Truth and Tolerance
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Lord, help me to be who I am in You, not losing my identity to the world's way but finding myself in Christ everyday.
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 1 Peter 3:14
While awaiting a routine medical procedure in a local hospital, I noticed a wall plaque showing Christ on a cross. Later, a nurse asked me several administrative questions, including, “Do you have any spiritual needs you’d like to discuss with a chaplain?” I said that I appreciated her asking that question, which I found unusual in today’s world. She replied with a smile that they are a faith-based hospital and “that’s part of our mission.” I was impressed that the people were not afraid to be who they are in an increasingly secular and pluralistic society.
Peter urged the first-century believers, who had been scattered by persecution and were living in a hostile world, to consider it a blessing to suffer for the sake of what is right. “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:14-15 NLT).
It’s better to suffer for the cause of Christ than for the cause of Christ to suffer. Just as the woman at the hospital stated her faith, so you are able to freely express your own faith. And if you are criticized or treated unfairly because of your belief in Christ, your response should come with gentleness and love. You should never fear who you are in Him.
Father, help me to show a Christ-like grace to all those who try to get me to conform to their ways in the name of “tolerance”. Help me to demonstrate love to them by being all I can be in Christ!
Adapted from a writing of David McCasland
Take a few minutes to explain to your child how fortunate we are to have our brave servicemen and servicewomen. In their field, they are trained to engage in the face of danger, defying the natural reaction of protecting themselves.
Describe to your child the importance of putting others needs ahead of their own. There may be times when the way others view them is jeopardized because they care about sharing their faith with their friends. Encourage your child to look for an opportunity to share God’s love with a friend this week.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Help me Lord, to see I am capable of bringing the Good News to everyone I meet. Open the doors, Holy Spirit, to an opportunity to lead a lost soul to Jesus. Thank you for giving me boldness in the face of compromise.
The story is told of an artist who was commissioned to portray a run-down church through a painting. Instead of an old, tottering ruin, he painted a magnificent edifice of modern design. Through the windows could be seen an ornate collection box for the gifts of the fashionable worshipers. Above that box hung a sign bearing the inscription “For Missions.” Sadly, the box was covered in cobwebs.
Some have said that the road to destruction is paved with good intentions. If Jesus were here in our modern day He would say, “Put your money where your mouth is.” In other words, what you say only matters so far as you’re willing to back it up with your actions.
A wise woman once said, “Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.” People will see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Untold millions are perishing—untold. Like it or not, those whose hearts and lives are not involved in the worldwide proclamation of the gospel are on their way to ruin. We may be engaged in feverish “Christian activity,” but our energies are misdirected if the main thrust of God’s program for this age goes unattended.
God has so designed His plan to evangelize this world, that every believer is called to be involved. Matthew says, we should all “pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Let there be no cobwebs over the cause of world missions because of our lack of concern.
Lord of harvest, send forth reapers,
Hear us, Lord, to Thee we cry;
Send them now the sheaves to gather,
Ere the harvest time pass by. —Thompson
Adapted from a writing of Paul Van Gorder
Has your family ever owned a mouse, hamster, or even a gerbil? If not, I’m sure you can at least describe the exercise wheel that they use all the time. This silly little wheel spins all day (and usually all night) long, but they remain in their same small confine. Help your child see the similarity in their relationships. By not sharing their faith at some point in their relationships, they will be confined to the things of this world.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Jesus, you said, “Fear not!” Today, I thank you that you have overcome the world and allowed me to speak for you in a manner that is effective, full of love and compassionate. As I speak truth, may it fall on good ground and bear fruit!
In the first century, Paul visited the Greek city of Corinth, known for its immorality and corruption. When he faced opposition for presenting Jesus as Messiah, the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city”.
What peace must have come over Paul, knowing that God had his back. He was about 7 years into his ministry, but even with the experiences he had up until then, there was still room for doubts, fears and insecurities to creep in. To say that Paul would go on preaching with boldness and without fear may be a bit of an understatement. He would go on to author 75% of the New Testament and lead masses of people into a relationship with Jesus Christ. All this from a man who got his start by persecuting Christians.
