Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Faith, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Testimony

PRECIOUS FAITH

2 PETER 1:1

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” 

Peter’s second epistle (letter) to the same recipients as received the first letter begins in a very unique way. Just reading it in the English translation you can miss one particular phrase. “Of the same kind as ours” could be translated “equally precious as ours.” I really like that. See, Peter is saying the Gentiles who have received Christ as their Savior are equal to the Jewish believers.

We both have received a precious faith which is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He makes no bones about it. Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ are equal. We have the same Lord. We worship the same God. We rest in the same promises. That still holds true today. All believers (red, yellow, black and white) are equal in God’s eyes.

APPLICATION

In our crazy world right now, there is a lot of racial divide. Sadly, there are believers on both sides of this argument. We need to spend as much time as possible making sure our children understand that God does not see color. Our God, who created all the peoples of the world, is spiritually colorblind. We should be also.

There is nothing sweeter than to watch young children, who haven’t developed all those societal biases, play together. They don’t care what color the other boys and girls are. We need to foster that. In fact, we can learn from that. We need to see others as our little children see them – God’s creation who just need a Savior.

Will you join me in reaching across the racial divide to embrace a brother or sister today? Will you lose your racially sensitive glasses and become colorblind for Jesus? We cannot allow the devil to divide the Universal church along color or race. The world is watching. If we can’t link arms in love, the world will tear us apart.

Thank You, Lord, for sending Your Son to cross not only religious lines, but also racial lines. I am grateful for my friends who look different than me. I need them in my life.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Foundation, Inspirational, Parenting, Promises, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony

FOUR WAYS

1 PETER 5:10

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

We are going to have periods of suffering. Peter says, “for a little while.” Believe me, when you are going through that time of suffering, it doesn’t feel like a little while. But look what awaits you. Peter mentions four things the God of grace will do in you.

He will perfect you, which means to make you exactly fit so you will be in good working order. He will confirm you which means He will set fast or givesupport to secure or firmly establish. He will also strengthen you. This Greek word is only used right here and means to make strong in order to be able to move in a way that achieves something in the most effective way. And finally, He will establish you or ground and settle you as a foundation.

APPLICATION

When your children are struggling, remind them what God is up to. He hasn’t forgotten them. He is still with them, even though they can’t feel Him. He is about to do those four great things, if they will just wait and watch.

Who doesn’t want to be perfected? I want to fit wherever God puts me. Ask your children that. Ask them if they want to fit exactly where God puts them. I especially like that word “strengthen.” Ask your children if they want the strength to move in the most effective way. It’s kind of like learning those basic skills of a sport so they can move in the best way during a game. God will prepare them for future struggles.

Are you willing to go through the suffering to receive these gifts? When God says He will do something, He will do it. Just remember, He is making you more like Him through every period of suffering. In the depths of suffering, look heavenward and tell the Lord you are waiting for these gifts. He will bring them.

Thank You Lord, for the promises of perfection, confirmation, strength and establishing. I look to You for these gifts as I suffer for You.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

BE A STAMP

1 PETER 5:3

“nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”

Now what do I mean by “be a stamp”?  I’m not talking about a postage stamp. I am referring to something that has been imprinted by something else. That tool has struck something leaving its mark on it permanently. That’s been done to us by Christ. When we are saved His mark is put on us and nothing can remove it.

Peter wants the elders of the church to be types of Christ. He expects the same from all believer. He doesn’t want us “lording it over” others. We shouldn’t think we are better than anyone just because we are saved. We are forgiven but far from perfect. We have no right to put ourselves above anyone.

APPLICATION

Has your child ever acted as if they were better than others? Most kids deal with this at some point. They either think they are better or someone is trying to put them down. We need to explain to our children that when we come to Christ, all our pretenses and worldly engagements are put aside.

Find a kid’s stamp kit. You know the kind that has symbols or images on the end of a wooden rod. Usually these are used to dip in paint and put on paper. Let your kids have some fun stamping some things. Then explain to them how Christ puts His stamp on them once they saved. And when He does it, the stamp is permanent. The important thing is to let your stamp show. Let others know you are imprinted by Jesus.

Do you hide your stamp? Are you an example of Him to others? Show the world that you belong to Him. Your stamp may show through your love to others. Your stamp may show by your service to someone whom you know can never pay you back. However you need to show it, show it.

I will show my stamp to others, Lord. I want the world to know I belong to You.

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WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

1 PETER 4:15

“Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler”

When you read this verse, you are probably quick to say Well, I don’t do any of those things! Oh really? Sure, you may not be a murderer, but are you sure about the others? Thieves steal more than others’ possessions. They steal time from their employers. They take the towels from hotels. Yep, that’s stealing. And how about evildoers? That’s described as someone who makes trouble. Have you ever done that? Peter is the only one who uses this Greek word in the NT. He must have had some people in mind.

And finally, the one category we are probably all guilty of from time to time – troublesome meddler. That is someone who won’t mind their own business. That too is wrong. We all try to justify this, don’t we? We only want to help. But we need to simply stay out of things that don’t involve us, unless the Lord is specifically directing us.

