Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST

1 PETER 3:19

“in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,”

This verse and the next couple of verses are some controversial verses among believers. My first thought is how sad. Our arguments about Scripture give the unbelieving world a reason to disbelief in the very truth of the Word. That being said…

The Spirit of Christ was present as Noah (mentioned in verse 20) preached to the people of his day. These people who died in the flood are “the spirits now in prison.” God has always desired people to come to Him. The flood victims were no exception. Instead, they laughed and made fun of Noah, ignoring the warnings given through him.

APPLICATION

This same Spirit of Christ speaks through us today. As we disciple our children, we must teach them this truth. The very Spirit of Christ lives in and through us. He is still preaching the Gospel today – as we allow Him. That’s the key. Our children need to be discipled to hear the Spirit when He speaks. Remember the story of Samuel as a child?

And here’s the great part. As we are obedient to allow the Spirit to speak through us, perhaps those who hear will respond and avoid the prison of hell. That’s our reward. Seeing others come to Christ is thrilling, is it not?

Will you allow Jesus to speak through you today? Will you be the one used of the Lord to slam those “prison doors” closed to prevent them from spending eternity there? There are so many people you come into contact with daily who are going to join the other inmates of hell unless someone shares Christ with them.

Place others in my path today who need to hear about Jesus. Use me to lead them to You. I want to see them welcomed into Your arms for eternity.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Forgiveness, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Parenting, Repentance, Surrender, Witnessing

THEY’RE SAVED?!

ACTS 10:44-45

“44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.”

Have you ever run into someone you haven’t seen in years and learned they are a believer now? You knew them in their B.C. (Before Christ) days and are shocked they are saved. I mean, you’re glad and excited, but still you’re shocked. That’s kind of what happened here. The circumcised believers with Peter were shocked that God had saved these Gentiles.

What a great verse to show God desires that everyone be saved. He loved these Gentiles. He had sent a message to Cornelius to have Peter come and share the Gospel with them. They heard and believed. Don’t ever think someone is unreachable. It’s not you who draws them to Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit working through you.

APPLICATION

Teach your children to share the Gospel. I never cease to be amazed at the boldness of children in sharing their faith. They don’t have the fears of rejection we adults have built up over time. Children just want to talk about Jesus. We could learn a lot from them.

So, help them prepare their Gospel message. Help them share what God has done for them. Help them share what God has done for their family. Help them make a list of friends they want to share their faith with. And most importantly, pray with them. Seek the Lord’s guidance, because He is the one who will direct them to the people to share.

Do you have a list of names of people you want to share Christ with? Have you prayed for those people today? If God has placed them on your heart, it’s for a reason. Seek those individuals out today. Ask the Lord to give you the words and the opportunity to share. He will!

Father, thank You for drawing me to You so many years ago. Put people in my path today to whom I can share Your message.

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RIGHTEOUS PRAYERS

1 PETER 3:12

“’FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.’”

There has never been a more misunderstood truth. So many people believe that whomever prays to God will have their prayers answered. That simply isn’t true. Now, hear me out. God will always respond to the prayer of anyone who is repenting and coming to surrender to Him. But if that same lost person is begging God for relief without surrendering to Him…well…today’s verse answers that question.

God longs to answer our prayers. He wants to work in our lives. But we must come to Him with repentant hearts. We must acknowledge our need for a Savior. He is not going to look on our sin and just look past them. He demands and deserves our allegiance in order for Him to work as He desires in our lives. This may sound harsh, but it is meant to drive us all to our knees.

APPLICATION

Teaching our kids this truth is so important. We want them to understand how to pray. I use the acrostic A-C-T-S to pray. A stands for Adoration. I praise Him for who He is and acknowledge His supremacy in my life. C stands for confession. I confess my sins each time I pray. I long to be sinless, but I haven’t arrived yet. T stands for thanksgiving. I thank Him for His blessings in my life. And S stands for supplication. Here is where I come to him on behalf of loved ones and myself, asking for His will to be done.

If our children will learn to pray this way, they will not go wrong. Our children need to understand that our righteousness depends on the blood of Christ, which we claim every time we confess our sins to Him. We, the righteous in Christ, have an open portal to the very throne of God.

Are you praying as a righteous child of God? Or do you pray because you are doing good deeds? Righteousness is not yours to earn. It is given freely through Christ to those who call Him Savior. And because we are righteous, we desire to live righteously. God is waiting to answer your prayers. Pray in righteousness.

I know the only thing good about me is You, Lord. It is Your righteousness that gives me the freedom to call on You daily for my needs and the needs of others.

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HALF TRUTHS

ACTS 5:3

“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?’”

This story in Acts is kind of shocking. To see the whole story read Acts 5:1-11. A husband and wife lied to Peter and died. Boy, aren’t you glad that doesn’t happen today? The early church was just beginning and had no room for deceit. Ananias and then his wife, Sapphira, lied and received the ultimate punishment.

I don’t believe God is going to zap us every time we sin, but there are consequences. We may not see those consequences right away, but rest assured we will see them. Truth is critical in any relationship. That is especially true with the Lord. He knows the truth any way. We can’t hide it from Him. So, why do we try?