God would have you know that He has strategically given you all that you need to overcome your circumstances. He’s given you His holy people as a support. No matter where you go, the Lord’s people are close at hand. The risen Christ is powerfully present in and through all who know Him. The Lord has His people where you are today. Look for them. Join them. Christ is risen indeed!
When Christians join in blessed fellowship
Commemorating Jesus’ resurrection,
They sense a common bond of unity—
Their mutual faith in Him the true connection. —Hess
Do you like a particular team sport? If your child is already familiar with a team sport then this next analogy might be easy to describe. If they are not, consider show them on your television or log on to the internet so they know what it means to play on a team. Ask them questions like, “What if there was only one player on the team” or “What if half the team tried to go one direction while the other half went the other direction”. Use this opportunity to explain the benefits of being on God’s team. Read Acts 8:9-10 as a family and discuss the confidence that can be had in Him.
Monday, September 24, 2012
Lord God, help us today to know when to be bold speaking up for righteousness and truth. Also, help us to know when godly tolerance with forbearing patience is your will. Thank you for helping me to be able to speak truth in love.
Acts 7:51 (NIV)
51 "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
Have you ever known anyone that seems to delight in giving bad news? I’m sure there are a few like that, but overall it is difficult to be the one who bears unwelcome news. The TV meteorologist can upset people just by predicting that it’s going to rain on the Fourth of July. It’s not their fault, yet the forecaster still takes the heat for bringing the message.
On a much more serious note, when Stephen addressed the religious leaders of Israel, he incurred their wrath because he boldly told them the truth about themselves. He criticized their ancestors and implicated the whole council in the murder of Jesus Christ. Everything he said was true. So what did they do with this indictment? They “gnashed at him with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). They threw him out of the city and put him to death. Because he told the truth, Stephen died under a barrage of stones. I encourage you to read Acts 7 for the full account.
When you speak out for purity, righteousness, and godliness in a sinful, destructive, and pleasure-loving world, you will most likely be criticized. However, no matter what happens, you have the ability to call on God just as Stephen did and be credited for your faith and obedience. Take comfort in knowing that you belong to Him and that ultimately He will vindicate us.
Remember that it’s better to declare the truth in love and be rejected than to withhold it just to be accepted. As God’s people, pray that you will have the courage and boldness to stand up for what you believe when faced with opposition.
Lord, give us courage to speak out
Against the evils of our day;
For only when the truth is known
Can sinners choose the better way. —DJD
Adapted from a writing of Dave Branon
Talk with your children about what it means to have bullies in life. Explain the difference between bullying someone and standing up for something you know is right. If you need an example think of a little boy who is getting his lunch money taken by a group of older children - Does your child report to a teacher what is going on? Or do they ignore it so they don’t rat someone out and risk their own well-being? Use this time to describe the perfect truth they can find in God’s word as they study and apply it to their lives.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
God, reveal to me ways that I am not fully living in faith and free from sin. Keep me from returning to sin and strengthen me to live in the truth that sin is no longer my master. Allow me to remain focused on the life ahead, not that which is behind. I pray that distractions would not disrupt my walk of faith as I discover the life you have for me.
You are a special and unique person. God has planned and accomplished amazing things for you in advance of your arrival on earth. He is more than worthy of our thanks, glory, praise and worship. Creation itself reveals the evidence of God and that evidence was continued with Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
Imagine for a moment that you are an astronaut who landed on the moon with a broken spaceship. You are alone, separated from society, cut off and have no way back to earth. You know you were not created to be alone, not to live in the harsh environment of the moon, so you search for a way back. Can you imagine what it would be like if you wandered around this desolate place and found a sign that read, "I've been waiting for you"? What if there was someone there waiting for you with provisions in order for your safe return?
