Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Revelation

NOT HIDDEN

1 JOHN 1:2

“and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—”

I’ll never forget one Sunday at John de la Howe School in McCormick, S.C. when I preached on this passage to a chapel full of kids and adults. Nineteen children came to Christ that day. That had nothing to do with me and everything to do with Jesus. But what I remember is that I only preached on one word of that verse – “manifested.”

The power of that word! It refers to something made clear, to be made visible. I compared it to my mama’s pressure cooker she used when I was growing up. You know, the old kind with the jiggling little weight on top that controlled the pressure. I would come home and see that pot on the stove. I knew something good was inside, but I couldn’t see it. When she took off that lid, ohhhh, the wonderful meal was revealed.

APPLICATION

Kids understand this concept of hidden and revealed. They’ve been playing hide and seek for years. How many times have you played that game with them over the years? Even infants get a joy out of playing peekaboo. Revealing what’s covered, finding the “hidden” brings us joy and excitement.

Make sure your kids understand that God did that in one way by manifesting Himself in Jesus. Jesus, of course, concealed His glory while on earth, except for on the mount of transfiguration when He was revealed to James, John (the author of this verse) and Peter. But God does not play hide and seek with us. He’s not trying to hide. He has revealed Himself through Jesus.

Have you found Him? He knows where you are. You can’t hide from Him. He wants to show Himself to you. Will you behold Him? Jesus came to show us His Father. He told His disciples if they had seen Him they had seen the Father. One day, we believers will see Him face to face. Hallelujah!

Your life has been manifested in me. Help me let it manifested through me. I want others to only see You in me.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deception, Denial, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Lies, Mentoring, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

CLOSED EYES

2 PETER 3:5

“For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,” 

This is an interesting verse, especially the phrase “it escapes their notice.” Do you understand what Peter is saying? The Greek word here actually could be translated “I shut my eyes to it.” In other words, these people refuse to recognize the Word of God or His works in this world.

Have you run across people like that? I have more and more lately. They just don’t have any use for a God that doesn’t fit their lifestyle and beliefs. If the Word points out any sin in their life, they refuse to recognize it. Only their view of God matters. And most of the time, their view of God isn’t a true view of God at all.

APPLICATION

This is a warning verse for our kids. We teach them how God created the earth in six days. They are going to have that view of creation threatened. Depending on the kind of school they attend, it may occur early in their education. What do we do? We continue to teach them the Word. We explain why people believe the lies. We explain why their beliefs are wrong.

Don’t just say Because the Bible says so. We know that’s true, but our children need to be able to defend their beliefs. They need to know Genesis 1-3 aren’t just cute Bible stories they hear at church. It is the truth – period. It is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is something to be proud of. Celebrate it.

When you face people who challenge your faith, remember they have closed their eyes to the truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit their eyes can be opened. God will use you to help do that. You just need to speak the truth and let God do the rest. Remain faithful to the Word and see what He does.

Lord, I trust You to work through me to open blind eyes. I know they need to see the truth.

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Advice, Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Evil, Faith, Following, Holiness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Rescue, Suffering, Testimony

SNATCHED AWAY

2 PETER 2:7

“7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” 

Peter continues the example of verse 6 into verse 7 by naming Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had chosen to live in this area long ago. And now he finds himself surrounded by lewd men, men who had no restraints on their conduct. This conduct went against the laws of God and there was nothing Lot could do about it.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Our world has become tolerant of any and all behaviors, no matter the effect it may have on others. We, who hold to God’s principles, are supposed to smile and just go along with it. If we speak up, we are labeled as intolerant and cruel. But God rescued (snatched away) Lot from this immoral situation. He will rescue you, as well.

APPLICATION

Part of our roles as parents is to snatch away our children from situations which we know are immoral and against God’s principles. As long as your children are with you, you have to do that. We can’t allow our children to wallow with the pigs (I use this analogy loosely) and not get dirty. Evil influences will eventually affect them.

So, how do you do that? Prayerfully. There may be sports teams they can’t play on because of an immoral coach. There may be schools they can’t attend due to the philosophy of the administration or teachers. I know this is a hard decision to make, but you are not making it just for now. This is an eternal decision.

Lot could have stayed right where he was and compromised his beliefs. After all, he was living there, right? He could have fit in. But God heard his cries for deliverance and sent two angels to bring him and his family out. God still delivers today. Cry out to Him for the deliverance of your family. He will answer.

O God, rescue me from the evil which surrounds me. Protect my thoughts and actions as I dwell here. I will shine here as long as You have me here.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Godliness, Inspirational, Knowledge, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Perseverance, Scripture

GET INTO IT

2 PETER 1:5

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,” 

There’s a Greek word that is really missing in the English translation of this verse (at least in the NASB). It’s only used right here in the whole New Testament. It’s the Greek word  pareispheró, and it means real personal involvement or energy. The Lord is telling us through Peter that we have to be involved in our spiritual growth. It doesn’t just happen.

Now, I am not inferring we need to be “works” minded. However, we need to be focused on our faith. Peter begins in this verse and continues in verse 6 to list several areas that will help us grow as believers. You need to exhibit moral excellence which only comes through God. Through that you gain knowledge of God, a personal experience of Him. Those two are listed first. Do you have those in your life?

APPLICATION

Your child’s faith in the beginning is normally a reflection of yours. They mimic your spiritual walk. They do what you do. However, they can’t stay there. Usually, around the middle school years, they begin to develop their own spiritual understanding of God. Along with that comes doubts. That’s normal. Our job is to help them work through that and keep pointing them to Christ.