APPLICATION

When my children were little they had to be disciplined from time to time. I was typically more lenient if they told me the truth. Nothing would get them in trouble faster than lying to me and their mother. Honesty is a trait we much teach our children. How do we teach that? By rewarding it.

Now, I don’t mean to ignore behavior if they are honest. But I do mean to praise them for their honesty. Your children have to know that honesty is rewarded. We are trying to build children with integrity. Remember, we are not raising children. We are raising child raisers.

Are you honest with others? Are you honest with the Lord? If not, repent today. You don’t have to fear being struck dead for your untruthfulness, but dishonesty will kill your reputation. Remember, you are representing our Savior.

Lord, I will allow You to speak truth through me. You are truth. I know if I surrender to Your will each day, truth will reign in my life.

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WALKING AWAY

1 PETER 2:25

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Sheep get lost by walking away. They don’t run away. They simply stop watching their shepherd and wander away. Before they know it, the shepherd is nowhere in sight. Unless the shepherd comes and finds them, they will most likely stay lost.

We are the same way. We can become hopelessly lost unless we turn our eyes on the Shepherd. Only He can save us from a life spent in the wilderness, away from the watchful gaze of the “Guardian of your souls,” as Peter describe Him. He knows where the green pastures are and will lead us to them.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever gotten lost? They didn’t mean to, but they wandered away from you in a shopping mall or amusement park. Their eyes were fixed on something that intrigued them. Instead of watching you or holding your hand, they were pulled away by their own interests.

We need to remind our children that Satan has a way of luring us away from what we know to be safe and sound. Before we come to Christ, Satan doesn’t usually bother us much. He has us where he wants us. But once we come to Christ, he tries to entice us away from following Him. He can’t unsave us, but he can sure can distract us and make us feel unusable.

Have you strayed away from the safe and gentle embrace of the Shepherd? He desires for you to return to Him. He won’t force you, though. Your return is up to you. If that’s you, repent today and watch how quickly He picks you up. He longs for your embrace as well.

Father, forgive me for wandering. Fix my eyes on You so I can stay near to Your side. I want to spend my days close to You.

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REPENT

Acts 2:37-38

“37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ 38Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

I have always believed that at the end of every sermon, you must give the people an opportunity to respond and make a decision for Christ. Why else preach the Gospel? So many people don’t know how to respond. They don’t understand what the next step is. But I have never had a congregation ask me what to do. Peter had the door slung wide open.

And what did Peter do? He didn’t tell them to be good and try hard to please God. He didn’t say to give more to the church. He didn’t say work hard so God will forgive you. No! He said, “Repent!” Simple enough, right? The baptism follows the repentance. It isn’t necessary for the forgiveness. And when you repent, the Holy Spirit is sent your way.

APPLICATION

This is such an important lesson for our children. They need to know that there is nothing they can do to earn forgiveness. The only action required is repentance, to turn from going in one direction and begin to go in another direction. To turn from doing wrong to follow Jesus. Nothing else is required. Repent.

Have your children repented of their sins? Remember, they are going to understand this at their level. They are not going to comprehend all the truths of Scripture yet. I bet you don’t understand them all either, do you? Children repent to the best of their ability, with the limitations of their intellect. The Spirit will do the rest.

Have you repented? Are you a child of the King? If you have repented, then His Spirit lives within you. He is promised to you. You need to follow that up with baptism as a sign of obedience, but your confession of sin in the act of repentance is all that is required. Do you believe that? Then live like it.

I am so thankful You drew me to repentance. I still remember the day You spoke my name and called me to Yourself. Thank You for forgiving me and sending Your Spirit to live within me.

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DO YOU LOVE ME?

JOHN 21:15-17

“15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’ 16 He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”

Do you get the feeling from this passage that Jesus is trying to get a point across to Peter? Most scholars agree that is was no coincidence that Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter had denied Jesus three times just days earlier. I believe these three questions were on purpose.

But what you can’t see from the English is that Jesus uses a different word for love in the first two questions than Peter. He uses the Greek word agapao which is God’s kind of love. Peter replies with phileo which is a friendship kind of love. It was as if Jesus was asking him how deep was his love for Him – love like God loves or just as a friend.

APPLICATION

Ask your children how much they love you. They may stretch out their little arms and say This much! Don’t you just love that? My daughter, Casey, and I have this little thing we do when she tells me she loves me. I always reply I love you more. In fact, she gave me a key chain that says that on it. She knows I love her.

The question for us to really ask our kids is if they love Jesus. And I don’t mean just as a friend. Have they accepted Him as Lord and Savior and do they love Him with that agape love, a love that can only come from God? You see, His love accepts us just as we are and is totally unconditional. That’s real love!

How about you? How do you love Jesus? He has to be more than a friend. Friends come and go. Jesus is eternal. He deserves a deeper, richer love. If Jesus appeared to you today, as He did to Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and asked you Do you love Me, what would you say? I pray you would say I agapao You. Love Him today.

Father, I do love You. You have done so much for me for which I could never repay You. You are worthy of all praise, glory and love.

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