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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, Comfort, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith, Heaven, Inspirational, Parenting, Salvation, Testimony

OUR SENTINEL

I PETER 1:5

“who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Peter uses an interesting word here for “protected.” It’s not the usual word we see in the New Testament. This Greek word is only used four times and has the idea of actively displaying whatever defensive and offensive means are necessary to guard. In other words, God is going to protect us, no matter what. That’s pretty reassuring.

He is protecting us to preserve our salvation “ready to be revealed in the last times.” In simple terms, that means our salvation isn’t going anywhere. The perseverance of the saints is referred to here. Our salvation is forever. In the last days, when we are called to glory, the fulfillment of our salvation will be revealed. Until then, God is our sentinel, guarding it for His glory.

APPLICATION

Do your children understand that you serve as their sentinel? As mom and dad, we are to protect and guard our little ones. Ask your kids what that means. Ask them how they think you guard them. Better yet, get them to draw a picture. I love kids’ pictures. They are so revealing.

After talking about their pictures, explain to them how you actually do that. And also tell them the limitations. You can’t always be there. You have to sleep. You have to go to work. Unlike you, however, God is always there. And once they are His, once they give their lives to Christ, He guards their salvation forever. That’s real protection.

Do you have that protection? Do you know the assurance of that salvation? If you don’t, what are you waiting on? If you do, rest in Him. He’s got you covered. He’s not going anywhere. Isn’t that good news worth sharing? Tell someone today what you have. I bet they will want it too.

Thank You, Lord, for protecting me. Thank You for securing my salvation all the way to glory. I cannot wait to see the fulfillment of my salvation with all the saints.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, Inspirational, Ministry, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Service, Surrender, Witnessing

THE FIRST

MATTHEW 10:2-4

“2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.”

Of all the apostles, Simon, “who is called Peter,” is listed first. You could suppose that was because he was the very first one called by Jesus. But I think it was more than that. He was the only one whom Jesus changed his name. He was making a point. Simon would now be called Peter. He called him a rock, specifically a pebble that could be thrown.

Some scholars argue this referred to his future role as leader of the church. Jesus appointed Peter to be resolute and firm, compared to his original rashness and hot-headedness. Whatever the reason, Peter is the first of the disciples. Jesus chose him first. Jesus changed his name. Jesus used him fully. Jesus saw in Peter what he couldn’t see himself.

APPLICATION

Children often pick teams when they play games. I remember being chosen for teams during recess play times. No one wants to be chosen last. If you were picked first, it usually implied the one picking saw you as a good player and one who could help win the game. You had skills or at least the ability to make the team stronger.

Your child will probably face that situation and may come home dejected from being the last one chosen. Take them to this verse. “But Carl, won’t that make them feel worse?” Just wait! Listen, Jesus chooses ALL of us. We ALL have something to provide the team. Jesus sees in us what we can’t see ourselves. He sees what He will do to make us whole and complete. We just have to say “yes” and allow Him to use us.

Will you say “yes” today? Will you allow Jesus to make you part of His team of ministers spreading the gospel to a lost world? Peter was a fisherman. He was uneducated. He was brash and crude. But Jesus transformed him into the leader of the early church which shook the world. Jesus did in and through Peter what Peter could have never done on his own.

Father, take me and use me however You choose. Knock off my rough edges. Make me into an instrument of Your choosing.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Obedience, Parenting, Salvation, Surrender, Witnessing

WILL YOU FOLLOW?

MATTHEW 4:18-20 (MARK 1:16-18)

“18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” 

I want to intersperse this study of 1-2 Peter with the life of Peter (Simon) from the New Testament. What better place to begin than at his calling by Jesus in Matthew (also found in Mark). Look at the simplicity. Jesus is walking by the water and saw Simon and Andrew. What drew Him to them? He picked them out of probably lots of fishermen.

Don’t forget He was God. He knew they would respond to His calling, but He still asked. He still called them. He didn’t expect them to just drop what they were doing and fall in behind Him without first speaking to them. He spoke to them, just like He does us. He still speaks!

APPLICATION

Do you children come to you if you don’t call them? Try it! Sit in your Lazyboy and wait for them to just come to you. Of course, they won’t come. You have to call them by name. Now call them. And when they come, ask them why they came. “Because you called me Daddy!”

Bring them close and tell them the story here in Matthew when Jesus called Peter to be His disciple. Tell them Jesus calls them the same way. He calls them by name. Perhaps your child has already heard that call and responded. Celebrate that with them and talk about it. If they haven’t, tell them He’s calling. They have to listen closely. He doesn’t mince words. He wants them to follow.

Do you hear His voice today? You see, Jesus doesn’t just call you once and stop talking. Oh no! He is constantly calling us to follow. He wants us close. He wants us to walk with Him and listen to His words. He desires to be with us, and He knows if He doesn’t keeping calling, our flesh will slip back in. Are you listening?

I hear Your voice, O Lord. Tell me what You would have me do. I am willing to follow.

