Come To Jesus

Bible Reading:
Matthew 4:12-25

Key Verse:
Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Weaving Faith into Families

Reread Matthre 4:23-25. How do you help your kids draw closer to Jesus? Where would you like to become even more effective in doing that? Thank God for the ways he already uses you to reveal Jesus to your kids, and ask him to open your eyes to even more opportunities to reveal his love, wisdom and grace to them. Write your prayers down and be sure to pray faithfully for them this week.

Insight For Parents:

Set aside time this week to share your “Jesus story” with your kids. Then listen as your kids share their stories — or their need to begin their own Jesus stories. Afterward, talk about how each of you can share your Jesus stories with your friends, and ask Jesus to give each of you the opportunity to do so.

Faith Talk Starter:
Remind your kids about a time they came to you for help. For example, maybe your child couldn’t figure out a math problem. Or perhaps your child was struggling with a bully at school and asked you to talk to the teacher or the other child’s parent. Then talk with you kids about the fact that Jesus wants us to come to him when we need help. Encourage your kids to talk about what it looks like to come to Jesus and how Jesus might respons in specific situations. Then as a family, come to Jesus in prayer.

Prayer Starter:
Pray that each of your children will extend the invitation for others to come to him, too.

Jesus Is Baptized

Bible Reading:
Matthew 3:13-17

Key Verse:
John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Weaving Faith into Families

During his life on earth, Jesus revealed God to everyone he met. After Jesus ascended into heaven, his disciples followed his example and led others to believe in God and in Jesus’ sacrifice. We should be thankful every day for the Son of God — who introduced us to God and revealed the beauty of a life lived for him — and we should follow his example to lead others to the same belief.

Ask God right now! What can you do today to reveal Jesus to your kids and them believe more deeply.

Insight For Parents:

Come up with an analogy to describe how truly incredible it is that Jesus, God’s Son, wants to have a relationship with each of your kids. End your time by blessing your kids. You could say something like “You are God’ child and my child. God and I love you and are pleased with you”

Faith Talk Starter:
Ask your kids to tell you in their own words who Jesus is. If your kids have trouble coming up with an answer, encourage them to share what they know about Jesus. For example, kids might say “Jesus loves me” or “Jesus died on the cross and rose again” or “Jesus performed miracles.” Then explain to your children that Jesus is God, who came to earth in human form. Share with your kids how God sent his only Son to earth to die for our sins so that we can have relationship with him.

Prayer Starter:
Pray that through this week — and beyond — you’ll be able to identify with your kids’ struggles, forgive their disobedience, and bless them as beloved children. Pray that your kids will be able to extend that empathy, forgiveness, and love to everyone they know, too.

God Guides Joseph and His Family To Safety

Bible Reading:
Matthew 2:13-23

Key Verse:
Nahum 1:7
The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.

As you read Matthre 2:13-23, think of a time you helped your child through a tough situation, and think about the difference it made in your child’s life and in your relationship with your child.

It’s the same with God. We’re afraid to trust God; eventually (hopefully!) we do it; then God gives us an absolutely different and beautiful view of life as we learn to trust him. It’s something we should pass on to our children. Ask God to build your trust in him and use you to build your kids’ trust in him, too. Write your prayers for your kids down somewhere now.

Insight For Parents:
Play a “wacky walk” game of Follow the Leader (instructions at end) with your kids, with everyone taking a turn as Leader. Then ask your kids what kind of wacky walk they’re on with God right now. Explain to your kids that while we may not always understand God’s leading at first, he’ll always lead us in the right direction at the right time if we’re willing to follow him.

Wacky Walk Instructions: Lean over and grab your legs. Close your eyes and think about specific examples of how and why God has guided you. (Parents: Think about your kids and what they’re going through. How would you like to guide them toward God?) With all of this in mind, the first leader will lead your family on a “wacky walk” to demonstrate how you would like to guide your kids to God’s guidance for their lives. For example, you can walk over to the sink and help each person get a drink of “living water” or you can guide them on a “straight and narrow walk.” Take turns leading.

