Advice, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Righteousness, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

BLESSED IN SUFFERING

1 PETER 3:14

“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,” 

You are probably thinking right now, Carl, you are crazy! Blessed in suffering? Really? Well, that’s what the verse says. Don’t get mad at me, lol. It’s interesting that you don’t hear that preached much. Why? Because people don’t want to suffer. I don’t. No one welcomes suffering. It’s just not in our nature.

But let me tell you, as one who has gone through some suffering, when you are in the midst of it, you feel the blessing. I don’t want to give the impression that I enjoyed it. Not for a minute. But the blessing you feel can only come from one source – Jesus Christ. He seems to come closer when you are suffering. When you are chosen to suffer for righteousness, you will feel the blessings.

APPLICATION

Okay, let’s be real. How do you teach your children about suffering? We sure don’t want to see them suffer, even if it is for righteousness. The best way to show them this is by our faithfulness in suffering when it is brought upon us. Or when you see fellow believers suffering, make sure you talk to your kids about it. They can learn a lot by you doing that.

As we watch others suffer righteously, we are encouraged in our own faith. As we see the Lord working in the lives of other believers, we see just how He can work. God seldom works in the same way time and time again. He “customizes” His approach to the individual. Show your children that. He will customize their blessings as well.

Are you suffering right now? Give God the glory for allowing you the privilege to suffer for Him. That may sound strange to you, but I promise He is with you. Allow Him to use you in the lives of others. That’s part of the blessing you will receive. Be that blessing.

I will praise You for the suffering You allow in my life. I am not grateful for the suffering itself, but for the results of it in my life and the lives of others.

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CLEAN OR UNCLEAN

ACTS 10:15

“Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’”

Acts 10:10-16 tells the story of Peter’s vision of the sheet lowered from heaven with all kinds of animals. He is told to kill and eat, but many of the animals were unclean according to the Mosaic Law. What was Peter to do? He replied he had never eaten anything unclean. I love God’s response in verse 15. God says He has made them clean, so eat.

The New Covenant had come through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter was just learning that. He knew things were different, but he didn’t realize how different. He was still learning. God used this vision to open Peter’s eyes to a new theology, one which included Gentiles as well as Jews. His journey was about to begin.

APPLICATION

I bet your children think some foods are unclean, lol. Foods like brussels sprouts or broccoli turn some children’s noses up. They had rather have ice cream and cookies, right? The next time this happens at dinner time, read them this story about Peter’s vision. Explain to them that Peter had a wrong idea about these foods.

Now, of course, the lesson here is not about the food. The lesson here is about sharing the Good News with everyone. It’s not just for our friends. It’s for the homeless person on the street corner. It’s for the prisoner serving a life sentence for murder. It’s for everyone! Period! Our job is to spread what God has declared as good to the world.

Are you faithful to share the Gospel with those around you? Maybe you aren’t living in such a way that your testimony is believable. You have a responsibility to be God’s missionary to those you come into contact with daily. He wants to use you to reach them for Christ. Will you do that? Will you share what He’s done in and through you to someone today?

Lord, what you have declared clean I will no longer call unholy. I want to be used by you to take the Gospel to those who are shunned by the world. Give me opportunities to do that today.

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NOT BEING

1 PETER 2:24

“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

There is an interesting word in this verse. The phrase “we might die” is the Greek word apoginomai. It literally can be translated “from being.” Ginomai means to become, to begin.

This word apoginomai is only used right here in this verse. So, what is Peter trying to tell us about sin?

Christ’s death on the cross and the stripes and wounds He bore rescued us from the penalty of sin. We don’t have to be sinful anymore. We have been moved away from death and into life. We are to live righteously because of His sacrifice on the cross. Hallelujah!

APPLICATION

Children can come up with all sort of excuses for doing wrong. It’s their sibling’s fault. They just couldn’t help themselves. They didn’t know that was wrong. And the truth is, before Christ comes into their life, they don’t know any better. They are sinful creatures.

But if your children have accepted Christ as their Savior, there is no excuse for sin. We must point them towards living righteously. Read them this verse. Show them what Christ has done for us. He bore our sins. He took our punishment upon Himself. Ask your children if anyone has ever taken their punishment for them. Ask them how that would make them feel.

Do you realize, I mean really realize, what Christ has done for you? He has freed you to live righteously. The pain and suffering of sin has been paid for. You are debt free. How would you live if you were debt free financially? You are debt free spiritually, not because of anything you have done, but because of what Christ has done for you. Live like it today.

