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.

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FAILURE

MATTHEW 26:74-75

“74 Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.”

Epic fail! Peter realized immediately when he heard that rooster crow that he had failed his Master. He probably wanted to throw up. Can you imagine the thoughts that ran through his mind? This wasn’t a minor fail. He had denied Jesus threw times, just as Jesus predicted.

How many times have you failed our Lord? You’ve been told to do something, but you don’t. You know He placed someone on your heart to call or go see and you don’t. He places someone in your path to witness to and you walk away without doing it. Fail!

APPLICATION

Children are going to have failures. That’s part of learning and growing. I believe they can learn more from failures than successes if we help them. If we don’t, those failures can crush them. Losing can build character. Failing can do the same. You need to ask them what went wrong. How could have they prevented the failure?

They are also going to fail God. Tell them an experience you’ve had. They need to know you can relate. And then tell them how the Lord forgave you and showed mercy. They need to hear that. Read them this passage in Matthew and then skip ahead and read how Jesus forgave him after He resurrected.

Are you still living in failure? Take it to Jesus. He can forgive. Don’t put that confession off. It won’t go away. We have the God of the universe waiting for us to talk to Him. He wants to forgive. He wants to talk to us. Don’t make Him wait. Right now, bend your knee and ask for forgiveness for that failure. He’s ready to forgive.

I ask You to forgive me today for the many times I have failed You, Lord. Cleanse me and make me right in Your eyes. Show me how to be more obedient today.

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ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

I PETER 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 

Are you born again? You have undoubtedly heard that question at some point in your life? It’s one of those church questions? That question can confuse some people, especially those who have had no knowledge of Christ. The concept of being born again was brought up by Christ to Nicodemus in John 3. Even though Nicodemus was educated, he was confused by then idea.

The Greek word “born again” is only used twice in the New

Testament, both times in 1 Peter (1:3, 23). It means to be birthed again from on high. It is done to you by One who is greater than you. This rebirth occurs the moment you surrender your life to Jesus. God the Father, through God the Spirit, regenerates us and give us a brand, new life in God the Son.

APPLICATION

Ask your son or daughter what they would want to come back as if they could be reborn. This could be funny. Some may say a puppy or a cat. Some may say an eagle or a snake. Ask them why? Anything goes. Just let them talk.

Then talk about how we can be reborn into a new creature through the Lord. They may not understand all the theological concepts of rebirth, but they understand “new.” It’s a fresh start. It’s a new beginning. It’s a life without all the junk of the past holding us down. And tell your children the most beautiful part of this rebirth is it is eternal. There will never be a need for a second rebirth. Hallelujah!

Are you born again? Are you sure? If you have given your heart to Jesus, He has entered you through the Holy Spirit and cleansed you of all unrighteousness. It is His life that now resides in you. You have the power to conquer sin, not because of anything you can do, but because He is God. Enjoy your new birth. Relish in the freshness. Sing for joy because of Him.

I praise You for my new life in Christ. I thank You for birthing me on high and claiming me as Yours. I shall forever serve You.

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THE OPPOSITION

TITUS 1:10

“For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,”

In the previous five verses of Titus 1, Paul has laid out the qualifications of an Elder in the church. Now, he takes a one hundred and eighty degree turn and talks about the other side, the ones who are opposed to the church and the Gospel. These are not pleasant words and I pray none of these descriptions fit you.

Are you rebellious or insubordinate? It’s easy to fall into that trap. Don’t! How about an empty taker? That literally means speaking meaningless words. Do you deceive others? This particular Greek word for “deceive” is only used right here. It means to exploit others or to lead them in their own delusions. None of these three descriptions are nice. And none of them belong in the life of a believer.

APPLICATION

The application is simple today for your children. Don’t let them be this way. I am sure you have had to deal with a little rebellion from your children. Deal with that quickly and firmly. Unaddressed rebellion will only lead to more and more rebellion. And teach your children to use their words carefully. Talking just to talk can cause problems for them and others. No one likes a babbler.

But of these three, make sure you teach them the dangers of deception. Deception comes in many forms – lying, stealing, cheating. To deceive with the sole intention to exploit someone is the furthest thing from the heart of Christ. We should be doing all we can to bring others to Him, not drive them away by taking advantage of them.

Now, I am sure from time to time we have all been guilty of one of these three. We are flesh and still succumb to its influence. If you have, repent. If you are currently living opposed to the Gospel, stop where you are and come to Jesus. He is the only one is able to give you the power to overcome your flesh.

Thank You, Lord, for living through me. When I want to lash out at others, You are the one who quickens my spirit. I will give You all the glory.

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THE WORD

TITUS 1:9

“holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”

In my opinion (and no one has asked it, lol), this is the key qualification of an Elder. He must be able to handle the Word of God. I love how Paul describes this. He says they must “hold fast” the faithful word. “Holding fast” implies the value of the object grasped. What’s more important than the Word? Nothing.

He must be able to teach the Word to “exhort in sound doctrine” and “to refute those who contradict.” What does that mean? “Exhort” actually means to encourage or come alongside with the Word. It’s a gentle word. However, “refute” is a little stronger. It means to convict, to show guilty. It’s the Word doing this. The Elder is only the vessel.

APPLICATION

We do these two things with our kids all the time. We exhort or encourage, and we refute or convict them when they are in the wrong. The next time you have the opportunity to exhort your child, do it with the Word. Let it be the tool you use to show how proud you are of them. Heap praises on them. Our children need that.

And more importantly, the next time you have to discipline your child, make sure you are using the Word to show them the errors of their ways. It’s not about your rules. It’s God’s Word that guides us. The beauty of this is His Word is timeless. You are not.

Are you handling the Word in this way? Allow it to transform your thinking. Let the Word pour into you so it can pour out of you. Sometimes just sharing a verse you just read can be all the encouragement someone needs that day. And don’t play judge over someone else. That’s not your job. But through the Word you can point out a brother’s need to repent. Remember, the Word convicts. We are just the vessel God uses.

Lord, help me handle Your Word honorably. Help me exhort and refute when appropriate. I trust Your Word to always guide me on the right path.

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