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.

Standard
Alone, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Obedience, Parenting, Perseverance, Prayer, Satan, Scripture

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.

Standard
Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Evangelism, Grace, Love, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Witnessing

AS I LEAVE

2 TIMOTHY 4:22

“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

Paul’s final written words (as far we know) to Timothy are contained in this verse. Paul prayed the Lord would be with his spirt and His grace would also be with him. Nothing fancy. No flowing words. Just Jesus and grace. But think about. What else could he want for Timothy?

If you knew the words you were about to say to someone were the last words they would ever hear from you, what would you say? That, of course, would depend on whom you were addressing, right? If it was my wife, I would say something different than if I was addressing my neighbor or doctor or even my children. It’s the audience that can determine those words.

APPLICATION

Last words matter. You have probably taught your children about making a good first impression. But how about that last impression? You don’t want your child leaving someone with them thinking poorly of them, do you. So, what do you tell your child to do when they leave someone?

I often pray with someone before I leave them. That would be great to model for your children. Praying for someone, just as Paul did for Timothy, sends a message to them. It says they are special to you because they are to God. It says you care for them because Jesus died for them. And it’s really hard to walk away mad if you just prayed for someone, lol.

Today, focus not only on your greetings but also your goodbyes. Make sure your parting words are comforting and not confrontational. Ask someone if you can pray as you leave. You may just blow their mind. And pray sincerely and quickly. You don’t have to make it a sermon. You certainly don’t want them to avoid your parting prayer next time.

O Father, parting is hard sometime. Help me leave those I love and care for by leaving the grace and presence of Jesus with them. May they receive it and embrace it.

Standard
Affection, Alone, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friends, Holy Spirit, Hope, Love, Ministry, Obedience, Parenting, Peace, Praise, Prayer, Scripture, Suffering, Widows

FORSAKEN BUT FAITHFUL

1 TIMOTHY 5:5

Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” 

That may seem like a strange title for a blog, but that is exactly what this widow was. To be “left alone” literally means forsaken. But despite that, she continues in her faith. She prays specifically for needs and prays generally for others. She knows her only source of help and comfort comes from above.

Do you know a prayer warrior like that? I do. In fact, I know several. Their solace is in spending time with the Lord, studying His Word and talking to Him. They know He will never leave them or forsake them. They may be “alone” in this world, but they are never alone spiritually.

APPLICATION

Children need to learn this peace early. They need to know that our God and Father will never leave them, if they are one His children. They may think they are alone and the world is against them. But He never leaves their side. Drive that truth into Him. They need to hear that over and over again.

Do you ever have to leave your child to go on trips? I am sure that is hard on them and you. When you come home there are kisses and hugs, right? Just think of this – God is always with us giving us those kinds of hugs and kisses. Now, I don’t mean physical hugs and kisses. But His presence is just as soothing and intimate.

Do you feel His presence in your prayer life? Do you spend the time you need to each day to commune with your holy God. He is waiting to talk to you. He won’t barge in on you. He waits for you to come to Him, but He’s always ready. Isn’t that unbelievable?  

Father, thank You for always being there for me. I praise You for your steadfast love and compassion and the way You show it each and every day to me.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Eternity, Family, God's Will, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Passion, Prayer, Scripture

IS BODILY EXERCISE WORTH IT?

1 TIMOTHY 4:8

“for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

It seems 1 Timothy is full of one-time used words. We have another one today. The Greek word for “discipline” is gumnasia. Does that look familiar? We get the word “gymnasium” from that. This verse is my proof that we only have so many good heart beats, and we shouldn’t waste them exercising, lol. 

Paul is NOT saying we shouldn’t exercise. But too many people spend hours and hours at the gym and neglect their spiritual bodies. Having a buff and trim physical body will NOT make you more godly. Only exercising your spirit will do that. And that is done through spiritual pushups in the Word, prayer and worship. 

APPLICATION

I bet your little Johnny or Susie does some kind of physical exercise. The next time you are with them when they are doing that, bring up this verse. Perhaps you are riding bikes. Compare the exercise their legs are getting with their spiritual walk with Christ. Maybe they are playing soccer. Compare that to controlling their feet as they maneuver to score a goal for God through righteous living.

