket and sent Miriam to the river to watch and see what would happen.   Jochebed could have been killed for her action.

            She had a faith that was stronger than the law or the risk of death. God was with her.   

 

8.)        Pharoah’s daughter –   (We don’t know her name from the Biblical account)

            She knew the decree and perhaps had seen dead baby boys at the Nile before. It must have been a sick feeling to see that. It was her father that made this decree that all babies should be killed.   She could have perhaps be killed for going against this decree. 

She expressed her risk for her life potentially, by saving this baby boy.  She felt sorry for him when she saw him and heard him cry.   

 

9.)        Slave girl –   (We don’t know her name from the Biblical account)

            She was asked to go and retrieve the basket.   She was implicated in this by not taking the basket and drowning the baby boy. Her risk was real even though she didn’t have a choice.    

 

10.)      Miriam – She was Moses’ sister. It is believed that she was about 7 – 8 years old at the time. She is not a woman but a girl, with great faith and trust. She also expressed a risky faith by her actions that day. 

            She had known about the decree to kill baby boys and had watched her mother hide this boy for three months.   She gained faith as she allowed her mother’s risky faith to touch hers.  

She watched her mother take her baby brother and put him in a basket and take him to the Nile, the place of death.   Perhaps Miriam prayed that out of death life would come. 

Miriam walked along the river knowing that she might have seen her brother killed.   She then risked talking to the Pharoah’s daughter and suggested a plan. When Miriam saw her brother being picked up by the slave girl she risked talking to Pharoah’s daughter.    

            She asked Pharoah’s daughter if she would like Miriam to get a Hebrew mother to nurse the child for her until the child was old enough to come to her house.     

 

11.)      The closing of this story shows these women who had risky faith meeting, connecting, talking and unknown to them being used as a part of God’s bigger plan. This baby boy, who was taken to the place of death is lifted out of the water and given life.  

Pharoah’s daughter meets Jochebed and Pharoah’s daughter asks Jochebed to nurse and feed the child. The great part of this story is that Jochebed would be paid to do this. When the child was older he would live with the Pharoah’s daughter. It was then that the name, Moses, was given to this boy. Moses has a sense of meaning of, “to draw out of water.”   

            Each woman/girl had a part in God’s story, in fulfilling God’s plan even though it went against the laws/decrees of the nation. The women had a faith in God, a trust in God.  

12.)      I invite you to explore the stories of other women in the Bible and in history who expressed risky faith. Mary, the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak, women at the crucifixion, Susanna Wesley. 

Mary, the mother of Jesus, risked her future based on an angels visit. (Her story begins in Luke 1) The woman who risked “touching” Jesus’ garment was healed (You can read her story in Luke 8:43 - 48). The women followers who stayed close to Jesus at the cross where at risk when He was crucified. (You can read the gospels and focus on the women at the cross.)   

            We have women in history that used of God in special ways.   We might think of Mother Teresa, Ruth Graham, in recent history. 

We know of John and Charles Wesley but do you know their mother, a woman with risky faith, who gave her children a foundation of faith? Her name is Susanna Wesley. If it wouldn’t have been for Susanna and her faith we might have the UM Church. She endured a lot having giving birth to 19 children with only 10 surviving. Her story is amazing.             

 

13.)      I was reading a letter from a former president of Hope College, Dr. Jim Bultman expressing thanks for his wife, Martie, upon his retirement. Here is an excerpt. 

            Forgive me for personalizing a public tribute to my wife Martie. Long before I knew I could be a college president, I knew Martie would be a great college president’s wife. Most of you are aware that Martie came to Hope as a student from the San Francisco Bay area, sight unseen and without any connection.

Several years ago while on a fundraising trip in her hometown, we stopped to refuel the car. When I went into the station to pay, I noticed Martie was having quite a cordial conversation with the gas station attendant. A couple miles down the road I brought this up, and she said he was an old high school flame. This made me quite uncomfortable. A while later I said, “I’ll bet you’re glad you married a college president instead of a gas station attendant.” To this Martie quickly replied, “If I’d married him, he’d be a college president and you’d be pumping gas!” Then there was silence in the car for quite some time! Well, this is not a true story, but there is lot of truth in it.

Martie has been a pillar of strength for the college and for me. She voluntarily sacrificed her own professional career in special education to serve as a presidential spouse without complaint or remuneration. We’ve been a team together. And in a good-natured way she’s kept me grounded and humble, sharing both my joys and sorrows.” (Presidential Update – summer 2013)

 

14.)      We thank God for women who have lived out their faith in Jesus Christ. What woman has influence your faith?   

I want you to name a woman with faith who has influenced your life. Share that name.

 
Closing Prayer   

Lord, we thank God for the women of faith who have been used by you to touch our lives. We thank you for mothers, for grandmothers, for sisters, for women and their journey. Each one has a story of trials and triumphs. 

We pray that your Holy Spirit would empower them to put their faith into action, even when it involves risk. We bless you Lord for the women who have been and are a part of our lives. In Jesus name.   Amen.