The 3 Scriptures Your Child Should Memorize To Help Grow Their Faith.

You may recall having to remember state capitals, the Gettysburg Address, PEMDAS…  all things we never really needed yet years later we can recite from memory.

As a kid, I went to Vacation Bible School, a whole week in the summer of worship songs, Bible stories and games. One of the big games was to remember Bible verses and if we did, we got candy. I still can remember a few by heart, but I never saw why it was important to know the verses.

The memory of a child is the best it will ever be, that is why learning things like language or the phrases above are so easy for them than adults. In the same way, knowing God’s word can go a long way in developing a child’s faith.

 

Here are the Top Three Verses your child should know to grow their Faith:

 

1.) “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”- Psalm 139:14 (ESV)

Identity is a big part of a child’s development. Even as adults, we are always trying to find out who we are and where we belong. Often times the world is trying to conform us to its ever-changing mold of what we should be. As we are being told to fit in, kids especially feel like they aren’t good enough if they don’t. In this verse, God tells us exactly who we are and where our identity lies: in Him and the fact that He has fearfully and wonderfully made us.

2.) “Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”- Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Growing up is a constant cycle of trial and error, as we find ourselves facing challenges and fears we have never seen before. Knowing the Good News that God loves us and cares for us each and every day is amazing. That doesn’t mean we don’t have days where we wrestle with our faith. This verse speaks a message of comfort and joy that God is always going to be with us, and if we stay close to Him He will guide us through it all.  

3.)  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.- Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

God’s gift of salvation is not an achievement. It is not a prize or special recognition that we have earned. On the contrary, it is something that God has done to save us. However, because we cannot see God, we can end up giving ourselves the credit for something we could never do on our own. This verse is a reminder not to fall into the trap of pridefulness or boasting. God’s gift of salvation is just that: a gift! Not something we have worked to gain, but something we have received by His grace.

Each of these verses contains something fundamental to our walk with God. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” When you teach your child to understand what God is telling them through his Word, the relationship they have with God becomes a solid foundation for life. God becomes more than just a far away being, but their Father in heaven who promises to be with them every day of their lives.

 

Is Praying With Your Kids Important?

 

    I grew up in a Christian household, I went to church every Sunday, told about God every weekend… the whole nine yards. One of the notable things we did not create was a habit of was prayer, we always blessed the food before dinner but outside of that, there was nothing.

    As an adult now I always try making a habit for myself to pray whenever I can. Even if it’s a small moment like praying when an ambulance goes by. When I took the time and made the intentional moment to prayit built my communication and trust in God further which in turn helped me develop my faith to the strongest it has ever been now.

    On the weekends when I am in the red room, there is always time set aside for small groups. In these, we always make it a point to use the time at the end to pray, it is mind-boggling to see so many of them eager to build that communication and trust in God.

    In my own small group, we consistently pray together and even for each other in the things we struggle with most. When we connected and get to know each other more, in the long run, it grew us as a group.

    Looking back now, I wish I could have experienced my parents pray more even if it was just to normalize that trust and relationship with God. Had I had the exposure more present in my life I would not have had the struggle I did to get to where I am now.

    I wanted to write this to encourage you to initiate a conversation with your kids about prayer. The more time they have to build that relationship and communication with God the stronger their faith can grow.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Standing With God

Story: Elijah and the Baal Prophets

1 Kings 18:16-39

Note: For the story, I will briefly mention events for context to get the whole story be sure to check out the story in your Bibles or online starting from 1 Kings 17 to 2nd Kings 2.

Following years of wickedness, King Ahab of Israel had spread across the land and many of the people had fallen to worship of Baal and other false Gods. Along came Elijah, a prophet of God who called a 3-year drought upon Israel who was already suffering badly. He went into hiding for which time he became the last remaining prophet of God, during this time Elijah was constantly provided for by God. After the three years had passed, he challenged Ahab and the Baal prophets to see which God was the true one. It would be shown by which God responded by setting fire to their sacrifice. The Baal prophets went first and tried with everything they had to call out, but there came no response. Elijah’s turn now came, he covered his altar in water and poured it onto the altar and spoke a prayer, and without hesitation, fire came down and consumed the altar entirely. The prophets of Baal were left in terror and the people of Israel began to turn their eyes back to God.

