Purpose: Walk the Straight and Narrow With Your Power

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER

A Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children

Dear Children,Let me briefly remind you of the well-known short story of “Little Red Riding Hood.”One day Little Red Riding Hood was asked by her mother to take some fresh-baked bread and cookies to her ill-feeling grandmother. Little Red Riding Hood, who loved independence and adventure, was thrilled at even the thought of walking through the woods and down the path all alone. She grabbed her cloak, as well as the basket of goodies, and was off with a gleeful skip along the well-traveled path. As she was leaving, she heard her gentle mother’s voice calling out, “Stay along the path and don’t dilly-dally among the flowers!”Well, we all know how the story plays out. The big bad wolf comes along, lures Little Red Riding Hood off the path, races before her to Grandmother’s house, and eats Grandmother up----Yikes! (Nicer versions say that the wolf stuffed Grandmother in a closet or under the bed, but still----Yikes!) The wolf, disguised as Grandmother, then lay in waiting for Little Red Riding Hood to come along as well. What a cruel, deceptive and conniving wolf! Well, thank goodness for the strong, attentive, and heroic Woodcutter! He proceeds to save the day by chasing down the wolf and freeing the sweet little Grandmother from wherever she was “stuffed.” The story ends happily, as Little Red Riding Hood discusses with Grandmother and the Woodcutter- over the fresh-baked cookies, of course- the valuable lesson she has learned: stay along the PATH, and don’t “dilly-dally” among the flowers!Children, did you know that you, like Little Red Riding Hood, have been asked to stay along a certain path? The path is straight and narrow, by God’s design, yet full of blessing and life. Realize “straight and narrow” does not mean rigid and boring. Remember who God is! God’s path is a safe place to establish your footsteps, but at the same time it is full of excitement and adventure. Yes, the path might have hurdles to overcome or pitfalls to walk through, but they, too, have been put there for a purpose. God Himself desires to walk with, in, and through all those who choose to spend their days on His beautiful path. Keep this in mind as well: His path leads to Paradise. There is no better journey, and no better final destination.However, I want to also point out that you, like Little Red Riding Hood, have a “wolf” along your path. The big bad wolf in the story enticed Little Red Riding Hood to look away from her goal, and set her eyes on the things around her---just for a little while. With this one nudge, she couldn’t resist stopping, stepping, sitting, smelling, and then selecting some beautiful flowers for her grandmother (an innocent suggestion made by the deceptive wolf). You see, sweet ones, this is exactly what the devil will do to you when you decide to take the straight, narrow, and high road. He and his pack of followers are even described in the Bible as ravenous wolves; and, they will go to any extreme (even dress up in disguise) to lure you from your goal. Know, he will cause those side-roads to be very enticing and even quite innocent at first. But also know, consequences will come if you choose to get off the path your Creator has already paved for you. (Heaven forbid either of your grandmothers are eaten by a wolf!)So children, please listen to the gentle voice of your Mother as she calls out to you when you begin your own personal journey: “Stay along the path, and don’t dilly-dally among the flowers!” If you keep your eyes fixed straight in front of you, you won’t even see those “forbidden flowers.” Make Jesus Christ your focus. Do not look to the right or to the left; look to Him.If you sense trouble “brewing,” call on Jesus, your Savior, and like the Woodcutter, He will come to your rescue. Remember, His Holy Spirit lives in you; and by His strength (not your own flesh), you can say “NO!” to the “big bad wolf.” Continually ask Jesus to walk with you, in you, and through you. He will be delighted to hold your hand. Then, once you have His hand, you better hold on real tight, because I am praying, your journey with Jesus will be filled with His joy, His excitement, His adventure, as well as His gentle loving peace.Sweet ones, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is ALL you need.

I love you

Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children

1. Read the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” to your children (even your older children will enjoy hearing it again).2. Point out and discuss spiritual significances in the story:The path (God’s plan, God’s way)Little Red Riding Hood (your child)The wolf (Satan)The flowers (Satan’s deceptions)The Woodcutter (Jesus, their Savior)3. Role-play this story. Allow your child to play Little Red Riding Hood. Play it through once as the story goes. Then, play it once with Little Red Riding Hood resisting the wolf’s temptations, as well as crying out for the Woodcutter. The Woodcutter, then, comes quickly, and chases the wolf away before she even steps off the path! Discuss the difference between both ways you played out the story. (Notice, Grandmother was safe the second time throughout.)