I am free to live righteously today. I praise You, Lord, for paying the price for my freedom. I will live today to honor You.

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IF IT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD…

1 PETER 1:16

“because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’”

Leviticus 11:45 says, “45 ‘For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.’” Peter is quoting the Old Testament in today’s verse. Whom do you think he had in mind? He had spent over three years with the holiest man alive, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He had experienced holy as we never will this side of eternity.

Being holy isn’t just about getting saved and attending church. Being holy means we lay aside all that was before and take up all that God is. We live in His righteousness. We love our enemies. We put others before ourselves. We dwell in His presence daily. We “put on” God each day as we encounter others. Holiness has nothing to do with our abilities. It has everything to do with surrender.

APPLICATION

Have your children define “holy”. I love to hear children give definitions of spiritual things. Most of the time they are right on with simple, undefiled definitions. They don’t over think it. They just share what comes out first, unfiltered. Make a list of their definitions.

Now go to this verse and also look at the passage in Leviticus. Ask them what they think Peter was saying and more especially what God was saying. Explain to them the biblical definition too. They need to know that but put it in layman’s terms. Don’t spiritualize it. We tend to do that too much, don’t we? Remember, holiness is not about us. It’s all about Him.

How are you doing living holy? Are you trying too hard? Surrender. Let God’s holiness pour out of you through the power of the Holy Spirit. After all, His name is HOLY Spirit. I think He knows a little bit about being holy. If you will let Him have complete control, holiness will ooze out of you.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty! I want to live holy and dwell in Your Holiness. Thank You for filling with Your Holy Spirit.

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BE HOLY

1 PETER 1:15

“but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;”

Now, wait just a minute, Peter. I may be a lot of things, but holy? How do you expect me to be holy? I am flesh. I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a long way from holy. I think it’s a little much for you to command me to be holy.

Come on, now. Don’t you feel the same way sometimes? We have to remember, though, that God never asks us to do anything He knows we can’t do. The truth is we can’t be holy. It’s Him in us that makes holy. Don’t try to do it on your own. You can’t do it. But when we surrender to Him, His holiness will thrive in you.

APPLICATION

Tell your son or daughter in the morning that you expect them to be holy today. Tell them that you will not accept anything less. You may have a child who says, “I can do that.” Seriously, they can’t, and you know it. Just let them try. I guarantee it won’t be long in the day until they do something to blow that holiness. They really don’t have a clue what being holy means.

When they blow it, read them this verse. Explain to them what being holy means. The Greek word for “holy” means having the likeness of nature with the Lord and being different from the world. Ask your child what they think that means. How can they be like Jesus and different from the world? They can tell you. Listen. You may just learn something.

How holy were you today? Did the likeness of the Father live through you? As I told you earlier, you can’t be holy. The only thing holy about us is Jesus. Our flesh loves to raise its ugly head. It wants us to be like the world. It prefers unholiness. Squash your flesh by yielding to Him today. All the Holy One to make you holy!

I know there is nothing holy in me except Your Spirit. Help me surrender today to Your Spirit so I can live holy. I want to be holy, as You are.

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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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EXPECTATIONS

TITUS 1:8

“but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,”

What do you expect from your leaders? Well, Paul continues to lay out the Lord’s expectations for Elders. These leaders are so important to the healthy function of the body of Christ. By living up to these expectations they are showing others that these are possible through Christ. Let’s look at these quickly.

“Hospitable” literally means to love strangers. “Loving what is good” is really a lover of what God loves. “Sensible” can be translated as self-control. “Just” is approved by God. “Devout” means beloved by God. And finally, “self-controlled” has the meaning of being mastered from within.

APPLICATION

Why did I go through all those words? Because you need to know them, and your children need to know them. You need to know that they are all possible through Christ. The Lord will never put an expectation on you or your children that He cannot empower you to do. He can give you the ability to love strangers. He can give your children the ability to love what God loves.

Do you believe that? Or do you think these qualifications only apply to Elders? NO!!!! They apply to us all. All believers need to live this way. So, what keeps us from doing that? That’s simple. Our flesh, our self gets in the way. And the only way to get rid of that is to die to it daily and surrender your all to Him. When you do that, your kids see that.

Are you willing to live this way? Can you embrace these qualities knowing He can live these through you? Decide today to do this. If you allow Him to control you, He will use you in ways you cannot imagine. And as He uses you, your children will see that and hopefully begin to emulate these qualities they see in you.

I want to be just like You, Lord. All these qualities are You. I will surrender my will to You today.

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