Lenten Devotion Day 40

Stop Doubting!

Doubting Thomas

Have you ever had someone tell you something so incredible that you just couldn’t believe what they were saying? Was that someone ever one of your children? Don’t feel bad. You’re in good company.

Look at the disciples! Here was a group of men that gave up their careers, their businesses, left their families to follow a man with a message. Sure, it was a message these men believed in but they walked away from their lives to enter a life that had no guarantees. For 3 years, they traveled, prayed, preached, healed, learned, and more. Then, the man they loved as their leader was arrested, tried and put to death. This was NOT how it was supposed to happen.

These men had heard the stories for years about the coming Messiah. All of them believed the Messiah would be a warrior like David, a king that would fight to reclaim their land. Jesus said all the right things. Didn’t He talk about the coming Kingdom over and over again?

Now He was dead and the cause He led was about to die along with Him. These men mourned, not just the loss of their friend but the loss of their faith in Jesus and God. How could this have happened?

Then something incredible happened. Mary Magdalene showed up and told the disciples she and the other women had seen Jesus! He was alive! Rejoice! Oh, wait! They didn’t believe her! Even though she had seen Him with her own eyes, they refused to believe her.

Then Jesus showed up. Well, they believed then. Except Thomas who wasn’t there when Jesus showed up the first time. The others told Thomas what they had ALL seen but he refused to believe it. Finally Thomas got to see for himself. Jesus came back to that upper room and appeared to the disciples, including Thomas. Then Thomas believed. Sure, easy to believe when the truth is standing right in front of you! Not so easy when you just have to take someone’s word for it.

There was an episode of the Andy Griffith Show (it’s on television now!)  Andy’s son, Opie keeps talking about a man he met in the woods. This man walks in the trees. He shines like silver. He makes smoke come out his ears. He has 10 hands. Of course, Andy thinks it’s just Opie’s imaginary friend. Then Opie shows Andy a tool this man gave him. Andy thinks Opie took the tool from someone. Andy insists Opie tell him the truth. Opie swears he IS telling the truth. Andy feels he must punish Opie and Andy is very upset about the entire situation. He just doesn’t know what to think.

Andy goes for a walk to think and, there in the woods, he meets the man, a lineman who works up in the trees. He wears a helmet that shines like silver and has a tool belt filled with tools that he calls his 10 hands. Oh, and he can make smoke come out his ears. As farfetched as Opie’s story seemed to an adult, it was the truth, the absolute truth.

There is nothing more frustrating for a child than having an adult, especially a parent, not believe them when they tell the truth. How horrible when the child needs to tell an adult something terrible.

Thomas couldn’t believe the story the other men told him, even though they all agreed. Thomas couldn’t accept it until the evidence was presented to him, in the flesh so to speak! It is a great kindness to believe a child when they tell you something. Take time to listen.

Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever told the truth about something only to have someone not believe you?

2. How did this make you feel?

3. Have you ever not believed something one of your kids told you? Why didn’t you believe it?

4. If it turned out your child was telling you the truth, what did you do?

5. Has another child ever told one of your kids a story that seemed unbelievable? Was it the truth? What did they do?

6. Take time to talk about truth and doubt. Sometimes, we have to take a story on faith until we can confirm what is being said. Avoid overreacting one direction or the other.

Lenten Devotion Day 39

Here I Am!

The Resurrection of Jesus

I remember hearing a story about a mother and her two daughters. The mother and older daughter were talking in the kitchen when the younger daughter came into the room, waving a dollar bill. “Look what I found when I was cleaning my room!” “Well, you better keep cleaning,” her mother told her, “You might find more money!” The young girl ran out of the room to continue her cleaning and search.

The mother turned to her older daughter and confided, “I hid that money to encourage her to clean her room thoroughly.”

“Why didn’t you ever do that with me?” the older daughter asked.  Her mother turned to her with a smile. “I did!”

Hard work, doing what is required and expected of you has its rewards. Sometimes the reward is just the good feeling that comes from doing a job well. Sometimes, the reward is even better than anything we could ever expect or hope for.

Jesus mother, Mary and two women made their way to Jesus tomb early Sunday morning following His death. Jesus died at sundown. The Sabbath began at sundown on Friday and ended sundown Saturday. Mary did not have time to prepare her Son for His entombment before the Sabbath began and Hebrew law prohibited her from doing it on the Sabbath. So Jesus was put in the tomb and plans were made by Mary and the other women to go to the tomb to do this one last act of love, compassion, and faith for Mary’s son.

The women knew a large stone had been placed before the opening of the tomb. They knew a large group of Roman soldiers were guarding the tomb. They hoped the men would move the stone for them so they may fulfill their obligation.

The women arrived at the tomb, the ground began to shake, the stone rolled away and the soldiers ran off. An angel came down and sat on top of the stone. And that was just the beginning of the excitement! Before they left the area, Jesus appeared to them. They were the first ones to see Jesus following His resurrection!

