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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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Testimony

MY IMPARTIAL FATHER

1 PETER 1:17

“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;”

Our Father judges impartially. What does that mean exactly? It means He is not a respecter of people in that He sees us all the same. You can’t be the teacher’s pet. We are all judged alike. That Greek word translated as “impartially judges” only appears right here in this verse.

This is a “if-then” statement. If you address, (then) conduct yourselves in fear. If you call Him Father, then live like it. You know what I like best about this verse, though. It’s the word “stay.” It means we are passing through, to dwell in a strange land. We don’t belong here. Praise God.

APPLICATION

Do you have more than one child? Then you know where I am going. Do you show favoritism to one child? Of course, not. You love your children equally. You may have more in common with one of them, but that doesn’t change the love you have for the others. But I bet you have been accused of loving one more, haven’t you?

Ask your children who they think you love more. “What Carl? I can’t do that.” Sure, you can. You know it’s not true. Just ask them. Then ask them why they think that. Read them today’s verse and explain you love them the same way. Because you love the Father, you love like the Father – impartially. That’s a model they can follow.

Have you ever felt you were judged unfairly? I have. It’s not fun. Isn’t it comforting to know our heavenly Father loves us equally. He loves us all completely. So why don’t we live like it. Peter tells us to conduct ourselves in fear. He doesn’t mean to walk around scared. He means with reverence and respect. Can you do that today for your Father?

Thank You, Father, for loving me and judging me impartially. I trust Your judgment. I pledge today to live my life to honor You.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Encouragement, Eternity, Family, Gifts, Heaven, Inspirational, Love, Parenting, Treasures

IT’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE

I PETER 1:4

“to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”

Great news! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are an heir of the King! And that inheritance isn’t going anywhere. Peter makes a point to emphasize that in this verse. He, first of all, say it is “imperishable.” That Greek word means indestructible or immortal. Then he calls it “undefiled.” You could translate it as unstained. It’s perfect. Third, he says your inheritance “will not fade away.” That Greek word is only used here and means it won’t wither.

But then, after all these descriptions, he says, “reserved in heaven for you.” It’s being kept in the Fort Knox of Glory. No one or nothing can get to it. It’s promised and perpetual. No one can sneak in and destroy it or steal it. Why? Because He promised it and what He promises cannot change. Our inheritance in Christ is a sure thing.

APPLICATION

Do you have something right now you are planning on leaving as an inheritance to your children? It may be a piece of jewelry or maybe a house. It could be money. Guess what? That’s not a sure thing. Your life and their life could drastically change before that inheritance is claimed. And you have to die to leave that to them. You are probably not in a hurry to do that.

Things inherited can also lose their value. Your house can depreciate. That piece of jewelry can tarnish or be lost. What do you have that is really secure enough to pass on to your child? Your faith. Give them that. Make sure they have it BEFORE you die. There is no greater inheritance we can pass on to future generations than our love for Christ. This will last for eternity.

Are you hanging on to possessions just to pass them on? You might want to check with your children. They may have no desire for the things you hold precious. Ask them what they do value. I bet it won’t be stuff. I bet it will be time and love. Those things you can give freely. Make the investment in your inheritance to your children by preparing what God values most.

I am an heir of the King, and for that I am thankful. I know my future inheritance awaits me in Glory. But I also know I am already owner of all that’s Yours.

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Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Following, Love, Ministry, Obedience, Parenting

FAMILY MAN

Matthew 8:14

“When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.”

Mark 1:29

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.”

We often don’t think of Peter as a family man. But from these references about Peter from Matthew and Mark, we see a few things. First, in Matthew, we see he was a homeowner, and secondly, he was married. His mother-in-law was in his home. Either she lived there or because she was sick, they had taken her in. Whatever the reason, Peter was providing a home for his family.

In Mark, we read “the house of Simon and Andrew.” This home may have been a larger home with multiple families (Peter’s and Andrew’s) or Peter also provided a place for his brother to live. We do not read anywhere that Andrew was married. Perhaps Peter was the big brother, so Andrew lived there with Peter’s family. Peter was a family man.

APPLICATION

“Big deal, Carl. How does this inspire me?” Well, think about it. Peter had all this – a fishing business, a home, a family – and left it all to follow Jesus. What are you willing to lay aside to follow Him? Ask your children if they could leave everything behind to follow.

I will never forget during one of our ministry moves our son was unusually upset. It was the first move that he was conscious of the packing and preparing for the move. When his mom asked why he was so upset he told her he didn’t want to leave his toys. Once she explained they were all going with us, he was fine. His stuff meant something to him.

Could you leave it all behind? Is there some possession or person that could hold you back? Peter laid it all aside to follow the Master. He asks us today to do the same. Now, He may not do that, but if He did… We don’t know what happened to Peter’s family during those three years he followed Jesus. I am sure he continued to provide for them. Jesus would not have allowed his family to suffer for Peter’s obedience. That’s not how Jesus works.

Thank You, Lord, for not only caring for me, but also for my family. I trust You to provide for them as I seek to follow You. Let them see You as their true source.

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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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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.

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