Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Death, Denial, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Sin, Suffering, Testimony, Trust

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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Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Contentment, Courage, Encouragement, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Promises, Rescue, Scripture, Soldiers, Trust

FREE

ACTS 12:7

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

You really need to read Acts 12:1-19 to get the full story of Peter’s imprisonment and release. It’s a fascinating story of God’s miraculous power. This verse, in the midst of that story, is great. Peter is sleeping between two soldiers when an angel appears, wakes him up and his chains fall off.

Can you imagine Peter’s surprise? But notice too that Peter was sleeping. He was at rest in prison. He was not up all night wringing his hands. He was trusting his Savior with his outcome. Whether he was released, kept in jail or killed, he was at peace. We could take a lesson from Peter here. Even when in chains, trust.

APPLICATION

This story would be a fun one to act out. Get your family together and assign the parts (Peter, angel, guards, Rhoda). Kids learn a lot from role playing. Act it out two or three times, changing roles each time. You have to video this too. Make sure to get the reaction of “Peter” each time he is awakened by the angel.

Ask your kids what they would do if an angel woke them up in the middle of the night. Ask them if they would follow the angel’s instructions or hide under the sheets. Our children need to understand that God still performs miracles. He may never send an angel to them, but He is still working in their lives every day. They just have to keep their eyes open.

What would you do with an angelic message? More importantly, what will you do with the message of God’s Word? He is speaking to you, if you will listen. The Scriptures are God’s way of talking to you today. But you have to read it to receive the message. Take time each day to read it.

Thank You, Lord, that I am free wherever I am because of Jesus in my life. The chains of sin have fallen off of me.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Denial, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Service, Shame, Trust, Witnessing

PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE

MARK 16:7

“’But go, tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.”’” 

Oh boy, do I remember those days. I was quite the class clown and got sent to see the principal on numerous occasions. I wasn’t mean. I just loved making people laugh. Let’s just say the principal knew me well. His paddle did too.

I don’t know what the disciples were thinking when they heard these words from the women. But I bet Peter was thinking Oh no! What will I say? I just denied Him three times just as He said. Will He tell the others? Peter probably felt embarrassed and a little scared.

APPLICATION

Your child will probably do something that cause them to feel like I did. They, hopefully, won’t deny Jesus like Peter. But being ashamed is hard. When you have to deal with them, use this passage. Ask them how they think Peter felt. Ask them what they think happened when Jesus finally saw Peter.

Skip ahead and read that passage in John 21. Your children need to see how Jesus restored Peter to his leadership role. If hadn’t done that, Peter may have spent the rest of his life in deep grief and sorry. Jesus restored him because had just spent three years preparing him to accomplish his mission to a lost world.

What has Jesus been preparing you for? Will you let him use you? You may have unconfessed sins that are holding you back from being fully utilized by Him. Confess them today. Let Jesus use you to accomplish His mission. He still uses us. Let Him have you.

Take my life and use it, Lord. I ask You to forgive me and cleanse me now so there is nothing in me that could thwart Your mission.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Faith, Parenting, Trust

THE INSIDE SCOOP

MARK 13:3-4

“3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?’” 

Jesus was preparing them for what was ahead. This discourse had immediately followed Jesus’ statement that the temple would be destroyed. So, Peter and the others wanted more details. They wanted to know when. Will there be any warnings?

We’re the same way. We want to prepare. We want to get ready. However, sometimes there is no warning. Lightning strikes without warning. It’s that way with life. We think if we get all the information we will be okay. That may work some of the time, but not always.

APPLICATION

Have you ever planned a secret family trip? Only you knew the details. How many times per day did your kids pester you about it? They wanted to know where, when, how and what. The questions were never ending. They wanted the inside scoop. But when the day arrived they were blown away.

We will never know all the plans God has for us. We simply have to trust that He will reveal them when its time. He only discloses to us what we can handle. That could be a lot or a little.

Is the Lord doing a work in you right now but you are not sure exactly what He’s doing? Ask Him. He may tell you. Or He may not. He may be holding off for the great reveal. Just be patient and trust His handiwork.

I trust your work in my life. I get a little anxious sometimes. Forgive me. I will wait on Your completed work

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Advice, Alone, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Courage, Cowardice, Direction, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Following, Inspirational, Obedience, Parenting, Salvation, Separation, Shame, Trust

KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE

MATTHEW 26:58

“But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.”

Peter wasn’t stupid. He saw what was happening. Jesus had just been arrested and was being led away, probably to be put to death. The Sanhedrin had tried before. Now they had him, thanks to Judas. How could he do that? After all Jesus had taught them, Judas had betrayed him. Peter was keeping his distance.

