Advice, Baptism, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Surrender, Testimony

BAPTISM SAVES?

1 PETER 3:21

“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

Here lies a verse that is argued by many a scholar. Let me say I am not trying to start an argument or persuade others to my view of Scripture. I am merely using this verse to encourage others. Baptism is a symbol of our regeneration in Christ. The phrase “an appeal to God for a good conscience” implies a work that is already done. Baptism is an outward expression of an inner work.

Let me give you my example. I was baptized at eight years old. But I never really gave my heart to Jesus. I believed in Him, but I didn’t surrender to Him until age 16. I was baptized again as a believer. The first baptism meant nothing. I just got wet. But as a believer, I knew I needed to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism.

APPLICATION

When should your child get baptized? I am asked this a lot. My simple answer is when they understand the basic Gospel message and have asked Jesus into their life. Jesus referred to a child’s faith over and over in Scripture. We adults complicate it. We want to “make sure” they understand everything. Let me ask you, mom and dad, do you understand everything about salvation?

I’ve been a believer since July 1977, and I am still learning. I have been in ministry over 40 years, and I am still learning. Trust your children when they tell you they have asked Jesus to be their Savior. Sure, talk to them about it. And then encourage them to be baptized.

Maybe you have put off this decision for years. Don’t wait any longer. Call your church and find out when the next baptism is and get it done. Be obedient. You will still get to heaven without baptism, but you will have missed a blessing.

Father, I want to be obedient to You in all I do. I am thankful I can follow Your Son’s example in baptism.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Prayer, Reputation, Safety, Suffering, Testimony, Witnessing

FALSELY IMPRISONED

ACTS 12:5

“5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Peter seemed to be in and out of prison a lot. The religious leaders did not want him preaching the Gospel. So, they threw him in jail time and time again. Peter was not hindered. God kept using him. He wasn’t afraid of prison bars because he knew he was free in Christ.

Let me ask you a question. If you were threatened with jail if you didn’t stop preaching about Jesus, what would you do? That probably won’t happen in the United States (and I say probably because things seem to be changing quickly). But it is a real threat in many parts of the world. People are praying for those who face this threat, just like people were praying for Peter.

APPLICATION

One thing we need to teach our children is to not fear sharing Jesus. It is hard for many of us to do that. We are afraid the person may get mad at us or that we may hurt their feelings. Help your children develop way to share without being harsh. Living for Jesus daily speaks volumes. Help your children tell others what Jesus has done for them.

But most importantly, help them to understand that if they are faithful to share His good news with others, God will take care of them. Now, that doesn’t mean they will be spared from insults or ridicule. It could even lead to more serious consequences. But we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

Are you willing to face the consequences for obeying Jesus? Or are you more concerned with your reputation? Peter had a mission, and nothing could keep him from it. You and I have that same mission – to spread the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

I am ready, Lord, to suffer for You. I don’t like saying that, but I know You will see me through whatever comes my way. I want to be obedient to share Jesus.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

SAFETY IN OBEDIENCE

1 PETER 3:20

“who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

Noah’s family survived the flood because of their obedience to God, not because of the ark. The ark was simply the vessel God used. Peter is using this well known story to illustrate how our Heavenly Father chooses to save us. He has provided the vessel (Jesus) through which we are saved. Our obedience to His call results in being safely carried through life.

This verse mentions God’s patience. Remember, it is God’s will that all men be saved. He is patient, but He is holy. His desire is salvation for all, but He will not tolerate outright disobedience. Peter states this, not to be harsh, but to be direct.

APPLICATION

I bet you never have to deal with disobedience from your children. Right? Now that you are through laughing, let me ask you a question. Do you see how you deal with your children’s disobedience as a reflection of how God deals with ours? It should be. We should be showing a measure of grace and patience, but at the same time, showing justice.

Our children have to know that there are absolutes. The world does not exist in gray areas or situational obedience. Too many parents allow their children to “push the boundaries” without repercussions. Base your expectations on God’s Word, which never changes. Only His Word will provide the absolutes.

Do you live according to God’s absolutes or the world’s non-absolutes? It is really a choice of obedience or disobedience. Joy never precedes obedience. Let me say that again. Joy never precedes obedience. But when we obey our Lord, He fills us with joy. Don’t you want joy today?

I desire joy, Father. Lead me to obey You so You will pour Your joy on me.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Following, God's Will, Parenting, Surrender

GOD’S WAY

ACTS 11:17

“‘Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?’”

Peter ends his description of what happened when he visited Cornelius by making this statement. I love it. He just did what God asked him to do, and God has His way. Wouldn’t you like for God to have His way with you? He can and He will – if you will surrender. Peter just had to get out of the way and allow the Lord to use him.

When Peter made this last statement, those who were questioning him shut their mouths and glorified God. Man, wouldn’t that be great? When we yield to the Master, others can just look on and glorify God. They will see it is not us. It’s all Him.

APPLICATION

Nothing can make a mom or dad happier than to know God was having His way with their child. But you and I know that doesn’t just happen. Kids learn to let God have His way one tiny surrender at a time. They need to learn to let Him has His way in how they treat their siblings. And how about how they obey you?

