Category Archives: Family devotions

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 2)

In my last post, I mentioned that it is important for us as parents to ensure that our children are familiar with the core beliefs of all Christians. We must also help them to understand what being a disciple of Christ entails. This involves knowing not only what God desires to do for us, but also what He expects of us in return.

Let’s start with Christianity’s core beliefs.

These are the foundational teachings of the first apostles. Paul told Timothy, “And the things which you have heard of me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The apostle John exhorted, “Let that therefore abide in you, which you have heard from the beginning. If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, you also shall continue in the Son and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).

Core Christian beliefs:

  • The infallibility / inerrancy of the Bible
  • God is eternal, having no beginning and no ending.
  • God is three distinct Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is one God, not three, with all three Persons having existed from eternity, without a beginning.
  • God is omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (everywhere present at the same time).
  • Jesus is fully God and fully man. He existed eternally as God the Son before He became man, but now He is both.
  • Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin into a fully human body.
  • Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life here on earth.
  • He died on the cross of His own free will, to atone for our sins. There is no other way to God or to heaven, aside from trusting in Jesus as our only means of salvation.
  • We are saved by grace alone (God’s gift of righteousness to us, through Jesus’ death for us) rather than by any help of our own good deeds. At the same time, those who are true believers desire to live holy lives, modeling our Savior, Jesus.
  • Jesus physically rose from the dead.
  • He ascended into heaven, and is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father.
  • He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all believers.
  • Upon death, the spirits and souls of all believers are immediately taken to heaven.
  • Jesus will come again to receive His Church to Himself. There will be a resurrection of the physical bodies of all believers into new, glorified bodies at that time.
  • Jesus will physically return to earth to rule and reign over all.
  • Upon death, those who have refused to believe on Jesus will suffer everlasting torment and separation from God. Their physical bodies will also experience a final resurrection, when they will be judged before God’s throne and assigned to eternal damnation in the lake of fire, along with the devil and his angels.

The Creeds:

One of the most effective ways to teach these core beliefs is by studying the creeds of the Church with your children. You might want to commit one or two of them to memory. In the early centuries of the Church, creeds were formed by men of God in order to unite believers around the essential doctrines of the Faith. They were also formulated to combat various errors which had crept in. Here are the main creeds:

The Apostles’ Creed

The Nicene Creed

The Athanasian Creed

Statements of Faith:

Still another way to instruct our children in the core beliefs of Christianity is by studying trusted statements of faith or catechisms. Your denomination or fellowship may have a clear statement of faith. If that is not the case, here are a few which may be helpful to you:

The Assemblies of God Statement of Faith (Pentecostal / Charismatic believers)

The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Reformed)

The Westminster Catechism for Young Children

Christian Missionary Alliance Statement of Faith (Evangelical)

In our next post, we will talk about teaching the Ten Commandments as a means to help our children enter into life led by the Holy Spirit.

Part 1

Resources by Lee Ann:


Teach Your Kids to Hear God!


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

A Well-Grounded Faith (Part 1)

Some years ago, a friend of mine shared with me her philosophy for raising her children to know Jesus. Rather than teaching them about the Lord and how to know Him personally, she felt that they would somehow end up desiring Him automatically because of her example. She hoped that by observing her prayer life, worship, and daily living for Jesus, they would catch on and want the same for themselves — that they would somehow naturally absorb a life in Christ, without instruction. Unfortunately, her plan did not work, and her grown children are not following the Lord.

Of course it’s important for our faith to be exhibited before our children on a daily basis. Seeing us engage in intimate relationship with God should whet their appetites to know Him themselves. That is certainly part of the picture.

But we must also give them tools so that they will have a clear idea how to develop relationship with the Lord. There are practical steps we can walk them through to help them form habits of prayer and Bible reading, or to learn to hear God speak to them. While there are exceptions, most children won’t figure these things out on their own. They need to be given the skills, and encouraged in them repeatedly, while they gradually mature in their young faith.

So, discipling our children to seek God for themselves is important. But there’s something else we need to do as well. We must instill in our children a framework of the foundations of biblical faith — core beliefs which all true Christians should be aware of and adhere to.

