The Price is Too High
The Rich Young Ruler
As Christians, each of us is called into service. We don’t necessarily serve the church but we are asked to share our gifts, our abilities with others in a way that brings glory to God. This service does not come without a cost. In the story, Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell everything he has and then give all the money from that sale and all the rest of his money to the poor. After that, he is to follow Jesus. The young man just stares at Jesus, shakes his head and sadly walks away, never realizing what all he is missing.
A few years back, the stock and housing market took a serious and major dive. This shook people up. Suddenly, families couldn’t buy everything they wanted. Too many people had put their faith in things. Big houses, expensive cars, fabulous vacations and all of it bought on credit. Then the bottom dropped out and people were not only scared, they were depressed. Now what are we going to do?
The rich young ruler loved things (and money) more that he cared about people. He was a smart and successful young man. If he had sold everything he owned and then given all his money away, who’s to say he couldn’t have acquired even more riches? Perhaps more important, who’s to say the young ruler might not have found even greater satisfaction in helping others, serving others than he ever received from his wealth?
Money and possessions are fleeting. They can disappear in the blink of an eye, as too many families have discovered the last few years. But people, family, and service offer a satisfaction that is lasting, giving us a reward that no one can ever take away.
1. What things do you cling to tightly?
2. Are you able to let them go as Jesus told the young ruler?
3. What are you afraid of losing?
4. How can you strengthen your faith so you may see how God provides when we let go?
5. How can you help your children reduce their love of things?
6. How can your entire family choose service over things?
All Is Forgiven
The Paralytic Is Forgiven
Forgiveness. What an incredible concept! It is so easy for us to hang on to our anger, our hurt, hardening our hearts so we are unable to forgive. We’re unforgiving, not just of those who have wronged us directly or wronged someone close to us but we also remain unforgiving of those that have done wrong in society, history, anywhere we encounter them.
An inability to forgive. Bitterness. We hug it to our hearts like a favorite toy, letting its pain fill our hearts. Such an incredible form of self-torture! Why would we cause ourselves so much pain when it’s so simple to forgive and let go of the agony?
In Jesus’ day, sinners could be found everywhere, as defined by the Temple rulers. Any lingering sickness or physical weakness was seen as a physical manifestation of sin, God’s punishment on those who did not live a right life. SIGH! How sad to think people with physical problems didn’t suffer enough from their disability without having guilt heaped on top of them.
Today’s story is interesting. Rather than healing the man of his paralysis, Jesus forgives his sins. Jesus then tells the man to stand up and go home, which the man does. The scribes are appalled that Jesus thinks He has the power to forgive sins.
Now, think about it: Jesus forgives the man’s sins, tells him to get up and the man gets up and walks home. The scribes witness the amazing power of God and they CRITICIZE JESUS! Were they crazy? No, their hearts were hard. They refused to forgive. They were unable to identify with a loving and forgiving God. They preferred to remain bitter and hateful. How sad!
The scribes were limited in ministry by their inability to forgive. Consider how much more you could do if you only opened your heart and forgave people. Think you can’t because the hurt, the injustice done against you is too big? Jesus forgave those that crucified Him while He was on the Cross. Do you really think your injustice is bigger than that?
1. What hurt are you holding in your heart?
2. How can you move past it so you can forgive?
3. What makes you hold so tight to the wrongs in your life?
4. How can you help your children learn to forgive?
You Can’t Afford It!
The Cost of Discipleship
No one ever said it would be easy being a Christian. Throughout history, people have struggled to maintain their faith in an unfriendly world. People have worked to remain strong, fighting their own weaknesses
Jesus understood the struggle each of us goes through as we work to balance our faith and our lives. He knew it was a problem for people in His day and that it would continue to be a problem throughout history.
Times may change but some things never change. In today’s verse, Jesus talks about “this adulterous and sinful generation.” People really don’t change much over time. The sins may evolve but they are just variations of the same urges people struggled with in Jesus’ time and back to the beginning of all time. As we often say, “We’re only human!”
