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DON’T BE AN EXAMPLE

2 PETER 2:6

“and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” 

Peter gives us another example in this list of examples in verses 4-10, and this time it’s a bad one. By that I mean, we don’t want to follow the example of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you don’t remember that story, you can read about it in Genesis 18 and 19. They were ungodly cities deserving of destruction.

You know, the scary part is there wasn’t much going on in those cities that isn’t going on in our world today. Why is God sparing our cities? Judgment could fall at anytime, and what are we doing about it? What kind of example are we being for the world? Can the world distinguish us apart from the unbelievers?

APPLICATION

Many, if not most, of us with children will tell the older sibling to be an example to their younger sibling. That’s really kind of unfair and burdensome for a child. We need to simply point them to Jesus. If they follow Him, they will be a good example for their sibling. Better yet, if we are living for Jesus, they will follow us.

Being an example is hard sometimes, especially if we are trying to accomplish it on our own. I know I am a poor example of Christ if I try to love people on my own. I won’t last one hour in a crowd without losing it. But when I surrender to Christ, He can live in and through me, showing my children and others how to live.

What kind of example are you? Are you an example of Christ or an example of Sodom and Gomorrah? Pointing others to Jesus is our goal. We simply want others to see Jesus in us so we can share with them all He has done in our lives. It really is that simple. Will you be His example today?

Use me, Lord, to exemplify You today. Hide me and show Yourself.

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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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TRUST YOUR CREATOR

1 PETER 4:19

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

This verse is one I have memorized as part of a men’s study called Every Man A Warrior. Dads, you should check it out, if you haven’t. Memorization of Scripture isn’t just about the memorizing part. It’s about putting into practice the verses you have memorized.

Take this verse for instance. The Greek word for “shall entrust” means to set close beside, to commit to in a very up-close-and-personal way. Wow! Can you do that? Can you commit to a very close relationship? It’s in those times of suffering that you have to draw close.

APPLICATION

Your kids need to draw close. They need to know the Lord is near, especially when times are difficult. Look back at the verse. Peter goes on to say, “in doing what is right.” No matter what is going on, we must continue to do the right thing. That is a great lesson for your children. Choosing to do what is right is difficult sometimes. But it is always God’s choice.

So how do you teach your children to draw near to God and do the right thing? Yep, you guessed it. You have to model it for them. They need to see you trusting the Lord in difficult times. They need to watch you choosing to do the right thing when retaliation or vengeance would be your choice.

So, I will ask you again. Can you commit to a close relationship with Jesus? Will you trust Him to see you through those times? Better yet, will you choose to do the right thing? Tough questions with an easy answer. Just say “yes.” Say yes to Jesus, and He will see you through your most challenging days.

I will draw close to You and do the right thing. I will trust You, Lord, when I face times of trouble, knowing You are there.

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GOOD CONSCIENCE

1 PETER 3:16

“and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

What does it mean to “keep a good conscience”? Let’s break this down a bit. Actually, the Greek word translated as “keep” in this verse means to have or possess. The word “conscience” has the idea of the God-given capacity to know right from wrong. So, Peter is saying that no matter what others may say about us, as long as we know what we are doing is right, don’t worry about it. They are the ones who will be shamed.

Have you ever had someone put you down for something you have done? I have. I prayed about and had a perfect peace that what I was doing was God’s will. But because it went against or interfered in what someone else wanted, they ridiculed or at the very least questioned my intentions. All you can do at that point is trust the Lord and go on.

APPLICATION

Children face this all the time from their peers. It gets worse in the middle school and high school years. Whenever your child stands up for what God tells them, they are sure to be made fun of by others. It’s just the day in which we live. Living a life of integrity and purity is almost looked down on by those who choose to live another way.

As parents we hate to see them come home in tears or sullen. Our job is to encourage them with verses like this one today. Remind them that in the end those who have given them a hard time will be shamed. In the meantime, they are to continue to live for Jesus and trust Him to guard their hearts. Is it easy? By no means. But the end result is the key. He will reward the faithful.

How is your conscience? Are you remaining true to Him? Stay faithful, my friend. Allow the Lord to show you the big picture. Ask Him to give you a glimpse into the possibilities before you. He will as you surrender. He doesn’t want to keep secrets from you. He wants you in on His plans. Follow Him.

O God, I will trust You in the difficult circumstances. I will allow You to guard my heart as others attack. I will count it a privilege to suffer for You.

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JUST A MAN

ACTS 10:25-26

“25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I too am just a man.’” 

I have known people who would love to be worshipped. In fact, most of those people worship themselves. They think they are God’s gift to humanity. They walk around looking down on everyone, because they know they are better than them. Or so they think.

I am not trying to rude or uncaring. It’s just a fact. Our flesh loves to be worshipped. But Peter was having none of that. The instant Cornelius fell to his feet, Peter didn’t just speak to him. He raised him up and said, “I too am just a man.” In other words, there is only one God and I am not Him. Peter knew where worship belonged.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse for our kids because they can develop heroes who they idolize. Sports figures, singers and movie stars are just some examples. None of these people have the right to be worshipped. We must direct our children to the One who is worthy.

Let me go further. We believers can put pastors or Christian leaders on a pedestal. Guess what? People on pedestals tend to fall off. I have had the privilege to know several “famous” individuals. They are just human, like us. And the ones I respect the most always pointed me back to Jesus. They knew where all the credit lies.

Are you an idol worshipper? Do you put people on pedestals? Maybe you are the one on the pedestal. You long for people’s praise. Be very careful. As I said earlier, there is only one God and you are not Him. He alone is worthy of praise and worship.

I worship You and You alone. I praise you for all You have done in my life and will continue to do. Thank You, Lord.

