Our world is groaning with the sufferings of war. Entire nations are collapsing under corrupt leadership; millions of children starve while we gorge ourselves, gluttonous. Oppression – a word to describe the weight under which some women still live. Natural disasters ravish entire communities and many will never recover.
The list goes on.
If you were born in a first world country with paid work, unlimited food at your fingertips and emergency services just a phone call away, you might find it easy to look past the rest of the world’s problems. Yours is shiny and safe.
People facing economic hardship, fewer opportunities and less freedom are equally loved your Heavenly Father. Remember the less fortunate. Ask Jesus to show up in their lives.
As you continue to fast, pray for peace in the world where it’s absent. Lift up the nations both near and far. Pray for their leaders. And thank God for your many blessings.
“God holds the high centre, he sees and sets the world’s mess right. He decides what is right for us earthlings, gives people their just deserts God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked” (Psalm 9:7-10 MSG).
Have you ever been annoyed with little children? Maybe they’re your own, throwing a tantrum in the shops over a lollypop while you’re trying to buy groceries? Or perhaps someone else’s little darling is making noise in church and you just need her to shush so you can concentrate? The chaos of youngsters can be a bit much. Kids definitely bring energy and volume to a room!
Children also carry a faith unlike your own.
The world hasn’t jaded them. Their tender souls cry out for God’s blessing and presence. Children see the world with wide eyes and wonder. They believe in the miraculous and move in the moment, embracing everything around them without fear or hatred. Kids dream big and hug you hard. They laugh loudly and cry easily.
What reckless abandon!
Jesus loves children:
“The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them” (Mark 10:13-16).
Parents, you must lead your kids to Christ, for he wants to bless them. Pray for your precious ones today and model a life of surrender so they will chase after God, fully submitted to his lordship too.
If you’re not a parent, don’t get in the way of children having an encounter with Jesus. Look them in the eyes, say something kind, and believe God’s best for them, shining the light of Christ. Lift the young ones in your world up to him in prayer today.
And, pray for yourself… that you can grab hold of a child-like faith, one that embraces its simplicity and allows Jesus to lay hold of you and pour out a blessing.
“What marvellous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are” (1 John 3:1a MSG).
Read 1 Timothy 4
As parents, we know we have a responsibility to teach and train our kids in certain areas. We train them to eat with cutlery and use a toilet when they are little. We teach them how to obey and respect adults. We make them go to school for their education and often put them in extra-curricular activities like sport and music to develop other skills in their lives.
As Christian parents, we must not forget to invest in and train our kids spiritually. In order to do this effectively, our kids must see us training ourselves. That’s why daily time in the word, prayer, and even disciplines like fasting as a family are invaluable. The Apostle Paul is reminding his young follower, Timothy, that exercise is valuable, but a disciplined life in God makes us fit for today and forever.
Whether we have children under our roof or we are just influencing those around us, it’s our life that speaks volumes – through our words, actions, love, faith and integrity. We must cultivate and immerse ourselves in these matters, placing higher value on them than physical exercise or secular education.
Practically, you can ask your kids to read a scripture with you and discuss it. When you correct and discipline, bring it back to a Godly principle and pray for forgiveness, asking God for help going forward. Have daily times when you thank God for your many blessings and train your kids to have a grateful spirit. Pray with them before school and before big moments in their lives, teaching them to lean on God in every situation.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for reminding me of the importance ongoing spiritual education is in my life and the lives of the young ones in my care. Help me to make it a high priority each day. I pray that the fruit of my investment would be plentiful. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Read Colossians 3:18-25 (MSG)
You’ve probably heard the mantra, “God First, Family Second, Job Third.” Although I don’t believe life can be so simple as to compartmentalise our relationships in a linear fashion, I understand this thought speaks to priorities. In any given moment, I’m loving God, my husband, my kids and my work all at the same time! However, the out working of my first love and affection being Christ means my other obligations fall into alignment. I love my husband better. Then, when we are healthy and walking in unity, our kids benefit. As our family prospers, we can invest in other areas with joy and ease.
When our jobs become more important than our kids, people suffer. When our personal expectations and image trump our kid’s feelings and struggles, we risk crushing their spirits. As employees, husband and wives, we must serve and work as though we are serving the Lord. This removes any chance of offence or bitterness when our own expectations aren’t met.
As we continue to focus on our families through prayer and fasting this week, let us commit to doing everything in our power to serve and bless those whom we influence. Keeping our priorities and investment of time, energy, kind words, and service in the right order, we not only bring honour and glory to God, but our families prosper as well.
Heavenly Father, only YOU know what the dynamics of my work and family life are like. Give me strength to do what you have called me to do to love and honour those in my life. On good days when it’s easy, I rejoice! On bad days, when life is hard and I don’t receive the respect and love I so desire, help me to focus on YOU first and honour you anyway. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Read Psalm 127:3-5 & Mark 10:13-16
Children are God’s greatest gifts. Unfortunately, too many little ones are exposed to adult problems and difficult home situations. They face bullying at school, an over-abundance of social media and other electronic influences which can warp their self-images and contradict what the Bible says about them. Families are busier than ever and our kids often struggle to have the Godly affection and attention they deserve.
If you have kids in your life – whether they are your own, your grandchildren, those you serve in kids’ church, or just neighbours or friends, let me insure you: they NEED Godly encouragement and wisdom. Jesus took the children into his arms and blessed them; we can and should do the same. Never tire in telling kids God has a plan for their lives. They are unique and special. God gave them each amazing gifts and talents; find out what they are. Tell them to pursue their dreams. Show them love in every circumstance, even when they fail. Teach them to stand tall and confident.
Pray for Godly friends to come into their lives – people who bring out the best in them. Listen to them when they need to talk. Hug often. Tell them they are smart and capable.
Dear God, thank you for placing children in my life whom I can influence. Help me to be led by your spirit to speak the right words at the right times to lift them up and call out their Godly destinies. Show me how I can be used to influence the next generation so they grow up to know their identity in YOU. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Read 1 John 4:7-21
**Today begins our third and final week of corporate fasting and we will concentrate our prayers over the next seven days on our families.
As we lean into God’s voice for direction and wisdom moving forward in 2015, let us place the highest value and commitment on loving our families. John reminds us that by loving each other, we actually reveal God’s character to the world. Since God SO LOVED US, we ought to love one another.
Oh, I know… we all love our kids and our spouses. But, true love is laying our lives down for one another as Christ laid his down for us. Can we love a little more intentionally this week those God has placed in our families? Can we serve our spouses a little more with less strings attached? Can we bless our children with joy despite fatigue or irritation? Let’s put aside negative history with our extended families or parents and reach out.
We are only able to love others because Christ first loved us.
No matter what personal goals we have regarding our careers, health, or finances in this new year, can we commit to loving our spouses, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers? Let’s pray for those we care for most and call out their gifts and uniqueness through kind words and prophecy.
Dear Lord, I want to thank you for my family. For the ones I chose and the ones I didn’t! I commit to obeying your command to love the people in my life just as you love me. I will do my part to serve and bless my family so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.