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STILL FISHING

MATTHEW 17:24-27

“24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?’ 25 He said, ‘Yes.’ And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?’ 26 When Peter said, ‘From strangers,’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are exempt. 27 However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.’”

What a strange story. It seems to appear out of nowhere and have nothing to do with Jesus’ ministry. Oh, but it does. Did you know this tax for which they were collecting was for the support of the Temple? It wasn’t a Roman tax, but rather a Jewish tax. Jesus was fulfilling Jewish law by paying this. He was showing Peter that He meant to support the temple, not fight against it.

I bet Peter thought He was a little crazy, though, when He said to go catch a fish and find the tax money. I’ve caught a lot of fish and have found a lot of things in their mouths. But I have never found money. Boy, if I did I would fish every day, lol. Jesus was providing what was needed at the time, nothing more. He still does that today, does He not?

APPLICATION

The next time you write that check to the church or put money in the offering plate, you can tell this story. Your children will definitely think this story is cool. Money in a fish’s mouth? Really? But that miracle isn’t the point of the story. Make sure they understand that. The story is about Jesus fulfilling His Father’s will. He came to fulfill and complete the law.

Jesus just chose an interesting manner to do it. He was exhibiting His omnipotence to His followers and doing what was expected in paying this tax. Explain to your children that they too can be a part of a miracle by giving to support the church. Now, we don’t pull coins from fish, but we do support ministries that change lives. The church supports missionaries around the world who touch lives who may have never heard the name of Jesus.

I bet you could find some money in an unusual place today to give to the Lord. You may have something you are not using anymore that could be turned into cash for the kingdom. Your child may have some toys they have outgrown. Sell them and lead them to give that money to missions. They and you will be finding “coins in a fish,” in a sense. Now, that’s cool.

Father, all I have is Yours. Help me see how to make it all available to the furtherance of Your kingdom. I want to be faithful to whatever You ask me to give.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deception, Encouragement, Eternity, Heaven, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Purity, Religion, Righteousness

STAINED OR UNSTAINED

TITUS 1:15

“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.”

Have you ever used stain on a piece of wood? My dad taught me how to stain. He showed me the difference between a piece of stained and unstained wood. You can see the grains that run through the wood when it’s unstained. But when you apply even a light coat of stain, those grains pop out. It changes your view of the wood.

That’s probably a poor analogy, but today’s verse has two very contrasting views – pure and defiled. You could translate these two words as unstained and stained. One is not distracted by the world. The other lives for it. One sees all things as God sees them. The other sees all things as they prefer to see them. Which are you?

APPLICATION

Shaping your child’s worldview is so important. But it begins with their salvation. Only God can truly change how they see the world. You, however, play a huge role in that you help set the environment in which they can readily adjust their eyes to see God’s truth and be ready to hear His voice. Once they respond to His calling (and He is calling them) He will give them that pure heart which will cause them to see “all things are pure.”

Or, you could choose to let your child just decide on their own about religion. After all, you wouldn’t want to influence them in such a private matter. Hogwash! What is more important – where they will spend eternity or being at school on time? We guide our children in life changing decisions. We don’t let them “figure it for themselves.”

Do you see the world clearly? Are you looking through lenses shaped by God’s purity? If not, you have chosen to wear the eyewear of the world in which everything is defiled and stained. Why not today trade in your old glasses for a brand, new pair fashioned by the Lord exclusively for you?

Thank You, Lord, for focusing my eyes on You. I know I can see more clearly when I see with a pure vision. I choose to look up, not down on this world You have placed me in.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Godliness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Religion, Testimony

BUT I’M RELIGIOUS

2 TIMOTHY 3:5

“holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

Have you ever known someone who was very religious, but also very ungodly? They keep all the holidays and are careful to do all the “right” things, but their daily life shows no sign of Jesus at all. These people relish the idea of following religious principles, but when it comes to treating people like Jesus would, they fall way short.

Religion allows us to work out something. We can achieve religion. We can count our points until we think we have measured up. Oh, but we are missing it by doing that. It’s all about surrender, not what we do. Paul is once again warning Timothy to be careful of those who seem so religious. Watch their motives. Watch their actions. The truth will come out.

APPLICATION

Moms and dads, don’t make your children religious. Teach them to be faithful. Religion is just something we can say we are a part of, like a club. But our faith…well…that’s the real thing. I was told once that Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship. Do you want your children to have a relationship with Christ? Then teach them your faith, not your religion.

For your children to discover the real power of Christ in their life, they will have to understand this difference. Between you and other godly adults in their life living this out, they will see it. Real faith is lived out daily in our relationships. We allow the Lord to speak through us, love through us, disagree through us, just do life through us. But all of it reflects Jesus. Your kids will get that.

Are you religious or godly? Stop trying to please the Father by what you are doing. He loves you unconditionally and wants an intimate relationship with you. He doesn’t really care if you have perfect attendance at church if you are treating your family like dirt. He doesn’t care how much you give to the church if you are also cheating on your taxes. Relationships matter and the most important one in your life today is with the God of the universe who sent His Son to die for you. Embrace Him.

I love You, Lord. I want to know You more. I want that deep, intimate, personal relationship that only comes by spending time with You.

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