A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children

Dear Heavenly Father,Thank You for the personalized path you have created for each of my children. I pray You will give them the desire to stay on this path, not looking to the right or to the left, but keeping their eyes fixed on You, dear Jesus. And while walking, continue to prepare the way for them, as You have promised, by removing every obstacle of sin out of their way. As a result, may my children experience a full and extended walk with You. May nothing keep them from knowing all of You!Help my children to see, dear Father, that You have provided Your Word as the hand-written map for each of them as they walk down this road:It is perfect, able to restore the soul;It is sure, making wise the simple;It is right, rejoicing the heart;And it is pure, enlightening the eyes! (Ps. 19:7-8)Show them, if they are obedient to this “map” and decide to stay on this path of life, then You promise they will experience Your pleasures forever. Their well-being(peace) will be like a river and their righteousness will be as waves of the sea (Is: 48:18).O God, also help them to realize, they can experience these promises only by Your Spirit. Thank You for desiring to walk with us and in us, each and every minute. Without Your Holy Spirit, our walk would be filled with legalism and confinement. Yet with Your Spirit, we can experience the great newness of Life:You lead us on level ground. (Ps.143: 8 - 10)You hold our hand in Yours. (Ps.18:35)You enlarge our steps beneath us. (Ps.18:36)Your provide mercy, faithfulness, and blessing. (Lam. 3:21-25)Thank you, dear God, for Your bounty in our lives! Teach my children, O Father, to walk by the Spirit, trusting in You, so they can enjoy all the grace, glory, and good things that You have planned for each of them.Finally, as they walk with you, I pray Your Spirit would keep them from carrying out the evil deeds of their flesh. Help them to recognize and resist Satan, in every disguise and in every circumstance. Guard their hearts and minds concerning any kind of foolishness or temptation from their peers, or their “heroes,” or any one else who tries to lure them off Your path. May they not consent to any of their deceptive ways, dear Father. Give them Your strength to say “no!”O dear God, I praise You and thank You for creating my children’s path, and for walking with them on it. Please fight off the evil that will come alongside their path. May they allow You to guide them, love them, and protect them every step along the way.

Amen

Scripture references in letter:

Matt. 7:13-14; Ps. 37:23-24; Job 23:10-12; Matt. 7:15-17; Heb. 12:1-2; Ps. 138:3; Ps. 18:16-19; Is. 55:12; John 14:6

Scripture references in prayer:

Jer. 29:11-13; Ps. 16:8-9: Is. 43:19; Ps. 16:11; Rom. 6:4; Ps. 84:11-12; Gal. 5:16-18; Pr. 1:8-19; Is. 58:11; I John 1:5-7

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Chris Baxter

Purpose: Be Not Ashamed of the Gospel

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER

A Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children

Dear Children,One of the most claimed verses in all of scripture I use when I pray for you is Romans 1:16. I continually ask the Lord to fill your heart, so you will be able to say with great confidence: I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.I pray, children, you will never shrink away at the name of Jesus; but instead, you will speak with boldness the great mystery of who He is. Remember, you are the ambassadors of the most High King---the King of all kings, the Lord of all lords! Do you understand what this means? Listen to the Webster’s definition of ambassador: “a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative, or sent on a special or temporary mission.” In other words, children, you have been appointed by God, your King, to represent Him in the very place you are living; you are on His special mission, which is to preach the good news of His Son, Jesus Christ.Do you also realize, we have been given a position of “highest rank”? And do you know, the only way you have obtained this position is because of what Jesus did for you on the cross? Without this grace, we would have no rank at all. But now, because of His love, we have been clothed in beautiful robes of righteousness. He is not ashamed to call us His own!So why is it that we, as humans, sometimes hide or seem ashamed of Him? When the name of Jesus is mentioned in a group of questionable believers, what do you do? I truly am asking this question to myself, and have been convicted to pray about it in my life, as well as yours. For too many years, instead of being poured out like a drink offering, I have been more like a water bottle with a security top on it, giving only drip- drops at a time (or giving only when it’s been sucked out of me). And for too many years, I’ve been tiptoeing instead of marching, whispering instead of shouting from the mountaintops! Children, I’m praying you won’t fall into the same trap of fear of rejection or shame, or whatever it is, that might keep you from claiming Christ aloud. I’m so thankful our God is a forgiving God, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. He forgave Peter for denying Him three times; He can also forgive me. But I must also repent (change direction), as Peter did, and march on. This does not mean that I, or you, have to be obnoxiously loud or abrasive when it comes to declaring Jesus Christ as our Savior. This approach may turn more people off than on to Him. But I am saying this: you and I need to be ready to seize every opportunity that comes our way to give all unbelievers, or struggling Christians, a reason for the Hope that you have in your heart. Your one gentle, yet affirming, answer may lead one life out of darkness into Light!Always remember, your “special mission”: Jesus has commanded you, as His ambassadors, to speak to others about His wonderful saving grace, and His unconditional love. Your life matters in this matter! Yes, He could, because of who He is, do all this without you and me; but that’s not the way He chooses to work. Throughout all Scripture and all history, God has continually used the vessel of one human heart to touch the core of another human heart with His amazing love! He did this Himself, when He sent Jesus to live among us.So, how about it? Are you His ambassador, His “resident representative” on this earth? You will win hearts, first, by your loving actions---by rolling up those righteous robes and getting involved in the muck of people’s lives, just like your King, Jesus, did for you. Loving action will get their attention. Then, your words will have meaning. And after you’ve gotten their attention, pray like Paul did, one of the greatest missionaries of all time: that you may speak boldly as (you) ought to speak (Eph. 6:20).I forewarn you here, sweet ones, some will take what you have to say and value it as a great treasure, “selling” everything else in order to keep hold of this one great possession. Yet others may not. Be prepared for rejection, for suffering, for persecution, and for hardship. For example, Paul was an ambassador in chains, and Jesus was crucified. Take great hope in this promise, however; “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (I Peter 4:14). May you, my sweet children, be blessed with His precious Spirit, as you declare His name to all the world.