We can’t grow them spiritually. What? Yep, that’s what I said. We can only provide the spiritually rich environment for growth. It’s the same as growing a garden. We can’t make the seed grow, but we can prepare the soil and add in the nutrients needed. We can water the seed when it’s dry. But only the seed can germinate itself. Make sure your children are involved in their own spiritual growth process.

Too many believers want to be spoon fed when it comes to growing spiritually. Often times, the Lord chooses trials and hard times to grow us. We complain and bicker and fail to see these as opportunities to develop moral excellence and knowledge of God. Get involved in your spiritual development. Seek out ways to grow and become more like Him.

Thank You, Lord, for growing me. I want to be more like You each day. Help me see each challenge as an opportunity for growth.

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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, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Devil, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Scripture, Suffering

RESIST THE DEVIL

1 PETER 5:9

“But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

What does it mean to resist the devil? We too often blame the devil for the things we do that he had no part in. Our natural self, the evil flesh, takes over and we run with it. Then we blame the evil one. To be honest, the devil has bigger fish to fry. If you are so busy blaming him, he doesn’t have to worry about you too much.

The Greek word for “resist” means to take a complete stand against, to take a 180 degree, contrary position. It means to establish one’s position publicly by holding your ground and refusing to be moved or pushed back. It’s not just saying, “not right now” to the devil. We are enemies with Satan. We can’t give him an inch.

APPLICATION

As your children come to faith, you need to remind them of the battle we are in. I don’t mean you have to scare them with stories of the devil. But I do mean you have to teach the dangers of evil that are all around. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes and very seldom appears in its real form. If it did, most everyone would run.

So how do you teach your children to resist the devil? Peter says to be firm in your faith. Foundation, foundation, foundation! It is the key. What is that foundation? Living out the Word of God. Notice I didn’t say reading or memorizing it. You have to live it. The Word will show you exactly how to resist the devil if you spend time in it and apply its principles to your life. Teach your children that.

Are you resisting the devil? Are you glorifying God with your actions? If we focus on glorifying Him with our words and deeds, we will naturally resist any actions from the devil. The devil doesn’t stand a chance against the Word of God. Just live it out as you encounter others. The Lord will be pleased, and the devil will hate it.

Your Spirit within me is much stronger than any attack of the devil, Lord. Keep my eyes on You and I know I will be able to resist those fleshly lusts.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Faith, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Persecution, Prayer, Salvation, Testimony

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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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Faith, Heaven, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Salvation

ARE YOU READY?

1 PETER 4:6

“For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.”

This could be a confusing verse if you don’t look at it closely. What is Peter saying here? People who have been persecuted and killed (judged in the flesh) are now alive in the spirit. You see, people may kill your body for standing for Christ, but they cannot kill your spirit.

Why do we fear death and persecution? No one wants to suffer, of course. But our mortal bodies are simply the vessels God has given us to use on this earth to advance His kingdom. When we “give up” these bodies, where do we go? Heaven! So, there is no reason to fear death, no matter how it comes.

APPLICATION

Most parents shy away from talking to their kids about death. We are afraid it will scare them. Don’t do that. Talk about what death means for a Christian. Let them know how precious our eternity is. Death is nothing to fear. Death is simply a portal from this physical life to the next.

This may seem like a morbid subject to discuss with kids. It’s only morbid if we treat it like that. Celebrate life with your kids. Celebrate death of a believer with your kids. As Peter says in today’s verse, “they may live in the spirit.” We live, after death, in the spirit. That is certainly not morbid. It’s encouraging.

Do you fear death? I certainly don’t. I have a terminal disease and have gone through two stem cell transplants. I have “beat” death twice now. But I welcome death when it comes. There is no fear of it. I know where I am going when death comes. Do you? I pray you do. Make sure of that today.

I am thankful for the assurance I have in this life for my future life in heaven. Death is embraced, when it comes, as You welcome me into Your arms.

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GIVING AN ACCOUNT

1 PETER 4:5

“but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

I saw a poster carried by someone who was marching in a protest that read, “Going to Hell and Proud.” How sad. This person either was mocking the reality of hell or believed in hell and didn’t care. They knew their lifestyle was contrary to God’s Word. They had just chosen to live that way anyway. This individual had no idea what was awaiting then eternally.

Peter is giving us fair warning here. We will give account for our past deeds. Our Heavenly Father will judge everyone one day. We believers have had our sins forgiven because of the payment made by Jesus Christ. There was still a payment made. That’s basically what “give account” means. We just didn’t make it. All others will be making their own payment, which will come up lacking.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever saved up money for something only to come up short? They had scrimped and saved for this special item they wanted. What did you do? Most parents would make up the difference. They would “give account” for the payment their child couldn’t make. What a great opportunity to teach your child God’s Word.

They cannot pay the price to cover their sins. There is nothing they can do. They can’t be good enough. They can’t obey enough. The price to cover their sins is too high. But thanks be to God, Jesus’ death was sufficient to cover it all. Your child needs to know and understand that.

Are you still trying to “give account” for your sins? Do you think if you do just one more thing for God that He will forgive you? God does not forgive us because of anything we have done. He forgives us because of what Christ has done. Will you rest in this promise today? Rest in the fact that Jesus has “given account” for your sins. If you have accepted Him as your Savior, payment has been made. Hallelujah!

I am thankful the price has been paid. I am thankful I do not have to give account for my sins. Praise You, Lord.

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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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