APPLICATION

Boy, these are things our children should know. They all need to understand the ramifications of such things. Peter says to make sure we don’t suffer for doing these things. That implies they are worthy of punishment. We don’t want to see our kids suffer. So, we have in instill in them the mind of Christ.

If we do that, they will not be murderers, evildoers, thieves and meddlers. Christ would have never done any of those things. Point them to Jesus in all their actions. When you see your son or daughter “dabble” in these directions, quickly and swiftly correct them. Hold them accountable at the earliest age. You can’t start correcting these behaviors when they are older.

You are responsible for your actions. There’s no two ways about it. Our society today wants to excuse people’s actions. People are always hollering victimization. Listen, brother and sister, Christ died so that we would never see ourselves that way. Choose wisely. Choose godly.

Father, help me choose to do the right things and avoid the evil things. I know I am guilty too often of wanting my way.

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IN THE FIRE

1 PETER 4:12

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” 

Have you ever been burned? I can recall a few instances where I touched a hot surface or got caught in some flames. One instance in particular involved starting a charcoal fire for our grill when I was growing up. My dad used to use mineral spirits to start the charcoal. So, I poured a healthy amount on the charcoal, let it soak in a bit and threw a match on it. The flame that shot up burned my eyebrows, eyelashes and the bangs of my hair. Wow!

Many times in our lives the “fiery ordeal” that hits us comes just as quickly. We can’t escape it. We are caught in the trial before we know it. But we must remember that each and every trial that comes our way has passed through the hands of God first. He has allowed it. Peter tells us to not be surprised by it. Rest in Him.

APPLICATION

The next time you surprise your child think about this verse. How startled were they? Did you scare them? Explain to them that life will surprise us sometimes with unexpected events. Things like deaths and illnesses can come out of nowhere. Part of growing up is learning how to accept these interruptions of life. And the best way to deal with them is with the grace of God.

We know that God will never desert His children. He will only lead us into places that He knows we can handle. Just like you, mom or dad, God would never take their hand and cast them into a fiery trial. He will walk with them and lead them through. Your children need to be reminded of that often.

Are you questioning God’s leadership in the trials of your life? I realize you may feel far from Him during those times, but He is near. He is there. Reach out to Him. He will stay right by your side during the hardest times. I know! I’ve been there.

Lord, I will trust You to douse the flames of the trials in my life. You are the only one I can depend on to carry me through.

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LOVE STRANGERS

1 PETER 4:9

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

All we hear today is stranger danger and for good reason. The world is an unsafe environment. Here, however, Peter tells us to love those strangers. The Greek word for hospitable comes from two Greek words, philos, which is brotherly love, and xenos, which is stranger. We are to love strangers.

It is interesting to me that this word is only used two other times where it is listed as a qualification for an elder. But here it is expected of all believers and with a qualifier. We are to do this “without complaint.” That literally means without murmuring or grumbling. Now, that’s hard, right?

APPLICATION

What a lesson for our kids! When they observe us doing this, they can get a glimpse of what real love is all about. Loving strangers because Jesus loves them is the key. Now, we should not be foolish and abandon all common sense. God doesn’t expect us to be foolish. But when opportunities present themselves, we need to be ready to show hospitality to those strangers God has placed in our paths.

How can you safely teach your children this? How about volunteering at the local soup kitchen? Maybe you could prepare sandwiches and hand them out to the homeless. Perhaps you could do a good deed for that neighbor on your street that no one likes or really knows too well. There are all sorts of ways to be hospitable. And remember, no grumbling.

You are probably saying, Well Carl, I don’t have the gift of hospitality. That’s a cop out. We have, through the Holy Spirit, access to all the gifts. Sure, we have primary ones which the Lord has gifted us with, but all the gifts are ours through Him. If He tells you to show a stranger kindness, don’t argue with Him. Just do it. You will be blessed!

I don’t feel comfortable approaching strangers, Lord, but I will do that as You lead. I will trust You to give me the words to say and the actions to take.

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THE END OF ALL THINGS

1 PETER 4:7

“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.”

What do you think of when someone says The end is near? That can be kind of scary, don’t you think? Remember Peter is writing to people who are dealing with persecution for their faith. Some had already been killed for that. The end of this life is a pathway to eternity. The end of all things is nothing to be feared for the believer.

But human nature causes us to fear the end of all things. That’s why Peter goes on to say, “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” Pray, pray, pray! When you are focused on prayer it is hard to be scared. When you are talking to the Father things come into focus.

APPLICATION

Focus your children on prayer. When they learn the power of prayer, they can face anything the world may throw at them. Sure, things can get crazy, but prayer focuses us on things above. Prayer focuses your children on God and not on the world. Model prayer for them. Pray with them.

Peter tells you how to do this. Pray with sound judgment and a sober spirit. In other words, pray with determination. Pray in a manner your children can understand. Make a list of prayer request and follow up with those individuals you are praying for. Pray humbly and expectantly. Reinforce for your kids that the Lord is listening and waiting to respond in His time.