It's sounds silly, but this is what God has done for you. You arrived on earth and were separated from God because of sin. He made promises and provisions for you. He gave you instructions for your life, set you free from the effects of sin and adopted you into His family. God knew you were coming and what you would need to be together with Him for eternity. There is still a journey before you, just like the example of the astronaut and his broken ship. However, you are not alone and you are not cut off. When you are moving toward God, you are moving away from sin and the bondage of sin, don't turn back. You are set apart, free, redeemed, a person reconnected with God, a new creature, you are one of His people now. Rejoice, celebrate, and live with thanksgiving as you move toward home.
You are a child of the Most High God. You are one of His people. Are you living this out in your daily life? Do you celebrate this in song and the things you do and say? Today, live with this in mind: I am precious and important to God; God has set me apart to be with Him; God paid the price for my sin; God delivered me and redeemed me to live eternally; and I will share this with others through my actions and words. Meditate on the verses which you are led to read, pray, worship, gather together, live in the boldness of the Spirit and the truth of salvation. Persevere in the confidence that your place in eternity is guaranteed by God.
Lord, thank you for Your amazing love and for setting me free to be in relation with You. I am so thankful to be one of Your children. You are the only perfect Father, the only true God. Thank You Lord, for the wonderful brothers and sisters that I walk through life with. Thank You for Your truth and Your good and perfect will.
Families are connected to one another and though you are individuals, each of you stick together. Have you ever been in a potato sack race? How about a canoe with two of more people paddling? Mark out a course with a starting point, some obstacles and a finish line. Line up shoulder to shoulder and tie one leg to the leg of the person standing next to them. You can do this with belt loops as well, as long as each family member is connected to each of the other family members. Try to come up with ways to stress the importance of freedom of movement and at the same time teamwork. Start the race, work together and complete the race as best you can. If one person falls, pick them up, if one person is tired, stop and rest. The key is understanding the need to work together to accomplish the goal. You are a family and you are part of God's family as well.
Romans 8:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 2:10; Revelation 2:3
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Father Your love is amazing to me. When I am doubting my value as your child may I consider that You have redeemed me out of death and into life. May I know that you have brought me out of darkness and into light. May I comprehend that you have brought me out of slavery and into freedom and invite me to be a part of Your kingdom. Thank You so much for Your overwhelming and perfect love.
The value of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, which is the price paid for your freedom, your liberation from sin and slavery, is nothing short of priceless. Rejoice and celebrate this by living from the position of freedom, not from the previous position of bondage. The "I will" part of redemption is done, now it is time to live with the assurance that God did what He said He would. Many things will attempt to separate you from the truth of God and the victory you have in Him, resist these. Your own flesh may be at odds with the truth of redemption and it may cause you to slip back towards the previous position of bondage. The world will attempt to quench the fire of the Spirit who lives within you. Satan will sow seeds of doubt to convince you that you are not truly free from sin and its effects. Only God has the ability to set you free and keep you free. His sacrifice on the cross made a way for you to accept that freedom and inherit eternal life. Trust Him and His promises, they are always true.
When circumstances arise that turn you back toward any previous bondage, stop, pray, and listen to God. When troubles come up and problems or difficulties enter your life, remember the price for your freedom has been paid and that only God has claim to you, authority over you and nothing can change this. Take time today to consider the reality of what it means to be free from bondage and redeemed. Your sin has not been merely covered, it has been removed.
Lord, please be my strength when I am weak. Forgive me for doubting Your faithful love and help me to live in Your power, not my own. I trust that Your redemption is complete and Your will is perfect.
As a family, discuss what it means to be redeemed. There are many ways this idea of redemption can be acted out and explained. An interesting way to explain this idea of redemption is by describing an IOU to them. Express how when something is purchased using an IOU, there is a debt which remains to be paid. Explain that the price of sin is very expensive, it will cost them more money than there is in the whole world. More than all the gold, diamonds and even the toys. Then explain how God has paid the IOU with His own Son. Jesus traded His life for their IOU.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Deliverance is such a marvelous and wonderful gift Lord. You are so amazing to me, Father. Thank You for setting me free to live for You.
