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A ROARING LION

1 PETER 5:8

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Have you ever seen and heard a roaring lion? I don’t mean one on television. I mean in real life. I saw a lion in Uganda once on a safari, but it wasn’t roaring. It was lying in the shade sleeping. It didn’t seem very scary. In fact, it looked very calm and peaceful. But believe me, I wasn’t about to jump out of that jeep and go over and scratch its belly. I knew what it was capable of.

Peter is warning about the dangers of the devil. We can’t let our guard down. He says to be sober and alert. The devil can lull us into thinking there is no danger and then he attacks. Just like a lion, he stalks his prey. He doesn’t present himself as he really is. He disguises himself and slips in for the kill. Don’t let him devour you or those around you.

APPLICATION

The last thing I want you to do is scare your children about the devil. However, they do need to know he is real and not some imaginary figure. We don’t want him to be talked about in the same company as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They must know the devil has one goal – to take as many souls to hell with him as possible. He knows he has already lost the war, but he wants to cause as many casualties as possible along the way.

How do you protect your child from this? By pouring the Word of God into them from birth. We raise our children to love and honor their God. And when they come to Christ and accept Him as their Savior, they are secure from the grasp of the devil. Then we must continue to disciple and mentor them to walk in the light and avoid those dark recesses where Satan dwells.

Living sober and alert may sound draining, but it’s not. The key is to stay in the Word. The moment we start living for ourselves and we put down the Word, we open ourselves up to attacks. The Word is called the sword for a reason. Use it to protect yourself and others from that nasty roaring lion.

I thank You for giving me the Word to defend against the schemes of the devil. I will watch carefully as I advance the kingdom, knowing he will do all he can to distract and attack.

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EXHORTER

1 PETER 5:1

“Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed

When I hear the word “exhort” I think of someone who is really coming on strong towards someone else. The word, to me, just sounds like that. But it’s not. The Greek word for exhort in this verse is parakaleo, which means to make a call from being close-up and personal. It also means to present the facts as in court.

Peter was an elder of the church. He had first-hand, eye-witness evidence of the sufferings of Christ. Remember, he was there when Jesus was tried and crucified. He also witnessed the resurrection. He saw the resurrected Christ. He knew what he was talking about. Do you?

APPLICATION

As our children come to a saving knowledge of Christ, we need to instill in them that they too are an eye-witness to the resurrection of Christ. Now, I don’t mean they saw Jesus come out of the tomb. That would be silly. But when they accept Christ as their Savior, they have spiritually participated in that event. They have been resurrected from spiritual death to spiritual life.

Therefore, they can exhort others in the same way Peter did. They can come alongside others to explain the Gospel to them. They can present the facts about how the Lord has changed their lives. Teach them to do this. Encourage them to share with others.

Are you an exhorter? Or do you shy away from sharing about Jesus? We are all called to exhort others toward the faith. Jesus saves us to glorify the Father. Our goal as Christians should not be to just become better Christians. Our goal should be to share with as many others as we can about the love of Jesus. Will you exhort someone today?

I have never seen myself as an exhorter, Lord. But Your Word calls me towards that. Give me the courage and opportunities to exhort someone today.

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IN THE FIRE

1 PETER 4:12

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” 

Have you ever been burned? I can recall a few instances where I touched a hot surface or got caught in some flames. One instance in particular involved starting a charcoal fire for our grill when I was growing up. My dad used to use mineral spirits to start the charcoal. So, I poured a healthy amount on the charcoal, let it soak in a bit and threw a match on it. The flame that shot up burned my eyebrows, eyelashes and the bangs of my hair. Wow!

Many times in our lives the “fiery ordeal” that hits us comes just as quickly. We can’t escape it. We are caught in the trial before we know it. But we must remember that each and every trial that comes our way has passed through the hands of God first. He has allowed it. Peter tells us to not be surprised by it. Rest in Him.

APPLICATION

The next time you surprise your child think about this verse. How startled were they? Did you scare them? Explain to them that life will surprise us sometimes with unexpected events. Things like deaths and illnesses can come out of nowhere. Part of growing up is learning how to accept these interruptions of life. And the best way to deal with them is with the grace of God.

We know that God will never desert His children. He will only lead us into places that He knows we can handle. Just like you, mom or dad, God would never take their hand and cast them into a fiery trial. He will walk with them and lead them through. Your children need to be reminded of that often.

Are you questioning God’s leadership in the trials of your life? I realize you may feel far from Him during those times, but He is near. He is there. Reach out to Him. He will stay right by your side during the hardest times. I know! I’ve been there.

