Day 7: Is Teaching My Kids about Jesus Really Worth It?

Read: 2 Timothy 1:52 Timothy 3:15

Let’s be honest, teaching our kids about Jesus may feel more awkward or scary than it feels natural. Questions like, “What if they ask me something I don’t know the answer to?” or “Who am I to teach them about Jesus?” can creep in and create fear in our hearts. But God wants us to know that we have more influence in shaping the hearts of our children than we realize, and it’s worth it!

In Acts 16:1, we first hear about a mom named Eunice and a son named Timothy. Despite her circumstances, Eunice taught Timothy about God and His Word. 2 Timothy 3:15 tells us that Timothy knew the scripture from infancy, which means that Eunice shared what she knew of the Old Testament with him as he grew from a baby to a young man.

Our job is not to save our children, but to share with them the truth about Jesus, the only One who can save.

As she raised her little boy, Eunice had no idea that Timothy would become an evangelist with the Apostle Paul, or if he would even share the beliefs she held dear. She knew that God was good, and she shared her love for Him because she knew that God loved her son and had a special plan for him.

Like Eunice, we don’t need to have a perfect past in order to tell our kids about Jesus. All we need is a heart that loves Him, loves His Word, and loves our kids. Our job is not to save our children, but to share with them the truth about Jesus, the only One who can save. God loves our kids even more than we do, and He has a special plan for them. The way we share and teach our kids about Jesus will help shape their hearts for all that God has in store for them.

Mamas, it’s worth it. It’s worth figuring out how we can spend intentional time with Jesus to develop our relationship with Him. It’s worth pausing in the moment to pray with your child or turning up the worship music in the car to sing praises as you drive. Teaching our kids about Jesus doesn’t have to be formal or scary, but instead, daily conversations and teachable moments as life happens. Eunice is proof that being intentional about teaching our kids about Jesus at home makes a difference!

Reflect:

  • How is your relationship with Jesus? Is there time in your schedule where you can carve out ten minutes a day to spend intentional time with Him?
  • What is one thing you can do this week to be intentional about teaching your kids about Jesus? (Examples could be: talking about what they learned in Kids Ministry, singing and dancing to kids’ worship and praise music, memorizing a verse together, praying together, etc.)

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 3: This kind of love cannot be overlooked

When you think of “standing out,” what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the Insta-famous person with thousands of followers. Maybe it’s the colleague who hits every goal or the girl every guy seems to like. How about the star athlete who plays each game while your kid sits on the bench? There’s also the gigantic house that towers over its neighbors, or the teenager whose bright pink hair and wild fashion that make people look twice.

To most of us, standing out means having to be bigger or bolder. But Jesus describes a different way to get others attention — through the way we love one another.

We don’t have to push the boundaries with what we wear or climb the corporate ladder to stand out. As Jesus followers, we are called to love like Jesus loves us (John 13:35). That kind of love can’t be hidden. Like a light breaking into a dark room, Jesus’ love shining through us breaks through the mundane of our day to day (Matthew 5:14-16).

Anyone can profess love verbally. But the selfless, unconditional love Jesus demonstrates is more than just words (James 2:17). Jesus proved His love for us through action. He left heaven and came to Earth to live among us. He traveled from town to town healing and helping those who were hurting. And, in His greatest act of love, Jesus gave His life so we could experience forever with Him.

These days, love that proves itself through action is scarce. Many people don’t even know such a love exists, nor do they recognize their need for it. That is why Jesus put so much emphasis on freely and consistently loving those around us.

Real love is more than surface level. It is not fickle, and it does not demand anything in return. When we’ve been loved well, we know it. It causes us to do a double take, to feel deeply, and to tell others about it. A tangible love that reflects Jesus’ heart shines too brightly for people to ignore.

Reflect:

  • Do your actions match what you say about love? Why or why not?
  • What’s one way you can love someone intentionally and actively today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 5: Who’s really out to get you?

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Does it ever feel like the whole world is out to get you? 

While that feeling is real, it’s probably not true. Not everyone is out to get us. It’s more likely that one person is out to get us, and his name is Satan.

Satan is our real enemy, and he will exploit any hostility he finds to shift our focus away from God. If we get in a dispute with a neighbor, his is the voice telling us that everyone knows and they’re all on the neighbor’s side. Soon, we’re convinced the whole neighborhood is against us.

Bitterness builds resentment and makes it harder and harder to hear from God. This is why forgiveness is such a powerful weapon against our enemy. Where the enemy tells us to watch our backs and defend ourselves, God says, “That’s my job. You get to forgive. Leave everything else to me.”

Imagine that for a second. No more looking over our shoulders or plotting how we’ll get back at everyone. Instead of waking up exhausted, we can finally rest our mind and enjoy the day.

