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.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Friends, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Parenting

THE INNER CIRCLE

MARK 5:37

“And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James.”

Have you ever been one of the inner circle, the in-crowd? When you are selected for that honor, you may wonder why you. Right? Jesus selected Peter, James and John to be his closest disciples. I wonder why. Why not Nathaniel or Andrew? We don’t know, but we can be sure that Jesus had a reason for selecting these three.

King David has his mighty men, but also had the three mightiest.  The Trinity is comprised of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three seems to be an important number in Scripture. But the point of this devotional isn’t the number three. It’s about being in that inner circle. Guess what? We are all part of that group now. Jesus sent His Spirit to live in us to bring us in.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever been pushed out of an inner circle of friends? Friends can be cruel. They will probably be a part of many close-knit groups through their life. Some will be social. Some will be work related. And others will be spiritual. Those are the ones you need to focus on. We need to steer them towards those groups that will feed their souls.

How do you do that? Well, first you need to have them involved in a Bible teaching church so they can spend time with like-minded friends. You need to encourage them to participate in retreats and Bible studies. They need to develop relationships with other kids who share their worldview. You play a huge role in that.

Are you engaged in a group like that? We adults need that too. That need for closeness doesn’t end at childhood. Who is in your inner circle? Can you depend on them to be there? Make sure Jesus is the center of your group. Make sure you are following His desires as you do life with your circle.

I am so thankful I am part Your inner circle. I know You are always there and that I can always depend on You. I love You, Lord.

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Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faith, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Parenting, Testimony

GREETINGS

TITUS 3:15

“All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.”

When you greet someone, what are you really doing? The Greek word here means I greet, salute, pay my respects to, welcome.” Is that true for everyone you greet? Think about it. We truly should be welcoming because we represent Jesus. We really should be respectful because He would be.

Greetings today are usually rushed. We are all in such a hurry. Paul was purposeful in his greetings. He passed on the greetings from those who were with him and asked Titus to give his greetings to those who were with him in the faith. He didn’t just say, “Bye.” It was thoughtful. It was meaningful.

APPLICATION

We teach our children to say thank you, your welcome and all the other proper words, don’t we? How about greetings? Giving a proper greeting is respectful. Refusing to acknowledge someone is just plain rude. So, we teach our children to say hello or good-bye as appropriate.

But it isn’t just about manners. As I said earlier, we represent someone bigger than us as believers. If your child is a believer, remind them of that. As they meet people, they may be the only “Jesus” that person meets today. They need to greet them in the name and spirit of Jesus. Just a simple “Hello, how are you today?” can mean a lot.

This is a strange way to end Titus, but it’s how Paul ended the letter. If he ended it this way, it must have been important. So, from me to you, greetings from all those who are with me. Greet all those who are with you in the faith. May God’s grace be upon you until we meet one day here or in heaven.

Help me greet those around me today with the love of the Lord. May they Him and not me. May my greeting be full of Jesus.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Faith, Family, Friends, Inspirational, Love, Parenting, Passion, Scripture

FAREWELL PARTIES

TITUS 3:13

“Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them.”

Paul is urging Titus to make sure Zenas (who is only mentioned here in the New Testament) and Apollos are sent on to Nicopolis from Crete well supplied for the journey. Here is a link to show you the distance they would have had to travel from Crete to arrive in Nicopolis https://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fifth-missionary-journey-large-map.html.

Paul needed Zenas and Apollos there to help teach the Word to the believers. So, he wanted a send off that was worthy of their calling. The word “diligently” means eagerly, with passion. Whenever I leave my brothers and sisters in Uganda or Kenya to come home, they give me this kind of send-off. I am usually given a gift and tons and tons of hugs. Their love for me is without a doubt.

APPLICATION

I’ve got a fun way to say good-bye at your next family gathering. It’s called the jelly roll hug. As each person or family group leaves have them make a line and hold hands. Then everyone else grabs one end of that line as they make one long line. When everyone has linked hands, the person on the end of the line opposite the person or family leaving starts to make a big circle around them. The person of family leaving stands still as everyone starts circling them over and over again. With each pass the circle gets tighter and tighter until the end of the line has been reached. Then, on 3, everyone squeezes those in the center.

It’s a fun way to say good-bye and something your kids won’t forget. Send offs can be sad, so anyway we can make them more enjoyable is much appreciated. Whether you are the person leaving or the person doing the sending, emotions can be raw. Make it a joyful experience. And don’t forget to pray for whomever is leaving, asking God’s protection and blessing on their journey.

When is the last time you have gone on a journey and had a great send off? When is the last time you have sent someone off? Remember Paul’s words and do it diligently.

I am grateful for friends and family who send me off with love and compassion. I know when that happens I am bathed in prayer. I know I am in Your hands.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Faith, Friends, Gossip, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Persecution, Reputation, Scripture, Trust, Truth

OPPONENTS

TITUS 2:8

“sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Have you ever had an opponent? I mean, someone who was just against you? The Greek phrase for “opponent” reads “he who is of the contrary.” Ever known a contrary person? It seems everything you do or say they are against. You just can’t seem to get along. Well, we are going to face those people, and Paul tells us how to deal with them.