While some church fellowships are doing an excellent job, a large portion of the Church seems to have been missing this part of discipleship for the last few decades. Consequently, we now have many, many people attending our evangelical / charismatic churches who are clueless about basic beliefs and don’t even realize it. They live by their soulish instincts, rather than being led by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit — because they don’t know any better.

Because some in the Church are very afraid of promoting legalism (and rightfully so), we’ve gone to another extreme, where we don’t speak about God’s expectations upon His people at all. We’ve neglected to give people an elementary knowledge of the nature of God and how He operates because of it. We’ve adopted a feel-good, just-follow-your-heart, everything-is-conditional-on-the-circumstances approach. In some cases, we’ve even said from our pulpits, “Doctrine doesn’t matter. All you need to do is love Jesus.” As a result, many people are ignorant of the truth. They have ended up worshiping a God made in their own image, a false Jesus, who benevolently panders to their every whim, requiring no commitment in return.

We’ve got to start changing this, and the perfect place to begin is in the home. No longer can we depend on the local church to do it for us through Children’s Church or Sunday School programs — because, in many cases, it’s not happening there. Often, it’s not happening in adult church either. Fragments of truth are being taught here and there, but no cohesive framework is presented to help people become established solidly in their faith.

If your local fellowship is doing a great job already, that’s wonderful! You are blessed! For those who do not enjoy such blessing, in the next few posts, I will be sharing some ideas of how to impart systematic, foundational teaching to help your children pursue after God to the fullest.

Part 2 

Resources by Lee Ann:


Teach Your Kids to Hear God!


The Homeschool Guide to Raising Prayer-Filled Kids

Bringing Up Royal Sons and Daughters (Part 4)

BullyingIn Part 1 of this series, we talked briefly about teaching our children to live as servant royalty — to use their princely positions to bless and assist people, instead of tyrannizing over them. Sons and daughters of the heavenly King are to live by what James 2:8 calls “the royal law,” to love our neighbors as ourselves.

However, those who are not part of God’s royal family don’t necessarily live by that law, and unfortunately, some of the King’s children have never learned to abide by it, either. All through life, our children will encounter bullies, both in the world and in the church — those controlling folks who try to get their way through manipulation and intimidation. We need to teach them how to navigate their relationships with these people in such a way as not to succumb to the fear of man. Proverbs 29:25 tells us, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

When we clearly understand that we have full rights as adopted sons and daughters, and that we are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6), this knowledge helps to insulate us from giving in to intimidation. Bully the prince or princess? Seriously?

But, we must help our children discover how to walk out their freedom from intimidation in an attitude of calm, wisdom, and grace, rather than reacting to intimidation with behavior similar to the bully’s. While they do not have to submit to being trampled, the Lord’s way is still to maintain kindness. Proverbs 15:1 is as true today as it was when Solomon wrote it: “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Knowing when to respond firmly with level-headed coolness and when to avoid confrontation altogether takes practice. It also takes staying sensitive to the Lord, so that we know when to speak up and when to let it go. This is one of the very “rubber meets the road” ways that we walk out Romans 8:14, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Our children won’t mature into this overnight, and we need to review the concept with them often, as well as help them walk through situations as they arise. After all, this is difficult for those of us who are adults, too!

Our best example of how to handle intimidation is Jesus. Read with your children the passages in the gospels where Jesus interacts with the religious leaders, and also how the apostles handled the same kinds of situations in Acts 4:1-21 and Acts 5:27-29. Balance those stories with what Jesus said about turning the other cheek and blessing those who abuse us (Matthew 5:38-48).

The main thing to get across to our children is what their inner attitude should be, when encountering intimidators. They can respond gently and graciously, and yet know that they are not under the thumb of someone else. We can teach them to stand tall when others try to humiliate them and not receive those taunts into their hearts. And, we absolutely must remind them to forgive, letting go of offense before it takes root inside. Bullies can make outward difficulties for us, but they cannot really rule us unless we give them that permission in our minds and emotions. Children of the King, who know their family connection, are inwardly free from the dominion of anyone but their Father in heaven.

