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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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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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD…

1 PETER 1:16

“because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’”

Leviticus 11:45 says, “45 ‘For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Peter is quoting the Old Testament in today’s verse. Whom do you think he had in mind? He had spent over three years with the holiest man alive, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He had experienced holy as we never will this side of eternity.

Being holy isn’t just about getting saved and attending church. Being holy means we lay aside all that was before and take up all that God is. We live in His righteousness. We love our enemies. We put others before ourselves. We dwell in His presence daily. We “put on” God each day as we encounter others. Holiness has nothing to do with our abilities. It has everything to do with surrender.

APPLICATION

Have your children define “holy”. I love to hear children give definitions of spiritual things. Most of the time they are right on with simple, undefiled definitions. They don’t over think it. They just share what comes out first, unfiltered. Make a list of their definitions.

Now go to this verse and also look at the passage in Leviticus. Ask them what they think Peter was saying and more especially what God was saying. Explain to them the biblical definition too. They need to know that but put it in layman’s terms. Don’t spiritualize it. We tend to do that too much, don’t we? Remember, holiness is not about us. It’s all about Him.

How are you doing living holy? Are you trying too hard? Surrender. Let God’s holiness pour out of you through the power of the Holy Spirit. After all, His name is HOLY Spirit. I think He knows a little bit about being holy. If you will let Him have complete control, holiness will ooze out of you.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty! I want to live holy and dwell in Your Holiness. Thank You for filling with Your Holy Spirit.

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BE HOLY

1 PETER 1:15

“but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;”

Now, wait just a minute, Peter. I may be a lot of things, but holy? How do you expect me to be holy? I am flesh. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a long way from holy. I think it’s a little much for you to command me to be holy.

Come on, now. Don’t you feel the same way sometimes? We have to remember, though, that God never asks us to do anything He knows we can’t do. The truth is we can’t be holy. It’s Him in us that makes holy. Don’t try to do it on your own. You can’t do it. But when we surrender to Him, His holiness will thrive in you.

APPLICATION

Tell your son or daughter in the morning that you expect them to be holy today. Tell them that you will not accept anything less. You may have a child who says, “I can do that.” Seriously, they can’t, and you know it. Just let them try. I guarantee it won’t be long in the day until they do something to blow that holiness. They really don’t have a clue what being holy means.

When they blow it, read them this verse. Explain to them what being holy means. The Greek word for “holy” means having the likeness of nature with the Lord and being different from the world. Ask your child what they think that means. How can they be like Jesus and different from the world? They can tell you. Listen. You may just learn something.

How holy were you today? Did the likeness of the Father live through you? As I told you earlier, you can’t be holy. The only thing holy about us is Jesus. Our flesh loves to raise its ugly head. It wants us to be like the world. It prefers unholiness. Squash your flesh by yielding to Him today. All the Holy One to make you holy!

I know there is nothing holy in me except Your Spirit. Help me surrender today to Your Spirit so I can live holy. I want to be holy, as You are.

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WHAT DO YOU DESIRE?


1 PETER 1:14

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,”

What do you desire? I mean, what do you strongly desire? You see, the Greek word here for “lusts” is neither bad nor good. It all depends on the object of your desires. Peter is warning us here to not go back to the former things, those things that kept us away from God. Those things are never good.

However, we can “lust” or strongly desire the things of God. Do you hunger and thirst for His Word? Do you passionately pursue your time in prayer? I am as guilty as the rest in not spending enough time in either. I have my quiet times and pray, but in proportion to my other pursuits, how do they measure up?

APPLICATION

Ask your child what they like more than anything else in the world. They may name a game, a certain kind of food or a person. Ask them why that is so important to them. Now, this could get interesting, but just let them talk. Read them this verse and explain how we have certain desires (you may have to explain that word to them) before we get saved.

