Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Religion, Scripture, Treasures

STILL FISHING

MATTHEW 17:24-27

“24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?’ 25 He said, ‘Yes.’ And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?’ 26 When Peter said, ‘From strangers,’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are exempt. 27 However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.’”

What a strange story. It seems to appear out of nowhere and have nothing to do with Jesus’ ministry. Oh, but it does. Did you know this tax for which they were collecting was for the support of the Temple? It wasn’t a Roman tax, but rather a Jewish tax. Jesus was fulfilling Jewish law by paying this. He was showing Peter that He meant to support the temple, not fight against it.

I bet Peter thought He was a little crazy, though, when He said to go catch a fish and find the tax money. I’ve caught a lot of fish and have found a lot of things in their mouths. But I have never found money. Boy, if I did I would fish every day, lol. Jesus was providing what was needed at the time, nothing more. He still does that today, does He not?

APPLICATION

The next time you write that check to the church or put money in the offering plate, you can tell this story. Your children will definitely think this story is cool. Money in a fish’s mouth? Really? But that miracle isn’t the point of the story. Make sure they understand that. The story is about Jesus fulfilling His Father’s will. He came to fulfill and complete the law.

Jesus just chose an interesting manner to do it. He was exhibiting His omnipotence to His followers and doing what was expected in paying this tax. Explain to your children that they too can be a part of a miracle by giving to support the church. Now, we don’t pull coins from fish, but we do support ministries that change lives. The church supports missionaries around the world who touch lives who may have never heard the name of Jesus.

I bet you could find some money in an unusual place today to give to the Lord. You may have something you are not using anymore that could be turned into cash for the kingdom. Your child may have some toys they have outgrown. Sell them and lead them to give that money to missions. They and you will be finding “coins in a fish,” in a sense. Now, that’s cool.

Father, all I have is Yours. Help me see how to make it all available to the furtherance of Your kingdom. I want to be faithful to whatever You ask me to give.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Encouragement, Faith, Glory, God's Will, Inspirational, Promises, Salvation

YOU’RE G0ING TO GET WHAT’S COMING TO YOU

1 PETER 1:9

“obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

When we hear “you’re going to get what’s coming to you,” we usually think that’s bad. If you’ve done something bad, that may be true. But that’s not the case in today’s verse. Peter is telling us we are going to reap the outcome of our faith at some point. And that is the salvation of our souls. Now that’s something to look forward to.

The Greek word for “outcome” is telos. We get our word “telescope” from it. In fact, this word can be illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding one stage at a time to function at full-strength. Your faith will unfold fully one day to your full-blown salvation. Your faith grows up until the day you receive your salvation reward.

APPLICATION

Why not make a pirate’s telescope with your kids to explain this verse? Get some cardboard tubes and make one. Make sure it will slide out in at least three sections. Help them draw on each tube and label them Faith 1, Faith 2 and Faith 3. After the tubes are put together, slide them all out and write SALVATION across all three tubes.

Now, collapse the tubes and open them one at a time. Explain how our faith grows as we grow in Christ. Show them the tubes labeled Faith 1 and Faith 2. But also show them the letters that are showing for the word “salvation.” The word is growing. Open the third tube with Faith 3 and now showing the full word “salvation.” Our salvation is “full” when it reaches completion in glory.

Is that too elementary for you? Maybe. But our salvation is really not that complicated. God promises us an outcome of our faith. It’s the salvation of our souls. Believe it. If you are His child, you will get what’s coming to you. And that’s a good thing.

Lord Jesus, I am thankful for the promise of my salvation. Your promises are true! I look forward to the fulfillment of them all one day in glory!

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Testimony

LISTEN TO HIM

MATTHEW 17:1-8

“1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’ 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, ‘Get up, and do not be afraid.’ 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.”

When we read this story in Matthew when Jesus took Peter, James and John, we normally focus on the appearance of Moses and Elijah and the transfiguration of Jesus. That’s understandable. That would have been totally amazing. I can’t imagine what Peter was thinking. It’s no wonder he asked to build tabernacles (tents) for them. He was awestruck.

But I want us to look at what God said. A bright cloud appeared and a voice (God’s voice) said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” Look at those last three words. God tells them to listen to Jesus. What a reminder for us. We may not see Jesus transfigured or see Moses and Elijah, but we need to listen to His beloved Son.

APPLICATION

How many times a day do you say to your child, “Listen to me”? Why do you say that? Because you want them to hear what you say. Are your words worth hearing? Before you say “yes,” are you sure? The next time you say, “Listen to me,” ask yourself if you are listening.

You see, you can’t expect your kids to listen if you aren’t listening to God. He may not take you on a mountain of transfiguration, but He is telling you to listen to His Son. What is He telling you? What is Jesus saying right now? He is the same transfigured Son of God and wants you to listen to Him as much as He wanted Peter to listen. Will you?

Sometimes our listening gets sidetracked by our looking. Peter, James and John were so enamored by the sights. God had to tell them to listen. Will you stop looking so intently that your ears stop working? Stop, get quiet and listen today. You may just hear exactly what the Lord wants you to do.

My ears are open. I bow my head before You and yield to Your leading. Speak to me!

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Contentment, Encouragement, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Salvation, Surrender, Testimony

INEXPRESSIBLE JOY

1 PETER 1:8

“and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,”

How do you put into words something that is inexpressible? Peter didn’t know either. In fact, the Greek word used here for “inexpressible” is only used here in this verse. You just don’t have words to describe it. Nothing comes close.