You see, the problem with letting God have His way with our kids is we have to let our plans for them go. That’s right. His way may match up with your plans, but then again, it may not. Are you willing to let your kids go God’s way despite your plans for them? That’s a hard question. But in the end, He will be glorified.

It is very rare that God’s way and man’s way coexist. Our flesh gets in the way. We want to be glorified. Oh, we may never say that, but that is what our flesh desires. We want people to notice us. We want people to exalt us. Let Him have His way. You won’t be sorry.

I will surrender to Your way, O God. Your way is far better than mine. I know that. Show me how.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

1 PETER 3:19

“in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,”

This verse and the next couple of verses are some controversial verses among believers. My first thought is how sad. Our arguments about Scripture give the unbelieving world a reason to disbelief in the very truth of the Word. That being said…

The Spirit of Christ was present as Noah (mentioned in verse 20) preached to the people of his day. These people who died in the flood are “the spirits now in prison.” God has always desired people to come to Him. The flood victims were no exception. Instead, they laughed and made fun of Noah, ignoring the warnings given through him.

APPLICATION

This same Spirit of Christ speaks through us today. As we disciple our children, we must teach them this truth. The very Spirit of Christ lives in and through us. He is still preaching the Gospel today – as we allow Him. That’s the key. Our children need to be discipled to hear the Spirit when He speaks. Remember the story of Samuel as a child?

And here’s the great part. As we are obedient to allow the Spirit to speak through us, perhaps those who hear will respond and avoid the prison of hell. That’s our reward. Seeing others come to Christ is thrilling, is it not?

Will you allow Jesus to speak through you today? Will you be the one used of the Lord to slam those “prison doors” closed to prevent them from spending eternity there? There are so many people you come into contact with daily who are going to join the other inmates of hell unless someone shares Christ with them.

Place others in my path today who need to hear about Jesus. Use me to lead them to You. I want to see them welcomed into Your arms for eternity.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Fighting, Forgiveness, Gentleness, Harmony, Modeling, Parenting, Testimony

EXPLAIN YOURSELF

ACTS 11:2-4

“2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3 saying, ‘You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ 4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence,” 

Disagreements happen. Even among believers, disagreements can occur. If we aren’t careful, those disagreements can erupt into fights and then grudges. Before you know it, friendships are shattered, and things are said that cause hurt feelings. I have seen churches split over small disagreements.

Peter was facing a pivotal moment. He needed to explain what had happened in Joppa with the Gentiles. Jews weren’t supposed to associate with Gentiles, and he was accused of eating with them. You need to read the rest of the story (Acts 11:5 and following) to see how he explained himself. He simply told them what God had done. It wasn’t Peter’s plan. It had been God’s.

APPLICATION

Your children are going to have disagreements and misunderstandings with their friends. How do you, as a parent, help them navigate these troubled waters? Once again, how you handle these situations yourself will teach them. How do you handle disagreements with your spouse? How about with other family members? They are watching you. Are you in the wrong? Have you done something to offend someone? Make it right.

And if you are doing the right thing and are falsely accused, how do you handle the situation? Do you get defensive? Show your children how to deal with this. Allow God to come to your defense. Be like Peter and calmly state what happened or what you did. Peter couldn’t be held responsible for how his accusers received his explanation. He just needed to tell his story and trust the Lord.

Do you trust the Lord with your relationships? He wants you to have healthy relationships, not ones that are strained and troubled. You simply need to do what He asks of you and leave the results up to Him. Try that today and see what He does in and through you.

O Lord, I trust you with my eternity so surely I can trust You with my relationships. Guard my tongue from unkind words. Let my spirit be knit with Your Spirit every moment.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, Forgiveness, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Testimony, Witnessing

IN A NUTSHELL

1 PETER 3:18

“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;”

This verse IS the Gospel in a nutshell. This verse says it all. Jesus died for all to forgive us of our sins and rose again to give us eternal life. I have heard it said we should have our testimony down to an elevator conversation. Do you know what that means? We should be able to share our faith in about as much time as it takes to ride on an elevator with someone.

That takes practice. You have to cover all the bases. You need to tell where you came from and what God has brought you to. Do you have a story to tell? Well, of course you do. If you are a believer, God has done a miracle in your life. He has rescued you from a sure damnation to a glorious salvation. That’s worth talking about.

APPLICATION

Our children can be taught to do this also, once they come to Christ. Help them write out their salvation. Then start whittling it down to a 12-15 second conversation. What? Yep! That’s about how much time you would have on an elevator. That may be the amount of time they would have with a friend at school between classes.

Help them practice sharing it so it’s second nature. It doesn’t need to be preachy. It needs to be practical and personal. Then help them develop a list of friends to whom they want to share their story. Be prepared to celebrate when their friends come to Christ.

Are you seeking out others with whom to share? Are you ready to share your story? Write it out and practice it, if necessary. But whatever you do, do it. Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate. Make it a priority. Pray for those friends you know need Christ and prepare to share with them the life-changing story of your life.

Point me in the right direction today to share with someone the love of Jesus. Give me the words to share to get it across clearly and concisely.

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