I read a story not long ago about the end of slavery in America. Did you know that many slaves did not know what to do when they were told that they were no longer slaves? They were free and could live without the relentless labor and often cruel treatment from their former masters and yet they still had no idea as to what was next. Being a slave for so long, they simply couldn't grasp what happened. After a bit of adjustment and the reality of freedom sunk in, many picked up and started new lives, built homes, had families and so on. Some stayed with their former masters as employees, free individuals, yet with a home and a job. Unfortunately, others remained with their masters as if nothing had changed at all. Though they had been granted freedom, they did not receive this. God has delivered you out of the bondage from a cruel master, sin. You are now free to move about and live as a freed or delivered person. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He will provide for you your every need, God is not a cruel Master, but gentle and loving. Please do not neglect this gift of freedom by remaining a slave to the cruel master that is sin. Serve the loving master, your deliverer, He is the best!
Are there any bonds of sin which have kept you enslaved? Make a list of anything you are aware of which keeps you from being delivered, or from obeying your loving and gentle Lord and Savior. Take proactive steps, both in prayer and in action, to embrace the freedom in Christ which was purchased for such a heavy price as His death. You have God, the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters, people that genuinely care about you that will be more than willing to help out. Go to God first and follow up by talking to your family in Christ.
Father, today I am asking for nothing more than the ability to honestly and completely appreciate Your gift of deliverance, mercy, and love.
Take some time to be transparent and share with your child a story of when you were a slave to something (i.e. a habit or a life pattern that you needed to break). Discuss with them what it is like to live in freedom now. Use this time to share a scripture or some wise words that may have been helpful in the breaking free process.
Monday, August 27, 2012
God, I ask you today for encouragement and strength, thank you for setting me apart. I pray that you would keep my focus on what is ahead, not what is behind.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to win the lottery? Of course you have! Have you ever heard or read about the winners of the lottery who have not come forward to claim their prize? What would it be like to find out you had the winning numbers, but the time period allowed to redeem our ticket and claim the prize had passed? Similarly, God’s gift of eternal life for you must be claimed before your time on earth runs out. This is more than a cash prize, a new car or any other material things. God has set you apart as a winner, you have the ability to claim the biggest prize imaginable. The prize is eternal life which is freedom from slavery, freedom from sin and all the effects of sin. The prize includes unlimited access to unimaginable power, strength, hope and much, much more! This is not a one time lump sum payment, though you are a guaranteed winner, this prize is paid out over the span of your lifetime, so keep moving forward and live in it daily.
Take time today to praise God for what He has accomplished for you. Consider what it means to be "set apart" and ask that God reveal to you ways in which you can better live with this in mind. Maybe the most difficult part of living with the fact of being special to God is not external, maybe it is internal. Think through some reasons you are reluctant to live with a forward looking attitude, pray about this. Look up the words "special" and "sanctified". Write these definitions down and contemplate the significance of this most amazing thing which God has done.
Lord God, I believe and trust You. Sometimes I need help with my unbelief, though I will never lose faith in You. You are my Lord and Savior, You are the only true God of Heaven and earth and I love You.
Explain to your child tonight this lesson on the opportunity to “cash-in” on their “winning ticket”? This may help to plant the seed of salvation in your child’s heart. Or, if your child already knows Jesus as their savior this could be an opportunity to thank him again for this wonderful gift. Spend some time reading through Philippians 3:13-14 and consider challenging them to commit it to memory.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
My heart is filled with joy, Father, when I consider all that you have done for me and given me. I will sing for You and about You with joy, Lord, as often as I have the opportunity to.
We must worship with joy! Have you ever been to a birthday party and somehow the singing of happy birthday seems a bit less than enthusiastic? Maybe you have been to a restaurant and watched as an embarrassed patron celebrates their birthday while being sung to by the staff. At a concert, people clap and sing along with their favorite songs and at times things can even get a bit crazy.