Lord, I will trust You to douse the flames of the trials in my life. You are the only one I can depend on to carry me through.

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LOVE STRANGERS

1 PETER 4:9

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

All we hear today is stranger danger and for good reason. The world is an unsafe environment. Here, however, Peter tells us to love those strangers. The Greek word for hospitable comes from two Greek words, philos, which is brotherly love, and xenos, which is stranger. We are to love strangers.

It is interesting to me that this word is only used two other times where it is listed as a qualification for an elder. But here it is expected of all believers and with a qualifier. We are to do this “without complaint.” That literally means without murmuring or grumbling. Now, that’s hard, right?

APPLICATION

What a lesson for our kids! When they observe us doing this, they can get a glimpse of what real love is all about. Loving strangers because Jesus loves them is the key. Now, we should not be foolish and abandon all common sense. God doesn’t expect us to be foolish. But when opportunities present themselves, we need to be ready to show hospitality to those strangers God has placed in our paths.

How can you safely teach your children this? How about volunteering at the local soup kitchen? Maybe you could prepare sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless. Perhaps you could do a good deed for that neighbor on your street that no one likes or really knows too well. There are all sorts of ways to be hospitable. And remember, no grumbling.

You are probably saying, Well Carl, I don’t have the gift of hospitality. That’s a cop out. We have, through the Holy Spirit, access to all the gifts. Sure, we have primary ones which the Lord has gifted us with, but all the gifts are ours through Him. If He tells you to show a stranger kindness, don’t argue with Him. Just do it. You will be blessed!

I don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers, Lord, but I will do that as You lead. I will trust You to give me the words to say and the actions to take.

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THE END OF ALL THINGS

1 PETER 4:7

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”

What do you think of when someone says The end is near? That can be kind of scary, don’t you think? Remember Peter is writing to people who are dealing with persecution for their faith. Some had already been killed for that. The end of this life is a pathway to eternity. The end of all things is nothing to be feared for the believer.

But human nature causes us to fear the end of all things. That’s why Peter goes on to say, “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” Pray, pray, pray! When you are focused on prayer it is hard to be scared. When you are talking to the Father things come into focus.

APPLICATION

Focus your children on prayer. When they learn the power of prayer, they can face anything the world may throw at them. Sure, things can get crazy, but prayer focuses us on things above. Prayer focuses your children on God and not on the world. Model prayer for them. Pray with them.

Peter tells you how to do this. Pray with sound judgment and a sober spirit. In other words, pray with determination. Pray in a manner your children can understand. Make a list of prayer request and follow up with those individuals you are praying for. Pray humbly and expectantly. Reinforce for your kids that the Lord is listening and waiting to respond in His time.

Does this describe you? Are you praying that way? No matter what may come your way, pray. The end of all things is near. Don’t panic. Trust Him to lead you through it. He will. He is watching. He is listening. He is answering. Wait.

Lord, sometimes it is hard to pray. I commit to pray anyway. I will pray believing You have all things under control.

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ARE YOU STRANGE?

1 PETER 4:4

“In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

If you do the right thing around some people they are going to think you are strange. Peter says so right here. The Greek word translated as “are surprised” means to think strange. You see, if you don’t hang out with them and do the things they do, they not only think you are strange, but they will also “malign” you.  That means they will speak evil of you.

When I got saved the summer before my senior year in high school, my lifestyle changed. Most of my friends acted exactly as this verse says. They asked what was wrong with me. They wanted to know why I wasn’t hanging out with anymore and doing the things they were doing. That was a tough year. I lost a lot of those friends that year, who interestingly enough now love the Lord.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse to read to your children when they are made fun of for standing up for Jesus. It will never fail. If your kids are living for Jesus, the devil will send people into their lives to try to discourage them. Peer pressure is tough. Our kids can be easily manipulated by a bunch of friends to compromise their convictions.

That’s why their convictions have to be built upon God’s Word and not what mom or dad says. His Word is plain and simple. If we keep them in it and work to disciple them appropriately, we have to leave the rest of it up to God. He is big enough to convict and lead them to make the right choices. All our yelling and screaming does is drive them away. Lean on Him.

So, let me ask you again. Are you strange? I hope so. I hope you stick out like a sore thumb. I hope all those around you notice you are different. I want them to ask you why you are different. And I want you to be ready to respond with the Gospel. Be strange for Jesus.

Father, being strange doesn’t sound too good. I want to be considered normal, but I don’t want to “fit in” with the crowd. Give me the boldness to be strange.

