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MAXIMUM POTENTIAL

1 PETER 4:8

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Love, love, love! If we would all just love more, the world would be a better place. You have probably heard that at least once in your life. And Peter agrees, but there are a couple of qualifiers. One is it has to be God’s love. Both times in this verse the word agape is used. That’s God’s kind of love. We can’t produce that. It has to come through Him.

Secondly, Peter says to be “fervent in your love for one another.” The Greek word for “fervent” means to its maximumpotential, without slack because it is fully extended to its necessary outcome. That word is only used right here in this verse. Can you love to your maximum potential?

APPLICATION

The only way for your kids to learn to love fervently is for you to model that for them. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? But so much of parenting is role modeling. Remember, Peter isn’t telling us to fervently love our families. That is easy (well, it’s easy most of the time, lol). He is telling us to fervently love all our Christian brothers and sisters.

Now that’s a challenge. Your children will watch how you love them. They will listen how you talk about them. They will see if you are loving to your maximum potential. When they see us loving the unlovable with the love of God, then they will begin to understand this verse.

Who is causing you to struggle with this right now? Love them more. That doesn’t mean you have to condone what they do. It doesn’t mean you have to trust them. But it does mean to allow the Lord to love them through you. Be obedient to what the Lord has called you to do.

Lord, I will attempt to love fervently. I know it won’t be easy, but I will do it because You expect it and because You can empower me to do it.

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LIVING FOR WHAT

1 PETER 4:2

“so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

We have a choice to make. Do we live to please ourselves or God? Peter states that here in today’s verse. This thought is a continuation of the previous verse which ends with “has ceased from sin.” It is impossible to please God and sin at the same time. You just can’t do it.

So, if you want to “live the rest of the time” doing the will of God, you will abandon “the lusts of men.” The Greek word for “lusts” really means passionate desire. The word can be used in a negative or positive way, depending on the context. Here it is used negatively. But don’t you think we need a passionate desire for God?

APPLICATION

What are your child’s passions? Soccer, Legos, American girl? We need to strive to give our children that passion for Jesus. I don’t mean they have to quote the Bible constantly or preach on a street corner. I mean they desire passionately to please their Heavenly Father.

The only way to do that is to immerse them in His Word and pray over them. They will choose their own way. We can’t stop that. But as we intercede for them in these ways, God is watching. He will draw them to Himself powerfully. I truly believe that. He will honor our efforts to raise our children loving Him.

Are you passionate about anything? Are you passionate about the right things? Our passions can vary. However, our priorities shouldn’t. Make knowing Jesus your top priority and your passions will follow. Get passionate for Jesus.

I love You, Lord. Make me more passionate for You. Put in me the desire to seek You first.

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MISPLACED FAITH

ACTS 5:14-16

“14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.”

Peter’s reputation as a miracle worker and healer had spread. People were clamoring to get to him to be healed of their diseases or impairments. However, the crowds were so big they couldn’t get close enough. So, they resorted to lying in the streets where Peter might pass with the hope that his shadow might fall on them and heal them.

I must quickly say that there is no evidence this happened. We have no record of anyone being healed by his shadow. Nevertheless, the people believed it could. Strong faith in the wrong thing does not make things right. You may believe passionately in something, only to find out you were passionately wrong.

APPLICATION

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to redirect your child when you know they are headed in the wrong direction. Your child may have some strong beliefs about some things in our culture. It’s happening more and more. While we want them to hold strongly to their beliefs, we also want those beliefs to be biblically based.

The only way you can redirect them is to go to Scripture. If a belief is not backed up by the Word of God, it’s not a true belief. Now listen to me. Satan loves to disguise his lies with a little truth. This can be so confusing to a young believer. That’s why you, Mom and Dad, must be grounded in the Word and able to show them in Scripture what God says.

Have you taken a good look at your beliefs? Why do you believe what you do? We all need to do a self-check every so often. It is so easy to bring in traditions or church practices and consider them doctrine. Let me encourage you today to reevaluate your beliefs. Check them out with the Word before you start betting your life on them.

Your Word is clear to me, Lord. I will put my trust in what You teach me there and check out other teachings that are put before me.