I love you

Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children

1. Find a flashlight, turn it on and talk of Christ in you being the light of the world. Now, smother the flashlight with a thick pillow. Discuss its effectiveness, or ineffectiveness. What might the “pillow” in their life represent?2. Find a water bottle with a security top on it, fill it with water, and talk of Christ in you as the Living Water. Firmly squeeze the bottle and watch the water pour out. Now close the top, and squeeze just as hard. Discuss its effectiveness, or ineffectiveness. Again, what might be keeping the “top “ closed?3. Discuss how each child can let their “light shine” or how they can be “poured out” through actively loving someone with Christ’s love. Then encourage them to be ready to speak boldly of His beautiful gift of love and salvation!A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children Dear Heavenly Father,Thank You for the amazing gift of becoming your children when we claim Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of our lives. You are not ashamed of us. As a matter of fact, You delight in us, You love us, You live in us, and You have already prepared a wonderful place for us in Heaven to live with Your forever. What incredible love . . . unending love!Dear sweet Jesus, I ask You to forgive me for turning my back on this love, and even being afraid or ashamed to speak Your name to others. How can this be? Change my heart, dear Lord, so that my words will be a wellspring of Life to those who hear it. I want to speak, and I want my children to speak, with great boldness, this mystery of Your great love. May my children never hide their hearts or restrain their lips from praising You with gladness. Instead, may they joyfully proclaim Your righteousness, Your faithfulness, and Your truth to all the world, wherever that may be for them.On the “flip-side” of speaking for You, Father, I also pray You would help them to learn to guard their tongue from speaking against You. May they heed to the voice of Your Spirit, and refrain from saying anything that will bring dishonor to Your Holy name. May they hate gossiping, cursing, lying, manipulating, and tearing others down. O God, help them to tame their tongue!I pray my children would realize, what they choose to say (or not to say), has the ability to kill their witness for You, or bring it to life, by Your Spirit, in someone’s heart. May they train their tongue to be used for Your glory only: speaking of Your goodness, telling of Your great works, and spreading the wonderful news of Jesus, their Savior. I pray their desire would be to sing of Your glory as David, Your servant, did long ago. May their hearts echo his words, saying with confidence:I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

Amen

Scripture References:

Acts 4:29-31; II Cor. 5:20-21; II Tim. 4: 6-7; II Tim. 1:7-9; Is. 40:9; Col. 4:5-6; Phil. 2;5-8; Matt. 13:44; Eph. 6:19- 20; John 15:16; I Peter 4: 12-16.Scripture references in prayer:

Heb. 11:16; Pr. 10:11; Ps. 138:1-3; Ps. 9:1-2; James 3:2-12; Pr. 6:16-19; Pr. 15:1-4, 23