Before you judge Peter, ask yourself how many times you have shied away from standing up for Jesus. In our situation we were only avoiding potential harassment or embarrassment. We weren’t facing the possibility of arrest and death. How can we keep our distance after all He has done for us?

APPLICATION

Do your children face ridicule and scorn at school for standing up for Jesus? Have they ever come home in tears because some other kid made fun of them for being a Christian? If they have, you have the perfect chance to encourage them. Read them this whole story of Peter’s denial and his ultimate shame. Remind them of Jesus sacrifice for them. We must stand tall in the face of persecution.

This world does not like Christians. That’s just a fact. Your children are going to encounter persecution, however slight it may seem. Standing for truth invites opposition. But we need to draw close to Him during those times, not keep our distance. Distance only increases the chance we will deny Him. Drawing close allows us to experience His loving embrace. That’s the message for our kids.

Are you a distance keeper? Do you hide the fact that you are a believer? Stop that! Take a stand. Don’t you believe Jesus will defend you? Don’t you know that no matter how harsh the persecution, you still win. No one can ever take your salvation away from you. Nothing can ever separate you from the love of Christ. Stay in His footsteps. Don’t hide in the shadows.

Forgive me, Father, for the times I have kept my distance. I will trust You to defend me. I will stay close and feel Your embrace.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony, Trust

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU REBUKE

MATTHEW 16:21-23

“21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ 23 But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’”

Rebuke sounds like such a harsh word, and it can be. But here Peter isn’t harshly rebuking Jesus. He was just saying, “Don’t talk like that. You don’t mean that.” Peter didn’t want to hear Jesus talking like that. He had his own ideas of what Jesus should do.

But it’s important before you try to correct someone that you know what’s really going on. Peter was still clueless. Look at Jesus’ words. “for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests.” We do the same thing. We have our own thoughts about stuff without even asking the Lord what He would have us do or so.

APPLICATION

What can we teach our children from this verse? We need to put the Lord’s plans above our own. What we desire for ourselves or others is not important unless those desires line up with the Lord’s desires for us. And we know His desires are always for our good. How can our children learn this?

Prayer is the answer. Seeking His will daily through surrender delivers us into His desires for our life. The Lord may lead us in a direction that seems unreasonable or even absurd. But when we trust Him, He will clarify His vision for us. Even as Jesus corrected Peter, He was showing Peter His way was better.

What has the Lord told you recently that confused you? Rest assured He is not a God who confuses. Believe Him! Trust Him! Let Him give you the direction He chooses. Wherever He leads is the right place. We can always follow Him, knowing that His footsteps take us closer to being like Him.

Father, help me to take Your words as truth. I will follow You and submit to Your leading. Your words are life. I choose to live by them.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Faith, Faithfulness, Following, Inspirational, Modeling, Peace, Perseverance, Purity, Trust

PROVEN PRECIOUS

I PETER 1:7

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 

Our faith is precious, more precious than gold. And Peter reminds us how gold is proven to be precious. It is tested by fire. The same is true about our faith. It, too, will go through testing.

One scholar wrote,
“Christians should be willing to pass through trials: (a) They will purify their religion, just as the fire will remove dross from gold.

(b) They will make it shine more brightly, just as gold does when it comes out of the furnace. (c) They will disclose more fully its value. (d) They will furnish an evidence that we shall be saved; for that religion which will bear the tests that God applies to it in the present life, will bear the test of the final trial.”

APPLICATION

So, how do you apply this verse? By living through those testings. As you encounter hard times, you have the God given opportunity to trust Him to prove your faith. Your children are watching. As you talk to them about how you are trusting the Lord in the process, they are listening.

You may not think these moments will be remembered by them. After all, they are young. But, oh, they will remember. God will make sure of that. Trusting moments stick. Faith producing moments make impacts, especially on young lives. And when God brings you through, and He will, celebrate that with your children.

Are you in a trial right now? Is your faith being put through the fire? Thank the Lord that He is purifying it. Thank Him that You know it is more precious than gold. Gold will not last forever. Even it is eventually destroyed. But not our faith. With each “firing” it becomes stronger. Believe that!

I praise You for the fires! I may not enjoy the process, but I am thankful for the outcome. Purify me, Lord!

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WAVE WALKER

MATTHEW 14:28-33

“28 Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ 29 And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’”

How cool is this? Peter actually walked on water. He was the only one of the disciples who got out of the boat and walked. You didn’t see James or Nathaniel or Matthew do it. Nope, just Peter. And when he got a little scared and took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus to save him, and He did.