We hear about Elijah who had to constantly hide from his enemies who never stopped looking for him, face the King of Israel and the prophets of Baal alone. Elijah may even have had his struggles himself during this time, but he knew had to trust God.

His willingness to put his faith in God gave us one of the greatest stories in the Old Testament where we get to see this amazing moment of repentance for Israel. Where God revealed his power through a mighty display of fire that led the people back to him.

We hear about Elijah who had to constantly have to hide from his enemies who never stopped looking for him, face the King of Israel and the prophets of Baal alone. Elijah may even have had his struggles himself during this time, but because of the trust he had God was able to complete his work through him.

Elijah undertook what nobody else was willing to do, he stood with God in front of the very people who wanted him killed. 

This is one of the hardest things for us to do as believers. We are afraid to put our full faith in God.  We may trust him to take care of us in our struggles, but when we are called to stand out we find ourselves hiding away instead.

Think about Elijah as he stood on the mountain, surrounded by the Baal prophets. He remained confident that God would deliver on his word, he even went as far as to mock the idol they worshipped.

When the time came, Elijah’s first move was to cover his altar with water. This obviously wasn’t obviously the best idea for something you want to set on fire. But God had a plan he was working through Elijah, when the fire came it “licked up the water in the trench” (verse 38). After that, there was no question of belief from the people of Israel that day.

Moses, Noah, Joseph and the disciples are all other major examples of those who achieved tremendous things because of the trust they had in God. They had to all stand with God even if it meant doing it alone, when we do the same, God reveals his plan for us.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6

 

What Children can do with Faith.

Story: King Josiah

2 Kings 22-23

     Josiah was only 8 years old when he was made the king of Judah, his reign would last 31 years. Josiah followed God’s word and lived and ruled faithfully in him. This is special because so many of the kings who came before him turned away from God and worshipped false idols. Josiah also sought to restore the temple of the Lord, and there in the restoration, they rediscovered the lost book of the law from Moses’ time. After having heard the words of the law he tore his clothes in sorrow for he knew Israel was not keeping to the law. He ordered the low to be read to everyone in Judah and everyone including Josiah vowed to keep to it. False Gods and idols in the land were destroyed and cast out, with God at his side, Josiah brought the Lord back to the people.

“25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” 2 Kings 23:25

    Josiah was the age of a second grader and now he had to lead a nation. Furthermore, at the age of college students, he was leading Israel back to God. He was also not the only child to make a difference in the Bible; David, Samuel, Joseph and many more, who all, despite their age we called to amazing things for God.

     Josiah was a good king in the midst of evil and cruel men, even his own father was wicked. Yet Josiah changed that, he took the time to learn about God and be saved in him because he kept his faith and eyes on God Judah was changed. He led the nation into revival, rebuilt the temple and restored the relationship with God that had been lost for so long.

One of the most important things we forget about children is their potential to live for God. Being able to learn about God early allows them to establish a strong foundation in Christ. God describes us all as  “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), filled to the brim with amazing talents, and minds.

Jesus knew the importance of children, the new testament is full of verses about children, take a look at this section from Mark.

    “He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to like these. Truly I tell you, anyone, who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.”      — Mark 10:14-16

 Children have the potential to do incredible things with God. Empowering them to discover their faith for themselves allows them to use their gifts to impact the lives of others around them. 

 

 

Navigating Distractions

Story: Peter and the Storm

Matthew 14:22-3

   Jesus and the twelve disciples had just finished feeding the five thousand, he told them to sail to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus went up to a mountainside and prayed, meanwhile the disciples were sailing right through unfavorable winds. It was then Jesus appeared walking on the water, and the disciples were terrified that it was a ghost. Jesus reassured them it was him, Peter wanting to be sure asked him he could join him in walking on the water! Jesus agreed and Peter began to walk on the water, but he saw the raging storm around him and he quickly began to sink. Jesus said to Peter “You of little faith, why did you doubt me? Jesus caught Peter climbed into the boat and the wind and storm died down, the disciples worshipped him and said “surely you are the Son of God

    When Peter climbed out of the boat he was able to walk to Jesus because he had faith in him. It was when he noticed the raging winds that he grew fearful and began to drown. 