Faith Talk Starter:
Talk with your kids about a time you avoided some sort of disaster or hurtful event because you had a gut feeling and changed your plans. For example, maybe you moved up a doctor’s appointment, and the doctor found something unexpected and was able to treat you before there were serious consequences. Or maybe you chose to take a different route to work and later found out someone had an accident on your usual route about the time you would have been in that same place. Dicsuss as a family how God can guide us using simple things such as a feeling, intuition, or dreams or through more concrete things such as the Bible or other people’s advice. Then encourage your kids to talk about ways they will seek God’s guidance in their own lives this week.

Prayer Starter:
Pray that your kids will follow God in the situations they face this week, and pray that you will follow God, too, as you help guide them through those situations. Write down specific prayers for your kids.

Getting Inside Your Christian Teen’s Head

Your baby is now a teenager, going through all of the teenage rites of passage. Between school, friends, God, and a social life, their lives seem to be a foreign country to you. The little boy or girl that once told you everything now has to be hounded to give you even a snippet of thought. Yet there are three things you should know about what is going on in your Christian teen’s head that will make your relationship a little better…

Your Teen Can His or Her Make Decisions

Many parents have a hard time letting their children grow up. Parents still think they need to make all the decisions and they worry incessantly that their children will make mistakes. However, mistakes are part of everyone’s lives. We have all made them from time to time.

It’s important for you to know that your teenager doesn’t want to make mistakes, but he or she does want to make decisions. It’s important that you tell your teen what you think, but also to know where to set limits. If it is not a life-altering decision, then you may just say that you think something will be a mistake and why. If it is life-altering, then maybe you do need to take the wheel. Just make sure your teen understand the reasoning behind your decisions. As a teenager, he or she is old enough to understand the complexity of decisions and “Because I said so” is no longer an acceptable answer.

It is important that you discuss certain things with your teenager. Yet it is also important to give him or her some control over choices. Your teen will thank you.

Your Teenager Wants Privacy

Privacy is a huge deal to teens. If there is one thing that teens say annoys them about their parents it is the invasion of privacy. Your teenager has his or her own relationships, lifestyle, and thoughts. Sometimes they prefer to be alone with those thoughts. Sometimes they prefer to be alone with those friends. Sometimes they like to be on their own at church.

There is a point when you need to let your teenager have his or her own life. Your teen just doesn’t want to go everywhere with you anymore. It is a harsh reality for many parents. Yet, it is okay to ask about where your teen is going and who is going with him or her. That is setting limits and boundaries.

Privacy is also difficult today with the dangers of the Internet. Banning the Internet from your home is not necessarily the best solution. Instead, your teen needs to surrender passwords and usernames so you can supervise. While your teen may desire privacy, it is important that he or she understand dangers and safety precautions in such a social setting. If your teen desires private talks with friends or to maintain a journal, suggest something that predators cannot access easily like the phone or a written journal.

Your Teenager Doesn’t Hate You

Okay, your teen sulks and sometimes acts like he or she doesn’t care about you or your feelings. Unfortunately that is the way that teens exert independence. Despite the Commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother,” (Deut. 5:16) many teens seem to do no such thing. Does that mean your child hates you? Not at all. Your teen is stuck in a limbo between childhood and adulthood, so you’re not always going to know which “mode” he or she is in at any time. It causes friction and problems, but it does not stop your teen from loving you.

Your teen will talk a lot about respect, which is earned, not offered. It is important as a parent to set limits, but it is also important to offer freedoms as your child grows. Your teen probably wishes you could understand his or her needs better, and having some insight into what’s going on in teenager’s heads is important. Yet it does not mean that you stop being a parent, so let your child know a little about what’s going on in your head, too.

Source: 

By , About.com Guide

Jesus is Born

Bible Reading:
Luke 2:1-20; Hebrews 1:1-4

Key Verse:
John 14:6 – Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

Enjoy your holiday traditions and festivities this week. As you celebrate, hold fast to the tremendous importance of Jesus’ birth.