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FREE

ACTS 12:7

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

You really need to read Acts 12:1-19 to get the full story of Peter’s imprisonment and release. It’s a fascinating story of God’s miraculous power. This verse, in the midst of that story, is great. Peter is sleeping between two soldiers when an angel appears, wakes him up and his chains fall off.

Can you imagine Peter’s surprise? But notice too that Peter was sleeping. He was at rest in prison. He was not up all night wringing his hands. He was trusting his Savior with his outcome. Whether he was released, kept in jail or killed, he was at peace. We could take a lesson from Peter here. Even when in chains, trust.

APPLICATION

This story would be a fun one to act out. Get your family together and assign the parts (Peter, angel, guards, Rhoda). Kids learn a lot from role playing. Act it out two or three times, changing roles each time. You have to video this too. Make sure to get the reaction of “Peter” each time he is awakened by the angel.

Ask your kids what they would do if an angel woke them up in the middle of the night. Ask them if they would follow the angel’s instructions or hide under the sheets. Our children need to understand that God still performs miracles. He may never send an angel to them, but He is still working in their lives every day. They just have to keep their eyes open.

What would you do with an angelic message? More importantly, what will you do with the message of God’s Word? He is speaking to you, if you will listen. The Scriptures are God’s way of talking to you today. But you have to read it to receive the message. Take time each day to read it.

Thank You, Lord, that I am free wherever I am because of Jesus in my life. The chains of sin have fallen off of me.

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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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DOING GOOD REGARDLESS

1 PETER 3:17

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

This just sounds backwards, doesn’t it? You shouldn’t suffer for doing what is right. You should only suffer for doing the wrong things. At least that is what we think. But God doesn’t think like we think. Boy, I’m glad that is true, aren’t you?

So, what does this verse mean for believers? At times the Lord will call on us to suffer. Suffering is NOT punishment. Suffering is a gift. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. In the midst of suffering we discover God in a whole new way. Others see Jesus in us and are encouraged in their own faith or perhaps drawn for the first time to give their lives to Christ. We must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.

APPLICATION

Teaching suffering to our children is no easy thing. We don’t want to see our children suffer. They may not understand why they are suffering for doing the right thing. These are teaching moments. Don’t overlook them just trying to soothe your child. You shouldn’t tell them to suck it up and get back on their feet either. It’s okay to feel hurt. That’s normal. We comfort them through God’s Word.

Suffering is a teaching time for our children. Perhaps you are going through a tough time right now. Maybe the Lord has led you into a suffering season just to model how to handle it for your children. Embrace it and live like Jesus. Your kids will never forget how you suffer for Him.

This is not a subject we want to talk about. We don’t want to suffer, especially when we are doing all the right things. We want to be blessed and be found faithful. You can be blessed through suffering also. Trust me, I know. Everyone’s suffering is different, but it is the same God who sees us through.

I will embrace the suffering You have for me, Lord. I know You know what is best for me. I trust You to teach me through the suffering.

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GOOD CONSCIENCE

1 PETER 3:16

“and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

What does it mean to “keep a good conscience”? Let’s break this down a bit. Actually, the Greek word translated as “keep” in this verse means to have or possess. The word “conscience” has the idea of the God-given capacity to know right from wrong. So, Peter is saying that no matter what others may say about us, as long as we know what we are doing is right, don’t worry about it. They are the ones who will be shamed.

Have you ever had someone put you down for something you have done? I have. I prayed about and had a perfect peace that what I was doing was God’s will. But because it went against or interfered in what someone else wanted, they ridiculed or at the very least questioned my intentions. All you can do at that point is trust the Lord and go on.

APPLICATION

Children face this all the time from their peers. It gets worse in the middle school and high school years. Whenever your child stands up for what God tells them, they are sure to be made fun of by others. It’s just the day in which we live. Living a life of integrity and purity is almost looked down on by those who choose to live another way.

As parents we hate to see them come home in tears or sullen. Our job is to encourage them with verses like this one today. Remind them that in the end those who have given them a hard time will be shamed. In the meantime, they are to continue to live for Jesus and trust Him to guard their hearts. Is it easy? By no means. But the end result is the key. He will reward the faithful.

How is your conscience? Are you remaining true to Him? Stay faithful, my friend. Allow the Lord to show you the big picture. Ask Him to give you a glimpse into the possibilities before you. He will as you surrender. He doesn’t want to keep secrets from you. He wants you in on His plans. Follow Him.

O God, I will trust You in the difficult circumstances. I will allow You to guard my heart as others attack. I will count it a privilege to suffer for You.

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