But Peter isn’t referring to a beautiful scene or image. He is referring to the joy we have from loving and believing in Christ. Hold on, now. If that is expressible, how can we ever tell others about it? By living it! If we truly have that inexpressible joy in our lives, others will know. Words are necessary. It will show in our faces.

APPLICATION

Have you ever watched your child try to hide something exciting from someone? Their face gives it away. They just can’t help it. They want to tell so bad. The next time you buy a gift for their mom or dad, get them in on the purchase. Let them help pick it out. They will be so excited and bursting with joy. That look on their face is truly inexpressible.

Don’t you want your children to have that same inexpressible joy in loving and knowing Christ? Of course, you do. But you can’t manufacture that. There is nothing you can do to give that to them. That only comes as they surrender to Jesus. And then watch! You will see the joy explode on their face. They will beam with joy.

Do you remember the joy of your surrender to Christ? I sure do. I recall the fresh feeling I had in my heart. I recall the vividness of colors around me. Words could not fully express what I was I feeling inside. My life had to show others the joy I was experiencing. Will you do that today? Will you allow the inexpressible joy of loving and knowing Christ to spill over on whomever you encounter?

O Lord, I am full today. I am full of this inexpressible joy! Help me show others through my actions what I have experienced in You.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony, Trust

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU REBUKE

MATTHEW 16:21-23

“21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ 23 But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”

Rebuke sounds like such a harsh word, and it can be. But here Peter isn’t harshly rebuking Jesus. He was just saying, “Don’t talk like that. You don’t mean that.” Peter didn’t want to hear Jesus talking like that. He had his own ideas of what Jesus should do.

But it’s important before you try to correct someone that you know what’s really going on. Peter was still clueless. Look at Jesus’ words. “for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests.” We do the same thing. We have our own thoughts about stuff without even asking the Lord what He would have us do or so.

APPLICATION

What can we teach our children from this verse? We need to put the Lord’s plans above our own. What we desire for ourselves or others is not important unless those desires line up with the Lord’s desires for us. And we know His desires are always for our good. How can our children learn this?

Prayer is the answer. Seeking His will daily through surrender delivers us into His desires for our life. The Lord may lead us in a direction that seems unreasonable or even absurd. But when we trust Him, He will clarify His vision for us. Even as Jesus corrected Peter, He was showing Peter His way was better.

What has the Lord told you recently that confused you? Rest assured He is not a God who confuses. Believe Him! Trust Him! Let Him give you the direction He chooses. Wherever He leads is the right place. We can always follow Him, knowing that His footsteps take us closer to being like Him.

Father, help me to take Your words as truth. I will follow You and submit to Your leading. Your words are life. I choose to live by them.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Following, Inspirational, Modeling, Peace, Perseverance, Purity, Trust

PROVEN PRECIOUS

I PETER 1:7

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 

Our faith is precious, more precious than gold. And Peter reminds us how gold is proven to be precious. It is tested by fire. The same is true about our faith. It, too, will go through testing.

One scholar wrote,
“Christians should be willing to pass through trials: (a) They will purify their religion, just as the fire will remove dross from gold.

(b) They will make it shine more brightly, just as gold does when it comes out of the furnace. (c) They will disclose more fully its value. (d) They will furnish an evidence that we shall be saved; for that religion which will bear the tests that God applies to it in the present life, will bear the test of the final trial.”

APPLICATION

So, how do you apply this verse? By living through those testings. As you encounter hard times, you have the God given opportunity to trust Him to prove your faith. Your children are watching. As you talk to them about how you are trusting the Lord in the process, they are listening.

You may not think these moments will be remembered by them. After all, they are young. But, oh, they will remember. God will make sure of that. Trusting moments stick. Faith producing moments make impacts, especially on young lives. And when God brings you through, and He will, celebrate that with your children.

Are you in a trial right now? Is your faith being put through the fire? Thank the Lord that He is purifying it. Thank Him that You know it is more precious than gold. Gold will not last forever. Even it is eventually destroyed. But not our faith. With each “firing” it becomes stronger. Believe that!

I praise You for the fires! I may not enjoy the process, but I am thankful for the outcome. Purify me, Lord!

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Parenting, Praise, Salvation, Surrender

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

MATTHEW 16:16-19

“16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’” 

Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi could be seen as a pivotal point in the life of Peter. Here he is, a fisherman. But he is realizing this man he is following is more than just a rabbi. He makes this declaration and Jesus commends him. He, in a sense, empowers him right there to lead the church that is to come.

Do you understand that the moment you declare Jesus as Christ, He empowers you to lead also? Once you are His child, He comes to live in you through the Holy Spirit and wants to use you to expand His kingdom on earth. Jesus could save everyone immediately, but He still chooses us to do His work. Just like Peter, we have to answer that question, “Who do you say that I am?”

APPLICATION

Kids love knock knock jokes, don’t they? They can come up with some silly ones. We laugh and go along with them. Jesus doesn’t use these, however, to reveal Himself. He doesn’t play games with identifying Himself. He wants to disclose Himself fully to each of us. I believe He wants to do that as early as possible in a child’s life. He doesn’t expect them to fully understand everything about Him before accepting Him as Lord.

Many parents want to make sure their child is totally clear and knowledgeable before making their decision public and getting baptized. Do you think Peter fully understood Jesus when he made that confession? Hardly. He still had much to learn. Yet Christ confirmed his belief at the level it was then.

Who do you say Jesus is? Do you fully understand who He is? No one does. We won’t know Him fully until eternity, but we have the opportunity to learn more each day we surrender. As we do that, Jesus shows us more. Oh, the joy of learning more.

Praise You, Lord, for revealing Yourself to me. Help me grasp who You are. And then let me share with others.

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