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WHERE DOES YOUR STRENGTH COME FROM?

 

Acts 9:19, 22 “19 and he took food and was strengthened.
22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”

REAL STRENGTH

Paul has just been saved after meeting Christ on the road to Damascus. He had been blind for 3 days until Ananias came and the scales fell from his eyes. These two verses both use the word strengthened or strength, but interestingly enough they are two different words in the Greek. Verse 19 uses the Greek word “ischus” which deals more with physical strength or health. Verse 22 uses “dunamoo” which is more the power to perform.

Okay, I probably just lost you. No, listen! Verse 19 focused on getting Paul physically healthy after his encounter with Christ, and verse 22 shows the empowering of God in his life to face the Jews. God was the source of healing and empowering. He was at work in all aspects of Paul’s conversion, physically and spiritually.

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children need to know that God has His special touch for each aspect of our lives. When we are physically weak or sick, God can reach down and heal. When we are spiritually weak or weary, God can give us the power to rise up. He wants to work in very part of our life, but we have to allow Him to do that.

Paul was made blind for a purpose. Remember, he was a learned man and may have just jumped on his own agenda. God made him rely on others to even get to Damascus after being struck blind. He made him rely on Ananias for healing. He made him rely on Him to have the power to confront the Jews.

Our children have to learn to rely completely on God. It doesn’t matter what they are facing, the only strength that matters is His, not theirs. Won’t you model that also? Won’t you show them that you too rely on God for the strength to carry on?

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FOOLISH DECISIONS

 

II Chronicles 10:13 “The king answered them harshly, and King Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the elders.”

WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

Rehoboam may have been a grown man when he became king, but he wasn’t very wise. He sought the advice of his father Solomon’s advisors and then forsook that advice to follow the advice of younger men. While it is not true that every “older” elder is wise, it is usually true that the older men have learned more and can give better advice that a younger man. Again, I say, that is not always true, but generally it is.

But Rehoboam decided to ignore the advice given him, thus splitting the kingdom into two kingdoms, which lasted until the end of both. What might have happened if he had taken the advice he was given by the elders? We will never know.

TEACHING MOMENT

Your children will come to a point when they will reject your parental advice. They will follow the lead of their friends or others who are younger than you. This is a heartbreaking time for parents. Is there anything you can do to avoid this? Short answer – no. Better answer – with God’s help you can continue to give input into their lives.

Teach your children how to make decisions by letting them make some when they are young. These normally will be decisions that are simple and non-life threatening. But making these small decisions gives them confidence to make more serious decisions later.

Give them guidance when they are young that they can trust. Own up to your own bad decisions so they can learn from your mistakes. Help them through the bad decisions they make without judging. These are all ways to prepare them for the future.

Solomon was the wisest man on earth, but he failed to teach his own son how to make wise decisions. Don’t repeat that mistake. Learn from Solomon that it does not matter how smart people think you are. Let your children speak for you when you are gone by preparing them to be your legacy.

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FINAL WORDS

 

Acts 7:60 “Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.”

PERSECUTION

If someone was trying to kill you, would these be your last words? I would hope they would be mine, but I am not so sure. Persecution is real! It is happening all over the world right now. Believers are losing their lives just for loving Jesus and telling others about Him. Can we be like Stephen and make those our final words?

It’s one thing for we adults to claim we can do that, but what about our children? How in the world do we teach them this kind of faith? How do we teach our children that this life is not worth living unless we are willing to lay it down for Jesus? That seems an impossible concept. Let me explain.

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children aren’t ours to begin with. God has blessed some of us with our own precious children. We sacrifice for them. We bandage their knee when it is skinned. We take them to the doctor when they are sick. We spend a lot of money to feed, clothe and educate them. But they aren’t ours. And as with everything we are given by God, we hold it loosely in our hands should He ever ask for it.

That’s the concept! We teach our children that EVERYTHING we have belongs to Him, even our very lives. So, if and when He asks for it, we willingly hand it over. That might mean when we are called upon to lay down our lives for the cause of Christ we do just that, knowing that being absent from this body means being present with the Lord.

I am sure this devotional thought won’t be on your top 10 list. But listen Moms and Dads! Hold your children loosely. They don’t belong to you! They are His! You are just the stewards of them for a short time. Invest in them and prepare them for Him!

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GETTING GOD’S ATTENTION

 

II Chronicles 6:40 “’Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.’”

EXPECTATIONS

You really should read the entire chapter 6 of II Chronicles to get a glimpse of what is happening here. Solomon had just finished building and furnishing the Temple. God’s glory had filled it, and now Solomon is offering a prayer of dedication.