Bitterness never hurts the person we’re mad at. In fact, the person most affected by our bitterness is probably us. Allow forgiveness to set you free.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: What is love?

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Spending time with family.
Sleeping in late.
Reading a good book.
A pint of cookie dough ice cream.

We could all make lists of people and things we love. It’s a word most people frequently use, but do we really mean it when we say it? Certainly, a person doesn’t mean the same thing when she says, “I love my husband,” as when she says,“I love college football.”

So, what is love? What does it do? Why does it matter?

1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God doesn’t just show us love. God is love. Without Him, there is no love. With Him, it is impossible to not have it.

God’s love in us changes us. Love is the difference between caring for someone and using someone. Love makes our actions and spiritual gifts useful. Great faith, acts of service, and miracle-working power produce very little without love. Love involves unselfish service to others.

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…[and] love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

As Christians, our love for others is a reflection of who God is. We are called to love God and love others. When we do this, our loving behaviors and attitudes point back to God and who He is.

Reflect:

  • What’s one way God’s love has changed you?
  • How is His love moving you to show love to others?
  • What is one way your love for others can point them back to Jesus?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 2: Where you get the ability to love

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

What if I get hurt?

What if they take advantage of me?

I’ve tried helping before, and it didn’t do any good.

For all of the reasons we avoid letting people into our lives or getting involved in theirs, John gives us one good reason we should. It’s what God did for each of us.

When we were uninterested in God, He pursued us. God sent His only Son into the world so our sin could be removed and our relationship could be restored (1 John 4:10-12).

When we realize the depth of God’s love, it changes us. We want to spend time with Him, to know Him. We find joy in bringing Him joy. And after a while, we become so familiar with His character that we know what He would say or have us do. Like a couple that’s been together for decades, we begin to move in sync with one another (1 John 4:13-15).

That’s why the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us. God is love. When we are living in step with God, love is what comes out of us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals Himself to others through us, and His love is made complete.

God knows better than anyone that love can be costly. We might get hurt, and people might take advantage of us. But the way to quiet those fears is not by retreating. We get past the fear of putting ourselves out there by remembering God’s love and choosing to treat others the way He treated us.

Reflect:

  • Who were you when you asked Jesus into your life? How has your life changed since then?
  • How would you describe the way God has loved you?
  • When it comes to loving others that way, are you retreating in fear or reaching out in faith?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 5: Do you love me enough to tell me the truth?

We all know what it’s like to have a difficult conversation with someone you love. You know, the one that you put off having because it’s awkward.

We wonder “What do I say?” and “What if they never speak to me again?”

Having hard conversations may not be fun, but they are necessary. One of the most difficult ways we show visible love to someone is by being willing to tell them the truth, even when it hurts.

Hard conversations, like the one Paul had with the church in Corinth, can lead people away from sin and into the abundant life Jesus has for them. Being truthful with each other pushes us forward and helps us become more like Jesus.

So how do you have a hard conversation with someone? Start by praying. Ask God what He thinks about the situation and what He wants you to say. Ask God for clarity and courage as you prepare for the conversation. Once you’re sure your motives are pure and you have the other person’s best interest in mind, it may be helpful to write out what you want to say as a reference for your conversation.

Next, ask the other person to sit down and talk with you in private. Let the person know you love them and have their best interest in mind. Say what you need to say, and be kind but clear. Give the other person time to respond or ask questions. When you both feel the conversation is finished, pray and remind the person how much you love them.

It may take time to process what was said, and that’s OK. Stay connected, so you can encourage and support each other as you take next steps.

Flattery feels good, but a real friend won’t stand idly by while we wreck our lives. We all need people who will do more than support our decisions. We need people who will love us enough to tell us when we’re wrong and help us change our ways.

Reflect:

  • Is there anyone that you need to have a hard conversation with? Pray and ask Jesus what He wants you to say. 
  • Has someone recently had a hard conversation with you? What is Jesus teaching you through that hard conversation?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 6: What do I do when someone hurts me?

Read: Luke 6:27-36

Even Christians can experience rage. Your body shakes. The heat rises to your cheeks. Your mind can’t comprehend how someone could mistreat someone so badly. You’re seething as you think, “How could they?”

A reality of being a human on planet Earth is that someone, someday, in some way will hurt you. When that happens, what should our response be?

Jesus gives us an answer in Luke 6:27-36. Love people, even when they are not lovable, even when you don’t want to. Give grace, be merciful.

No one knows more about loving people who don’t deserve it than Jesus. No one else can sympathize with you more than Jesus. He was hurt, made fun of, and talked about. Yet, He was willing to die for those who hurt him.

Our goal as Christians is to mirror what Jesus’ response was. Jesus knows all the unlovable people in your life, and He can equip you to love them the way He does.