This concludes the series on bringing up royal sons and daughters. I hope it has provided some ideas for how to help your children realize who they are in Christ, and how to walk out their royal heritage in fullness and fruitfulness.

Sonship in God’s family is such a vast subject. What has God been showing you about it? How do you plan to instill those ideas in your children? I’d love to hear from you!

Previous — Part 3

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

Bringing Up Royal Sons and Daughters (Part 3)

Crown Free Pixabay imageWe talked in the last two posts about how to instill in our children what it means to be sons and daughters of our Father in heaven — the value they possess because they are part of the royal family, their authority as royalty, the discipline required in order to carry out their royal role well, and how they should use their position to serve and bring blessing to others.

The King’s sons and daughters must also be aware of the privileges which are theirs. If they don’t know what is available to them, how can they put their royal bounty to good use?

Too many Christians live like hopeless, helpless beggars, rather than the royalty they are. They are afraid that God will deny them most of what they ask, to keep them “humble.” Because of poor teaching, many of us have a very sorry notion of what relationship with our Father in heaven is supposed to be like.

We can help the Church break free of the beggar’s mentality by planting biblical truth in our children. They need to know the privileges God delights for them to avail themselves of. He is a generous Father!

The storehouse of royal provision is limitless — “exceedingly abundant above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

The apostle Paul said, “… All things are yours” (1 Corinthians 3:21).

2 Peter 1:3, 4 announces, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who has called us to glory and virtue, whereby are given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature ….”

How very mind-boggling! All means all, but let’s look at a few specific privileges we possess, which we can study together with our children:

1.) Access to the Father at all times:

Hebrews 4:16“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Ephesians 2:18“For through Him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

Ephesians 3:12“In Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.”

2.) Provision for all our material needs:

Philippians 4:19“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Matthew 6:25-34 — This classic passage assures us that our heavenly Father wants to meet our basic needs, and that there is no need to worry about whether He will take care of us or not.

2 Corinthians 9:6-12 — Verse 8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.”

One of the names by which God has revealed Himself is Jehovah-Jireh (YHWH-Yireh) (Genesis 22:14) — “The Lord Who provides” or “The Lord Who will see to it.”

3.) Healing:

Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”

James 5:14-16“Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

Mark 16: 17, 18“And these signs shall follow them that believe: in My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

There are dozens of Bible verses which tell us that God desires to heal us. Here is a link to more of them.

4.) Answers to prayer for all needs:

Romans 8:32“He Who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

John 15:7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.”

This is just a brief starter listing of the privileges which are ours as sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. I have a page at my website, Encouragement from God’s Word, which lists many more.

Previous — Part 2
Next — Part 4

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

Bringing Up Royal Sons and Daughters (Part 2)

In our last post, we began talking about teaching our children what it means to be part of God’s royal family. I shared some ideas on how to cultivate royalty consciousness and, at the same time, build a servant attitude in them. Let’s look at a few more things sons and daughters of the Most High King need to know:

Royal sons and daughters have authority.

As members of God’s royal family, eventually we will rule with Jesus. The apostle Paul said that in the end of the age we would judge the world and even angels (1 Corinthians 6:2, 3). Even now we possess spiritual authority over many things. We grow in learning to wield our authority effectively as we mature in our relationship with Jesus.

One area in which our children can immediately begin to exercise their authority is prayer. Teach your children that their prayers make a difference and that their heavenly Father delights to answer them. Help them to understand that as they pray for others who have needs, they will make people’s lives better. Encourage them to form the habit of looking for ways they can be a blessing through prayer.

Teach them verses such as John 14:13, 14: “And whatever you shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask anything in My name, I will do it.” There are many other prayer promises, such as

  • 1 John 5:14, 15
  • Mark 11:22-24
  • Matthew 7:7-11

You might want to study with your children the Bible passages which assure us of receiving answers to prayer. I have a list at my website to get you started.

We can also begin helping them understand how to use their royal authority in spiritual warfare. Even small children need to know what to do when the evil one comes against them — because he doesn’t wait until they are grownups to start. Although young children cannot yet grasp all the concepts connected with spiritual warfare, they can begin to use the basics.