It’s pretty simple really. We just speak truth, sound “speech which is beyond reproach.” If we do that, they have “nothing bad to say about us.” They may try, but it’s not true. In fact, then word “nothing” there means not even one. My brother-in-law used to say that means zero with the lid kicked off. I like that.

APPLICATION

Boy, oh boy, this is an application to make. Our children are going to have people, friends even, who talk about them. Kids love to talk and tease and criticize. The sooner we prepare our children how to handle those comments, the better off they will be. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That may be a cute phrase, but words can hurt if you don’t know how to handle them.

Here are some tips to handle these opponents:

  1. Know the truth about you – Teach your kids who they are in Christ. No words from others can change that.
  2. Know that your opponents are actually Christ’s opponent – He will fight for you. If you stand for Christ, He promises to defend you.
  3. Know those opponents need Jesus – Just like you before Christ, they are operating out of the flesh and need a Savior.
  4. Know that truth will prevail – Trust that “the truth will make you free.

There you have it. A few tips for dealing with those contrary folks. It won’t be easy, but they can keep you focused. Perhaps you have a tendency to be contrary. If that is you, listen to the truth of His Word. Let it transform your thinking. There is no victory in opposing Christ. You just can’t win. Submit to Him today and experience of true freedom and rest.

Guard my tongue, O Lord, and let me speak only sound words. Allow the truth spoken through me draw all opponents to You. Protect me as You have promised.

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Advice, Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Eternity, Evangelism, Family, Friends, Heaven, Love, Parenting, Separation, Witnessing

FRIENDS LEFT BEHIND

2 TIMOTHY 4:20

“Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.”

Both Erastus and Trophimus were trusted colleagues of Paul on his missionary journeys. Paul knew them both well and wanted to make sure Timothy conveyed his greetings in his farewell letter. Erastus was the treasurer of Corinth, so he was probably very well known. What an opportunity he had to share the Gospel.

Trophimus was left in Miletus by Paul when he became sick. Now, let’s talk about that. Didn’t Paul have the gift of healing? He had healed many people. So, why didn’t he just say, “Get up Trophimus. We’ve got to go.” Because God directs and does the healing, not us. We don’t decide when and whom to heal.

APPLICATION

Unless your children remain in your home all their life and you never move and their friends do the same, they are going to leave friends behind. That can be hard. I know it was for my children. We made a few moves during their childhood which forced them to leave friends and make new ones. So, how do we prepare them for that? What can we say and do to make that easier?

Here are few ideas:

  1. Invest in their friends while they are with them. Get to know them.
  2. Get to know their parents. Know them by name and talk about them to your children.
  3. Help your children share Jesus with them. Leaving behind a saved friend, knowing you will see them in eternity, is so much easier.
  4. Help your children make contact after the move easier. Let them FaceTime or Skype their friends.
  5. Pray with your children for those friends. Keep up with their prayer needs through their parents and pass them on to your children.

Now, these won’t prevent the tears from flowing when the parting comes. But knowing the separation is temporary (only here on earth) can be such a comfort. Do you have a friend that comes to mind whom you have had to leave behind? Why not this week reach out to them. It is so much easier today. And say a prayer for them. That’s the oldest form of long distance communication.

Father, thank You for friends. Thank You for companions who You put in our path through life. I ask You today to bless them.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Friends, Love, Ministry, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Witnessing

SAY “HOWDY”

2 TIMOTHY 4:19

“Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

Have you ever told someone to say “hi” for you to an old friend? That’s all Paul is doing here. Do you remember Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquilla from Acts? They were the fellow tent makers whom Paul took up with during one of his journeys. And Onesiphorus was an old friend from Ephesus whom had been very kind and compassionate to Paul while he was in Rome in prison.

Friends are important, especially those with whom we have ministered. That ministry binds us. We have the same purpose, motive and drive. What is it? To present the Gospel to a lost world. I wonder how many people these friends saw come to Christ together.

APPLICATION

Friends with a purpose – that is important for us to teach our children. Now, I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with having playdates or friends over to play ball. That would be silly. But we parents need to encourage our children to have friends who share the same worldview.

If their friends don’t see the world as we see the world (lost and dying and in need of a Savior), they will probably discourage your son or daughter in their faith. I don’t mean they will say, “Don’t be a Christian.” But they may say, “You don’t have to do that.” Our children need friends who share their faith, purpose and drive, just like us.

Do your friends? Or are you still living your old lifestyle? We need to engage our old friends for Christ. We need to present the Gospel to them. Otherwise, we were never friends, right. If you can’t share the most loving thing with the people you love, you never loved them to begin with. Now, go love.

Thank You, Lord, for friends who love You and me. I am committed to loving others to You. Surround me with those whom share Your view of this world.

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