No matter what you think of Christmas, when you make Jesus the focus, it becomes the best holiday ever. Is Christmas a happy time for you family? Jesus’ presence will increase your joy. Is Christmas a sad time for your family? Jesus can fill the void you feel at this time of year. Whatever you do during this season, work hard to make Christ the real focus of your family’s Christmas. Jot down some ideas for keeping Jesus first, and then ask Jesus to help you put those ideas into motion. Write down your ideas and prayers.

Insight For Parents:
Have your kids create before-and-after pictures on paper figures that look like a person. On the front, then ca use pictures or write words to show what life is like without Jesus. On the back have them show waht life is like with Jesus. You can use your own figure to get the conversation started and help you child think it through.

Faith Talk Starter:
Talk with you kids about a time someone forgave you even though you didn’t deserve it. Explain to your kids how you reacted to being forgiven and how that impacted your relationship with that person. Then talk with you kids about the forgiveness God offers each of us through Jesus even though we’ve done nothing to deserver it. Discuss ways your family can begin to share with people God has placed in your life the exciting news of Jesus’ birth and the salvation he brings.

Prayer Starter:
Pray that Christmas sees the start of something new for your family. Ask God to reveal more of who he is to each of your children during this season. Write down specific prayers for your kids.

Nine Tips For Christian Parents

We live in a world increasingly opposed to the laws of its Creator. Christians are looking more and more ‘peculiar’. We have to teach our children to be very different. But they don’t like to be ‘different’, especially adolescents.

So how can we as parents prepare our children to face this world? To resist peer group pressure? To live morally? To keep believing the Bible when so much of what they are taught contradicts it? We see offspring from other Christian families made shipwreck. How can we do any better? We see those who have ‘made it’! What is their secret?

Our Creator has provided us with a book of instruction. But where do we find something for struggling parents? Clear guidelines are given in the Old Testament in such places as Genesis 18:19; Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 21:18–21; 1 Samuel 2:22–25, 3:11–14, Proverbs, and in the New Testament in Colossians 3:21 and Ephesians 6:4. We must keep trying to put these into practice.

Careful examination of Genesis chapters 6–9, where the account of Noah and his family is recorded, reveals some helpful principles for parents as well. (For ease of reading, Noah refers to Noah and his wife (Genesis 2:24))

Tips for traumatized parents

1. Spend time teaching your children about God from His Word.

Noah would have had very little in the way of written records—at most the information contained in Genesis chapters 1–5. But God did communicate directly with him, regarding His intention to ‘blot out man’ (6:7) and the rest of creation. Noah also received very specific instructions for building the vessel which was to save him, his family, and the animals from the Flood.

No doubt he made his three sons very familiar with this information. They were more than likely familiar with clay tablets on which were inscribed details of creation, the Fall, and God’s dealings with their forebears. (The most likely way this information was preserved for the post-diluvian world.)

We have 66 books filled with God’s revelation to us. We have 24 hours in each day just like Noah. We must set aside time each day to teach our children.

2. Demonstrate the total trustworthiness of the Creator.

Shem, Ham and Japheth grew up watching their father build an enormous boat to save them from a flood, which God said was going to happen (6:17). Noah based his life totally on God’s instructions—contrary though they appeared to all those around him. He showed his children by his actions how much he trusted his Creator (Hebrews 11:7).

How much trust do we actually demonstrate to our children? Do we grumble and complain about the economic recession, panic about the possibility of retrenchment, or fret about the moral decline as though these things are beyond the control of our Creator? Our attitudes and actions must match what we teach our children.

3. Tell them the truth about God’s view of this world.

No doubt Noah would have reminded his boys that the world in which they were growing up was ‘corrupt in the sight of God’, and that the violence they viewed was part of that corruption (6:11–12), and not to be emulated as a model of masculinity. He would doubtless have had to forbid them from participating in some things, warning them of God’s certain judgment on corruption, and recognizing that they too had inherited corrupt human nature.

We must help our children examine everything in the light of God’s standards, and encourage them to stand apart where necessary. It may involve forbidding some popular music, books, games, videos, and certain friendships. We owe it to them to protect them from corruption.