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Chris Baxter

Purpose: Use Their Gifts For Your Kingdom

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER

A Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children

Dear Children,Christmas Day is very close, as I am writing you this letter. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting on the couch next to our Christmas tree right now, watching the lights glisten. It’s a calm peaceful night, so I thought I would seize the opportunity to put this thought down on paper.On several different occasions, while listening to the radio in the van, we have heard the song “The Little Drummer boy” played and sung, in many different styles and many different ways. Over the holiday season, this song has become one of my favorites. Listen to these words:“Come, they told me . . .A newborn King to see.Our finest gifts we bring,To lay before the King . . .So, to honor Him,When we come,Little Baby ----I am a poor boy, too.I have no gift to bring,That’s fit to give a King.Shall I play for you?Me, and my drum?Mary nodded.The ox and lamb kept time.I played my drum for Him;I played my best for Him.Then, He smiled at me.Me, and my drum.I want you to realize, my dear ones, this song represents you and me. What gift do each of you have to set before the mighty King? Is there anything that we can give that He doesn’t already have? For example:Can you give Him your mind?Remember, He is the One who can hide things from the wise and intelligent and reveal them to babes (Matt. 11:25).Can you give him your voice?Remember, He is the One who made all the birds of the world to sing.Can you give Him your special talents or abilities?Remember, He is the One who created the feathers of the peacock, the speed of the panther, and the strength of the bear.Can you give Him your treasures?Remember, the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains (Ps. 24:1)Let me tell you this, children: the only thing that God, in heaven, wants from you, on this earth, is the steady beat of your devoted heart. Your uniquely designed heart is the gift you are to bring to Him. At this gift, he will turn, and “smile at you.”There are two women in the Bible who portray this scene exactly. One was the poor widow who put only two small copper coins in the offering plate at the temple. Many condemned her, looking down on her out of their self-righteousness, because she gave such a small amount. But Jesus, full of compassion and understanding, saw what was “behind” the two coins. He smiled at her because she gave all that she had; she gave her heart.The other woman was Mary of Bethany. Just a short time before Jesus was to be crucified, Mary came to Him at the supper table of Simon, the leper’s house. She fell at Jesus’ feet, broke an extremely expensive bottle of perfume, and began to anoint Him, in humility and in love. To mere man, (which happened to be Jesus’ disciples), this act seemed foolish and wasteful. But to Jesus, the breaking of the bottle signified the breaking of her heart. When her “all” was given to her Savior, a sweet-smelling aroma then filled the air. In response, Jesus “smiled at her.”Do you see, children, when you “break your heart” open to Him, you, too, will have something that will bring sweetness to His Name? After He has your heart (your gift to Him), your individually selected talents and treasures (His gift to you) will radiate with His glory! Seek Him first, and everything else will be added! I want you to be very careful here, though, children. Never, never let the gifts He has “added” unto you become your passion in life. Jesus Christ is to remain your passion, and you are to give these gifts back to Him out of a complete love from your heart. Your heart behind the talents and treasures He has given you is what will bring Jesus and His kingdom honor, not the talent or the treasure itself! For example, it was not the coins from the poor widow, or the perfume from humble Mary---and it’s not your knowledge of Him, or your voice to Him, or your abilities for Him---that will bring a smile to His face. He wants your heart alone; the other gifts will follow as a result of your humbled devotion. This must come first.So, sweet ones, what do you have to bring to the King as you humbly bow before Him? Do you want Him to “smile at you”? Give Him what He is longing to hear, the steady beat of your devoted heart. Then, watch how your gift to Him will be “played out” in each of your lives, in its own unique way. May His loving smile be all you need to keep on “playing” for the glory of His kingdom.

I love you

Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children

1. Role-play together the story of the poor widow who gave “only” two coins, while the rich were putting in much more (Matt. 12:41-44). Focus on who Jesus was pleased with, and why.2. Find a small drum (or use plastic Tupperware and a spoon). Begin to tap it slowly, repetitively explaining this is the beat of your child’s heart. Continue “tapping” while you discuss: God in Heaven delights or “smiles at” this sound more than any other treasure or gift they could ever bring to Him. All the riches of the world cannot “out-give” this sound! He wants their heart.3. Continue to discuss: When He has their heartbeat first, then their unique gifts will bring glory to His name!

A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children

Dear Heavenly Father,I humbly ask on bended knee that each one of my children would bring to You the gift of their heart. You know, dear Father, my greatest desire is to see my children walking in truth. I cannot do this through my own power, but I know You can through Yours. O dear God, may Your Holy Spirit prompt them to have an unending passion to love, to serve, and to honor You with all that they have, and all that they are.I do thank You for their uniqueness and diversity. I pray You would give each of them insight on how they can best bring glory to Your kingdom. Reveal their spiritual and physical gifts to them early so their heart can beat for You in these areas. I pray, You would remain their passion in life, not the talents or the treasure You have given them. May they always strive to use their gifts out of a humbled and contrite heart which will bring glory and honor to Your Name.

Keep their focus on You, O God, I pray,And may the beat of their heart always beSteady, unwavering, and completely devotedto You,their holy, righteous, and merciful King.

Amen

Scripture References in Letter:

Ez. 36:26; Mark 12:41-44; Matt. 26:6-13; Rom. 12:4-8; Matt. 6:33; Col. 3:23-24

Scripture references in prayer:

I Chron. 28:9; Jer. 17:5-10; I Cor. 12:12-18; Deut. 6:3-11; I Peter 4:10-11; I Peter 5:5-6; Ps. 16:8-9

