John 14:14: “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (NIV).
These words of Jesus are not an empty promise-they are an invitation to pray for our children. We may fear that our concerns are trivial or silly, but He wants us to be specific and authentic in expressing our desires. The key to prayer, however, is humility. When we make a request in Jesus’ name, we are saying we value His wisdom over our own selfish motives. We are recognizing our need for God and choosing to submit our will to His.
It will be hard to submit to and trust someone we don’t know! The best way to know the character of God is to study His Word and come to Jesus in prayer. Our arrogance and independence break down when we recognize His greatness. Our fear is replaced with confidence in His purpose for our lives and the lives of our children.
Get to know and trust the One who will do anything you ask in His name.
Rom. 8:37-39: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (NIV).
As we’re raising our kids, it is a constant battle to connect with the truth of these words. In the midst of our fears and concerns, we may wonder how these promises play out in our everyday lives. Can God’s love prevail when our kids walk through entitlement, disappointment, or brokenness? How can we be more than conquerors when we see our kids struggling with peer pressure, drug abuse, or sexual impurity?
The answer, of course, is to trust God! We can conquer the worst life throws at us and our kids when we choose to believe in His wisdom and promises. Receiving this peace is both simple and difficult because it requires us to risk putting our faith in Him.
When faced with fear and uncertainty, make a conscious choice to put your faith in the promises of God.
2 Cor. 7:9: …yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us (NIV).
Paul tells us that when sorrow leads to repentance, it is worthy of rejoicing. Think about it. We can rejoice in the midst of sorrow because we know it is part of God’s plan for our kids’ salvation and sanctification. God is working in their lives.
Sometimes, though, when my kids ignore my advice and reap the consequences of a bad choice, I am tempted to rejoice because I was “right”. I want to say, “I told you so,” because my motivation is selfish. I want to be seen as the expert in the family.
Instead of letting God work, my pride interferes and becomes a source of frustration and anger for my children. It takes self-restraint not to interfere with God’s work by driving home painful lessons with self-glorifying remarks.
Trust God. Allow His consequences to lead your kids to repentance instead of rehashing mistakes and reminding them of your “wisdom”.
1 Cor. 1:26-27: Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (NIV).
In today’s culture, these words are tough teaching for parents! We long for our kids to be wise by human standards-just look at the emphasis we put on grades, test scores, and college acceptance as measures of success and worth. We revel in achievements that put them in positions of influence such as cheerleader, student government, or captain of a team. We may envy the opportunities available to other children due to their family’s wealth or social position.
While God calls us to use our minds to make wise choices, no amount of human knowledge can replace Christ’s work on the cross. Ironically, real strength and wisdom are found by surrendering our pride and coming to God in humility and weakness.
Teach your children that real strength comes by submitting to God and humbling yourself before others.
1 Kings 19:11-13: The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. (NIV).
When it comes to communication, our culture believes bigger and louder is better. Consider our fascination with sold-out stadiums, loud music, pyrotechnics, and oversized monitors displaying flashy videos. Have we forgotten how to “be still” and hear the gentle voice of God in the midst of all this “noise”?
Although God has all of nature at His disposal, He usually speaks by gentle love and quiet persuasion to listening ears and hearts. He started the nation of Israel with a baby (Isaac), and He delivered them from bondage by another baby (Moses). He used a teenager with a sling and a few stones (David) to kill a giant, and He sent His own son, Jesus, as a baby to save us.
Take time out of your day to “be still” and listen to the quiet voice of God.
Ecclesiastes 8:11: When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.
These verses provide good advice for parents when they are disciplining their kids. Let’s face it-giving consequences to our kids isn’t fun! Because discipline requires time and effort, we may put off this unpleasant task. But if we wait too long, sometimes we completely forget to follow through.
The Bible understands human nature. The truth is, it is easy to continue to sin when we don’t feel the consequences right away. This is true for our kids as well. The longer we wait to address disobedient behavior, the more time it has to fester and grow. While it is often necessary to delay giving a consequence in order to come up with one that is reasonable and appropriate, don’t sweep the disobedience under the rug.
Acknowledge disobedient behavior right away and make a commitment to be consistent in following through.
Deut. 25:2-3: If the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make him lie down and have him flogged in his presence with the number of lashes his crime deserves, but he must not give him more than forty lashes. If he is flogged more than that, your brother will be degraded in your eyes (NIV).
Jewish law provided that punishment should fit the crime, but also that it not be too severe. A penalty that was too light minimized the crime, but a punishment that was too severe degraded and humiliated the person. Penalties were required to be “just”.
This is the law of our country also, according to the Eight Amendment. Should the principles be any less effective in our discipline of our kids? Sometimes we overdo our discipline. Maybe we had a bad day or the offense was one that just got under our skin.
Regardless, when we discipline our kids too harshly, we have violated this principle. The best response is to demonstrate what a person of integrity does when they have wronged another-apologize specifically and ask forgiveness. That does not mean there is no consequence for the original offense. It only means we recognize we have also offended and that we are not above the rules.
Ex. 17:15-16: Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation” (NIV).
The Amalekites attacked the Israelites in the wilderness after the Exodus, but Joshua and the Jewish army defeated them. Notice that the Amalekites didn’t attack Israel when it was in slavery in Egypt; it was only after they had been set free. This should be a reminder to us that the enemy has no need to attack us when we are dead in our sin. Instead, it is when we are following the Lord that we become a target.
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV). If our families are not under some sort of attack, it may be a warning we are not following the Lord. Obviously, we should not look for trouble, but trials will very likely find you if you are focusing on God’s program. We needn’t fear because our God is strong, and He has declared war on those who oppose us.
A lack of spiritual warfare can be a sign that your family is not focusing on the Lord.
Gen. 25:34: Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright (NIV).
One of the best examples of the danger of instant gratification is this familiar Bible story. Esau was hungry after a long day of hunting, and he couldn’t wait for dinner. He smelled Jacob’s stew and he had to have it-right away! Jacob seized the advantage and demanded Esau’s birthright in exchange for that single bowl of stew. Esau couldn’t control his craving long enough to resist Jacob’s trap, and he fell right into it. He lost the birthright and Jacob became the father of the nation of Israel.
This is a great story to share with our kids because it illustrates the danger of grabbing satisfaction today at the expense of a much greater tomorrow. Help your kids see how instant gratification can have negative eternal consequences.
Heb. 12:5-6: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he love, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (NIV).
The word “discipline” in this passage means to educate or train, rather than to condemn or punish. Most of us realize our discipline stems from our love and concern for our kids. Interestingly, it is this same parental love that causes God to discipline us throughout our lives as well.
How does God discipline us? Often, it is by delivering consequences when we make mistakes, and then walking with us as we deal with those consequences. When we have learned from the process, He gives us new opportunities to obey, and helps us grow and mature in ways we never thought possible.
It is important to remember that the purpose of His discipline isn’t to defeat us. Romans 8:1 says, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ.” Instead, He wants us to learn from discipline, to look towards Him, and keep going! What a great example of a Perfect Parent!
Embrace the Lord’s discipline as an expression of His love. Use Him as your model for disciplining your children.
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