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YOU CAN’T BUY GOD

ACTS 8:20-21

“20 But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.’”

You are probably asking yourself what this verse has to do with you. Peter was addressing Simon the magician who asked Peter for the power to lay hands on people and give them the Holy Spirit. His motive was not pure. He probably thought he could make some money on this new movement that was sweeping the region.

Well, let me ask you this question. How many times have you tried to bargain with God about something? You promise to do something for God if He will do something for you. You are basically trying to do just what Simon did – buy God. But God isn’t for sale. He only works in and for those who are committed to Him.

APPLICATION

Bargaining with God is something children are prone to do. When they have done something wrong and you (the parent) haven’t found out yet, they will say almost anything to God to stay out of trouble. We need to teach them to pray honestly and truthfully to their Heavenly Father. He knows the motives of their hearts. They need to know that.

Teach them to confess their sins daily. Teach them to open up to God and trust Him with the outcome. God blesses a humble heart. In fact, He says He will exalt the humble. Our children need to understand that at an early age. Prayer is a conversation with God, not a bargaining time.

So, how do you bargain with the Lord? Come on, we all have done it at one time or another. Let me encourage you to be honest and forthright with Him. He knows all anyway. There is nothing you can say or do that He is not aware of. God wants to use you. Just let Him use you how He wants to.

Father, I want to be used by You. Direct me in the ways You have planned for me. Forgive me for “begging” You at times.

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PUT ON YOUR SWIMSUIT

JOHN 21:4-8

“4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.”

I love this fish story. I really love how Jesus asked the question. Take it from a fisherman. That was a little jab. He could have asked, “Do you have any fish?” But He asked, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” He already knew they didn’t have any fish. Remember, this is the Son of God. He’s all knowing.

But the funny part of this story to me is what Peter does. When John tells him the man on the beach is Jesus, He puts on more clothes and jumps in. You normally take off clothes if you are jumping in water. More clothes make you heavy. Maybe he was hoping Jesus would walk on the water again and bring him to shore. Peter had a strange swimsuit.

APPLICATION

Do your children like to swim. Most kids love the water. The next time you are helping them get ready to go swimming, tell them this story. Ask them why they think Peter put on more clothes before he jumped in. Ask them if they would do that. I think I will ask Peter that question when I meet him one day, lol.

The real lesson here is Peter wanted to get to Jesus. Remember how he left Him. He had seen the resurrected Jesus earlier, but he had not had a chance to talk about his denial of Jesus. I think Peter wanted to get to shore before the others to talk privately with his Lord. I am just speculating here, of course. Remind your children that they can talk to Jesus any time.

Are you putting on your swimsuit to jump in and talk to Jesus?

Are your conversations with Him one way or do you listen as well? Jesus will find you wherever you are. He is ready to meet you, even if you are worn out and tired from fishing all night or working night and day. Take the time to talk to Him. Run, don’t walk, to Him today. He’s waiting.

I need conversation with You today, O Lord. I depend on Your guidance to make my decisions. Talk to me, and I will listen.

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WISDOM

2 TIMOTHY 3:15

and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

What makes you wise? Knowledge? Not necessarily! I know a lot of people of who are very smart but aren’t vey wise. They know a lot of stuff, but don’t know what to do with it. Wisdom is far more than knowing stuff. It’s knowing what to do with the knowledge you have obtained. That’s Paul’s point here to Timothy.

And what is that source of knowledge? God’s Word. Since he was a boy, Timothy had been taught God’s Word by his mother and grandmother (see 2 Timothy 1:5). That knowledge leads to true wisdom – salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Because, come on, be honest. If you have all that knowledge and die without Christ, that’s pretty stupid.

APPLICATION

Wise children are obedient children. Wise children are respectful children. Wise children understand the importance of obeying parents, adults and most importantly, the Lord. And the only way to have wise children is through the instruction of God’s Word. They could have a 4.0 GPA and be dumb as rocks. It’s like I said earlier. Knowing what to do with knowledge makes you wise.

So, here’s the hard part. You have to let them apply their knowledge. You have to let them make choices that will affect their lives. They have to learn how God’s Word lives out in their lives through relationships and circumstances. If you continually rescue them from difficult situations where they have the chance to apply that knowledge, they will never gain the wisdom necessary to maneuver life’s challenges.

Where does your wisdom come from? Are you applying the knowledge of God’s Word you already have? If you have followed the Lord in salvation, you have already made the wisest decision of your life. Now, you simply need to continue in that pursuit of wisdom through salvation. You are in a process of salvation your entire Christian life, becoming more and more like Christ. What higher goal could you pursue for wisdom?

You are the all wise God who gives us exactly what we need when we need it. Help me pursue only the truth of Your Word to guide me in all wisdom.

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WAIT AND WATCH

1 TIMOTHY 5:24

“The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.”

Context, context, context! We can’t forget the context of this verse. Taken out of context you could apply this incorrectly and use it to judge others unfairly. But Paul is talking to Timothy about choosing men to serve as Elders in the church. Basically, he is telling him some men are open books. Everyone knows their character, flaws and strengths. Others, however, play a good game. They hide their secret sins, but they will be revealed.

Have you ever met someone and thought they were awesome, only to find out later that you had been conned?  People do it all the time. Deception is their life. They present one way to the public, but privately they live a whole other life. Paul is telling us to wait and watch. Give it some time. Don’t be too hasty. Their true self will reveal itself.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen! This is so important to teach your children. And you can teach it when they are pretty young. I bet you they are going to want something at the local Walmart that you know is not going to last very long. The item is not well made, so you know it’s only going to last the weekend. Have you had this experience? But they are begging for it. They even say they will use their own money.