Mary had an obligation to tend to the body of her Son. She had to be in emotional pain, grieving the loss of her Son. However, just like the younger daughter in the story above, she and the other women were rewarded for doing their job. The women tended to their business while the men huddled in an upper room and for their faithfulness, for their dedication, the women were the very first to hear the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead!

There are rewards when we take care of things, fulfill our obligations. Just remember those women at the tomb.

Discussion Questions

1. How do you motivate yourself to fulfill an obligation when your heart just isn’t in it?

2. How do you encourage your children to fulfill their obligations?

3. Fulfilling your obligations may be an act of kindness for another person. What are some examples?

4. Discuss times when an obligation earned you a reward you never thought possible.

Lenten Devotion Day 38

Son of God!

The Centurion and the Death of Jesus

Have you ever had your kids tell you they finished their homework, only to check it and find they rushed through it, doing the least they had to do in order to finish fast? Did you ever do that as a kid? Sure! We all did it at one time or another.

Have you ever rushed through a project, at home or work, so you could move on to something more enjoyable? Perhaps a long week-end was coming up and you just didn’t feel like putting much effort into your work. I’m not judging. I think we’ve all done this at one time or another. We get tired. We have better things to do. We want to go home. We always have a good reason for our actions. We also have a little feeling deep inside that we shouldn’t cut corners, no matter what.

The story today’s verse comes from has always fascinated me. A Roman guard has been order to crucify Jesus. The centurion, the man in charge of the soldiers overseeing the crucifixions, watches Jesus throughout His ordeal. The centurion watches the dignity, the compassion, the pain and more in those final hours that Friday. And, as Jesus died, the centurion saw the power and presence of God in Him, a God the Roman soldier didn’t even worship! With His death, Jesus brought another lost sheep back into the fold. As He hung on the cross, Jesus helped the Prodigal Son, in the form of the one thief also being crucified, come home.

Jesus knew He was on His way home. His time on this Earth was almost over. Yet, He didn’t leave until all His work was done and done well. Jesus put everything He had into His work. And when He was done, then He went home!

Discussion Questions

1. How do you remain motivated to do a job well all the way to the end?

2. How can you encourage your children to do all their work to the best of their ability?

3. What is the reward of doing a job well? Of seeing a job through to its finish?

4. How can you work together as a family to encourage one another to always do everything to the best of your ability?

Lenten Devotion Day 37

It’s OK to be Scared!

Jesus Prays Before His Arrest

Everyone gets scared. Some fears we outgrow. Some fears remain with us. I understand kids need to learn how to overcome their fears. However, I believe it is important to reassure kids that fear is a part of life. All of us are afraid sometimes. I‘ve always found if I’m able to gather information about the problem, it helps me face my fear. Still there are those times when fear is tough to overcome.

When I was doing my pastoral internship, I was asked to visit a women in the hospital. That was when I met Ginger. Ginger was being treated during her second battle with breast cancer. Now, I want to tell you right off, Ginger didn’t win the battle the second time around but that is a story for another day.

It was a few days before Halloween and Ginger hoped to go home in time to enjoy Halloween with her family. While I was visiting, the doctor came in to tell Ginger something had shown up in her liver and they needed to run more tests. I knew that wasn’t good. The doctor left the room, leaving me with Ginger. She was quiet for a while. Then she looked at me and said, “I’m scared!” Well, of course she was scared! And that’s just what I told her. Who wouldn’t be scared?

Now, Ginger hadn’t been a Christian for very long. She thought her fear showed a lack of faith. If her faith was strong enough, she thought, she would trust God to take care of everything. She wouldn’t be afraid to die. I thought for a moment.

I prayed really hard. I wanted to know what I should say to her. Boy, did God answer my prayer.

I told Ginger that even Jesus had been scared when He faced death. She was surprised.

“Really?” I opened my Bible and read this story to her. I showed her that Jesus ask His Father to take the cup from Him. In other words, He asked God to find a way to save all of us that would allow Him to live. Jesus’ fear was natural. He was facing the unknown. He was facing a terrible death. If Jesus was afraid to die, I asked Ginger, why wouldn’t you be afraid? When I left, Ginger was still afraid but she did feel better.

When you talk to your kids about being afraid, talk to them about Jesus. He was afraid. He prayed. He did what he had to do in spite of His fear. Let your kids know that courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Most important, make sure they know they are never alone when they’re afraid. You are there for them AND Jesus is there for them.

Be strong and of good courage.

Discussion Questions

1. Talk to your kids about fear. Talk about what scares each of you. Then discuss ways you can each be stronger than your fear.

2. Talk about the power of prayer. Let your kids know how you pray when you are afraid.

3. How do your kids respond when other kids are afraid? Sometimes to hide their own fear, kids will tease another child who is afraid.

4. How do you respond when someone else is afraid? What can you do for them?