Everyday brews new storms and challenges for us to face in our daily lives. Our careers, families, and relationships all demand our attention, even technology has started to pull us away from our walk with God. With so much competing for our time it’s easy to lose ourselves in uncertainty. We take our eyes off God when we feel overwhelmed because we forget he is the one holding us up. 

In a brief moment in Luke 10

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way; he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! 41 “MarthaMartha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42

    Martha believed in Jesus, but even she prayed more attention to little things than hearing what Jesus was saying. Mary chose to listen because she knew that hearing from Jesus was the most important thing she could do. She learned to keep her eyes on God, especially when it was the most important to.

    Back to Peter, when God saved him from drowning they walked together back to the boat. He put his eyes back on God and he walked on the water again!. They climbed back into the boat and the storm and winds ceased. God never leaves our side, and when we keep our eyes on him he is always there to bring us through the storms. 

Some of the best things we can do is to set aside time to be able to read in God’s word, or even a few minutes to pray. Taking that time intentionally brings us closer to God and shows the intent to our devotion to that time even if its not planned.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying It Down For Him

Story: The First Disciples 

Matthew 4:18-22

    Coming from Matthew, Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee when he walked by a pair of fishermen named Simon (later named Peter) and his brother Andrew. Jesus told them to cast their nets aside and said that he will train them to be fishers of men. They got up and began to follow him, after walking more they came across another pair of fishermen. Their names were James and John and Jesus called out to them and they left their father and gear and followed Jesus.

    For the disciples their lives weren’t the only things they had to give up, they had to lay down their own desires and listen to what Jesus told them. This may sound like it is too much, but Jesus made it this way for a reason: If they only thought about their personal desires, they would spend more time caring for themselves, rather than other people. 

    These men had never met or seen Jesus before, yet he called to them and they left their lives to follow Jesus and become disciples. They weren’t the only disciples to leave it all behind, Matthew a tax collector well established in his life left his booth when Jesus called to him.  Despite this, they knew Jesus was unlike anyone else and they took that chance with him. That choice meant more than leaving everything, it transformed them completely and put them on the plan Jesus set out for them.

Sounds easy right? Well we inevitably have our struggles, take a look at this encounter in Matthew 19

  This is the story of a rich ruler coming to Jesus hoping to follow him. He followed the commandments well but Jesus told him he must sell his possessions and give it all to the poor. The man ran in grief because he owned so much and was unwilling to part with it.

It‘s hard to give up our wants and desires to follow God.

We sympathize with the ruler because we live in a world where it is part of the culture to chase possessions and to obtain status and notoriety.

    It is when we decide to commit our lives to Godwe set aside our desires for ourselves and set out to follow his plan for us.

    “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

 

Forgiveness No Matter What

Story: Peters Denial and Restoration

Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; John 21:15-17

Drawing from Matthew, At the last supper, Jesus was talking with his disciples when he told Peter he was going to deny him three times before the rooster crow the next morning. Peter swore that even if he had to die with Jesus he would not deny him. After Jesus’ arrest, he was approached by a servant girl who inquired if he was with Jesus and he denied it. Another servant girl approached him and asked the same, and under his own oath, he swore he never knew Jesus. Finally, the crowd now around him now suspected the same but Peter furiously denied it. It was at that moment the rooster crowed and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him, he left broken and weeping terribly.

It’s a hard pill to swallow to see Peter so beaten and broken down spiritually. This was the same man who was the first to proclaim Jesus was the son of God but could not bring himself to say it to a servant girl. Much like when Peter walked on water with Jesus he stood strong until he saw the storm around him, it was then he began to sink. Peter was scared, and he didn’t know where to go, his whole world just collapsed around him.

Going to John, we see this moment after Jesus’ resurrection where Jesus returns to Peter and the disciples and they ate together once more. Jesus then turned to Peter and asked him if he loved him to which Peter said yes. Jesus asked again, Peter said yes once more. Jesus asked a third and final time, Peter now upset still responded a third time that he loved him.

Sound familiar? Jesus restored Peter the same way he had been rejected with. Jesus wanted Peter to see that he still loved him and forgave him. Jesus also had commissioned Peter to love, feed and take care of his people, and he was not going to ever give up on him.