Does this describe you? Are you praying that way? No matter what may come your way, pray. The end of all things is near. Don’t panic. Trust Him to lead you through it. He will. He is watching. He is listening. He is answering. Wait.

Lord, sometimes it is hard to pray. I commit to pray anyway. I will pray believing You have all things under control.

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ARE YOU STRANGE?

1 PETER 4:4

“In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

If you do the right thing around some people they are going to think you are strange. Peter says so right here. The Greek word translated as “are surprised” means to think strange. You see, if you don’t hang out with them and do the things they do, they not only think you are strange, but they will also “malign” you.  That means they will speak evil of you.

When I got saved the summer before my senior year in high school, my lifestyle changed. Most of my friends acted exactly as this verse says. They asked what was wrong with me. They wanted to know why I wasn’t hanging out with anymore and doing the things they were doing. That was a tough year. I lost a lot of those friends that year, who interestingly enough now love the Lord.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse to read to your children when they are made fun of for standing up for Jesus. It will never fail. If your kids are living for Jesus, the devil will send people into their lives to try to discourage them. Peer pressure is tough. Our kids can be easily manipulated by a bunch of friends to compromise their convictions.

That’s why their convictions have to be built upon God’s Word and not what mom or dad says. His Word is plain and simple. If we keep them in it and work to disciple them appropriately, we have to leave the rest of it up to God. He is big enough to convict and lead them to make the right choices. All our yelling and screaming does is drive them away. Lean on Him.

So, let me ask you again. Are you strange? I hope so. I hope you stick out like a sore thumb. I hope all those around you notice you are different. I want them to ask you why you are different. And I want you to be ready to respond with the Gospel. Be strange for Jesus.

Father, being strange doesn’t sound too good. I want to be considered normal, but I don’t want to “fit in” with the crowd. Give me the boldness to be strange.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Mentoring, Miracles, Parenting, Testimony

DISAPPEARING ACT

ACTS 12:18

“Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter.”

Where did he go? He was chained between us. Did you let him go? Can’t you just hear the soldiers the next morning? Peter had disappeared from the jail. No one could explain where he went. God had done a miracle, and they had missed it. Now, before you jump to conclusions, we probably would have missed it too.

How many miracles do you think you have missed in your life? They are all around us. These soldiers ended up being executed  for not keeping Peter in jail. Missing the miracle of Peter’s release from jail cost them their lives. I don’t think our missed miracles will cost us our lives, but we will miss a blessing.

APPLICATION

Play a disappearing game with your kids. Get everyone in a room one night. Prearrange to have someone in the family “disappear” on cue. Turn off all the lights and allow that person to slip out. Turn on the lights to reveal the missing person. Ask what happened to them. Your kids will be making up all sorts of explanations.

Ask your accomplice to return. Unlike Peter, they do come back to the scene. Read this story of Peter’s disappearance from the jail and ask your children to think how those soldiers felt. Puzzled, confused, scared. As believers, we have no reason to feel any of these. God can and will do miracles all around us. We just have to believe and be watchful. He will reveal Himself.

Do you believe in miracles? Do you think God still performs miracles? I sure do. We don’t build our faith on them, but it is great knowing a God of miracles. God might just use you in His next miracle, like He used Peter.

I am looking for You to do a miracle, Lord. I know You are still a God of miracles and can use me. Thank You, Father, for showing me Your power.

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DEAD COW

1 PETER 4:1

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,”

How do you face the problems of today? Do you go out and battle the enemy on your own? How crazy is that? No! Peter tells us here to arm ourselves with the same purpose as Christ. What does that mean? Christ died to His own will and constantly sought the will of His Father. He literally armed Himself by dying to His self.

We can do the same, and the result is we cease from sin. Really, Carl? We won’t sin anymore? Listen closely. We will battle the desire to sin until we are in Glory. However, when we die to ourselves and seek the Lord’s will, we also die to the desire to sin. Dead men can’t sin! It’s all about surrender.

APPLICATION

At Kids’ Camp we play a game a lot called “Dead Cow.” Any adult at any time can yell “Dead Cow” and everyone has to drop to the ground on their back and stick their arms and legs in the air. Kids love it. Try this with your family. When things are getting crazy around the house and no one is listening, yell “Dead Cow.” Now you have to give the instructions first or they will think you are crazy.

Dead Cows can’t do anything. They can’t eat. They can’t moo. They can’t make milk. Nothing! That’s the point. Explain to your children that when they die to their own selfish desires and surrender to God, they die to those fleshly things. Yes, our sin nature is still there. That’s why we have to die every second of every day.

Have you died lately? If you are having trouble with a co-worker, check out your death meter. Perhaps you and your spouse are fighting. Yell “Dead Cow.” Not really, I’m just kidding. But go to the Lord in complete abandonment and die to yourself. Death really does bring forth life – new life in Christ.

O Lord, I die to myself today. I surrender my will to Yours. I want to walk today in newness of life.

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