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YOU ARE A PROCLAIMER

1 PETER 2:9

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may;” proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Many have memorized this verse. Most of us remember the first part but forget the second. Let’s take a look at that. Peter tells us we are chosen for a purpose. We are chosen to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

We tend to get stuck on the first part of the verse which makes us so special. But since we are chosen, since we are a royal priesthood and holy nation and since we are God’s own possession, He expects us to tell others. We are proclaimers of the good news of Christ.

APPLICATION

How hard would it be for your children if you asked them to keep a secret about something incredible? Suppose you have planned a fabulous vacation and you told your kids all about it but swore them to secrecy. Their little tongues would be chewed raw biting their tongues to keep from telling someone.

We should have the same excitement about what Christ has done for us. We should be busting at the seams wanting to tell everyone. But we relish in the chosen part without looking at the responsibility part. He saved us to use us to spread the good news.

Have you told someone lately how incredible Jesus is to you? Have you told them what He has done for you? Don’t miss an opportunity. Don’t simply rely on your position in Christ. Now, I don’t mean you HAVE to do anything to guarantee your salvation. What I mean is you should have a burden to share every chance you get.

Thank You for choosing me and claiming me as Your own possession. I belong to You. Help me spread the Word.

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EYE WITNESS

LUKE 8:51

“When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother.”

Once again, we see Jesus choose Peter, James and John to witness something the other disciples didn’t. In this case, He wanted them to witness His healing powers. Everyone in the house told Him the little girl was dead. She probably was, but what is death to God?

Put yourself in Peter’s sandals. What would you have been thinking? Come on, Jesus. I know You have powers, but raising from the dead? This would not be the only time they would witness this, culminating with His own victory over death.

APPLICATION

I don’t expect you to show your children how to raise the dead. So, what is the message from this verse? Simple! God can do whatever He chooses to do whenever He chooses to do it. Your children need to know that. They need to know they can trust Him to work in their lives to protect and defend them.

But there is another message. Perhaps, the Lord will allow them to be an eyewitness to His workings in someone’s life. He may choose to use their prayers to heal someone. Now, hear me clearly. God heals, but He uses us to encourage and comfort. And those experiences build our faith.

Would you want to be an eyewitness? I would and I have been. I have seen people healed who should have died. In order to see those healings, you must believe. Believe God is good and desires only the best for each of His children. Let Him use you to comfort others. You may be surprised at what He allows you to see.

Father, use me as Your tool. If that means in healing, so be it. Just use me to accomplish Your desires.

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FERVENT LOVE

1 PETER 1:22

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,”

Have you ever loved someone so much that it hurt? The Greek word for fervent comes across like that. It’s only used twice in the New Testament. The other time is in Acts 12:5 when Peter was in jail and the church was fervently praying for his release.

Peter had experienced that kind of love and now he is telling us to love each other that way.

Now, I realize there are some people who are hard to love. I bet you can name a few. But that doesn’t excuse us from loving them. Do you know why? Because we aren’t doing this from our own love. No!!! This is the fervent love of Christ. We are just the vessel He uses to express His love.

APPLICATION

Ask your children what they think fervent means. Once they are done explain the word to them. Now, ask them to show you how they would express fervent love. Depending on the kid, this could be interesting. Most kids, however, don’t have a problem loving. We adults tend to shy away from fervent love.

I love standing at the door to the church I serve on Sunday mornings. Some of the kids will begin running down the sidewalk leading into the church the moment they see me. I’ve been out for several weeks with serious medical issue. I will probably get mowed down on my first Sunday back. I can’t wait. lol

Fervent love is proceeded by “purified your souls.” That’s important. Fervent love comes out of a pure heart. There is nothing hidden in that fervent love. It comes straight from above. Fervent love is an encouraging love. Go out today and fervently love someone. I’ll bet they will be surprised.

I fervently love You, Lord. Help me love others with as much passion. Love through me today.

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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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NOT A NICE PERSON

2 TIMOTHY 3:3

“unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,”

Paul is describing those who are not lovers of God. These words paint a picture of a not very nice person. And (at least to me) it’s interesting that four of these six words in today’s verse are only used right here. Remember, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write only what the Father wanted him to write. So, these words were saved for right here.

