Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Salvation

ARE YOU READY?

1 PETER 4:6

“For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.”

This could be a confusing verse if you don’t look at it closely. What is Peter saying here? People who have been persecuted and killed (judged in the flesh) are now alive in the spirit. You see, people may kill your body for standing for Christ, but they cannot kill your spirit.

Why do we fear death and persecution? No one wants to suffer, of course. But our mortal bodies are simply the vessels God has given us to use on this earth to advance His kingdom. When we “give up” these bodies, where do we go? Heaven! So, there is no reason to fear death, no matter how it comes.

APPLICATION

Most parents shy away from talking to their kids about death. We are afraid it will scare them. Don’t do that. Talk about what death means for a Christian. Let them know how precious our eternity is. Death is nothing to fear. Death is simply a portal from this physical life to the next.

This may seem like a morbid subject to discuss with kids. It’s only morbid if we treat it like that. Celebrate life with your kids. Celebrate death of a believer with your kids. As Peter says in today’s verse, “they may live in the spirit.” We live, after death, in the spirit. That is certainly not morbid. It’s encouraging.

Do you fear death? I certainly don’t. I have a terminal disease and have gone through two stem cell transplants. I have “beat” death twice now. But I welcome death when it comes. There is no fear of it. I know where I am going when death comes. Do you? I pray you do. Make sure of that today.

I am thankful for the assurance I have in this life for my future life in heaven. Death is embraced, when it comes, as You welcome me into Your arms.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Death, Denial, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Sin, Suffering, Testimony, Trust

DEAD COW

1 PETER 4:1

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,”

How do you face the problems of today? Do you go out and battle the enemy on your own? How crazy is that? No! Peter tells us here to arm ourselves with the same purpose as Christ. What does that mean? Christ died to His own will and constantly sought the will of His Father. He literally armed Himself by dying to His self.

We can do the same, and the result is we cease from sin. Really, Carl? We won’t sin anymore? Listen closely. We will battle the desire to sin until we are in Glory. However, when we die to ourselves and seek the Lord’s will, we also die to the desire to sin. Dead men can’t sin! It’s all about surrender.

APPLICATION

At Kids’ Camp we play a game a lot called “Dead Cow.” Any adult at any time can yell “Dead Cow” and everyone has to drop to the ground on their back and stick their arms and legs in the air. Kids love it. Try this with your family. When things are getting crazy around the house and no one is listening, yell “Dead Cow.” Now you have to give the instructions first or they will think you are crazy.

Dead Cows can’t do anything. They can’t eat. They can’t moo. They can’t make milk. Nothing! That’s the point. Explain to your children that when they die to their own selfish desires and surrender to God, they die to those fleshly things. Yes, our sin nature is still there. That’s why we have to die every second of every day.

Have you died lately? If you are having trouble with a co-worker, check out your death meter. Perhaps you and your spouse are fighting. Yell “Dead Cow.” Not really, I’m just kidding. But go to the Lord in complete abandonment and die to yourself. Death really does bring forth life – new life in Christ.

O Lord, I die to myself today. I surrender my will to Yours. I want to walk today in newness of life.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Death, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Resurrection, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony, Witnessing

ARISE

ACTS 9:40

“But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.” 

Acts 9:36-43 tells the story of Peter raising Tabitha (Dorcas in the Greek language) from the dead. What a wonderful story. Isn’t it? There were many friends of Tabitha there when this happened, so the word spread quickly throughout Joppa. What do you think happened?

Verse 42 tells us. “It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.” This is the reason the Lord worked through Peter to raise Tabitha. It really wasn’t about her. It was about all those who would be led to the Lord. Bringing the spiritually dead to life is much more important than bringing the physically dead to life.

APPLICATIONS

Did you know your children are dead before they come to Christ? They are spiritually dead waiting to arise. As parents we pray for our children’s salvation and rejoice greatly when they surrender to the call of our Lord. You may be parents of unsaved children. Don’t stop praying. God is still raising dead people.

Once your children are saved and walking with the Lord, your job is to keep them “alive.” What do I mean by that? Walking in newness requires daily dying to self. Wnhe you die to self, you have to get up and walk with Christ through His life. You die and then arise. You surrender to Jesus daily and allow Him to direct your steps. Your children need to know this truth.

Are you dead or alive? Are you the dead Tabitha or the alive Tabitha? Your risen life in Christ can be used, like Tabitha’s, to draw many others to Jesus. Wouldn’t that be awesome? By your daily surrender to Him, others can see Jesus in you. Arise!

I want to walk in newness of life with You today. I lay my life before You to use however You desire. I want to draw others to You through my surrendered life. 

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Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Death, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Inspirational, Joy, Parenting, Resurrection, Scripture

WHERE DID HE GO?

JOHN 20:6-7

“6 And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.” 

Don’t you know Peter’s first thought was Where did He go? I am sure he didn’t remember right away that Jesus had told them He would rise from the dead. Jesus had told them but not in so many words. All Peter knew was Jesus had died and now He was not in that tomb. He had been told by Mary that He was alive, but he needed to see Him for himself.