You can find hundreds of ways to compare physical exercise and sports to the Christian life. There are literally thousands of books out there. The point is to make sure your children know that exercising their spiritual body is more important than exercising their physical body. This physical body will not see heaven, only the spiritual one will.

Are you obsessed with your physique? Are you so enamored with Cross Fit, yoga or P90x that you spend all your spare time in that? Try this for a week. Spend the same amount of time studying God’s Word as you do exercising. I promise you that you feel the difference spiritually.

Lord, I am guilty of not exercising enough physically. I know this body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. But Father, I want to exercise my spiritual body just as much. Help me keep in shape spiritually.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Family, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Lies, Mentoring, Ministry, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Scripture, Wisdom

WE ALL NEED NOURISHMENT

1 TIMOTHY 4:6


“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”

We have ANOTHER one-time used word today. The Greek word for “nourishment” is only used right here.  It means to be “in the state (condition) of being nourished, to be trained by continuous instruction in the area of skill and practical knowledge. This happens by receiving God’s gift of faith which has lasting effects.”

That’s a long definition, I know, but I wanted you to see what this word really means, especially the “lasting effects” part. Proper nourishment, whether it’s physical food or spiritual food, should have lasting effects. It should sustain us. It should strengthen us. It should help us grow in our faith. Look at what  does it. Paul says “the words of faith” and “sound doctrine” are our nourishment.

APPLICATION

The next time you sit down at the family table for a meal, read your little Gertrude or Elrod this verse. Explain that just as important as good nutritious food is to their bodies, our spiritual life needs nourishment. Ask them what they think would happen to their bodies if all they ate was candy and colas. I am pretty sure they will have some great answers.

Then ask them what will happen to their walk with Christ if we put false teachings and other beliefs in our minds and hearts. And what will happen if we don’t feed our spirits at all? It will starve to death just as our bodies will without food. They really need to understand that is why you spend time with them in the Word and in prayer. You are feeding them spiritually.

How healthy is your spirit today? When is the last time you had a nice, nutritious spiritual meal? When is the last time you ate spiritually? Is your spirit starving? Turn to God’s Word. In it you will find all the sound doctrine and truths you need for healthy living.

O God, You feed me but only when I come to the table. You won’t force feed me, I know. I want to grow healthier in my daily walk with Christ.

Standard
Bible, Busyness, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Love, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Surrender

BULLS-EYE

1 TIMOTHY 4:5

“for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”

I bought a new crossbow last year. I can no longer pull back and hold a bow due to a bad left shoulder. Now, the crossbow I bought came with a scope, but it still had to be sighted in. So, I took it out to a place where I could set a target and shoot lots of bolts (that’s what you call a crossbow arrow) until I had it zeroed in at 40 yards. It took a while, but I finally shot six bolts in a row at six different bulls-eyes on the target hitting all six dead center.

I was thinking about that when I looked at the Greek word for “prayer” in this verse. This particular word is only used twice in the New Testament, both times in 1 Timothy (the other being in 2:1). It literally means to hit the bulls-eye. I feel I have shot a lot of prayers up to God without ever coming close to the bulls-eye. In fact, there have been times when I have completely missed the target.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to pray is quite a privilege. But watching them take off on their own prayer life is a whole different matter. When they learn to “hit the bulls-eye” in their prayer life, they will discover a deeper intimacy with God. When they are specific and focused in their prayer life, God will speak in ways that will reveal deeper and more meaningful insights into His very character.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. You can pray for your children, but you can’t pray their prayers for them. They must do that themselves. Their prayer life is THEIR prayer life, not yours. And when they learn the power they have in Christ nothing can stop them.

Are you hitting the bulls-eye? Or are you shooting blindly, just hoping to hit something. Specific, detailed, bulls-eye centered prayer is the key to successful Christian living. Only by communicating directly with the Creator of it all can you discover who you are in Christ.

Lord, help me to talk to You intimately. I want to not only see the target, but I want to hit the bulls-eye each and every time I pray.

Standard