Advice, Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Kindness, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Reputation, Testimony

DIRTY HANDS

MATTHEW 15:15-20

“15 Peter said to Him, ‘Explain the parable to us.’ 16 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17’ Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.’”

I am sure, as a fisherman, Peter ate lots of meals with dirty hands. When you are out on a boat it’s hard to use soap to clean up to eat. So, when Jesus answered the Pharisees this way about their concern they hadn’t washed their hands before eating the grain, he probably smirked a little. Still, he wanted to make sure he understood what Jesus was saying.

Why are some people so concerned about how they look on the outside, but their thoughts and words are filthy? If we had a machine in church on Sundays that could read the minds of the people as they came in the doors, we would probably be appalled. Jesus plainly tells us here that it is our inner thoughts and our words that defile us. Yes, washing our hands are important. But our inner cleanliness is so much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet when your children were little you washed their hands a lot, didn’t you? As they get older you teach them to wash their own hands and ask them before dinner, “Did you wash your hands?” What a perfect verse to discuss their spiritual cleanliness. Why not ask them at dinner, “Did you speak harshly to your sister today?” Instead of asking them, “Did you use soap to wash your hands?” ask them if they thought about the words they used today when they got upset at the video game.

It is so important to teach our children to guard their tongues. I have often said that words are like toothpaste. Once they are out you can’t stuff them back in the tube. Teach them to choose their words carefully. And if they do slip up, teach them how to make it right. Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. That’s another skill missing today.

Are you more concerned about how you appear to others than what’s in your heart? If you will flip that around, you won’t have to worry so much about how you appear. Your inwards thoughts will be reflected on the outside. Pause and think before speaking, even if what you are going to say may sound “spiritual.” Sometimes that is just not the right thing to say at the time.

I am thankful Your Spirit can guard my tongue. Help me surrender to You before each word is spoken. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord.

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Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Eternity, Following, Holy Spirit, Parenting, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

I PETER 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 

Are you born again? You have undoubtedly heard that question at some point in your life? It’s one of those church questions? That question can confuse some people, especially those who have had no knowledge of Christ. The concept of being born again was brought up by Christ to Nicodemus in John 3. Even though Nicodemus was educated, he was confused by then idea.

The Greek word “born again” is only used twice in the New

Testament, both times in 1 Peter (1:3, 23). It means to be birthed again from on high. It is done to you by One who is greater than you. This rebirth occurs the moment you surrender your life to Jesus. God the Father, through God the Spirit, regenerates us and give us a brand, new life in God the Son.

APPLICATION

Ask your son or daughter what they would want to come back as if they could be reborn. This could be funny. Some may say a puppy or a cat. Some may say an eagle or a snake. Ask them why? Anything goes. Just let them talk.

Then talk about how we can be reborn into a new creature through the Lord. They may not understand all the theological concepts of rebirth, but they understand “new.” It’s a fresh start. It’s a new beginning. It’s a life without all the junk of the past holding us down. And tell your children the most beautiful part of this rebirth is it is eternal. There will never be a need for a second rebirth. Hallelujah!

Are you born again? Are you sure? If you have given your heart to Jesus, He has entered you through the Holy Spirit and cleansed you of all unrighteousness. It is His life that now resides in you. You have the power to conquer sin, not because of anything you can do, but because He is God. Enjoy your new birth. Relish in the freshness. Sing for joy because of Him.

I praise You for my new life in Christ. I thank You for birthing me on high and claiming me as Yours. I shall forever serve You.

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Bible, Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Grace, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation, Sanctification, Surrender

GOD KNOWS AND DOES

I PETER 1:2

“according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.”

We are chosen! God desires that all men be saved and knows who will and who won’t respond to His call. When He calls, and we respond, we are made holy by the “work of the Spirit.” That “sanctifying” work means to make us holy. We don’t make ourselves holy. There is nothing in us or that we can do to do that. That’s God’s job through the Spirit. And when that happens, we are chosen.

I love that Peter adds “May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” In the Greek “May…be…in the fullest measure” could be translated “may be multiplied.” I actually like that better. In other words, to maximum capacity. Now, tell me, who doesn’t want that as a chosen child of God?

APPLICATION

It’s a given that children always want more of a good thing. Think of something they really like. It could be their favorite snack or candy. It could be the amount of time they get to watch tv or play video games. But kids can get too much of a good thing, can’t they? Too much ice cream can make them sick. Too much tv can dull their brains, lol.

But can you get too much grace and peace? I don’t think so. How can you teach your kids this? By teaching them to live holy lives surrendered to Christ. Only through obedient living will the Lord multiply that in us. He wants to extend grace and peace, but our actions limit it. And the best way for our children to see that is how we live our lives. They will observe (and it’s important we point it out) when God’s grace and peace are working in us. Those are moments that will stick with them.

Do you want that in your life? Do you want God to multiply His grace and peace? I sure do. I need it every day, whether it’s a good or bad day. Do you know why? Because when it is multiplied in me, I can give it to others. I, probably just like you, run across people every day who need grace and peace in their lives. When I have been increased in that area through my obedience, it naturally pours out on them. We are agents of His grace and peace.

Father, I thank You for Your grace and peace. I praise You for choosing me as I responded to the drawing of Your Spirit Who made me holy. I am Yours to use.

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Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Elders, Encouragement, Fighting, Gentleness, Giving, Mentoring, Modeling, Money, Obedience, Parenting, Qualifications, Righteousness, Service, Testimony

KEEP AN EYE ON YOU

TITUS 1:7

“For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”

The position of overseer or elder has often been misinterpreted as a position of authority or title. The Greek word for “overseer” actually means someone who intently keeps their eye on something or someone. In the church that man is watching over the church body to provide first-hand care and protection. It’s a service role more than an authority role.