We live in such a sin-sick world. We will need to have special courage to insist that our adolescent children conduct their relationships with the opposite sex very differently from most others. None of this is very easy for us, or them, for we have all inherited evil human nature from Adam and Eve.

The world will tell us that we will destroy their self-esteem by such restrictions. But the world lies, because the world is corrupt. Of course our children need encouragement, but we must encourage them to use the gifts God has given them to glorify Him.

4. Help them to test what they are taught by the Word of God.

The friends of Shem and his brothers apparently did not believe that their world was about to be swept away by a flood. Their parents had not taught them this (Matthew 25:38–39). If Noah’s children, like ours, were in the habit of saying ‘but everyone else …’, ‘but no one else …’, then they were speaking a lot more accurately than our children. They had to reject so much of what their friends thought, on the basis of what God had said to their own father.

Yet we are often reluctant to oppose what our children are taught in case we upset them or make it too hard for them at school. We must tell them that the Bible makes it clear that the world was created (Genesis 1), not evolved; that it began ‘cold’, not ‘hot’ (2 Peter 3:5), that it is thousands (Genesis 1–5), not billions, of years old; that processes have not always been the same, because there was once a cataclysmic catastrophe (2 Peter 3:4–6); that it will end by ‘fire’, not by cooling (2 Peter 3:7); that most fossils were laid down in the Flood, not formed over millions of years; that early men were not semi-apes, but intelligent people (Genesis 4)—to mention a few modern ideas that do not stand the scriptural test.

We must equip ourselves for this task—plenty of good literature is available.

5. Remind them of the temporary nature of this world.

Every day Noah demonstrated his belief that the world in which he was raising his children was temporary (6:36–39). He was doing the very physical job of building a wooden boat, his sons knew it was to rescue them when the world was swept away. They would have heard their father warn others of this truth (2 Peter 2:5).

As parents, we need to continually reassess our children’s programs in the light of eternity. Family devotions, attendance at Bible studies, fellowship groups, etc., must be included even if it means reduced proficiency at the piano.

6. We must prepare them to take ridicule or persecution.

For the first 100 years or so of his children’s lives, Noah was building an Ark in a world that had never seen such a flood. This must have brought a lot of ridicule to him and his family. There was no way he could protect them from this without abandoning his project. You can’t hide such a huge vessel under a bushel.

We must encourage our children to take ridicule from their friends. Their Creator can strengthen them to do so, otherwise they will be driven to compromise to avoid it. We must emphasize that ‘those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness’ will be ‘blessed’ because ‘theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:10).

7. We must teach them not to be discouraged by tiny numbers.

Of all the millions on earth in Noah’s day, only eight entered the Ark, in spite of Noah’s preaching (2 Peter 2:5). How could they believe they were right when they were such a minority? Well, circumstances proved they were right!

We must point this out to our children. They must not be discouraged if they find themselves thinking differently to most of their peers. They must be taught from Scripture that the majority is often wrong. We must remind them of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:14, ‘Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.’

We must help them retain strong ties with family and fellow believers (especially in marriage).

How did Noah and his family manage to withstand the enormous pressure of being alienated from most of their contemporaries? They surely must have supported one another in very close family relationships.

These days we need to work to keep family solidarity. We cannot maintain it if everyone is going ‘every which way’ all the time. Keeping the ‘sabbath day holy’ will give us opportunities for family communication and contact with fellow Christians. These things are essential for spiritual survival. Other things may have to be sacrificed. We must teach our children from the beginning that they may only marry Christian partners (2 Corinthians 6:14). Failure to do this was one of the causes of the terrible moral decay in Noah’s time (6:1–2).

8. Keep looking with them for God’s tender mercies.

Noah had one of the hardest jobs in creation, but there were plenty of signs of God’s mercy in the midst of it all. Each person on board had his marriage partner for comfort, and there were no children to suffer the traumas of the voyage. There was plenty of work to keep them all occupied before, during, and after the Flood.

We must guard our hearts, and our tongues, so our children hear more words of praise from our lips than words of complaint. This is very difficult for corrupt human nature, but we must work on it and teach them by example to notice, appreciate, and give thanks for God’s mercies.