Have them memorize James 4:7“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Tell them that they can call on Jesus to help them if they are afraid, feel worried, have bad dreams, feel tempted to sin, or have bad thoughts. Teach them to say, “Bad thoughts (or fear, etc.), go away right now, in the name of Jesus.” Some children are able from an early age to see into the spirit realm, both angels and evil spirits. They need to know that if they see an evil spirit, they can command it to leave, in the name of Jesus. Emphasize that all of our authority lies in Jesus’ name.

Explain and have them memorize verses such as

  • 1 John 4:4: “You belong to God, little children, and have overcome them [evil spirits]: because greater is He Who is in you, than he who is in the world,” and
  • Luke 10:19: “Behold, I give to you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

Emphasize that Jesus has promised to protect them, so there is nothing to be afraid of. Tell them that He is infinitely bigger and greater than the devil.

Royal authority does not ever give us the right to tyrannize over people. For instance, an older child might be given responsibility to help care for younger members of the family. He or she would have a measure of delegated authority, but the heart attitude must be one of patience, kindness, and respect for the weaker ones, rather than bossing.

Our royal authority is a large subject, which can gradually be expanded upon as our children mature. However, the next point is inseparable from authority.

Sons and daughters of the King must learn to lead disciplined lives.

Jesus was absolutely without sin, and yet even He had to go through a training process. Hebrews 5:8, 9 says, “Although He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And being made perfect [complete; finished], He became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey Him.” Jesus came into the fullness of God the Father’s plan for Him by patiently obeying and enduring trials. We (and our children) have to be willing to go through that process, too.

The apostle Paul said, in Galatians 4:1, 2“… The heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ from a servant, though he is lord of all, but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.” There is a time for royal sons and daughters to learn from those who are more mature than themselves. Obedience and submission to parents and others in authority over them is a condition to coming into the fullness of their inheritance privileges.

In addition to obedience and submission, children must begin learning to discipline their tongues and actions to be loving and gracious, according to God’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. James 2:8 calls this commandment “the royal law.”

Next time, we’ll talk about some of the privileges which go with being part of God’s royal household.

Previous — Part 1 
Next — Part 3

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

 

Bringing Up Royal Sons and Daughters

Imagine with me for a moment that you have gone back several centuries in time, and that you are a noble in a king’s court. Your particular responsibility is to oversee the king’s children, so that when they are grown, they will know how to live their royal life in a way which brings honor to their family line and their kingdom.

Of course, you would see to it that the children were educated in all the knowledge available for that time period. For the young princes, you might instruct them in how to skillfully handle the weapons of war. You would make sure the princes and princesses were strong and physically fit, by getting exercise and healthy food. And you would teach them the fine points of elegant etiquette, protocol, and all the things which would go into carrying themselves with royal dignity.

It’s not that much different from what we should do with our modern-day sons and daughters, for indeed, they are royalty. Besides being ours, they are the children of the King of the universe. They need to be well taught in how the King’s sons and daughters should behave — to be conscious of who they are and walk out their position with great grace.

How can we help our children become conscious of their place in the royal family, and how can we prepare them for the responsibilities ahead? There is a lot to it, but let’s hit some of the highlights.

We start by building a consciousness of their royal heritage in them. We can do this by reading and explaining to them Bible passages which talk about being our heavenly Father’s sons and daughters.

Romans 8:15-17 is a good place to start. It tells us that, through Jesus, we are now God the Father’s adopted children. As such, we are full heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. We can explain to them that adopted children are not second-class family members. They are loved just as much as biological children, and they enjoy equal privileges. It is the same in God’s kingdom. Amazing, isn’t it?

In 1 John 3:1-3, the apostle John declared that we are different from the world around us, because we are the sons of God. He explains that because we are already sons, and will come into yet greater things when Jesus appears, we should prepare now for our future glory by purifying ourselves. He goes on, in 1 John 3:9, 10, to say that a supernatural change has taken place inside of us, so that it is as if we carry God’s royal DNA. Therefore, the children of God behave much differently from those who are not His own. They are “led by the Spirit,” according to Romans 8:14.

