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“Sometimes I do mean things.”

For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).

Children speak from the honesty of their hearts, even when it reflects their sinful nature.

Julia 1While finishing eating our cupcakes for Julia’s 4th birthday, Julia surprised me with these words, “Nana, sometimes I do mean things.” Prior to our little party, Julia had been in our backyard running water from the hose, making a puddle to jump in with her sparkly new shoes. Her momma caught her and gave her a little talking to about her misbehavior. No spanking though, since it was her birthday. I later gave her four affectionate old-fashioned birthday spankings and a pinch to grow on…fondly recalling my childhood memories.

Now back to Julia’s concern over her naughtiness. I asked her, “Why do you think you do mean things?” She quietly answered, “I don’t know, I just do.” Okay, got it! Julia’s sinful nature is becoming evident to her and to others. Because Julia has received the primary teaching of sin from her parents, and by the faithful conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, Julia is clearly beginning to recognize the reality of her inherited bent toward sin.

With her pretty blue eyes focused upon mine, I responded to Julia this way. “I know that you really don’t want to do mean things, but the only way that you will be able to stop doing them, is to ask Jesus to help you.” As she seemed to experience a small sense of relief, I told her I would be praying for Jesus to help her.

My prayer for Julia is the same one that I pray for all my grandchildren: That they will come to know Jesus at a young age, to love Him fully, to obey His Word, and to serve Him faithfully all the days of their lives.

I believe that teaching children who God and Jesus are comes more naturally for most parents/grandparents, than it does to teach them about the third person in the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

While recently watching the made for T.V. miniseries, A.D. The Bible Continues, my spirit was reviatlized by the dramatization of the Acts of the Apostles being infilled with the power of the Holy Spirit.

This same Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) that was poured out upon those early believers is the same Holy Spirit who desires to infill every Christ-follower today.

We need to teach our children the only way to work out the “meanness” in our lives, is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior…to repent of our sins, and allow the Holy Spirit to begin His cleansing work in our lives.

Somewhere along their spiritual journey, new believers sense an internal struggle–the “desire” to sin. This desire comes from the original sin nature, (inherited sin of Adam). The only remedy for the sinful nature is heart cleansing by the infilling (or baptism) of the Holy Spirit.

Teaching our children to understand the difference between original sin (nature) and personal acts of sin is a vital part of training in Christian holiness (perfect love).

Pray for your children to be sanctified (or set apart for God’s holy purpose). See Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonica Church:

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 (NIV)

22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

It is true, God is faithful to cleanse (purify) the heart from original sin as we consecrate or surrender ourselves fully to Him. He promises to replace the inbred “desire to sin” with an abiding holy-heart desire to please our Heavenly Father above all other. Of course, we will continue to be tempted to sin, but with a cleansed heart, have the power NOT to sin.

The greatest joy of Christian parents is realizing the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of their children. Sanctification empowers every believer to serve Christ with a joyful heart.

The proof of spiritual maturity is not how “pure” you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace. —Philip Yancey  

When David sinned against God, he acknowledged that he was “born a sinner.” And when David repented of his personal sin against God, he sought to be fully cleansed, or purified.

Psalm 51:  A psalm of David, regarding the time Nathan the prophet came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt.  Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.[a] For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb,[b] teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins,[c] and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins.  Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit[d] from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. 14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. 15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.  You do not want a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. 18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

Living in the Light (1 John 1:5-7)

This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Resources for teaching children the basic beliefs of Christianity and the doctrines of the Church of the Nazarene.

My Faith: A Nazarene Catechism for Kids is a concise introduction to the basic beliefs of Christianity and of the Church of the Nazarene. It is designed to give 6th graders a solid theological foundation for their lives. My Faith is available as an 8 week course and a 12 week course. http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/waol/innerpage.jsp?c=WAOL&cs=CHILD&sc=MYFAI&ss=NA