The best way to begin changing our hearts toward someone is to pray for them (Luke 6:28). Be honest with God about your frustrations. Talk to Him about how hard it is to love that person, and see how God starts to transform your heart and mind.

It’s easy to respond to pain with pain. But only love will lead to healing. The more we love those who hurt us, the more our hearts are opened to letting Jesus heal our pain. Jesus is able to understand your pain, turn your heart toward forgiveness, and help you love. That’s what the grace of Jesus does.

Loving your enemies won’t be easy. It takes an effort to offer mercy as Jesus did, but He promises the reward is worth the work (Luke 6:35). If we will try to forgive and love, we will start to see our hearts soften. Give your hurt to Jesus day after day, and watch how He grows your heart.

Reflect:

  • Is there anyone in your life you need to forgive?
  • Do you need help loving a specific person? Ask God for help and how He would have you respond to that person. 

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 7: Are You Doing Enough?

You’re serving at church, volunteering with local charities, and helping at school. Every second of the day is accounted for, yet so much is left undone. Your days are long, and your body is exhausted. At the end of the day, you wonder, “When will it be enough?”

It’s overwhelming to look at a hurt and broken world. Too often, we see all the needs at once. We want to love others, but in our striving, we leave ourselves burned out and too busy to hear from God.

In Matthew 22, Jesus reminds the religious elite (and all those listening) to make the main thing the main thing. If we’ll focus on loving God and loving our neighbors, it will result in us fulfilling God’s commands.

We don’t have to end world hunger in an afternoon or heal every broken heart in one day. Instead, Jesus says the most important thing we can do is to love Him and love others. That’s our charge.

So rather than getting overwhelmed by all that we can’t do, we start with what we can do. Loving our neighbors can be as simple as cooking an extra lasagna to bring to the new mom next door or the widow across the street.

When we are loving God with our heart, soul, and mind, we are more in tune with His Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit is a helper and a guide. We can trust the Holy Spirit to show us opportunities to love people one at a time.

That’s how we make a difference — not by running down a list or striving to hold everything together. We change the world by loving God and showing visible love where He tells us to.

Reflect:

  • Why do you think Jesus put the emphasis on loving God and others instead of following all the laws? 
  • Is there a big need you feel overwhelmed by? 
  • What is one thing small thing you could do to meet that need today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Jeff Foxworthy’s Story with the Atlanta Mission

Acclaimed comedian Jeff Foxworthy shares a series of life-changing moments he experienced at the Atlanta Mission, a nonprofit Christian ministry serving the homeless. Overs the past decade, he’s led many men’s small groups with his long-time friend, Ronnie Brasfield, a licensed professional counselor. What started with 12 men and 2 leaders has turned into a small group ministry serving near 200 men.

“The only thing we can ever do for God is say yes,” says Foxworthy. He goes on to share an incredible story of restoration and redemption in the life of small group member named Wayne.

Truth Be Told – Townhall

This week is our town hall (Q&A) format. Pastor Miles Welch digs deeper into the lies we believe and how the enemy uses those lies to take us out. He takes questions from the small groups in the room ranging on:

  • The Anatomy of a Lie
  • Your Heart & Strength For God
  • Trials & Storms
  • Sin & Consequences
  • Fear & Anxiety
  • Forgiveness
  • Confidence in Our Faith

 

Jesus Wants You to Get Over Yourself

Sin makes us self-centered, and many of us build entire lives around getting what we want. But when asked about Jesus’s teachings, He said the most important truths were “to love God and love others.” (Mark 12:30-31) And this requires us to “die to self.” (Put ourselves last.)

Our lives take on new meaning when we live in self-sacrifice and according to God’s instruction through the Bible. We no longer consider what we want first (our selfish desires); we consider what other’s need first and how we can serve them just as Jesus would.

Jesus Is the Only Way to Heaven

Jesus isn’t one of many ways to get to heaven. He is the only way! In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is an absolutely essential part of the Christian faith.

Think about it: If there was another way, why would Jesus go through the horrors of death on the cross?

Lie: Forgiveness Has to be Earned

The Bible is very clear about forgiveness. We didn’t earn our forgiveness (and salvation) on our own — we never could. Forgiveness came only through the sacrifice of God’s only son, Jesus Christ, and it was freely given. In the same way, our spouse, our coworker, our family, or our friend do not need to earn our forgiveness.

We are called to freely forgive others. And in doing so, we free up ourselves from carrying bitterness and anger that only causes strife in our lives. Trust can be earned (or re-earned), but not forgiveness.

Lie: God’s Love Must Be Earned

There are many lies we believe about God. One of the most fundamental lies is that we can somehow earn God’s love by being “good enough.” Generations of people come out of church with that lie. Or stay in church with that lie. Or stay distant from God with that lie. It’s destructive and heartbreaking. Because we can never be “good enough.”