I have attended a lot of dedication ceremonies in my life. But I have never heard a prayer offered like this one. Verse 40 caught my eye though. Solomon says, “Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.” That is so important! We need not even pray if we don’t believe God is looking and listening. But because we know He does we pray.

TEACHING MOMENT

Your children may ask you, “Mom/Dad, how do I know God is listening? How does He hear all the prayers of all the people all over the world at the same time?” How do you answer? You answer by telling how God has answered your prayers and the prayers of others you know. You answer by telling them the peace you get when you pray. You answer by telling them that although you don’t understand, you trust.

Each time we take a breath we don’t wonder if there is oxygen out there to breath in. We just breathe, most of the time involuntarily. We breathe knowing that the oxygen in the air around us is enough to keep us breathing. Prayer should be the same. We should pray without ceasing knowing that the Almighty God of the universe is listening. He is prepared to answer all our prayers according to His perfect Will for our lives.

Pray, believing that even before you utter the first syllable of the first word, God is listening.

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THE FACE OF AN ANGEL

 

Acts 6:15 “And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.”

I will have to admit – no one has ever said that about me. Haha. Well, maybe my mom did when I was little, but not lately. But haven’t you said that at least once in your lifetime about someone, probably your own little one?

THAT FACE!

I mean, come on, when that little face turns to you and starts that little cherub face thing, you just melt. You wonder how you could ever love anything any more.

Here is Stephen, whom they are about to stone, and they “all” saw his face like the face of an angel. But that did not matter to them. They didn’t like what he as saying about Jesus, and when he refused to stop preaching about Him they stoned him.

When you hear someone preaching the Word, do you think they have a face of an angel? Do you see the Spirit of God flowing in them? Do you see the face of Jesus as they proclaim the message of deliverance? You should, because those who rely on the Spirit to teach through them are literally the mouth piece of God. They are only sharing what the Lord has given them.

LITTLE ANGELS

Recently we had our Children’s Musical at our church. As I watched the children singing and speaking I had this same view of them. They truly looked angelic. Now, I know these kids so I know most of them are NOT angelic, but that night in that environment as they proclaimed the Gospel in song, they took on the face of an angel.

Won’t you put on that face today? Won’t you encourage your children to put on that face? Putting on the face requires that we take off our old flesh face and the let the Spirit shine through. After all, the Spirit is so much more lovely to look at.

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BEST QUESTION EVER!

 

II Chronicles 1:7 “In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, ‘Ask what I shall give you.’”

PRAYER TIME

Okay, just imagine! You are in your prayer time. You are diligently asking the Lord to bless those in your family, the missionaries you know and support, our country, etc. All of a sudden you hear “Ask what I shall give you.” Man, I would probably freak out!

But then, does your mind go to that new Nitro bass boat or the condo on the beach or…?   You fill in the blank. Or does your mind automatically go to asking for wisdom to guide your family? Now, isn’t that a humbling thought? Too many of us might jump at the chance to ask the “cosmic genie” for stuff we think we need. Yea, I said that. We do treat God that way some times. We just ask for stuff we think we need.

TEACHING MOMENT

So, how do we point our children to asking for godly things like wisdom, grace, mercy, tenderness, kindness and love for our brothers and sisters? They have to hear us praying for the same things. Once again, Mom and Dad, we model the behavior.

Now there is nothing wrong with asking God to meet a need in our lives. He wants us to do that. He expects us to do that. I believe He is disappointed when we don’t ask Him to meet our needs. He loves us so much that He wants us prepared to serve and meeting our needs allows us to do just that.

Perhaps your kids can teach you to pray this way. They haven’t learned how to pray wrong yet. They just pray and ask God to bless everyone, including your cat. Simple, pure prayers to someone they love. How about that? The child teaches the parent. Who would have thought?

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BOLD BUT NOT BRASH

 

Acts 4:19-20 “19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’”

Don’t you just love the boldness of Peter and John in the face of threats and accusations? They were arrested, questioned and warned to stop preaching about Jesus. But they just said, “Sorry, we can’t do that.”

SHRINKING AWAY

How many times have we (and I am including myself) hesitated standing up for Jesus? Most of the time we don’t face an inquisition. We are just confronted by someone who doesn’t believe or someone who believes differently. We are not faced with the threat of death very often, are we?

TEACHING MOMENT

So how can we teach our children to be bold witnesses for Christ if we aren’t being bold ourselves? Well, we can’t. They have to see us being unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They need to see us taking a righteous stand for Jesus.

