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IN THE FAMILY

1 PETER 2:10

“for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”

This verse in 1 Peter seems to be a reference to three verses in Hosea (1:9, 10; 2:23). Even though Hosea was writing to a Jewish audience and Peter to a Gentile one, the thought behind the verses seem to be related. Peter is telling the Gentiles that although they were once outside of the family of God and His mercy, they are now fully in the family and a recipient of His mercy.

If you have ever been on the outside looking in, you know how great the feeling is when you are finally allowed access. I remember one time waiting in line at our local movie theater. The doors were locked, and no one was allowed entry until it was time. The wait was agonizing for a little boy. But when the doors opened, I felt ten feet tall walking in with my popcorn and coke.

APPLICATION

Try this little exercise with your kids. Prepare some special snacks and treats and put them on the table. Tell your children they can only enjoy these treats if they can answer some questions you have for them. After the groans subside, ask them some easy questions that any child could answer.

Receiving the benefits of salvation depends on accepting Christ as Savior. Anyone can do that. But only those who do can be called His people and receive His mercy. The benefits are tied to the relationship. There is no other way to receive them.

Are you a part of His people? Have you received His mercy? If you have, you know the joy of being in the family of God. Won’t you tell someone else today? Share the joy. Don’t keep it to yourself.

I am thankful that I am part of Your people and that I have received Your mercy. I am not worthy, but You have considered me worthy. I praise You.

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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.

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GOOD MEDICINE

1 TIMOTHY 5:23

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”

Don’t jump to the conclusion that Paul is saying to go out and buy some wine and start drinking. You’ve got to understand the culture of the day. It was common practice back then for young people (that was considered under 30) to not drink at all. It was actually frowned upon. Timothy was still a young man, although he was the leader of the church at Ephesus. Therefore, he probably abstained from any wine.

Undoubtedly, Timothy had some stomach issues which could be aided by the wine. They didn’t have Pepto Bismol or Tums back then. So, diluted wine was used to settle the stomach. Many times, the wine would be mixed with water (1 part wine, 2 parts water). Whatever you think about this verse, it is not a license to drink with liberality.

APPLICATION

This is one of those no-brainer verses. Of course, you are not going to teach your children to drink wine. That would be absurd. What you can do, however, is to teach then personal responsibility. That way, when they are older, they can make their own choice about this. The important thing to remember is their testimony is only as reputable as their conduct and behavior.

We don’t need wine to settle our stomach. We have medications now to do that. You can justify anything, but should you? There are some things that you are going to have to weigh against the entirety of God’s Word. Then you can make your decision. This is one of those things. So, teach your child well with this one.

This topic of drinking is so controversial in the church today. Don’t make this the hill you die on. Don’t judge others too quickly. Ask for wisdom and love each other. Paul was writing this letter to his child in the faith, Timothy, to encourage him to “take a little wine” to help his stomach. It was about his love for Timothy, not about the wine.

Father, thank You that You give us the wisdom to do as You lead us. Help me follow You as You direct. I want to please You, not man.

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WORTHY OF HONOR

1 TIMOTHY 5:10

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.” 

Just look at the list of this widow’s character traits making her worthy of honor by the church. She has a good reputation. She is a child raiser. She is hospitable, service oriented, full of mercy and devoted. Wow! That’s some woman!

But shouldn’t we all be like that? I mean, look at the list again. Which one of those traits don’t belong in your life? The bottom line is she puts others before herself. Therein lies the rub. We don’t want to do that. We want to see ourselves first. We want to meet our needs first. It’s always me, me, me!

APPLICATION

Well, this is a no brainer. As parents, we are constantly teaching our little Gertrudes and Elords how to not be selfish. We teach children to share because they are naturally selfish. We teach them to watch out for their little brother or sister because they are not concerned with that. 

But once again, this is better caught than taught. We must model these behaviors. When they see us showing mercy to someone, they learn from that. When they observe us serving someone else, they watch how it’s done. We are living out the traits they need to embrace. So, be very careful what you do and say. Little eyes and ears are watching and listening.