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DO THE RIGHT DEEDS

TITUS 3:14

“Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.”

There are some qualifying words in this verse. If you read and stopped at “good deeds,” you might be led to believe that any good deed goes. But Paul goes on to say, “to meet pressing needs.” In other words, necessary needs, needs that are indispensable. Otherwise, you can busy yourself with deeds that really serve no purpose.

And then Paul finishes the verse with “so that they will not be unfruitful.” Romans 14:23 tells us all that all decisions not born of faith are sin. So, it is important that we make sure that all good deeds, no matter how good they may seem, are truly born of faith. Doing good deeds just because they are good doesn’t make them right in God’s eyes.

APPLICATION

Ask your children to make a list of good deeds. Tell them they can write down anything. After they are done, have them try to tell you how God’s Word backs up that good deed. Give them some time to think about that. Then take the list and see if you can help them. You will probably have some that just don’t match up to Scripture.

Now you can explain to them how this verse applies to their list. Some things that appear good are not given or implied in Scripture. We, as believers, need to focus our good deeds on things that draw people to Christ and share the Gospel. There are a lot of good intentioned people out there who have their own causes. They appear good, but are they fruitful?

What causes do you support? Are you sure your money and time are going to God’s good deeds? Let me encourage you this year to examine where you spend your energy. You want the good deeds you do to reflect on Jesus and not you. You want others to know that the only reason you are doing this is to share His love for them.

Father, help me focus all my good deeds on bringing glory to You. I desire to see others drawn to Your goodness, not mine. Point me to those opportunities daily.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, Family, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Surrender, Witnessing

A KIND GOD

TITUS 3:4

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,”

Have you ever thought much about kindness? Are you kind? Do you show kindness to others? The Greek word used here is the same one used as one of the fruits of the Spirit. One commentator says, “We have no term that quite carries this notion of kind and good.” The word refers to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing.

God showed His kindness by sending Jesus to us. Now, we can never top that, but we can show His kindness to others. The best way, of course, is by sharing this wonderful gift of salvation with others. That is the ultimate kindness. But we can also show kindness to others by asking the Lord what He would have us do for others. Showing kindness is outside of most of us. We are selfish beings. But the Spirit of God can produce that kindness if we will surrender to Him.

APPLICATION

How do you teach your children to be kind? By being kind yourself. Look around your church or neighborhood for someone to whom you as a family can show kindness. Get your children involved in planning out what you can do to show kindness to that person or family. Make sure your children understand that you are doing this to show them Jesus’ kindness. And, of course, make sure when you carry out this act of kindness that you share the Gospel.

How about helping your children prepare some Ziploc bags of items to hand out to people on the street corners? My city has people all over town who stand on those corners with signs asking for help. Prepare some bags with items they can use like a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, soap, snack food, etc. And don’t forget a good Gospel tract. Pray over each bag, and let your children hand them out.

Kindness is not hard if we let the Spirit lead. But kindness is impossible if we allow our flesh to get in the way. Will you allow the Lord to use you? There is probably no better compliment than to be known as a kind person. Be kind! Do it because of the kindness He has shown to you.

I will be kind today to those around me, beginning with my family. Sometimes they are the hardest to be kind to. Forgive me, Father, for not showing Your kindness to others.

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DON’T BE IGNORED

TITUS 2:15

“These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

We have a difficult word in today’s verse. The Greek word translated “disregard” is only used in this verse. It has more to do with us than others. Paul is telling Titus to be forceful, to stand up for himself. Now, that had nothing to do with who Titus was. It was about Who he represented and what he was saying. He said to “speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.”

People are going to despise us. People are going to try to ignore us or push us aside. There are times when we must stand up and be heard. I don’t mean in an ugly way. But we must speak truth and be heard. We, in fact, have an obligation to do that. When we have been entrusted with the only truth, and we hear it being twisted to lead others astray, we have to speak. Is that comfortable? Not to most of us, but it must be done.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to stand up for themselves and the Lord is a worthy goal. We don’t want our children to be pushovers. But we also don’t want them to be arrogant and snobby. There’s a fine line which is successfully walked only when Christ reigns in their life. It is important that we live this out for them in the way we deal with others in their presence. We can all be Jesus to others wherever we are. It just requires us to submit and let Jesus do the talking.

Have you ever had your faith “attacked” by someone in front of your children? How did you respond? This is not a time to get into a theological debate. This is the time to simply speak the truth, but speak you must. To not reply can send the message to your child that it is not worth responding. They need to know that you will defend the Gospel and that you believe what it says. Our actions speak volumes.

Are you able to speak out? Are you willing to stand for truth? Will you “speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.” Paul’s command to Titus applies to us today, therefore, the last part of the verse does as well. “Let no one disregard you.” You represent the King of kings and Lord of lords. You have His authority. Act like it.

Father, I carry Your seal stamped on my heart. You have given me Your authority to yield. Help me stand for truth!

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