And what about the linens? There were two piles – one where the body was and another with the wrappings from the head. It was as if Jesus had unwrapped Himself. Was that possible? Or did the angels he heard had been here done that. This was just too much to take in. Where was Jesus?

APPLICATION

Sometimes we see things that we just can’t believe. I have a friend who is a Christian illusionist. He can do things that make you scratch your head. I have often said when I watch him perform that there is no way he just did that. Of course, all his illusions are tricks. He will tell you that himself.

Jesus had not just performed a parlor trick. He had really risen from the dead. Ask your children if they have ever met anyone who has done that. Of course, they will think you’re crazy for even asking that. But then remind them, when you meet Jesus and ask Him into your heart, you just met someone who has done that. No one else has defeated death themselves. Jesus simply threw off the grave clothes and walked out of a sealed tomb.

Do you believe everything you see? You shouldn’t. But you should believe this. Jesus is alive. He is seated right now beside His Father, as much alive as when He walked the earth. His position in heaven does not diminish His life in the least. And He wants you to live each day with that knowledge. Live knowing He’s alive.

Knowing You are alive gives me hope for tomorrow. You are always watching over me and walking beside me. I may not can see You now, but I know You are there.

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WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

JOHN 13:36-37

“36 Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’ 37 Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.’”

When my children were little, I traveled a good bit. I used to travel around the country inspecting other children’s homes. Most of these trips took four or five days. Inevitably, when I was packing, my son or daughter would ask me where I was going and if they could go with me. Of course, they couldn’t go, but I always brought them back something when I returned.

Jesus’ words before His arrest and crucifixion caused Peter to ask the same question. “Lord, where are You going?” Then those famous words before his denial of Christ. “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Even after following Jesus three years, he didn’t get it. He didn’t want to see Jesus go anywhere without him.

APPLICATION

I’m sure your children have asked you the question mine asked me. And I am sure you gave them a logical explanation. But the more important answer is this. You are going to heaven. That is your final destination, if you are a believer. And I am sure you want your children to follow you there.

So, the most important thing we can do is prepare our children for that journey. We need to cultivate them when they are little by reading them God’s Word and teaching them to pray. Their transition from unbeliever to believer should be certain but seamless. That way when they ask you where you are going you can say, “The same place you are going – heaven.”

I pray you are headed heavenward. If you are not sure, make it sure today. If you are, take a crowd with you. Share Jesus with friends, family, neighbors and strangers. Where are you going?

Heaven is my eternal home, and I long for it. Help me share the good news of Jesus to as many as I can while I am here, so they too can know where they are going.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting

FACING DEATH

2 TIMOTHY 4:6

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”

What would you do and what would you say if you knew your death was imminent? Paul knew this. He had been in prison for a while now and knew he would die for the faith soon. But look at how he describes that. He doesn’t say, “I’m about to die.” Neither does he say, “They are about to kill me.” He says, “I am pouring my life out as a sacrifice.”

The Greek word for “being poured out as a drink offering” is one word. It occurs here and also in Philippians 2:17. Paul wrote Philippians about four years earlier during his first imprisonment. But even then he saw his life as a sacrifice for Jesus. He didn’t fear death. He was pouring his own life out for Him. No one could take what he freely gave.

APPLICATION

Test this with your children. Ask them if there is something they really value they are willing to give away. Perhaps it is a special toy or gift they have received. They may know someone who would really love it, maybe more than they do. If they are willing to give it up, let them. This could be a huge learning opportunity.

Now, go to this verse and explain that just as Paul willingly gave up his life for Jesus, nothing they are willing to give away can be taken from them. It doesn’t matter how it leaves their hands once they have decided to give it away. It’s the giving up that matters. The same holds true for their life. Is it fully given up to Jesus?

How about you? Is your life being poured out as an offering? Does your heart fully belong to Jesus? Until you are willing to give up your life for Him you will never fully know what Paul is referring to here in this verse. If we are holding on to our life, we are holding back full allegiance. Now, Jesus probably will never ask you to die for Him. But if He did, would you? That’s a hard question.

Father, my life is Yours to do with as You choose. To live is Christ and to die is gain. I pour out myself for You today.

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SORRY, DON’T KNOW YOU

2 TIMOTHY 2:12 

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 

I have become more honest as I get older. Now, I am not saying I used to lie, but I wouldn’t quite be honest sometimes. Like when someone comes up to you, calls you by name and begins this long conversation, but you have no idea who this person is. In the past I would say, “Hey bud, how are you doing?” Now I say, “Hey, I’ve forgotten your name. Forgive me.” 

Jesus knows our name, whether we accept Him or not. But He promises us reigning power or powerlessnes, based on our response to Him. Paul tells us here that if we will endure with Christ, we will reign with Him. If we turn our backs and run, He will also deny us before the Father. 

APPLICATION 

Children like to be recognized. They love hearing their name called when they see you. What they don’t like is to be ignored. Try it for a day with your kids. Go through your normal routine, but each time a child calls your name, ignore them. (If they have an emergency make an exception). 