Now, elders must help guide the body. But they do this from a position of service, not by brow beating. That is exactly why Paul lays out all these qualifications. In this verse he gives six more character traits (good steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain). He has further limited the pool of men who rise to the position, this ensuring their heart for service, not rule.

 APPLICATION

It is interesting that these traits Paul lists for an elder are traits we as parents want for our children. We want them to handle what God gives them well. Money management is an important skill for us to teach them. Secondly, we want them to think more of others than themselves. Self-willed children will face many more challenges. Thirdly, we definitely want them to know how to control their temper, to not be easily upset or angry.

We also want our children to know how to handle the issue of drinking. If you think they won’t face that temptation, you are fooling yourself. You have to model that. The next trait, not pugnacious, means not a fighter. Some kids are always ready for a fight. We want to teach them how to avoid that. And finally, we want them to not be greedy. In fact, we want them to share liberally.

So, you see these elder traits are really traits for us all. How are you living up to these? These are all characteristics of someone surrendered to Christ. It requires dying to self daily. Then you too can help oversee the flock. You can keep your eye on your brother or sister to help guide and protect. Aren’t we all called to do that in the family of God?

Father, remind me to live my life in such a way that I am worthy of “overseeing” my brother and sister. I want to live like Jesus so I can help guide others in the path of righteousness.

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THE RIGHT MAN

TITUS 1:6

namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.”

Paul begins a list of qualifications for elders in today’s verse that goes through verse 9. This list is long and intimidating. When I read it, I wonder who can fulfill it. Who can possibly meet all these expectations? Only the man who is one hundred percent surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.

Paul describes an elder, the men he wants Titus to find and appoint in Crete, as above reproach or blameless, He must not have more than one wife. He has to be old enough for his children to have accepted Christ. He can withstand accusations that he is unsalvageable or insubordinate. Wow! That bar is high.

APPLLICATION

Children play a key role in their father’s selection as elder. Why would their children’s salvation be a determining factor? Because it implies that he has spent the time to invest in their lives and lead them to Christ. It implies that family is a priority. They say your family should be your first mission.

This is why, mom and dad, I spend so much time telling you to read Scripture to your kids. Scripture is what draws them to salvation. It prepares their heart to hear from the Lord. That means you must be a student of the Word. You must be comfortable sharing and applying it. This is an eternal decision. Don’t take it lightly.How do you line up with the list given today? You may never be asked to serve as an Elder. But I believe we all need to strive for the highest standards. We all serve a mighty God. If you don’t meet the criteria, ask the Lord to change your heart. He can use you. Won’t you let him?

O precious Lord, I know I am not worthy, but You want to use me. I am Your vessel. I surrender to You.

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CLEANSE THYSELF

2 TIMOTHY 2:21

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”

We really can’t do this. No one has the ability cleanse themselves spiritually. But Paul isn’t telling us to do that. This word “cleanses” is used here and over in 1 Corinthians 5:7. That’s it. In 1 Corinthians it used to describe getting rid of the old leaven. That’s his point.

We must choose to live a holy, sanctified life. That requires us to keep holy the things that are holy. We have to separate ourselves from people and situations that we know will work to tear us down. We can’t isolate ourselves, but we must make tough choices regarding our “influencers.”

APPLICATION

Kids have to make choices every day. Parents who make all the choices for them cripple them. It’s a control thing, I know. It’s much easier to do it for them and speed up the process. But if we don’t show them how to make difficult and hard choices when they are young, they won’t make them when they are older.

Why do we want them to cleanse themselves? So they will be useful to the Master. There’s something about a useless vessel. What happens to it? It’s either destroyed to make room for the useful or it is shelved out of mind. Invest in the time it takes to show your children how to make those hard decisions. Let them fail safely, too. They will learn a lot that way.

Are you willing to cast out all the leaven in your life? Are you able to make those hard choices? Those are necessary decisions for your spiritual growth. And the second you make that choice to be useful to the Master, He shows you how and where. Isn’t that cool? He wants to use us to further His kingdom.

I want to be used by You, Lord. Keep me focused on pleasing You, not man. Then I can give You all of me.

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ENTRUSTED

2 TIMOTHY 1:14 

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. 

What does that mean – entrusted? It means to assign something for safekeeping. What kind of things do you entrust to someone? I bet not much. We tend to hold on to our special stuff. But God gives us the most precious of gifts to hold for Him AND use it for His glory. His Gospel.  

Once we have received the Lord through the understanding and knowledge of the word, we are entrusted with it to care for it. It’s a special gift given only to those who have bowed their knees to the Father. God doesn’t entrust stuff to those whom He knows won’t keep it safe. 

APPLICATION 

We pass things down to our kids, don’t we? I passed down a knife my dad gave to me at twelve-years-old to my son when he turned twelve. I didn’t just give it to him. I took it and had it cleaned, sharpened and shined. It had a bone handle and german steel. I hope he still has it to pass on to his child one day.  

But that is trivial. The more important thing to pass on, to entrust to your children is your faith. You teach your children about your Lord with the hopes they will embrace that faith and make it their own. That special treasure of knowing the Lord as your Savior is something they can hold on to and pass along.  That’s truly a treasure worth finding, protecting, entrusting and sharing. 

Are you holding on to your own treasures of the gospel without sharing them with others? The beauty of this treasure is the more your share it, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more special it become. Don’t be a treasure hoarder. Entrust this special gift to all your come in contact with today. 

My treasure is in You, Lord. There is no other item in the world that means as much to me as knowing You and sharing You with others. Thank You for giving Yourself for me and to me. 

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