How are you in regard to these traits? Are you hospitable? Do you show mercy or wrath? We may not be a widow who needs to be put on the church list, but we still need to live out these same godly traits. And what is amazing is that when we do these things, we are the ones who are blessed. Be a blessing!

I do enjoy blessing others, Lord. Help me see their need even before it is apparent. Let me be Your hands and feet to them.

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CAREGIVER

1 TIMOTHY 3:5

“(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),”

Paul continues his qualifications for an elder in today’s verse with an explanation of the previous verse. This verse tells us why it is important for a man to manage his household properly. If he can’t, he sure can’t “take care” of the church. Now, just wait until you hear about the Greek word for “take care.” It is so cool.

This Greek word is only used three times in the New Testament. It is used here and two times in Luke 10:34-35. Here is the cool part – that is the story of the good Samaritan. Do you remember that story? He took care of the Jewish man beaten by robbers and left for dead. He even paid the inn keeper to take care of him once he left. That is how an elder is supposed to take care of the church, and he can’t do that if his own house is not in order.

APPLICATION

Okay, you know where I am going with this, don’t you? You have to jump back to the Good Samaritan story to explain this word and verse to little Elrod and Gertrude. They will get that. You can even act out the story with you. You can show them how to “take care” of someone. They will love it.

Then, once they have a good picture of this, take them back to today’s verse and explain how a good leader in the church does the same thing for those in the church. He helps bind their spiritual wounds and enlists others to help.

Are you a caregiver? Do you even care how your church family is doing? So many of us just go to church and go home. We don’t get involved in each other’s lives. But we need to. We need to care for those who hurting. We need to care for those who are going through some kind of trial. Will you care today?

You are the greatest caregiver, Lord. Help me see what You are doing and just get involved in it. I want to please You in all I do.

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RANSOM

1 TIMOTHY 2:6

“who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.” 

How many movies have you seen that involved someone paying a ransom for the release of someone else? Normally, it is someone close to them or someone of great importance. Kidnappings happen all the time for ransom, especially in some of the third world countries. Someone pays the full price to secure the freedom of another.

This word “ransom” is only used right here in the New Testament. It appears nowhere else. Interestingly enough, verse 6 follows verse 5 (lol), which talked about Christ being the mediator. So, our mediator pays the ransom. Better yet, Christ BECOMES the purchase price. He gave His life to secure our freedom from sin and the grave.

APPLICATION

Have you ever taken away one of your child’s toys to discipline them? I had to take away my son’s Nintendo system once. He had abused the privilege of playing it, so he lost it for a whole month. You would have thought I had removed a kidney, lol. But we gave him a way to gain it back. He had to “pay a price” to ransom his game system. Believe me, he would have paid any price to get it back.

That’s a very loose analogy but hear me out. Christ redeemed what was legally already His. We are created by Him in His image, but sin has robbed us from that relationship. The only way to return to our rightful owner is to pay the price of judgment, something we could never do. The price is too high. But Jesus could. He had the correct currency – perfection. His righteousness for our sin – that was the ransom.

Are you even aware of the price He paid for you? Do you care? His sacrifice on our behalf can never be repeated. It doesn’t have to. His one-time payment covers all sin. We just have to be willing to receive it. Will you?

Ransom paying is beyond my realm of thinking. I cannot begin to imagine the weight You suffered with the sins of the whole world on Your shoulders. Thank You for being the ultimate sacrifice to pay the ransom for me.

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AN EXAMPLE

1 TIMOTHY 1:16

“Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” 

Could the Lord use you as an example? Paul was used that way. The Lord saved him from certain destruction and set him up as an example of His mercy and grace. God showed Paul patience as only God could do. 

Paul saw God’s actions as purposeful, not just for himself, but for others, as well. Paul’s salvation and life in Christ were an example God was using to draw others to Himself. Can God do that with you? Is your life one that the Lord can hold up to show others what He can do in someone who is surrendered to Him? 