The saddest word of this verse is the first one, “unloving.” It refers to not having any kind of natural affection. Actually, it can describe family affection. So, these people don’t even love their own families. Now, that’s sad. Who doesn’t love their momma? Who doesn’t love their little sis? But these individuals only think of self, no one else.

APPLICATION

Go through this list of words in today’s verse with your little ones. Ask them how they can do the opposite. Instead of not loving their family, how can they show love? Instead of being irreconcilable and hard to get along with, how can they get along? You can go through each of these words this way. Your children will understand, if you will take the time to cover each word.

The important thing to point out is these words in today’s verse describe someone who does not love Jesus. We want to draw a sharp contrast, as Paul does, of the difference in our lives. Everything we teach our children should point them to Christ. There is no aspect of their life in which He is not concerned.

How loving are you today? How agreeable? Do you control your tongue and behaviors? Would someone call you brutal? Take a look at the descriptors used to describe you by others. If any of them resemble these, you may need to have a “come to Jesus” meeting with yourself. We want others to only see Jesus in us. Amen?

I am so guilty, O God, of putting myself ahead of others. Forgive me for being so selfish. I repent of that today.

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FOR OTHERS

2 TIMOTHY 2:10 

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 

Paul’s thoughts always seemed to be on two things – the Lord Jesus and others. His passion and drive was to share the gospel of Jesus with as many as he could before leaving this world. Even now, in prison, his mind is on this. He is reflecting on his current situation (prison) and glorifying God that even this is working to bring others to Jesus. 

That Greek word for “endure” means to bear up under and is only possible through the power of God in someone’s life. Paul knew the only way he could endure all the things he had endured was the supernatural empowering of the Holy Spirit. But with Him, there was nothing that he couldn’t endure.  

APPLICATION 

How do we teach our children to “endure”? How do we teach them to do it for others? Endurance can be taught through physical exercise. You work and work and eventually get stronger. You push through the pain day after day. Then you notice you can run a little further or lift a little more weight. It is through the daily struggle that you gain more and more endurance. 

But why would we do that for others? Simple! Because of what Christ endured for us. When we teach our children about Jesus, we need to make sure to teach them what He gave up for us. He took all our sins on Himself. He became sin so that we could take on His righteousness. Now, He asks us to share that with others, no matter what it takes. We must be willing to endure sufferings in order to bring a lost world into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. 

Are you? Are you willing to endure whatever the Lord allows in your life for the purpose of showing others how to believe and trust in Him? You are called to this purpose at salvation. Now, you may never suffer a day in your walk or you may be the one who suffers constantly. Whichever it is, endure. Do it all for His glory. 

Father God, I accept Your will in my life today and gladly endure the cross of suffering. I desire to see others come to Jesus, and if my suffering can bring that, then use me. 

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GENERATIONS

2 TIMOTHY 2:2 

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 

I’ve got a picture somewhere of five generations of my family. The picture includes my great grandmother Butler, my grandmother Willis, my dad, myself and my son. That’s rare today. I need to find that picture, lol. I am blessed to say that all five generations knew or know Jesus as their personal Savior. 

Today’s verse talks about generations. This verse means a lot to me. In fact, it’s my passion. Discipling other men is what drives me. It obviously was to Paul too. What you see here is Paul telling Timothy to keep passing the torch. Paul had mentored Timothy, and now he tells him to find faithful men to mentor himself who will also mentor others. Four generations of spiritual reproduction! 

APPLICATION 

Our children are the key to this generational hand off. If we do not teach our children the Word of God and instill in them the necessity to train their children, then the torch gets extinguished. The church is always only one generation away from extinction. Each successive generation must embrace and pass on their faith. 

Now I know God is bigger than us, but He still uses people to accomplish His will on earth. Don’t you want your children to be a part of His plan to reach all mankind with the Gospel? Well, it starts with you and then your children. They have to teach their children who will teach their children. Pass it along. 

Whom are you discipling or mentoring today? No one? Listen, dear brother and sister, you have to begin. God has given you the greatest gift. You must pass it on. Find someone you can invest in for eternity. There is no higher calling. 

Thank You, Lord, for sending people into my life to mentor me. Help me be as attentive to others around me who need to be mentored. 

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