For us, we find ourselves constantly struggling in our sin, never sure if we could ever be forgiven by God. We forget so often that God loves us and will always forgive us no matter what, even when we mess up. In his forgiveness, it empowers us to do great things for God. As Peter truly lived up to his name following that story and became the foundation God set him out to be for the church.

Think back into this month, we talked about the Samaritan woman and the adulterous woman both of which were people nobody showed grace or forgiveness too. It was his kindness and forgiveness that brought them to him, without that grace or kindness they would have never been saved. But they became powerful people in Jesus and spread their testimony to the very places that once looked down on them. If he could do that with them imagine what Jesus could do with us.

The same forgiveness Jesus showed Peter, he shows to us and will restore in the wonderful he has for us!

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103: 10-12

 

 

 

The Meaning of Grace

Story: The Unloved Woman

John 8:1-11

    Continuing in the book of John Jesus who traveled to the temple in Jerusalem, when he came to the temple many came to hear him teach. However, the Pharisees wanted to test and trap  Jesus, they brought a woman before him who had committed adultery. The law of Moses required the woman to be stoned, they wanted Jesus to deny the rule and arrest him for disobeying the law. Some time passed and they continued to question before  “He who is without sin the first stone”(verse 7). Sure enough, the same people who raised stones to her dropped them at their feet and walked away. Jesus and the woman remained, and he sent her on her way saying “go and sin no more”(verse 11).

23 For the wages of sin is death… Romans-6:23

    The woman clearly deserved death, yet Jesus showed her grace, but why would he do this? Grace is not about tolerating or merely forgiving sin, it is about receiving Gods love and mercy even though we don’t deserve it. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into disobeying the law but he called for her to be stoned but the people had to be free of sin, and only he was free of sin. They all dropped their stones not out of grace but they knew they were sinners and could not bring judgment upon a woman who was no worse than them.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on another. For on whatever grounds you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Romans 2:1

    We live in a world today where grace is in short supply, where people are more concerned about being right than ministering to others. Jesus did not condemn her to her sinhe wanted her to be free from sin. He said sin no more” because he knew it could be done. Knowing we are free brings life to us and begins to transform us into the person God meant us to be.

    The same way Jesus showed grace to the Samaritan woman changed her from a life of sin to spreading the gospel. The very town that once despised her now experienced an extraordinary change. All because God showed her grace when she didn’t deserve it.

“The wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23
Even though we are imperfect and fall short of God, Jesus dying on the cross was the ultimate form of grace. He showed us what it was like to no longer be a slave to sin, to be free to love and live in him. 

The Importance of Loving Everyone

Story: The Woman at the Well

John 4:1-30

 In John, we see this beautiful story of the interaction between Jesus and a Samaritan woman when he stopped to drink from a well. The woman was shocked to see that Jesus was speaking to her, Jews were supposed to hate Samaritans (their heritage was half Assyrian half Jewish). On top of this she has had 5 husbands and was now with a 6th man, the town had outcasted her. Instead of rebuking her, Jesus ministers to and she goes out to the town and told everyone what had happened. Her testimony was heard by the entire town and many were saved, all because Jesus took the time to talk to her.

  God stressed loving others, it is the very reason why he made it the second commandment “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39). However, we find ourselves often struggling to follow this every day. It’s hard to love others when we see so much negativity in the world… We see so much violence and pain in the news, jealousy in our social media, the stress of our careers. We all face those days where we just want to tune out the world and go home and nothing more. It is important to notice the world we live in and those around us, there is always someone who needs to be loved. 

Think about it: Imagine if Jesus didn’t talk to the Samaritan woman, she would have continued to be lost not ever knowing that she was beautifully and wonderfully made by God.

   Growing up I was bullied hard,  stories like this are heard all too often in a world of social media. I never had any friends to talk to and with so many people against me. Despite this, the things that when someone took the time to talk to just have a conversation with me. It made me feel like I was actually worth something, that’s what the Samaritan woman felt like when Jesus talked to her. 

   Jesus ministered to all, even outcasts of society because he knew that everyone is valuable to God.“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”- Romans 5:8.