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Chris Baxter

Purpose: High Standard of Excellence For Your Glory

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER

A Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children

Dear Children,After, and only after, you have given Jesus your heart, I am praying for each of you to strive for a high standard of excellence as you live each day of your life. I desire to see this character trait in your lives, not for your sakes, nor for mine or your Daddy’s, but for the sake of your Savior. You see, whatever you do, God asks you to do it for Him, not for those around you. Keep a heavenly focus, and help from Heaven will come. My earnest prayer for your lives is that each of you will seek to bring glory to His Holy Name in all you say, and in all you do. But remember, this should never be done out of “duty” to a faraway god, but rather, out of a true love for your intimate Savior!So, children, when you choose to serve Him, then serve Him with all your might. Know, His Holy Spirit is waiting to be used in a mighty way through you. Do not settle for less than what He can provide. Now, sweet ones, this does not mean you will be, or have to be, the best at everything you do; it simply means you are to give your best. When you do this, God asks for nothing else---to Him, you have won! May your ears “hear” the applause of heaven!On the other hand, understand this: being “lukewarm” in your everyday walk is very unappealing to your Creator. He created you to stand up and radiate His excellent glory, not to sit and become stagnant in the ordinary! “You are His workmanship,” my dear children, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Don’t sit children, WALK. Walk mightily, walk humbly, walk truthfully, walk faithfully. Your goal is to glorify Jesus in each step you take. Listen, also, to some other direct commands from scripture that emphasize giving your best as a result of your love for Jesus, the One who loved you first:When you work, work heartily. (Col. 3:23)When you pray, pray fervently. (Luke 22:44)When you give, give cheerfully. (II Cor. 9: 6-8)When you love, love unconditionally. (Eph. 5:1-2)When you run, run as a winner. (I Cor. 9:23-24)Be diligent. (II Peter 1:5-8)Make the most of every opportunity. (Col. 4:5)Let Christ live in you richly. (Col. 3:16)Move mountains. (Matt. 17:20-21)What is it, then, God is asking you to do today, tomorrow, and each day He gives you breath? Whatever it is, sweet ones, do “your call” with all your might; remember, “your might” draws strength from His Spirit, so aim HIGH! Then you, and I, will find great satisfaction as we witness His wonderful Name being exalted through you in an excellent way.

I love you

Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children

1. Discuss, first and foremost, “giving their all” is a result of understanding the LOVE of Christ, who died to live in them. Knowing of His love will compel them to live 100%.2. Fill a cup of water half full. Have this represent a job halfway done, half effort, half desire. Notice how the water stays settled down stationary.3. Now fill a cup of water, and keep filling it until it spills over (maybe turn on the faucet and put the cup under it). This cup represents living life to the fullest, by allowing the Living Water (not their strength, but Christ’s) to come in and overflow. Notice how wet everything around the overflowing cup becomes. Emphasize because of their disciplined and steadfast work of love for Jesus, they as well as others will receive great “refreshment” and blessing all along the way!

A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children

Dear Heavenly Father,I pray my children would not be satisfied with a lifestyle of mediocrity; but out of true love for You, I ask they would each strive for a high standard of excellence in all they do. May they seek to bring glory to Your Holy Name, dear Father, by loving You and living for You with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Keep their eyes open, and their ears attentive to what You would have them to do with their lives. May they respond to Your call quickly, dear Lord, not lacking in diligence, but serving You with a fervent, loving spirit. Thank You for being the wind beneath their wings, dear Father. May they believe that You can truly make them soar like eagles!I pray, once again, Lord, that my children will be able to recognize their talents and abilities while they are young. Give us, as their parents, insight so we can direct them to the place where they can best serve You. And when they have found this “place,” may they strive to increase their talents for You---pressing down on all sides, making room for more. Help them to know You desire to give abundantly to those who give of themselves abundantly. May they not be satisfied to work with wood, hay, or straw; but may they seek to bring forth beauty to Your Name that rivals gold, silver, and precious stones. You, O High King, deserve to be honored in this way!O Father, I also pray for my children to never take the excellence You have given them and claim it as their own. Keep them from this sin, I pray. Continually remind them, they can do nothing in their own strength. Make them realize, You are the source of their excellence, and the giver of all good things. So, if they are to boast, may they boast in You, dear Father, who gave us everything through our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray my children’s ambition would be: that their lifestyle, their talents, their abilities, their voice, their mind, but above all else, their heart would draw others into a deeper, closer relationship to You. May they proclaim with their life, How excellent is Your Name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1)Finally, when my children get to the end of each day, as well as the end of all their days on this earth, may each one of them be able to confidently stand before You and say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:7). And how sweet it will be for each of them to hear Your gentle, yet confirming response: “Yes, you have, my child, well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matt. 25:23)Take each of their hearts, sweet Lord Jesus, and make them Yours.

Amen

Scripture references in letter:

Col. 3:17; Col. 3:23-24; Ps. 37:3-6: Rev. 3:16; Eph. 4:1-6; Micah 6:8; I John 2:5b-6; Eph. 1:18-19; Ps. 90:12, 16- 17; I Cor. 10:31

Scripture references in prayer:

Matt. 22:37-39; Rom. 12:10-11; Is. 40:28-31; Matt. 25:14-30; I Cor. 3:11-14; Gal. 6:14

