The Heart of a Child: Return to God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of school and church buildings being closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  This is day six of the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day six with an important reminder to know that we, and all those around us, can return to God from wherever we have strayed or been scattered.

Return to God

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
Deuteronomy 30:1-3 (NIV)

Have you ever been lost or found it necessary to be away from familiar surroundings for an extended period of time?  How did you feel?  Why?  Are there times when you begin to doubt if you could ever return to a place, or person, you once valued?  Why?  What does it take to return to a relationship you once rejected?  How does your forgiveness of children, and yourself, help each of you to know you can return to God even after you stray?  Are there people that you think are too far from God to ever return?  What does God say?  How does your return to God when you stray give hope to those watching you?

Many people, including children, find themselves estranged from one another and from God.  Sometimes the separation is so great, or the reasons so personal, that we begin to think there is no way back.  One of the most beautiful promises in the Bible is the promise of God that He will be found from wherever we are when we seek Him with our whole heart.  There may be no message more powerful that we can communicate to our children than the message that there is always a way home.

As you pray for a child of any age, ask God to help you remember your journey to Him, including the times you have strayed and returned.  Pray that the children around you, and the child within you, would live in the humility that allows for a full reconciliation of those who stray.  Pray for a softening and removal of pride which keeps the wandering child from believing they can return to God.  Pray for a practice, and acceptance, of forgiveness which can bring about a restoration once thought impossible.

In prayer,

Tom  

The Heart of a Child: Value the Commands of God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of school and church buildings being closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  This is day five of the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day five with an important reminder to know, value, and live the commands of God as you share them with children of any age in every way possible.

Value the Commands of God

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)

Have you ever not done something you should have because you didn’t know you were supposed to?  How do you feel when you miss opportunities that you should have known about?  Are there times you have done something that you didn’t know was wrong until after the fact?  How did you feel?  Did you wish someone had warned you ahead of time?  Why?  How diligent are you about learning what God wants and expects?  Do you feel responsible to help others know the commands of God?  Why?  How does your comfort level in living and talking about the commands of God help others to know them?

Years ago I was pulled over by the police for committing a driving infraction when I wasn’t aware I was doing anything wrong.  After the policeman gave me a written warning, a person riding with me said, “Oh, yeah, you can’t do that in this town.”  My immediate thought was, “That would have been nice to know before I drove through the town rather than after.”  Our willingness to talk about God’s commands, and practice them, in all situations will go a long way toward our children knowing them.

As you pray for a child of any age, ask God to help you be more aware of His commands.  Pray for help in expressing the suitability of His commands in all situations.  Pray that the children around you, and the child within you, would know the commands of God as tools meant to help you and not to harm you.  Pray for wisdom in living and sharing the commands of God with people who have not yet chosen to follow them.  Pray that your obedience to the commands of God would help the next generation know their value.

In prayer,

Tom  

The Heart of a Child: A Life That Goes Well

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of schools and churches closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  This is day four of the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day four with an important reminder to know what a life that goes well looks like from God’s perspective . . . and then live that way.

A Life That Goes Well

“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.  Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.”
Deuteronomy 4:39-40 (NIV)

Has your definition of what “life going well” looks like changed over time?  In what way?  Why?  What is the most important part of living a life that goes well?  Why?  Are you more focused on helping children get what they want or on finding what they need to live a good life?  Why?  What’s the difference?  What does obedience to God have to do with a life that goes well?  Does your level of obedience serve as a good example to the next generation?  How has your obedience, or lack of it, impacted the people around you?  Would you be more obedient if you were to realize how much doing so helps life to go well for others?  Why?

I suspect that we all want a life that goes well for the children around us and for the child within us.  Praying that it goes well is a great start, but our obedience to God is where our prayers are put into action in this matter.  While it can be easy to focus on the stuff that this world offers, Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?”.  Praying that life goes well means that we are asking God to help a person live in obedience so their soul is not lost.

As you pray for a child of any age, ask God to help you pray from a position of obedience.  Pray that God would give you an eternal perspective to what is needed for life to truly go well.  Pray that you would practice a life of obedience that helps life to go well for the child in you and for those children around you.  Pray for hearts of understanding in you and in the children you pray for, so each of you would know God’s perspective of what a life that goes well looks like.

In prayer,

Tom  

The Heart of a Child: Know the Mighty Works of God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of schools and churches closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  This is day three of the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day three with an important reminder to know the mighty works of God and make them known to others.

Know the Mighty Works of God

“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.  And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
Exodus 12:24-27 (NIV)

What is the most spectacular thing you have ever witnessed?  How often do you talk about it?  Why?  What is the most incredible thing God has done in your life?  Who knows about it?  How do they know?  What have you learned from others about the mighty works of God?  What have you experienced yourself?  How are you sharing what you have learned with those of the next generation?  Do the children around you believe in a mighty God?  Does the child within you believe in a mighty God?  Why?  What would it take for you to be more deliberate in sharing about the mighty works of God with others?

Whether easily impressed or a skeptic at heart, most of us have difficulty in giving God credit for the mighty works He does in and around us each day.  While unintentional, we often follow in the pattern of the Egyptians, and Israelites, who dismissed the early mighty works of God as irrelevant.  While the mightiest work of God in our life is being saved from eternal death by the blood of Jesus, there are many other works being done by Him that we ought to also be sharing.