Now, I don’t mean being rude or arrogant. That never wins anyone to Christ. We can be bold without being brash. We can stand out without being the one they notice. Everything we do needs to be pointing others to Christ. Even when we are disagreeing with someone over the Gospel, we need to do it in such a way that we are drawing them to salvation, not pushing them away by being a “holy roller.”

Won’t you take a stand today? Won’t you show your children how to be that bold witness? Won’t you show them just how much you love Jesus by laying it all on the line for Him today?

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FAMILY BUSINESS

 

I Chronicles 25:6-7 “All these were under the direction of their father to sing in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the house of God. Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman were under the direction of the king. Their number who were trained in singing to the Lord, with their relatives, all who were skillful, was 288.”

JOYFUL NOISE

Can you imagine? 288 from one family of brothers who were all engaged in ministry to the Lord. Heman, himself, had 14 sons with their relatives who were all singers. Now that’s a choir!

But I wonder if they all really wanted to be a part of the “family business”? There were probably a few who said, “Come on Dad, do we have to go to church again?” There is no mention of them not fulfilling their duties though. They were called and appointed to service. They were serving the Great Jehovah. I am sure Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman reminded them often of the great honor that had been bestowed on their family by the King.

TEACHING MOMENT

How do you get your children involved in service to “our” King? How do we encourage them to get engaged in serving in church or the community? It is so important that we give our children opportunities to serve. This can be done by helping stack chairs after a service or carrying the trash out after an event. They can help clean up outside or perhaps put down mulch around the shrubs.

There are a multitude of ways in which your children can serve. We just have to make sure they know that service is a joy, not a burden. We get joy out of serving and our serving gives the Lord joy.

Why don’t you have a family meeting this week and decide how your family can do a service project together this summer? Ask a Pastor what would be a big help to him. I guarantee he has at least one project of service that would fit your family.

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NOW THAT’S A FULL POOL

 

Acts 2:41 “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.”

3000 saved and baptized! That’s incredible. In recent decades there has been a falling off of baptisms in the U.S. It is no wonder. Many do not believe it is necessary (and it’s not for salvation) and either put it off or just don’t bother. But anything the Lord felt was important I want to value as important.

BELIEVERS MUST FOLLOW

When my children were young we had a membership at a water park in Florida. One of the busiest areas was the wave pool. That huge pool would be packed with people. There were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people in that huge pool ready to jump waves and swim. I can just picture the mass of people lined up in this story in Acts waiting to get baptized by the apostles. There were probably in line for Peter, John, Mark or the other disciples, waiting to follow the Lord in Believer’s baptism.

This is an important decision and a celebrated act in the life of believer. As parents we need to encourage our children, once they have asked Christ in their lives, to get baptized. Many parents tend to postpone this until their child “really” understands it. Can I make a suggestion? Once your child has surrendered their heart to Jesus, they are ready for baptism. If you are confident in their decision to follow Him, encourage them to take that next step of obedience.

PURE JOY

There aren’t many things besides leading someone to Christ that bring me as much joy as baptizing a believer. Seeing the nervousness erupt into pure joy when they are raised out of the water is exciting. Watching their family and friends beam with pride brings me joy. Seeing the tears flow down the face of a redeemed believer and mixing with the baptismal waters surely must give our Lord joy. Celebrate it!

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COME AND EAT

 

John 21:12 “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples ventured to question Him, ‘Who are You?’ knowing that it was the Lord.”

HUNGRY MEN

I love the picture I get in my head of this scene. The disciples had been fishing all night. They were tired and probably very hungry. They see the Lord on the shore Who tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat which results in a huge catch of fish. Peter jumps out of the boat and swims/wades to shore ahead of the rest. But then they all arrive to a meal already prepared for them.

I can just smell the fire, the bread and the fish. But, as hungry as they were, their eyes were not on the food. Their eyes were on Jesus. After all, He had told them “I am the Bread of Life. He who eats of me will never hunger.”

TEACHING MOMENT

How many times have you called your children to come eat? A thousand? And how many times have they come running to the table and without glancing at you start grabbing for the biscuits or chicken? The next time you call your children to a meal, why not read this passage? Remind them that our eyes should never be just on what is in front of us. We should have our eyes set on Christ.

If we are looking at Him, then all the things before us are more appreciated. Everything comes into focus when we look at Him first. He helps us prioritize life’s “stuff.” Our children can learn to rely on Him to show them the steps to take. Jesus can feed them with that eternal bread and living water. Then and only then will they be satisfied.

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