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Chris Baxter

Purpose: Realize Their Purpose and Respond To Your Calling

FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER

A Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children

Dear Children,Do you know why you are here on this earth, or why God placed you here at this particular time and no other? Do you know your sole purpose of living? First and foremost, sweet ones, you were created simply to be loved by God Himself! He even calls you “beloved”, and He is delighted in you. What great news! For example, just as your daddy and I chose to have a baby (or two or four), in order to love and to cherish, God, too, created you, simply to adore you. How freeing! Our purpose is to be . . . loved!Now, my dear ones, once you have learned to rest in this wonderful purpose in your life, and you begin to know the One who adores you, your soul will then be compelled to live out the call of your life. Listen to this powerful catechism statement that I learned as a child in order to explain your calling:“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”What do you think this means children? Well, to “glorify God,” first of all, means to take all that you are, and all that you do and use it to bring honor and beauty to the One who created you and loves you, instead of bringing this focus to yourself. Let Him pour His great love into you, so you can pour His great love out to others. Because your heart has been touched by the matchless love of Christ, you, simply by the way you live your life, in both good times and bad, are to carry His message of love to the hearts who have not yet heard the gospel. (Please realize, sweet ones, the times that you think are difficult or “bad” in your life are the very times that Christ has the greatest opportunity to show His love, and shine the brightest through you.)As you are “glorifying God” by allowing His love to be poured into your heart, you will then be able to enjoyHim in any circumstance, both now on this earth and forever in heaven! Children, He wants you to have His joy-filled heart when living for Him, not a “hum-drum” Christian walk that nobody wants to follow. Know Him, and find out He is joy, and laughter, and love. Seek out all His goodness, and mercy, and splendor, and then lavish in it! Make sure, children, the Bread-that-people-are-hungry-for does not appear old, dry, or stale in your life. Remember, the bread from heaven given to the Israelites each day was sweet; so is your Jesus.So, dear ones, know you are the beloved of God. Rest here, and may He fill you up. Then, and only then, understand how you can best be used by your Creator and King. Watch the love of Christ overflow from your heart as you simply live out your God-given desires. Do all these things in order that the name of Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him (II Thess. 1:12).Remember, life is not about you; life is about the One who loves you. Live for Him, and ENJOY!

Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children

  • Gather your children individually and hold him/her in your arms. Tell them the reasons you wanted to have them here in this world: to simply love them, to enjoy and find delight in them, to hold them, to care for them.
  • Reassure them they don’t have to do anything to gain this love from you. (Mothers, pray for a renewed unconditional love for your child!)
  • Explain this is the kind of love (yet much, much greater) which their Heavenly Father has for each of them; and it is this love which moves us to tell others about Him!

A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children

Dear Heavenly Father,I pray my children would fully understand what it means to be loved by You. May they daily humble themselves, realizing Your great love moved You to buy them with a great price---the precious blood of Your son, Jesus. May this awesome realization move them to glorify You with all that they are, dear God, in every way.May they also be humbled by the incredible truth that their bodies are now the residing place of Your Holy Spirit! May this truth also move them to seek Your will, dear Father, not their own, I pray. Impress on them, their life does matter, one, because You love them, and two, because You desire them to help spread Your love to others. Give them a heart of flesh, dear Lord, not of stone, so they may be used by You in a powerful way. May they each hear Your great calling to go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:19), whether that means across the street, across the country, or across the world. Help them to see they are vitally important in this process of sowing and reaping, because the harvest is so plentiful, but the workers areso few. May they respond to your great call, O Lord of the Harvest!O God, may my children be able to stand before You, and be considered worthy of Your calling. Make them realize they are Your beloved children; and only because of Christ living in them, they are worthy. Fulfill every desire You have for them. May they live for You not out of their works, but in their response to Your love for them, their sweet Savior and King. They are Yours, dear Lord. May they forever live for you.

Amen

Scripture references in letter:

I John 3:1; I John 4:7-11; I Sam. 3:10; Ps. 73:25-28; I Peter 3:13-15; Ps. 4:6-7; Ps. 30:10-12; Ex. 16:13-15, 31; Is. 6:8

Scripture references in prayer:

Gal. 2:20; I Peter 1:18-20; I Chron. 28:9-10; I Cor. 6:19-20; Matt. 9:36-38; II Tim. 4:1-3; Ezekiel 36;26-27; II Thess. 1:11-12; Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 3:10-14

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
By Chris Baxter

Power: Put On the Armor of God

RELATED VERSE: DO NOT LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM EVILA Letter to Read/Use As A Guide With Your Children

