Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Forgiveness, Friends, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Repentance, Scripture, Testimony

TREE KILLING FAITH

MARK 11:21

“Being reminded, Peter said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.’” 

Do you remember this story? Jesus had walked by this fig tree earlier and, when He found it had no figs, cursed it. Now, as they walk by it on the return trip, Peter notices it has withered. He is amazed, but Jesus tells him (and us) that he has the same power through our prayers. We can even move mountains. He goes on to say, “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”

Real faith can do anything. We can even kill trees, not that I would want to. I don’t even want to move a mountain. The key to praying and believing, though, is to pray with a pure heart. Jesus told His disciples they must pray with a forgiving heart. You can’t pray while holding a grudge or resentment towards someone. Confess that and the floodgates of heaven are opened to you.

APPLICATION

As you teach your children to pray, make sure you teach this principle. They need to be all confessed up. They need to forgive their brother or sister. They need to forgive that friend who has hurt their feelings. Teach them that unforgiveness drives a wedge, not only between them and the person, but also between them and God. Christ won’t allow our unforgiving spirit to continue.

When our children learn this lesson early in life, it will free them for powerful prayer lives. We adults wonder sometimes why God isn’t listening. We need to examine our forgiving attitudes. It is easy to hold resentments. Sometimes we even forget we are doing that until we see that person again.

Are you depriving yourself of tree killing faith? Are you refusing to forgive someone who has hurt you? Let it go. Let Christ in you give you the desire and ability to forgive them, no matter how deep the hurt. Only Christ can. You can’t. Our flesh demands justice. Christ has already paid the price. Forgive.

I will forgive as You forgive, Lord. It is not easy, practically impossible. But in You all things are possible.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Grace, Heaven, Mentoring, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation

CAN’T BE BOUGHT

1 PETER 1:18

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,”

This is plain and simple. There is not enough money (silver and gold) in the world to redeem us. There would always be another tradition or obligation laid on by men that would come up. The world does not want to let us go. Satan keeps raising the price. We will never meet his demand.

But, thanks be to God, there has been a price paid. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, so we could receive the redemption He promised us. All we have to do when Satan starts to argue is point to the cross. Redemption’s price has been paid. There is a “Paid In Full” stamp across our heart.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever wanted to buy something at the store but didn’t have enough money? Boy, that happened to me. I remember going to the Western Auto store as a little boy and seeing something I really wanted for my spider bike. I had to work and save to go back and purchase (redeem) that item for myself. I wasn’t guaranteed it would still be there when I got the money, either.

The next time your child faces this dilemma, use it as a teaching moment. Without their knowledge, if you’re able, go buy it for them. Surprise them. Then explain that there is no expectation of payback from them. You redeemed that for them fully. There is nothing they can do to redeem it. It has been paid for. Tell them in the same way (but much bigger) Jesus paid for their salvation. They can’t do a thing to get it. He paid the full price, the only acceptable price.

Now, that is a feeble attempt to explain redemption, I know. It falls way short of the deep theological meanings. But, for your child, it is understandable. You can teach them more later. They just need to know that they can’t be good enough for heaven. Heaven is simply the reward we get for yielding to Jesus and acknowledging His supreme sacrifice.

Thank You for redeeming me. Thank You for paying the ultimate price to free me.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Denial, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Following, Forgiveness, Grace, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Rejection, Repentance, Scripture, Shame

FAILURE

MATTHEW 26:74-75

“74 Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”

Epic fail! Peter realized immediately when he heard that rooster crow that he had failed his Master. He probably wanted to throw up. Can you imagine the thoughts that ran through his mind? This wasn’t a minor fail. He had denied Jesus threw times, just as Jesus predicted.

How many times have you failed our Lord? You’ve been told to do something, but you don’t. You know He placed someone on your heart to call or go see and you don’t. He places someone in your path to witness to and you walk away without doing it. Fail!

APPLICATION

Children are going to have failures. That’s part of learning and growing. I believe they can learn more from failures than successes if we help them. If we don’t, those failures can crush them. Losing can build character. Failing can do the same. You need to ask them what went wrong. How could have they prevented the failure?

They are also going to fail God. Tell them an experience you’ve had. They need to know you can relate. And then tell them how the Lord forgave you and showed mercy. They need to hear that. Read them this passage in Matthew and then skip ahead and read how Jesus forgave him after He resurrected.

Are you still living in failure? Take it to Jesus. He can forgive. Don’t put that confession off. It won’t go away. We have the God of the universe waiting for us to talk to Him. He wants to forgive. He wants to talk to us. Don’t make Him wait. Right now, bend your knee and ask for forgiveness for that failure. He’s ready to forgive.

I ask You to forgive me today for the many times I have failed You, Lord. Cleanse me and make me right in Your eyes. Show me how to be more obedient today.

Standard
Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

ARE YOU GOOD AT MATH?

MATTHEW 18:21-22

“21 Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’”

I have always liked math. I know – call me a nerd. But there is something about solving math problems and completing the formulas. But I don’t think the Lord was playing math games with Peter here. This answer to Peter’s question was about much more than the number of times he was expected to forgive.

Jewish law taught they should only forgive someone three times. So, Peter was already more than doubling that number when he said seven. I bet he thought Jesus would say, “That’s more than enough.” But Jesus says, “Seventy times seven.” He didn’t mean four hundred and ninety. He meant we should always forgive. The number of offenses is not the issue. It’s all about our willingness to forgive.

APPLICATION

Has your child needed to forgive someone? How about more than once? If they have siblings, chances are they have. What a great verse to share with them the next time. Forgiveness is not for the person you are forgiving. Forgiveness is for you. You may have heard the expression that unforgiveness is the only poison you drink and hope the other person dies. When we don’t forgive, it eats at us, not them.