But what strikes me here is that Jesus didn’t say, “Way to go, Peter. You got so far before you sank.” No! He said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” He practically scolded him for sinking. You see, Jesus knew Peter’s thoughts. He knew he went from blind faith, totally trusting in Jesus’ words, to sheer panic when he saw his surroundings. Jesus cannot work through us if we are doubting His power.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been in the pool and had your children jump into your arms? Perhaps this was before they even could swim. The first time you tried to get them to do this was a challenge, wasn’t it? They knew you were there, but that water was too. They believed your words, but they also knew they couldn’t swim. However, after the first time of jumping and you catching, they had no trouble doing it again.

We tend to want to have proof before we believe something. It’s hard to just trust. But Jesus wants us to just trust Him. He doesn’t have to prove Himself to us. He is God. His word is enough. If He says, “Get out of the boat and walk,” we should jump out. He will never ask us to do something He is not prepared to see us through.

What has the Lord asked you to do that seems impossible? It’s not! It may seem far-fetched. It may seem beyond your ability, but if He has asked you, you are capable. How? Because it is through His power. You can’t, in your own power, do it. He doesn’t expect you to. Trust Him.

I am ready to do the impossible. I am prepared only because You have called. Send me.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Faith, Friends, Gossip, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Persecution, Reputation, Scripture, Trust, Truth

OPPONENTS

TITUS 2:8

“sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

Have you ever had an opponent? I mean, someone who was just against you? The Greek phrase for “opponent” reads “he who is of the contrary.” Ever known a contrary person? It seems everything you do or say they are against. You just can’t seem to get along. Well, we are going to face those people, and Paul tells us how to deal with them.

It’s pretty simple really. We just speak truth, sound “speech which is beyond reproach.” If we do that, they have “nothing bad to say about us.” They may try, but it’s not true. In fact, then word “nothing” there means not even one. My brother-in-law used to say that means zero with the lid kicked off. I like that.

APPLICATION

Boy, oh boy, this is an application to make. Our children are going to have people, friends even, who talk about them. Kids love to talk and tease and criticize. The sooner we prepare our children how to handle those comments, the better off they will be. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That may be a cute phrase, but words can hurt if you don’t know how to handle them.

Here are some tips to handle these opponents:

  1. Know the truth about you – Teach your kids who they are in Christ. No words from others can change that.
  2. Know that your opponents are actually Christ’s opponent – He will fight for you. If you stand for Christ, He promises to defend you.
  3. Know those opponents need Jesus – Just like you before Christ, they are operating out of the flesh and need a Savior.
  4. Know that truth will prevail – Trust that “the truth will make you free.

There you have it. A few tips for dealing with those contrary folks. It won’t be easy, but they can keep you focused. Perhaps you have a tendency to be contrary. If that is you, listen to the truth of His Word. Let it transform your thinking. There is no victory in opposing Christ. You just can’t win. Submit to Him today and experience of true freedom and rest.

Guard my tongue, O Lord, and let me speak only sound words. Allow the truth spoken through me draw all opponents to You. Protect me as You have promised.

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THE LORD WILL REPAY

2 TIMOTHY 4:14

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”

It’s pretty obvious that Alexander didn’t care for Paul. We aren’t exactly sure who he was, but there are a few speculations. He may have been one of the metal workers thrust forth by the Jews to denounce Paul in Ephesus. Demetrius had begun this protest, but a man named Alexander was trying speak about how Paul’s mission work was hurting the sale of idols of the great temple of Artemis, which was their livelihood.

This name appears later in Acts at Paul’s trial. This time he is there publicly to speak against Paul. Animosity, hatred, pure evil. Paul knew it, but what did he tell Timothy? Turn the other cheek. Do not engage this man. God will handle him. As powerful and as loud as Alexander may appear, God is bigger and louder (if necessary).

APPLICATION

Do you think your children are going to face an Alexander? You had better believe it. If your children are attempting to live for Jesus, there will be people who will feel threatened. You may not know why they feel threatened, but they will. It may go to their own insecurities. It could be from their wrecked childhood. But for some reason, they have it out for your son or daughter. So, what do you tell them to do? The exact same thing Paul told Timothy – let God have it.

Do you now what all “Alexanders” need? Jesus! They need His forgiveness. They need His love. They need His mercy. And all of that comes through us. God still uses His people to deliver the gospel. Teach your children to be that deliverer of hope to “Alexanders.” And when they rise up in hatred, love them more.

Who do you need to approach in love today whom has set out to tear you down? We all have someone who just doesn’t like us. We may not know why, but God does. Ask Him. You may share a past with that person that could bring them to Christ. But whatever you do, don’t retaliate. That’s the Lord’s job, and He can handle it much better than you.

Father, I lay down my plans to get even right now. It is hard not to want to get back at those who have harmed me. But at Your command, I will obey.

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