Such enthusiasm and participation seems logical when singing praises to God. When engaged in worship, it should be with enthusiasm, full of joy and authentic. Worship, whatever form it may take, should be done in a real and honest way, joyfully. This is a way to celebrate and honor God, it is an honor and privilege to worship God. You know you want to sing out, even if you think your voice leaves a bit to be desired. God loves to hear you so go for it! Maybe those with good voices need to sing that much louder, or maybe you might find that your voice is not really that bad after all.
We must be willing to sacrifice and to share. Just as an example, have you ever taken a kid fishing and watched their face light up when they catch a fish? When it comes to sacrifice and sharing, consider that everything we have is a gift from God. Giving and sacrificing our time and energy is not an obligation, it is a reward. If you have time, energy, resources and abilities, the benefits of being generous with these far outweighs the mere satisfaction of selfishly possessing these.
Sing in the shower, sing in church, sing in the car, give thanks to God when you are in nature. Whatever you are doing, thank God and worship Him in truth and spirit with great joy. Give glory to God and worship Him as you walk through life, don't be shy about it. Offer your time and abilities to those in need, to your church, family, neighbors and strangers. Trust that God will provide as your needs require, He is faithful and perfect. Ask if you are in need and give with a glad heart. You have more to offer than you may realize and those which benefit from your generosity will know that this was a gift made possible by God.
Lord, thank you for the good gifts you have so unselfishly given to Your people. When I give to others of my possessions, abilities and time, please let it be a blessing to them and may I do so with a glad heart.
One of the families I spent time with when I was young had some outstanding qualities. I do not remember appreciating these qualities back then, honestly they seemed a bit odd. Mom would sing and play piano while dad and the two kids sang. My family never did this. Looking back now, I can see how awesome it was to be a part of that, even if it was different than what I was used to. Yes, they went to church every Sunday, did all kinds of charity work, spent lots of time together and were a rather unique family in my neighborhood. Do you sing together as a family? Do you teach generosity in your family? Make sure that the idea of giving back is understood and practiced, both in worship and in material ways. The ability to give is a blessing and should be enjoyed as a family.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Thank You for Your word, Lord. Thank You for love, fellowship, and community. Father, when I feel alone or like I do not belong, please remind me of the family I have in You. Lord, please help me to gather together with your church and enjoy the company of Your people.
We must be devoted to God's word. Reading Scripture and contemplating it is essential. His Word is a sword. It is truth and it is useful for everything that life throws at you. When a young man of Judaism reaches the age of twelve, he knows not just verses, but whole books of the Bible. If you ever have the opportunity to listen to the singing of Scripture, do it. Setting Scripture to music will help to memorize verses. The Bible is not an optional coffee table book to read, in it are the very words of life.
Love one another deeply and gather together regularly. A loving church grows as a loving family grows and a growing church is a beautiful and vital part of any community. In the early days of America, the church was leaned on heavily for social needs, much like the government is now. The problem is that Government was not set up to do this, not the way the church is. Jesus told us, among other things, to be charitable, loving, encouraging, selfless and faithful. If the government was the body of our country, the church is the heart and soul. I do not think that a body without a heart or soul is considered to be a living entity. We need the church, our cities are in great need unless the church gets actively involved. This begins with the church loving one another and meeting together regularly in community.
Make it a non-negotiable practice to spend a portion of each day reading or listening to Scripture. Additionally, spend some time seriously considering or meditating on the Scripture you have read. If you can't do this first thing in the morning, try to do it as soon as you can. It is a joy to be able to read that which God gave to us and to learn from it by putting it into action. Additionally, meeting with other Christ-followers on a regular basis is crucial. This is not a simple suggestion, it is about as near to a matter of life and death, spiritually speaking, than anything else. Alone we are strong in the Spirit, but together we are a force to be reckoned with. Encourage one another, celebrate with one another, share in joy, trials and in every other aspect of life.
I know that You, Lord, understand what is best for Your people. Thank You for Your church, the many blessings You pour out, Your word, love, truth and life. Please help me to regularly study Your word and meet with Your people.