Dear Children,It’s story time! Listen to this make-believe tale about a certain forgetful knight:Once upon a time there was a young man named Englebert, who on this special day, happened to be living out his dream of becoming a real knight. He had always wanted to be a real knight in the real King’s army when “he grew up.” And it seemed like only yesterday, he was playing “good knights” and “bad knights” with his little friends. They would use buckets for helmets, cooking lids for shields, and long sticks for swords. What “great battles” they would have!But now, he was “grown up,” and this was the real thing! Englebert had become a majestic knight in service to the King; and this was his first time to sleep in the palace quarters. What a jumble of nerves he was! And, poor Englebert, when his nerves got jumbled, so did his mind! He just kept repeating to himself as he drifted off into an uneasy, restless sleep: “If there’s a battle, I must find my horse and go fight, find my horse and go fight, find my horse and go fight. . . . “ Well, guess what? Very soon Englebert would have his first chance to go into battle. . . .In the wee morning hours, a mighty trumpet blew a resounding alarm to all the King’s horsemen and all the King’s men! An enemy had been sighted, and all were to prepare immediately for battle. Englebert flung the covers off himself in a panic and darted about the room to and fro in fretful hysteria, thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. He then remembered what he had told himself the night before: “O yes, yes, my horse. I must find my horse and go fight!” And so, off he went running frantically out the door searching wildly for his horse, wearing only his polka-dotted underwear. This crazy behavior would have continued, except that Englebert stepped on a huge thorn that stuck in his foot. “Ouch!” he yelled as he bent over to see the problem. Suddenly, he realized, “Oh, my goodness! I forgot my armored boots! I must go back and get my armored boots!” That, he did quickly. He found them at once, put them on, and again attempted to scurry off to the battle. But before he could even get out the door, he butted his head with tremendous force against its frame, which he sometimes forgot was low. “Ouch! And double ouch!” he cried, as he felt the swelling knot on his forehead. “Oh, my lands! My helmet! I forgot my helmet!” So he found his helmet, put it on, and declared himself ready for battle---in his armored boots, his helmet, and his polka- dotted underwear.This time his hunt for his horse was successful. Sleepy-headed Gertrude was standing quietly underneath a large tree. Englebert sped up his already quick pace and gave a mighty leap into the air, landing with a heavy smack on old Gerdy. However, old Gerdy was not ready for young Englebert. She did not appreciate this sudden surprise. Stubbornly, she bucked him off with a gigantic buck, which sent him sailing through the air. Poor Englebert landed on his bottom, with a BIG thud quite a distance away. “Ouch! And triple ouch!” he yelled. “That was a terribly painful landing!” And when he looked down, he realized why. “Oh my heavens! I have forgotten to put on my armored pants! I must go back at once!” But as he got up, a branch from the tree he was under scratched his bare chest, making a long red mark across it. “Ouch! And quadruple ouch!” he declared. “And yes, I must get my breastplate as well!” And so, Englebert ran in his helmet, his armored boots, and his underwear, back to his quarters to get his armored pants and his protective breastplate.. . . “Ah! Now, I am ready to fight!” he said to himself as he, this time, slowly mounted Gertrude. “Let’s be off, my dear faithful horse.” So Englebert and Gertrude followed the noise of the battle and came very close to the action. As a matter of fact, one arrow whizzed through the air above his head and another hit his breastplate, bouncing off to the ground beneath him. Soon, however, several arrows were flying ALL around him. Then, somehow, one managed to stick him in the crevice below his shoulder. “Ouch! And quintuple ouch! That hurt!” he said as he pulled the (not-so-deep) arrow out of his shoulder. It was at this time he realized he had forgotten his shield. “Oh my stars! I forgot my shield! I must go back and get my shield. I cannot truly be protected without it!” And so Englebert dashed to his quarters, one more time.“Ah! Now, I’m ready! I have all that I need to fight---I cannot be better prepared.” Sure enough, this time, the arrows of battle could not touch Englebert. He took courage in the sound of the “chink” as they hit his shield and bounced away. However, he did begin to wonder to himself what he would do if the enemy came closer, which, in fact, they were! “Hmm, “he wondered, “I cannot fight like this forever. As a matter of fact, I’m not fighting at all! I’m just defending!” He turned and looked around at his fellow knight. He was holding his mighty sword that glistened in the early morning sun. With this weapon, he was able to fight off the enemy with great valor.“Aha! That’s it!” declared Englebert. “My sword! I forgot my sword! And if I don’t go get it, I will have infinite ouches!” So, one last time, Englebert raced to his quarters, grabbed his own sword, and returned to the edge of the battle. There, with Gertrude beneath him, he stood tall, almost heroically. His armor was fully applied: his boots, his helmet, his pants, his breastplate, his shield, and now his sword. Although it took him a while, he had finally become a real knight in service to a real King. Englebert, then, feeling strong and courageous, stepped into battle and fought with all his might, in order to bring glory and honor to his King’s name. The end.Okay, children, here’s the meaning behind Englebert’s absent-minded behavior. . . .Just as he forgot to put on his armor to fight a physical battle, we too can forget to put on our “armor” when we fight our daily spiritual battles. Children, you (and I) need to “get dressed” spiritually every day in order to be equipped and ready to fight off the fiery darts of the evil one. Satan will send those arrows; and you better believe, he will attack when he sees you without your armor on. Remember, put on the armor of God, and keep it on, my dear ones.Here are just a few hints on how to get dressed for this battle. In the morning, when you are ready for the day---washing your face, brushing your teeth, putting on your clothes---you can also be “praying on” your armor:

  • When you wash your face, pray: “Dear Father, may I set my face like flint to do your will today, and every day, that You have given to me” (from Is. 50:7).
  • When you brush your teeth, pray: (May) the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps. 19:14).
  • When you put on your glasses, or put in your contacts (which, undoubtedly, will happen, due to your parents genetics!) pray: “O God, keep my eyes open to see the needs of the lonely, the hurt of the down trodden, and all those in my path who are crushed in spirit” (from Matt. 25:35-40).
  • When you “do” your hair, pray: “Please, dear Father, continue to give me a mind like Christ. May I be filled with all the wisdom and knowledge and understanding of Your beautiful Word and Your unfailing love” (from I Cor. 2:16).
  • When you put on your shirt, pray: “O dear Father, ‘create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me’ (Ps. 51:10). May I live righteously for You today. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that I can do this. Let me let You reign!”
  • When you put on your pants, pray: “My dear Jesus, help me to fully know the truth, fully live the truth; and then, be driven to fully spread the truth, which sets captured prisoners free” (from John 8:32).
  • When you put on your shoes, again pray: “Dear Lord, may I always be about Your business in spreading the gospel. Make my feet beautiful in Your eyes, my beautiful and precious Savior” (from Is. 52:7).