At the end of the day explain what you did and why. Read today’s verse. Ask them how they think the Lord feels when we do that. When we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. And I really want to meet the Father, don’t you? Make a point to call your child by his/her name. Their name means something, and your child should know it.  

Are you being called to serve specifically in this area – the area of name calling? It’s a gift. It is so good to see the look on the other person (adult or child) when they hear their name. God loves you and has you surrounded by His love this evening. 

I know right now You are calling out my name before the Father. One day, I will see You face to face. One day, I will meet the Father. 

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Comfort, Contentment, Death, Faith, Forgiveness, Life, Parenting, Resurrection

DIE TO LIVE

2 TIMOTHY 2:11 

It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 

Huh? How is that possible? If you die, you die. Right? And if you live, you live. But Paul says, “For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him.” Logically, that makes no sense at all. But there we go. It’s not about logic. It’s about faith. 

At the cross, the moment Christ died, He died a death for all who would believe in Him. His death was for everyone. Our sins were nailed to that old rugged cross right along with Him. And then, when He walked out of that tomb, we also walked out with Him as resurrected creatures.  

APPLICATION 

Let me explain this concretely so your kids can understand. My brother-in-law described this as being “biscuits for Jesus.” Get all the ingredients to make biscuits (flour, buttermilk, butter, salt, oil, etc) and mix them all together. They are “with” each other but are still able to be separated. But once you cook those biscuits, something happens. Those ingredients are now “with” each other in a whole new way which can’t be separated. 

Both of the verbs in today’s verse have that second “with” attached. It’s a little Greek pronoun “syn.” That’s us in Christ. We die with Him, and we live with Him. We cannot be separated. We are bound together with Him for eternity. That’s death to life.  

Are you bound with Christ? Do you know that nothing can separate you from the presence of Christ in your life, if you are a believer. You may feel distant at times, but His life courses through your veins as a Christian. You are just choosing not to walk in victory. Choose life today! 

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole. Thank You, Lord, for giving to me, life more abundant. 

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EMPTY HANDED

1 TIMOTHY 6:7

“For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.” 

Come on! Think about it. When you are born what do you bring with you? Nothing! Nada! Zero! And when you die, you leave this earth with…the same! So, let me ask you a question. Why do we spend so much time accumulating stuff? Now, don’t get me wrong. I like stuff as much as the next guy. But does the process of getting it ruin it for you?

I recently discovered that one of my ancestors was Charlemagne, a king in the 1stCentury who ruled over the Franks, Lombards and Romans. He was buried in 814 seated on his throne with his crown on his head and scepter in his hand. It seems even in death, he was determined to rule and hold on to what he had. But he couldn’t. No one can.

APPLICATION

This is kind of a morbid topic for kids, huh? Well, I don’t mean it to be. What I am trying to say in this devotional is stuff doesn’t matter. Whatever we manage to get here on earth will be left for someone else. Do this! Take your child to their room and ask them to pick out their five most important possessions. Put them in a box and tell them you want to see how long they can “live” without them.

After the crying stops (just kidding) talk about those five things. What were they? Why were they important? Who gave it to them? Read them today’s verse and let the words sink in. Those five favorite things can’t go to heaven with them. When they are older, they will have five different favorite things. They can’t go either. Instead help them focus on what can go with them – their love for Christ, the Word of God they have memorized and the peace in their hearts that God is real and loves them. Those are true possessions.

What are you holding on to with a death grip? Would you willingly lay it down if the Lord asked you to? If not, you’ve got a problem. Parents, you can invest in your children’s lives and lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ. You may be gone long before they are, but one day they will be with you in eternity. Now, that’s something to hold on to.

O God, I long to see Your face. There is nothing on this earth that I would hold on to that could keep me from coming to You. You have blessed me, and I only want to You.

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TURNING ASIDE

1 TIMOTHY 5:15

for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.” 

What a sad statement! “For some have already turned aside.” It literally means to turn away from one thing or person to follow another. That’s what they have done. They have chosen to follow Satan. Now, this is not a devotional on losing your salvation. That’s for another time. 

Some people think they can play both sides, but the instant you turn towards Satan, you turn away from Jesus. You cannot follow Satan and follow Jesus. You cannot please Satan and please Jesus. You have to choose. Choose wisely because this is an eternal decision.

APPLICATION

Children will follow easily. That’s why it is so important for you to teach them who to follow. If you don’t, the world will. The world is appealing and exciting. Who doesn’t want to follow that? It has all the bells and whistles. 

Teach your children that all that looks exciting is not. They can always trust where the Lord leads them, even if the path looks dangerous. Following Jesus is not always easy, but it is always fulfilling. Following Jesus may not always be safe, but He will protect them. Teach them to abandon their own despair for His hope.

Who are you following? Remember, one road leads to destruction but looks so inviting. Satan will disguise his path to appear smooth and easy. But boy oh boy, the second you are on the path, he starts setting traps. Then you are caught. Jesus invites you to walk along His blood-stained path. And when the path gets hard, He carries you.

Father, remind me why I follow you. I choose today to follow You wherever You lead.

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