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NASTY MOUTH

1 PETER 3:10

“For, ‘THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.’”

This verse and the next two verses come from Psalm 34:12-16. Peter isn’t just giving his opinion. He gives us truth from God’s Word. Shouldn’t we all do that? And this truth is one worth sharing. Let’s just look at this verse.

The Psalmist says if you desire life watch your mouth. The word “evil” there refers to an inner evil, one that is really foul. And the word “deceit” means luring others into a trap. Get the picture? You must keep your tongue and mouth from evil if you want life. You can’t talk like this and see good days.

APPLICATION

This is a no brainer for our kids. Aren’t we always correcting their speech, especially when it’s not nice? We don’t let our children talk that way. But where do they learn it? Most of the time from us. That’s not always the case, but it is most of the time. We have to watch our lips because little ears are listening.

Sometimes they learn this speech from their friends. So, ask yourself if you want your kids around these other children. You may have to limit their contact with people who are negatively influencing them. That’s tough, but necessary.

How’s your mouth? Are you talking out of both sides of your mouth? Our words should be consistent no matter where we are. Why? Because the One who matters is always listening. If we submit our tongues and lips to Him, only the right words will proceed from us. Will you do that today?

O Father, I desire for my words to be pleasing to Your ear. Speak through me Lord.

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BLESSING OTHERS

1 PETER 3:9

“not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.”

Peter completes the thought he began in verse 8 here in verse 9. And what a wonderful way to do that. We should not return evil for evil or insult for insult. That’s a never-ending cycle. Payback is not the answer. Peter tells us how to respond. We should bless others when they insult us.

How in the world do we do that? I mean, come one. Is that even possible? Not by yourself. This is only possible through Jesus. If we see and treat others as Jesus would, we would indeed bless rather than curse. Do you want to inherit a blessing? Then be a blessing.

APPLICATION

Oh boy! Our children need to learn this lesson. Our first response when insulted is to insult right back. Our children’s flesh is strong. We can’t expect them to conquer this temptation on their own. Until they come to a saving knowledge of Christ, we have to be the one to correct this behavior. We point them to Jesus each time we do that.

And once they come to Christ, the Spirit who indwells them directs them to follow Christ. Our job is one of discipling and modeling that behavior. That’s right! We must live out the behavior we want to see in our children. They will imitate us. Let’s help them imitate the right actions.

Do you lash out at those who insult you? Do you want a blessing? Then be a blessing. I know it’s hard. Actually, it’s impossible without yielding to Christ. Remember, Christ is the one blessing others through you. Let Him!

I want to bless rather than curse others. Help me hold my tongue when insulted. I trust You to speak blessings through me.

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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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CURIOUS ANGELS

1 PETER 1:12

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”

Did you catch that last phrase? “things into which angels long to look.” What does that mean? What are angels longing to look on? Do you understand that they are amazed at our salvation? God’s pardon of our sins blows them away. Why? Because they know the holiness of God. They have seen His majesty for centuries. How could such a holy God forgive such wicked sinners?

Why aren’t we as blown away? Why aren’t we amazed? We come to God for our salvation and almost immediately begin to take it for granted. We forget how wicked we were and how much He forgave. We should look on with the same longing as the angels and give thanks every day for His grace.

APPLICATION

What have your children taken for granted? Their clothes? Their toys? The food on the table? Have you ever reminded them how blessed they are? I bet you have. The next time your child takes a blessing for granted, read them this verse.

This is when you confess your guilt of taking things for granted from God. When they hear you confess, perhaps they will be convicted themselves. Now, you are not the Holy Spirit. He will do the convicting.

Aren’t you thankful today for the grace He has shown you time and time again? Thank Him today. Live for Him today. Give Him the praise He deserves for the salvation He so freely bestows on you. Lead your children to do the same. Angels are watching and scratching their heads. Show them what it looks like to live for Jesus.

Lord, I am amazed! Your gift of salvation is beyond anything I deserve. Thank You for saving me.

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DIRTY HANDS

MATTHEW 15:15-20

“15 Peter said to Him, ‘Explain the parable to us.’ 16 Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also? 17’ Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? 18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.’”

I am sure, as a fisherman, Peter ate lots of meals with dirty hands. When you are out on a boat it’s hard to use soap to clean up to eat. So, when Jesus answered the Pharisees this way about their concern they hadn’t washed their hands before eating the grain, he probably smirked a little. Still, he wanted to make sure he understood what Jesus was saying.

Why are some people so concerned about how they look on the outside, but their thoughts and words are filthy? If we had a machine in church on Sundays that could read the minds of the people as they came in the doors, we would probably be appalled. Jesus plainly tells us here that it is our inner thoughts and our words that defile us. Yes, washing our hands are important. But our inner cleanliness is so much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet when your children were little you washed their hands a lot, didn’t you? As they get older you teach them to wash their own hands and ask them before dinner, “Did you wash your hands?” What a perfect verse to discuss their spiritual cleanliness. Why not ask them at dinner, “Did you speak harshly to your sister today?” Instead of asking them, “Did you use soap to wash your hands?” ask them if they thought about the words they used today when they got upset at the video game.

It is so important to teach our children to guard their tongues. I have often said that words are like toothpaste. Once they are out you can’t stuff them back in the tube. Teach them to choose their words carefully. And if they do slip up, teach them how to make it right. Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. That’s another skill missing today.

Are you more concerned about how you appear to others than what’s in your heart? If you will flip that around, you won’t have to worry so much about how you appear. Your inwards thoughts will be reflected on the outside. Pause and think before speaking, even if what you are going to say may sound “spiritual.” Sometimes that is just not the right thing to say at the time.

I am thankful Your Spirit can guard my tongue. Help me surrender to You before each word is spoken. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord.

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