Yet Jesus asks us to be more than just human. He asks us to follow Him, to follow HIS example in the world. Temptations were everywhere in those days, just like now. Jesus knew the struggles we have as we fight to resist temptation. After all, He’s human too! Yet the human side of Jesus was able to resist temptation. Was it easy? I don’t believe so. Just read what He says in today’s verse.
It’s very easy for us to get caught up in the world these days. We are called to be IN the world, but not OF the world. We must take part in daily life, associate with a variety of people in a way that puts them at ease. Jesus never intentionally made others feel uncomfortable. Many times, others made themselves feel uncomfortable in His presence but He never did this. We need to “deny ourselves.”
Stop thinking about yourself and what you want. Time to consider others. Time to make Jesus a priority. Time to listen to Him, to understand once and for all what He is calling you to do. He’s already done the hard part. Now, it’s up to us, all of us, to continue His work no matter the cost.
1. Is your faith part of every aspect of your life?
2. Are you able to live your faith without making others uncomfortable?
3. Are you able to deny yourself?
4. How can you help your children live their faith?
The Temptation in the Wilderness
Think about it for a minute. All Jesus had to do was tell Satan to go away and leave Him alone. Jesus didn’t have to listen to Satan harassing Him. So why did He put up with Satan’s temptation?
In a presentation to a Promise Keepers audience, E.V. Hill said it was his belief Jesus took the time to listen and respond to Satan so we would know how to handle a similar situation. As Hill pointed out, when Satan confronted Jesus, Jesus responded with the Word of God. Jesus fought fire with fire.
We face temptation so often in our lives. Whether it’s spending too much time on social networks or indulging in high calorie foods or playing video games or texting or even worse temptations, we give in much too often. “Just one more minute” we tell ourselves only to realize 2 hours have gone by the next time we look at the clock.
Even worse, we scold our kids for their inability to resist temptation when they’re only following the example we’re setting for them. How then do we fight the urge to give in to temptation? By following the example set by Jesus in today’s story! Fight temptation with the Word of God.
Take time to search for verses that help you fight specific urges. When Satan used Scripture to tempt Jesus, Jesus came right back with an appropriate verse. You need to be forearmed to fight effectively. If you wait until you’re confronted by temptation, it’s too late!
Get ready ahead of time so you’re prepared. Then, teach your children how to use Scripture to fight temptation. Strengthen your entire family with the Word of God. It is the best weapon your family can have!
1. What are your temptations?
2. What verses can you use to fight each temptation?
3. What are your children’s temptations?
4. What verses can you offer them to fight their temptations?
5. How can you be sure each verse remains strong in your mind when you feel tempted?
Never Underestimate a Child
Young Jesus and the Elders
Children are full of faith. They believe and, in their own way, understand more about God than the adults around them. As we grow older, I believe we begin to question faith issues and ideas too much. Children just accept it. They also seem to accept it at a deeper level than we do.
In my church, at Christmas, we have a ceramic nativity on a table just as you come in the door. The first Sunday it was on display, a little girl about 2 years old went over to the table, reached up and grabbed Baby Jesus. She hugged Him to her chest. Her parents had a hard time getting Jesus away from her. All the figures on that table, including cute animals and she knew which one was the most important!
In today’s story, Mary and Joseph had gone to the Temple in Jerusalem for Passover. On the journey back, after a few days, they realized Jesus wasn’t with the group. Returning to Jerusalem and the Temple, they found Jesus discussing faith with the elders. The elders marveled at His knowledge and His questions. Mary and Joseph scolded Jesus for causing them anxiety. He was confused. “Did you not know I must be in my Father’s house?”
As a young boy, Jesus had an adult understanding of His faith. Still, I believe all children have an innate understanding of God, Jesus and faith. We must nurture their faith and help it remain strong as the issues of the world begin filling them.
Today, ask your children about their faith. Have them talk to you about Jesus and what they think about Him. Listen to what they have to say. You may learn a thing or two!
1. How often do you talk to your children about faith?
2. Do you pray regularly with your children?
3. Do you read Bible stories to your children?
4. Do you discuss your beliefs with your older children?
5. Are you prepared to answer their questions?
6. How can you build your knowledge so you are prepared to help your children?