Now, I am not saying it is easy. I am not saying to forgive and instantly trust that person again. What is clear from this passage is that Jesus wants us to forgive them every time. That’s enough for me. He knows we can’t change their heart by our forgiveness. But He does know it will change our heart. That’s His message to us. Forgive!

Is there someone you need to forgive today? Have you told them? Why not go to that person and tell them so. They may not even be aware of the hurt you are feeling. They may be aware and not care. That’s okay. Forgive them anyway. Just think of the thousands of times the Lord has forgiven you.

Forgiveness is such a hard thing at times, Lord. Help me forgive those who are truly unforgiveable. I know You can give me the ability to do so.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Creation, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mercy, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation, Surrender, Testimony

BORN AGAIN

TITUS 3:5

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,”

You’ve heard this expression, I’m sure. You are born again at salvation. Well, in today’s verse we have that expression defined in the word “regeneration.” The Greek word literally means birthed again. It’s only used twice in the New Testament. It’s used here and also in Matthew 19:28 where it refers to the rebirth of physical creation when Christ returns to begin His millennial reign.

But not only are you reborn, you are also renewed. This word means to have a whole new development, a renewal which is through God’s power. You see, this is all done by God. You didn’t rebirth yourself nor renew yourself. God saved you. That’s a fact. And if He does something, you can take it to the bank. It’s done. It’s complete. It’s forever.

APPLICATION

Explaining this to your children can be challenging, depending on their age. Do you have any videos of their birth? Drag them out. Show them the video and celebrate their birth. Then ask them this question. “Did you do anything to help in your birth?” Of course, the correct answer is “no.” All they did was surrender to the process. They were depending on mom pushing them out and the doctor delivering them.

The same is true for their spiritual birth. For that to happen they have to surrender to the One who is drawing them out of darkness. When they do, He delivers them into the light of His love. They are totally dependent upon the Lord to bring them into this new life.

Let me ask you this. If you are born again, are you living like it? Are you walking in your renewal? So many of us come to Christ and then try to keep one foot back in the old life. Regeneration and renewal imply a fresh start, a clean slate. The old has passed away. There is no room in the regenerated, renewed life for the old ways. Accept the change. Embrace your new life.

Lord, I will walk in newness today. I will lay aside all the past ways and embrace all You have for me in my new life. Thank You for my rebirth in Christ.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

BOY, WE WERE A MESS

TITUS 3:3

“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.”

Does this describe you before Christ? It does me. I hate to admit that, but I was all those things. Paul nails it. Do you know why? Because he was the same way. Do you remember Paul (Saul then) before the Damascus road? I am sure Paul was reflecting on his own life before Christ as he wrote these words to Titus.

What a change Jesus makes. We stop being so foolish because we trust His wisdom. We begin to obey out of love for our new Master. We exchange the slave chains of lusts and pleasure for being a bond-slave to Jesus. We lay down malice and envy for love and mercy for others. We love rather than hate. With Christ in our life, our past is laid to rest.

APPLICATION

Take this verse and make a list of these “not so nice” qualities. Get your children to give you examples when they or someone they know have acted this way. Ask them why they think the Lord doesn’t want that for us. You may be surprised. They may name you. Now, don’t be offended. It should give you a wake-up call that they are watching all the time.

It is important for your children to know that at salvation Jesus gives them all the power they need to overcome these old, nasty actions. But they have to submit to Him daily, really every second. They may be young, but their flesh is strong. Help them learn how to overcome the desires of the flesh by bathing them in the Word and guiding them into Spirit-filled living.

How are you doing with your flesh today? Left on our own we are doomed. We cannot defeat it. But we don’t have to. The Spirit of the living God dwells within every believer empowering us to conquer the flesh. It is He who loves rather than hates. It is He who chooses to obey rather than disobey. Let Him have all of you today.

Lord, I yield my spirit to Your Spirit right now. I desire to walk in obedience. I will not succumb to the desire of my flesh this day.

Standard
Advice, Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting

IT’S OKAY

2 TIMOTHY 4:16

“At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them.”

I bet Paul had names on the tip of his tongue when he wrote this verse. People who knew him and his ministry got scared and wouldn’t back him up. They had fled the scene, kind of like John Mark in the garden when they grabbed his clothing. He peeled it off and ran. 

Even in the midst of that hurt, Paul says, “It’s okay. Don’t get upset they didn’t help.” Paul is so concerned about Timothy as he writes this last letter. He wants to make sure Timothy doesn’t hold any ill will towards anyone after he is gone. I believe Paul knew it was only going to get harder for Timothy and that he was going to need all the Christian brothers and sisters he could find to surround him.

APPLICATION

Our children will get their feelings hurt by friends. I guarantee it. The day will come when they come home from school or a game in tears or screaming mad because “such and such” just ignored them or dumped them for someone else. Quickly, take them to this verse. Remind them of the context of the verse (Paul’s last imprisonment, hole in the ground, going to die). Now, don’t make light of their situation. Feelings are real. Instead, point out Paul’s attitude.

They have a choice to make. They can either harbor resentment or forgive. Remember, forgiveness is always for the one forgiving, not the one forgiven. If you refuse to forgive someone, they may never know. But you will never forget it. Tell your child how sweet forgiveness is once you truly embrace it.

Is there someone in your life right now you need to forgive for a wrong against you? How long have you been holding on to this? Do they even know you have not forgiven them? Stop and forgive them now. As soon as you can call them or go see them. Make this right. It’s not about them. It’s about you walking in faith and believing in God’s powerful forgiveness. 

I can’t forgive one single person without knowing You are the one who extends the forgiveness. Thank You, Lord, for forgivng me when I was unforgiveable. I do deserve Your grace.

Standard