Then tell them the Holy Spirit moves us to change our desires. When we give our hearts to Christ, He puts within us a desire to please our Heavenly Father. That desire was not there before. We are guided by the Holy Spirit toward things that make us more like Christ and away from those old, selfish desires. We move from thinking about ourselves to thinking about others. Those former “lusts” are replaced by godly desires.

Are you holding on to some former lusts? Let them go. Let Jesus fill you with desires that honor Him. Those old desires will never draw you close to God. We have to lay them aside. You cannot hang on to them. Pursue the desires that come from Him.

I desire You, O Lord. Fill my heart with a passion to please You. Guide in my thoughts so all I do honors You.

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ASLEEP

MATTHEW 26:36-41

“36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”

As I write this, it is 12:40 a.m. I don’t sleep very much, normally 4-5 hours a night. Most nights I’m awake by 1:30 or 2:00. Tonight, it’s a little earlier. So, I can relate to Peter in this story. They had traveled that day and had just finished eating the Passover meal. Tired + stomach full = ZZZZZZ. It’s no wonder he and the others fell asleep.

Do you think he would have dozed off if he had known what was about to happen in a matter of hours? I don’t think so, but we are quick to condemn Peter for sleeping. “How could he do that to Jesus?” How many times have you “fallen asleep” spiritually on Jesus? How many times has He asked you to follow Him only to hear you snoring? Don’t be too critical.

APPLICATION

The next time you catch your son or daughter falling asleep take a picture. When they wake up (and are alert enough to listen) read them this story. Ask them why they fell asleep. Ask them why they think Peter fell asleep. Sleep is a good thing. We need it to stay strong. Jesus wasn’t condemning sleep. He knew what was coming.

Jesus wants us to be prepared for the evil one. Judas was on the way to betray Jesus in the garden. He had asked Peter, James and John to “keep watch with Me.” Explain to your child the importance of keeping watch. Satan is always on the alert for our weakest moments. Make sure you’re ready to face him with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you snoozing? Or are you alert and keeping watch? Satan doesn’t take any days off. I’m not telling you to not sleep physically. I am saying to not sleep spiritually. Stay in the Word. Stay in the spirit of prayer. Be discerning. Let the Spirit guide you in your words and deeds. Wake up, sleepy head.

Father, keep me alert to Your every command. Let me rest in You, knowing You are able to defend me. You are my peace.

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DANG ROOSTER

MATTHEW 26:33-35

“33 But Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.’ 34 Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ 35 Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.’ All the disciples said the same thing too.”

Unfortunately, this is one of the most famous stories about Peter. He had pledged his undying allegiance to Jesus here in these verses only to deny Him three times (just as Jesus said) hours later. We forget that he wasn’t alone. The rest of the disciples (with the exception of John) deserted Him as well. Peter, however, bears the shame since Jesus addressed him directly.

I bet Peter couldn’t eat chicken for a while after this event. He had been so sure of himself. He would never fall away. He would never deny Him. Ask yourself what you would have done. We sit here 2000+ years later and say we wouldn’t do exactly what Peter did. Until you are facing death for your faith, you don’t know how you will respond. Don’t judge Peter too harshly.

APPLICATION

What is the application for us? Loyalty, I think. We need to work on our loyalty to Christ in the smallest of ways. This is what we teach our children. What do I mean by that? I mean, standing up for our beliefs when we are challenged. It means walking away from friends who are telling that “off-color” joke. It means not being ashamed of the gospel when the Holy Spirit prompts us to share.

We may not ever be faced with a life or death choice concerning our faith. We can, however, stand with Jesus every day. We can show our children our pride and joy of being known as a true believer. We can BE Jesus to our neighbors, even those who do not believe. Our children are watching us, just as those around that fire were watching Peter. What will you do?

Today you may be faced with a challenge to your faith. How will you respond? Will you shrink away or stand tall? People will test you. Satan will tempt you. Let your testimony be known among those you encounter today. Let there be no doubt with whom you stand – the King of Ages. He will stand with you.

I will not fall away. I will not deny You. Let my words be true. I do not want to fail You, Lord.

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