Study and discuss these passages with your children.

Build in them the concept of being servant royalty, not tyrants. There’s nothing worse to deal with than people who are spoiled and self-centered. They seem to think that the world revolves around their personal comforts, never stopping to think about the happiness of others. They trample people in the pursuit of getting what they want. We have certainly seen some kings / royal families on the earth who were like this. How unfortunate for the rest of mankind!

Servant royalty, on the other hand, are committed to using their position to better the lives of their fellow men. They are aware of their responsibility to lift up the weak and needy, rather than oppressing them.

Jesus is the best example of how to behave as a servant king. Use Matthew 20:25-28, John 13:1-7, and Philippians 2:3-15 as your textbook in teaching your children how to become servant royalty. In our home, we memorized that Philippians passage. (If you would like a ready-made Bible study which goes into greater detail, my book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1  has two units,  Deference and Servanthood, which delve deeper into this topic.)

In our next post, we’ll look at more ways to instruct our children in the royal lifestyle.

Next — Part 2 

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families

Citizens of Two Kingdoms (Part 3)

Christian flag, by Pastor Cjay, via PhotobucketLet’s review the main points of this series thus far:

1.) We are citizens of two kingdoms — our country and the kingdom of heaven.

2.) When the two kingdoms conflict, our allegiance to Christ’s kingdom comes first.

3.) We teach our children that conflict will come, but that Jesus will help them be overcomers in the midst of it.

4.) God expects us to take our place as patriotic citizens of our nation. In doing so, we are His ambassadors, for Christ’s glory.

5.) As patriots, we do our part to uphold and preserve the freedoms which are ours under our Constitution. We do this not only for ourselves, but so that all people can live with dignity and fulfill their God-given purpose.

6.) We should be gracious in our speech toward our governmental leaders, even if they are not doing their jobs well.

Colossians 4:5, 6 says, Walk in wisdom toward those who are without [outside the family of God], redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” One of the best ways to live as good citizens of both the heavenly and earthly kingdoms is to redeem our time well through investing it in prayer for our nation, its people, and its leaders.

Our natural tendency is to spend our time griping about the state of the nation and the failings of its leaders. However, complaining accomplishes little, and it even displeases the Lord. On the other hand, prayer according to God’s will releases change into people and circumstances. If we will ask Him to, the Holy Spirit will show us how to rightly pray. Our prayers will be saturated with His grace and love, especially as we persevere in them.

A spiritual consequence of prayer is that we grow in love for the people we pray for. So, as we set ourselves to intercede for our leaders, our hearts will soften toward them, and our speech about them will take on a much more gracious tone.

Take time often to pray together as a family for our nation. Your combined prayers will produce results, and doing it together is also the most effective way to teach your children how to go about it.

Here are a few key Scriptures to use as prayer springboards:

1 Timothy 2:1-4 — I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and for all who are in authority, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires for all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Chronicles 7:14 — If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Proverbs 14:34 — Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

And here are some topics to get you started:

  1. Pray for revival and a third Great Awakening to  come to our nation.
  2. Pray for people’s hearts to be softened so that they will desire Jesus as their Lord.
  3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring fresh love for Jesus into the Church.
  4. Ask God’s forgiveness for personal sins and for the sins of the nation.
  5. Ask for the salvation of government leaders. Pray for them to be enlightened in the ways of the Lord.
  6. Ask for wisdom for government leaders, so that they will make right decisions for the nation.
  7. Pray for the exposure of evil in government and that righteous justice would be enacted.
  8. Pray that God would raise up righteous leaders to replace corrupt ones (without naming names).
  9. Pray that God’s mercy would rest upon the nation.
  10. Pray protection from harm for the nation, and that innocent people would be kept safe. (Use Abraham’s prayer for Sodom, in Genesis 18:17-33, as a model.)

This concludes the Citizens of Two Kingdoms series.

If you need additional help in instructing your children in how to live as Christian patriots, my book, Character Building for Families, Volume 1, provides five outlined lessons on this subject in the Loyalty unit.

Previous — Part 2

Character Building for Families

 

Character Building for Families