Do you get the picture? There are so many ways to “pray on” your protective armor; don’t limit it to these. But please, dear children, don’t always live and fight defensively! You have the ability to defeat the enemy with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. This weapon, dear children, when used with the shield of faith, will cause Satan not only to back off, but he will also turn and flee! I challenge you, children, to hide His Word in your heart so that you may use it decisively when you are being attacked. Realize this takes time, energy, and effort, but knowing His Word and using it wisely is worth it all.Believe God is real, and He will really win. Have faith in His power, not your own. And remember, His power is in every piece of armor that you choose to put on or carry. Please don’t go out into the daily battle of life just in your “spiritual underwear.” Because your experience, my dear ones, may not be as humorous as Englebert’s.

I love you

Teaching Tools/Activities For Your Children

  • On occasion, practice “putting your armor on” together by using any of these suggestions above (brush your teeth, your hair, wash your face together---and pray simple prayers concerning each).
  • Before going somewhere, practice praying again, when putting on your shoes---simple prayers, packed with meaning!
  • Remind your children they can do this daily by themselves as they get ready for the day. Teach what to pray, and encourage them to do it!

A Prayer To Pray Over Your Children

Dear Heavenly Father,I praise You and thank You for all of Your power and all of Your protection You freely give to us as Christians. For You have promised to come and live inside of all those who believe. I pray, dear God, that my children would never doubt Your promises. Help them to believe they have the power through You to resist Satan when he is attacking them in a vulnerable spot.I pray they will stand firm on You, dear Lord, the Rock of Ages. For, You promise not to allow those feet to slip who are walking in faith. Keep them on Your solid foundation, which is changeless and eternal. There, may they daily be in a habit of taking up and putting on each piece of precious armor that comes from You.First of all, I pray each child would always buckle the belt of truth around their waist. Help them, dear Father, to pursue a life of complete honesty---one that will keep their conscience clean, their integrity blameless, and their hearts pure. And may Your truth forever set them free from the lies and deception of Satan, their enemy.Secondly, I pray my children would realize the awesome privilege of being able to wear Your righteousness as a breastplate. As they humbly apply this piece of armor, impress on them, this can be worn only because of the blood their Savior shed for them on the cross. May they wear it for You, dear Jesus, with honor and dignity.Then, as my children shod their feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, I pray they would realize this is Your mighty calling---going out, as You have commanded, to set trapped prisoners free. May they never be satisfied with being stationary in You; but fill them with the desire to be the bearer of this Good News, which is able to save lost souls.And as they go, may they remember to take up Your invincible shield of faith, so they may be able to resist all the flaming missiles of the evil one. Give them the confidence they need to accomplish all the wonderful plans You have waiting for them in your will.In addition to all of this armor, may they daily put on Your helmet of salvation, which will, once again, protect them from the lies and schemes of Satan. May they meditate on You as their God and Savior, and lover of their soul. Give them the mind of Christ, and fill them with Your beauty, Your wisdom, and Your love.And finally, dear Lord, may my children never forget to carry with them Your mighty weapon, the sword of the Spirit, which is Your Word. For it is living and active, able to pierce as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). May they hide Your Word inside them, meditating on it even in the night watches (Ps.63:6), I pray, so they may be able to use it in any time of need.You are our Mighty Warrior, dear God, and our Commander in Chief. Thank You for providing Your armor to all those who seek and serve You as their King. May my children, by Your Spirit, choose to be a part of Your army, fighting the good fight of faith---now and forevermore.

Amen

Scripture references in letter:

Eph. 6:10-17; Col. 4:2; Ps. 119:11; I John 3:8b; Ex. 14:14; Gal. 1:3-5

Scripture references in prayer:

Rom. 13:12; Eph. 1:18-19; I Cor. 16:13-14; Ps. 121:1-8; Ps. 15:1-5; Is. 59:16-21; Ps. 144:1-2; Ps. 24:7-10; II Sam. 22: 29-47

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

It takes obedience

(Paul defends himself before Agrippa), "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. This is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to the small and great alike." Acts 26:19-22

Dear Lord,

When we hear from you, whether it's directly from your word or through someone's biblical teaching or by the prompting of your Spirit, give us the desire to obey your commands. Make us willing to speak about who you are so others can come to know you as Savior. Prevail in, through, and around us. Amen.