How did Noah do it? How did he prepare his sons to face the world? The key to the whole issue was that he taught them that the world they lived in was only temporary, doomed for destruction because of sin. He had to prepare them to oppose and forsake the doomed world.

So his focus was on the new world after the Flood. That is the world for which he spent his energies preparing them. But that’s Noah—he was more godly than most people, surely?

Not according to Genesis chapter 9. Sadly, he ‘became drunk’ (9:21) from the fermented products of the vineyard he planted in that new world. He had clay feet like us! And did all his children ‘make’ it’? Sadly not! Ham showed his true colours when his father got drunk. His rebellious heart was revealed and reflected too in Noah’s grandson Canaan.

How about about the new world they entered? It was still a fallen world. But the world towards which we are heading and for which we must train our children is ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, where ‘God Himself shall be among them’, and where ‘He shall wipe away every tear’. This world will be inherited by those ‘who overcome’ (Revelation 21:1–7).

Source: Gillian Marie Middleton

Tips for Christian Dating

There is all kinds of advice out there about dating today, but a lot of it is about dating in the world rather than Christian dating. Christians need to have a different attitude toward dating. However, even among Christians there are differences as to whether you should or should not date. The choice is up to your and your parents, but Christian teens should still know God’s perspective on dating.

Non-Christians have a different perspective on dating. You see the magazines, TV shows, and movies that tell you how you’re young, and you should date a lot of people before you get married. You see certain “role models” jumping from one dating relationship to another.

Yet God has more in store for you than just jumping from one relationship to another. He is clear on whom you should date and why you should date. When it comes to Christian dating, you live according to a different standard – God’s. Yet it’s not just about following the rules. There are some solid reasons why God asks us to live a certain way, and dating is no different.

Why Should Christian Teens Date (Or Not Date)?

While most people have differing opinions about dating, it is one area of the Bible where there is not a lot of information. However, Christian teens can get some idea of God’s expectations from certain scripture verses:

Genesis 2:24 (King James Version)

24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Proverbs 4:23 (King James Version)

23Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (King James Version)

4Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

These three scriptures give insight into the Christian dating life. We need to realize that God means for us to meet the ONE person that we are meant to marry. According to Genesis, a man will leave home to marry one women to become one flesh. You do not need to date a lot of people – just the right one.

Also, Christian teens need to guard their hearts. The word “love” is thrown around with little thought. Yet, we often live for love. We live for God’s love first and foremost, but we also live for the love of others. While there are many definitions of love, 1Corinthians tells us how God defines love.

It is love that should drive Christian teens to date, but it should not be the shallow version of love. When you date it should be taken seriously. You should know the person you are dating and know their beliefs.

You should check your potential boyfriend against the values listed in 1 Corinthians. Ask yourself if the two of you are patient and kind to one another. Are you envious of one another? Do you boast about one another or to each other? Go through the characteristics to measure your relationship.

Only Date Believers

God is pretty picky on this one, and the Bible makes this issue very clear.

Deuteronomy 7:3 (King James Version)

3Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (King James Version)

14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

The Bible seriously warns us about dating non-Christians. While you may not be looking at marrying anyone at the moment, it should always be in the back of your head. Why get involved emotionally with someone that you should not marry? This does not mean you cannot be friends with that person, but you should not date them.

This also means that you should avoid “missionary dating,” which is dating a non-believer in the hopes that you can convert him or her. Your intentions may be noble, but the relationships rarely work out. Some Christians have even gotten married to non-believers, hoping that they can convert their spouse, but often the relationships end up in disaster.

So make sure you are only dating those who share your beliefs. Otherwise you may find that your relationship is a struggle rather than a joy.

Be careful of recreational dating, where you date for the sake of dating. God calls us to love one another, but the scripture is clear that He asks us to be careful. While love is a beautiful thing, the breaking off of relationships is hard. There is a reason they call it a “broken heart.” God understands the power in love and the damage a broken heart can do. This is why it is important for Christian teens to really pray, know their hearts, and listen to God when they decide to date.

Source:  By Kelli Mahoney, About.com Guide

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