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 1: The Father

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 2: Jesus Christ

  • Beliefs About the Triune God, Part 3: The Holy Spirit

  • Beliefs About the Bible, God s Holy Word

  • Beliefs About the Human Race and Sin

  • Beliefs About Salvation, Part 1

  • Beliefs About Salvation, Part 2

  • Beliefs About Entire Sanctification

  • Beliefs About the Church

  • Beliefs About the Christian Life

  • Beliefs About the Sacraments and Divine Healing

  • Beliefs About Things to Come

Important Need to Knows

  • The Apostle’s Creed

  • The Nicene Creed

  • The Ten Commandments

  • The Beatitudes

  • The Lords Prayer

  • Agreed Statement of Belief

  • Articles of Faith

  • The Church

  • The Covenant of Christian Character

  • My Faith: Certificate of Completion

A.D.BE SURE TO TUNE IN TO WATCH A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES ON SUNDAY NIGHTS, NBC, 8 PM CENTRAL TIME.  DISCLAIMER: DUE TO THE VIOLENCE DEPICTED IN SOME OF THE EPISODES, PARENTS ARE ENCOURAGED TO USE DISCRETION WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN.  HOWEVER, I PERSONALLY ENCOURAGE PARENTS TO WATCH WITH OLDER CHILDREN AND TEENS.  FOR BIBLE STUDY AND OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES TO ENHANCE YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF A.D. THE BIBLE CONTINUES, THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, GO TO DR. DAVID JEREMIAH’S WEBSITE: http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/therevolution/home.aspx

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“Nana, look, there’s blood on Jesus.”

 

Max with cross 2

A crucifix (from Latin cruci fixus meaning “(one) fixed to a cross”) is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself attached to the cross is referred to in English as the corpus (Latin for “body”) — Wikipedia

Several years ago, a friend made a ceramic crucifix for us. The crucifix depicts an image of Jesus bleeding from his side, while dying on the cross.  Since that time, I set the crucifix out in our home during the Lenten season.  It serves as a visual reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for me, our family, and for the entire world. Jesus suffered and died a horrible death, so that we could be reconciled into a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

This year, I placed the crucifix on our kitchen hutch. I thought to myself, “This will be a good location for it, so the grandchildren won’t knock it over and break it, yet still at eye level so they can easily see it from a distance.”

The first week passed and nobody noticed it, or at least they didn’t mention it. A week later, our four-year-old grandson, Max, pointed to the crucifix and said somberly, “Nana, look, there’s blood on Jesus.” We walked toward the crucifix, and I said, “Yes, isn’t this sad?” We then dialogued about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins.

max 1The following week Max asked his mother to come and see Jesus on the cross.  As they walked over to the hutch Max said, “Look mom, Jesus is bleeding. He died on the cross.” There was a slight pause,–then the most beautiful declaration of “He is risen!” resounded from my precious grandson’s mouth: “But Jesus isn’t dead anymore!” My heart began to melt as Max realized the Easter message with such an exuberant simplistic faith.

I have to believe that this special encounter between our Savior and Max put a big smile on the face of God.

Each Easter my heart is full of thankfulness and gratitude to our LORD, who loved me, our family, and the entire world, enough to reconcile me (a sinner), to the One True God, through His (Jesus’) death and resurrection.

I encourage parents to display Christian symbols, especially the cross/crucifix, pictures, and other home décor inscribed with Scripture, around their homes. This is a simple, yet very effective way to share the love for Jesus with family and guests.

The Saturday before Easter morning, I will remove the crucifix and replace it with an empty cross or an empty tomb. Just like Max said, “Jesus isn’t dead anymore!”

The cross of Jesus Christ symbolizes the epitome of love and self-sacrifice. “Greater love has no man, than that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate sacrifice of love that reconciles us to God. Crosses and crucifixes are powerful visual reminders of God’s love and serve as a witness of hope to the world.

I invite my friends to reflect upon God’s love while reading through the following Scripture and notations.

Peace and Hope (Romans 5: 1-11)

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!  For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

The Crucifixion (Notation of Mark 15:15b-32) – From Bible Gateway:

The brevity of Mark’s report is striking. Jesus chose to endure death fully conscious rather than drink the sedative offered him (see Pr 31:6). The division of his garments (see Ps 22:18) underscores the humiliation of the Crucified One. The notice affixed to the cross, the taunts of the passersby, and the mockery of the chief priests and teachers of the law are all ironic. They communicate a fundamental truth that would not have been lost to the Christians of Mark’s day: In the suffering and weakness of the Cross, God’s power is manifest.

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified” (Mark 15:15).

 The Crucifixion of Jesus (Mark 15:21-32)

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the Jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus (Mark 15:33-39)

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

 Jesus Has Risen! (Mark 16:1-6)

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here.

Romans 6:9-11

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

May the remembrance and affirmation of Christ’s death and resurrection bless you and your family this Easter.

He is risen!

All Scripture is NIV unless otherwise stated.

 

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