APPLICATION

Sometimes we parents will tell one of our children, “Why can’t you be more like your sister (or brother)?” We compare their behaviors. That is NOT what I am talking about here. We should never compare our children. God has created each of them unique. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. Instead, we should always point them to Christ. Let Him be their example.

You also have to be an example to them. Your life should be a reflection of Christ to them, so they can see what a true believer looks like. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. No one is. But we are the ones the Lord has entrusted with this little life. He gave them to us to give back to Him. Do all you can to ensure you are doing that.

Okay, so how are you doing? If a total stranger met you for the first time, would they know within a few minutes that you are a child of the King? Better yet, do your close friends and family see Christ lived out in your life every day? Can the Lord say you are an example of His perfect patience?

Thank You, Father, for extending Your grace to me. I am grateful for Your perfect patience in my life. Without it I would be doomed for eternity.

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I’M NUMBER ONE

1 TIMOTHY 1:15

“It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”  

Paul called himself the number one sinner. Why would anyone do that? That is not a title I want. But he was making a point. Jesus died for all sinners, even the worst sinner of all. Paul, obviously, was reflecting on his past actions before he came to Christ. He was a persecutor of the early church. He sanctioned murder of Christians. He was there when the first martyr, Stephen, fell. He was, in fact, eager to bring them all to justice.

So, how does this relate to us? We are just as bad. We may not have killed anyone or persecuted anyone, but our sins are just as wicked. Our sins, left unforgiven, will lead us directly to hell. There are no little sins. Sin is sin – period. We all vie for the title of number one sinner.

APPLICATION

If you are like most parents, you don’t want to see your little Johnny or Susie as a sinner. Sure, they misbehave at times, but to think they will spend eternity separated from a holy God breaks your heart. It is hard to accept. But it is the truth. Unless your little angel turns to Christ and surrenders their will to His, they will not see the glory of heaven.

Our number one job as parents is to do all we can to introduce them to Jesus. We must prepare the spiritual environment in our homes to allow them to know Him and accept Him. We can’t make them choose Christ, but we must do everything within our power to prepare the way. How are you doing with that?

And this responsibility doesn’t just apply to our household. We are commanded by God to share His good news to everyone. Are you sharing that? Will you share that today? Ask the Lord to send people into your life today with whom you can share the greatest story ever told. You won’t regret it. It will be the best part of your day.

O God, Savior of my soul, thank You for redeeming me. Thank You for not turning Your back on me when I came seeking You. I, like Paul, am the foremost of sinners.

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THANK GOD FOR MERCY

1 TIMOTHY 1:13

“even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;” 

There are so many great words in this verse. Most of them point towards Paul’s former life before he met Christ on the Damascus road. Just like us, he acted ignorantly in unbelief. He thought he was doing right. He thought he was acting on God’s behalf. We do the same. We go through life as if we are just fine with God – UNTIL we meet Him on our own Damascus road.

But the key word today is “mercy.” Paul was shown mercy. Mercy is NOT getting what we do deserve. It’s God showing compassion and pity on us because of our covenant relationship with Him. Because of the shed blood of Christ, He extends mercy to us when we deserve hell. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are forgiven. 

APPLICATION

There are times when you need to show mercy to your children. One more “crack down” on them will do them in. Our job is help mold their spirit, not break it. Sooner or later, your little Gertrude or Elrod is going to need some mercy. The question is can you give it.

Many parents think showing any kind of mercy is a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are the authority. You have the power to enforce whatever rule and consequence you choose. Choosing to show mercy is a sign of control and strength to your child. They need to understand, though, what you are doing. They need to understand that you are choosing to show them mercy, just like our holy God has chosen to show us mercy.

Perhaps you are one of those parents who refuse to show mercy. May I warn you of something? Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy. Don’t go running to God for mercy when you cannot show it yourself. When you choose to show mercy, you can appreciate it even more when you receive it yourself. And when you do, marvel at the relationship you have in Christ.

Mercy! I cry mercy, Lord. Forgive me! Show me mercy in my repentance. And help me show mercy to others today.

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