Jesus died for us while we were sinners. He was the perfect one, and He paid our sin debt. God knew we could never do it on our own. That was God’s extraordinary plan all along.

Decoration vs Foundation

Pastor Kevin uses a house as a metaphor for our lives. We want to have a great house (life) so we put great energy – and money – into securing and decorating the best possible house. And so we think, if we can improve appearances and make life beautiful, we can improve our lives.

But soon enough a storm comes along in our health, our marriage, our family, our faith, our career, etc. And it’s in the storm, that we figure out, it’s not the decoration that determines if our house (life) stands strong – it’s what we have in our foundation.

The Certainty of God’s Voice Is His Word (The Bible)

The Bible is where learning to hear the voice of God becomes something personal and real. And remember, God will never say anything to us personally (in our spirit) that does not line up with what He says in the Bible.

We may get a Godly leaning here and there, but for consistent and daily leadership from God in our lives, we will need a personal commitment to the Bible.

The Character of God’s Voice Is Love

Maybe the reason we’ve never heard from God is because we expect His voice to be angry, harsh, and full of wrath. But our Heavenly Father can scold and correct our wrong behavior, and still do it in love. God’s voice is loving!

Even though we are prone to wander (like sheep) and sin, Jesus, “The Good Shepherd,” chooses to interact with us with grace and forgiveness.

We’re Designed to Hear God

Perhaps one of the most intimate and endearing titles for Jesus in all of the Bible is that of “Shepherd.” As it pertains to our relationship with our God, we were designed to be like sheep — because sheep need a shepherd to guide them, or the sheep will become lost.

The problem with hearing God’s voice is all the distractions in our lives — all the voices and noise — that compete for our attention. We often need to be still and silent to hear Him best.

Sheep will always recognize their Shepherd’s voice. And so will we.

Fear Not and Get Out of the Boat

“Fear Not” is the most repeated command in the Bible. And fear is the number one reason people avoid doing what God asks them to do.

Think back to a time when you felt afraid: What or whom did you turn to for comfort? Often, it’s anything or anyone other than God. God wants us to turn to Him first! When we do, God blesses our obedience, and we save ourselves a lot of heartache.

What Is the Source of Your Standards?

For God’s voice to always move us from tolerance to truth, the Bible — in its entirety — must be the source of our standards. That’s because if you aren’t willing to listen to everything God has to say, you eventually won’t hear anything He has to say. And if you want to hear His comforting voice, you have to listen to His convicting voice. Remember: It’s often what we want to hear least that we need to hear most.

The Power Behind the Voices We Listen To

The voices around us have tremendous power to help us or hurt us. That’s why we should make sure God’s voice is the loudest voice we hear to receive the encouragement, direction, correction, comfort, and more, that He has for us.

Our Heavenly Father’s voice is the most important voice in our lives. We must tune out all the other voices we hear — even the thoughts we have playing through our minds.

Make Yourself Available to Love

To love people by helping them to carry their burdens, we have to make ourselves available. This can mean taking time from our busy schedules to share our hope and faith, to share financial resources, or to simply share a smile and a hug. We’ll never know the struggles someone is facing unless we slow down and take the time to be available.

How Can We Help Kids See Answers to Prayer?

As we pray with our kids and they’re getting older, we transition from mere thankfulness to the concept of being cooperative with God.

Think of it this way: the first half of things we ask of God can be answered by gifts He’s already given us – a body, a mind, the earth, the capacity to work, etc. The second half is God doing things for us that we cannot do for ourselves. We cooperate with God to answer prayers; we both do our part.

When I Feel Like God’s Not Hearing Me, Should I Keep Praying?

There are times we casually ask God for something, and we’re not even aware of what will be involved in how God answers that prayer. For example, if we ask God for wisdom, we should be actively working to gain it.

How? Our focus should change from a material-centered lifestyle to a spiritually-centered intensity. Combining the fervency and persistent nature of our prayers, maturing, and fasting will all develop our spiritual life and help us gain wisdom – and we can’t rush that process.

Should We Be Specific in Prayer?

There will always be tension between your faith in God and your faith in your expectations of God. The Bible tells us only to exercise our faith in God. He is sovereign and His will stands.

That said, it’s okay to ask God for specific outcomes. The important thing is to remember that it’s up to God to do His will, and we must yield to His will with a tender and thankful heart.

How Important Is It to Have Relationships for Prayer?

The Bible tells us “to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” There’s a practical reason for this: we tend to distance ourselves from God at either end of these extremes. In good times, we can grow arrogant. In bad times, we can become desperate. God wants us to be in community with other believers so we can have accountability and support throughout all the stages of our lives.