So, you let them buy the item. Sure enough, it breaks within 24 hours. Now you have a great object lesson. Tell them that people can be that way. What appears to be great on the outside can hold deceptive parts. People who seem like great people can be hiding some very bad motives. The object here is not to get them to not trust people. The object is for them to learn discernment and patience. God will reveal to them the truth or the falsehood in the person. (Now, give them their money back since you used this as an object lesson, lol.)

This devotional may seem like I am “negative Nancy.” I believe the Word teaches us wisdom. It shows us the way to avoid situations. This is one of them. Don’t rush to judgment on someone, good or bad. Wait and watch. Let the Lord reveal their character. It will come out. Just watch.

Father, give me Your eyes and ears to discern truth in others. Help me see them as You see them. Expose any deception before I am deceived.

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WE ALL NEED NOURISHMENT

1 TIMOTHY 4:6


“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”

We have ANOTHER one-time used word today. The Greek word for “nourishment” is only used right here.  It means to be “in the state (condition) of being nourished, to be trained by continuous instruction in the area of skill and practical knowledge. This happens by receiving God’s gift of faith which has lasting effects.”

That’s a long definition, I know, but I wanted you to see what this word really means, especially the “lasting effects” part. Proper nourishment, whether it’s physical food or spiritual food, should have lasting effects. It should sustain us. It should strengthen us. It should help us grow in our faith. Look at what  does it. Paul says “the words of faith” and “sound doctrine” are our nourishment.

APPLICATION

The next time you sit down at the family table for a meal, read your little Gertrude or Elrod this verse. Explain that just as important as good nutritious food is to their bodies, our spiritual life needs nourishment. Ask them what they think would happen to their bodies if all they ate was candy and colas. I am pretty sure they will have some great answers.

Then ask them what will happen to their walk with Christ if we put false teachings and other beliefs in our minds and hearts. And what will happen if we don’t feed our spirits at all? It will starve to death just as our bodies will without food. They really need to understand that is why you spend time with them in the Word and in prayer. You are feeding them spiritually.

How healthy is your spirit today? When is the last time you had a nice, nutritious spiritual meal? When is the last time you ate spiritually? Is your spirit starving? Turn to God’s Word. In it you will find all the sound doctrine and truths you need for healthy living.

O God, You feed me but only when I come to the table. You won’t force feed me, I know. I want to grow healthier in my daily walk with Christ.

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ONE STEP HIGHER

1 TIMOTHY 3:13

“For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

We find another one-time used word in today’s verse. The Greek word “standing” is only used right here in the Bible.  It literally means a step on the staircase, going one step higher. Figuratively, it implies someone who has made a higher rank or higher position. That may imply something that Paul never intended.

If you look at this verse in context of all the qualifications for a deacon, you will get an idea of Paul’s meaning here. Deacons who serve well will be given more important roles to serve the body. By serving well they have shown they are trustworthy and are ready to do even more. It may also imply they are worthy of being considered as elders, a higher “office” in the church.

APPLICATION

“Okay, Carl, tell me how to teach this verse to my children.” Glad you asked. Children need to earn the right to be trusted with some things. We don’t just give a five-year-old a laptop and set them free. We don’t give a thirteen-year-old the privilege of a cellphone unless we know we can trust them to use it wisely.

Some things are gained by being obedient in the small things. Jesus even taught that. By growing in our faith and experiencing trials, we learn how to help others going through similar times. Our children need to be taught that their small steps of faith now will prepare them for those “leaps of faith” that are coming. And by being proven trustworthy now, they can be given greater responsibilities in the future.

Do you clamor for more? Do you want to be recognized for your achievements? Then do it all for Jesus. By surrendering your will to His, the Lord may just bless you with opportunities. Remember what Joshua 1:8 says. “‘“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.’”

All I want is to please You, Lord. If that means I serve lower than the rest, that’s fine. If it means I am entrusted with greater responsibilities, so be it. My joy comes from serving You.

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YOUR REP

1 TIMOTHY 3:7

“And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

This verse intrigues me. Why would Paul say an elder must have a good reputation with those OUTSIDE the church? Why be concerned about those people? Isn’t the church the important thing. Of course, the church is important. But Paul is telling Timothy that those outside the church are watching us. We may be the only example of Christ they ever see.

So, it is very important to keep your reputation up among the world. They may not like you, but they need to respect you. If we let our reputation falter due to our own sin and lifestyle, we have lost every opportunity to bear witness for Christ. After all, isn’t that the important thing – sharing Jesus?

APPLICATION

Our children must be taught this important lesson. Their reputation can be damaged in a second. An impulse decision in a weak moment can lead to years of reputation rebuilding. How do we teach our children the importance of maintaining their reputation? 

I truly believe it is by teaching them that they are not just representing themselves and their family. They are representing Christ (if they are a believer). It is Christ’s reputation who is damaged by our disobedience and rebellion. Nothing we can do can diminish who Christ is, but we can cause people to turn away from Christ based on our behaviors. 

How’s your rep? Do you represent Christ in the world? Do your lost friends and neighbors know you stand with Christ? If you have anything in your life that you would not share with Jesus, get rid of it. If Christ wouldn’t do it, you shouldn’t either. Let your reputation reflect Jesus every day.

I want to be an example of Your everlasting love. I want others, lost or saved, to be drawn to me because of my love for You. Thank You for loving me despite my failures.

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