As you pray for a child of any age, ask God to help them be aware of the mighty works He has done, and is doing, in their life.  Pray for eyes that can see the mighty works God is doing in your life.  Pray for wisdom in sharing with children about the mighty works of God.  Pray that your testimony about God’s mighty works would help the children around you know of God’s desire and ability to save them.  Pray that the child within you would reflect the mighty work God has done.

In prayer,

Tom  

The Heart of a Child: A Gift From God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of schools and churches closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  This is day two of the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.

How can my prayers for my children be more effective?  What does God want for my child?  What does God want for me as His child?  What qualities should I grow in to become more like the child God created me to be?  How would my prayer life change if I consistently approached God with the confidence of being His child?  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day two with an important reminder to see yourself and the children around you as being a gift from God.

A Gift From God

Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. “Who are these with you?” he asked.  Jacob answered, “They are the children God has graciously given your servant.”
Genesis 33:5 (NIV)

What makes a gift most valuable to you; the item itself or the one who gave it?  Why?  Have you ever received something that you didn’t want or didn’t know what to do with, but later came to realize its value as you began to understand the purpose of the giver?  Explain.  Do you know a child of any age that feels less valuable than the people around them?  Is that child sometimes you?  Why?  How does what others believe about you change what you believe about yourself?  How would having people recognize that every child is a gift from God change the way children of any age see themselves?

I have a very valuable collection of items on my shelves and window sill at work.  Yet, when my office was broken into several years ago, not one of those items were taken.  It is not until I tell the stories behind each gift that others begin to understand the value of both the item and the giver.  In a similar way, I believe it is not only important that every child recognizes that they are a gift from God, but that we are more deliberate in seeing the life of everyone, including our self, as a gift from God.

As you pray for a child of any age, ask God to help you see them as His gift.  Pray that each person would see their life as a gift from God.  Pray for the wisdom needed to help others see children as God’s gift.  Ask God to help the children you are praying for know that they are valuable to Him and that He has created them to be valuable to others.  Pray that we would value one another based on the One who has given them rather than on what they can or cannot do.

In prayer,

Tom  

The Heart of a Child: Directed Toward God

Praying for children has been heavy on my heart during this current season of schools and churches closed with the need for social distancing, self isolation, and stay at home orders.  I pray often that families will be able to shield children to some extent from the negative emotions that cling to this COVID-19 pandemic.  After spending the past nineteen days sharing the devotions from my “Holding On and Letting Go” book, I’ve decided to move on to sharing the devotions from my “The Heart of a Child” book to help each of us pray for a child of any age, including our age.

How can my prayers for my children be more effective?  What does God want for my child?  What does God want for me as His child?  What qualities should I grow in to become more like the child God created me to be?  How would my prayer life change if I consistently approached God with the confidence of being His child?  Through time in prayer, this devotional journal was written to help you understand, and live, some important traits of living and praying with the heart of a child.

Here is day one with an important reminder to pray about being directed toward God.

Directed Toward God

“Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.   For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
Genesis 18:18-19 (NIV)

When do you find yourself most in need of direction?  Who do you go to when you need direction?  Why?  Who are some of the people that have helped you along in your journey toward God?  How have they helped?  What direction have they given?  What made their input credible?  When you pray that someone would be directed toward God, are there ways that God might use you to be at least part of the answer to that prayer?  How?  Who are you praying for today that needs to be directed toward God?

As parents, it doesn’t usually take long for us to start to realize just how much direction our children will need.  And it isn’t just the amount of direction needed that gets our attention, but the continuing nature of that direction often makes it appear that the need will never end.  As we provide direction that promotes safety, education, manners, kindness, and so many other things, nothing is more important than our children being directed toward God.  I ought to warn you though, when we pray for a child of any age to be directed toward God, He is most likely going to turn a mirror toward us and ask how our life directs people to Him.

As you pray for a child of any age, pray that they would be directed toward God.  Pray for the courage and wisdom to be part of the directing process as God grants the opportunities.  Pray to have a life that constantly seeks to be directed toward God so that you would be more aware of the direction others need.  Pray that you would follow accurate direction, according to God’s Word, and that others would find their direction based in it as well.

In prayer,

Tom  

Holding On and Letting Go:  Hold On To God!

Holding On and Letting Go: Hold On To God!

In light of the current “chaos” being caused by both the known and unknown facets of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), here is the nineteenth, and final, day of the daily devotions from the prayer-based devotional I wrote to be used within disaster relief situations.  I believe many of the same lessons we need to learn when dealing with recovery from a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake can be helpful as we get through, and recover from, the current levels of chaos we are experiencing.

Here is day nineteen with an important reminder to hold on to God above all else even as He holds on to you.

Hold On To God!

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” 
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Hold On To God

Have you ever felt abandoned by people?  Are there people who likely feel that you have abandoned them?  Have you ever felt abandoned by God?  Why?  What do you do when you feel alone?  How difficult is it to hold on to God when you find yourself in the midst of chaos?  Why?  What comfort does God give you when you do hold on to Him in the midst of disaster?

Recovery is rarely as fast as we would like and often never as complete as we would hope.  It is in the process of overcoming that we must hold on to God every step of the way.  God has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but I know a lot of people who live life distant from God — many as a reaction to some disaster in their life.  The problem isn’t that God left, but rather that the enemy convinces us that God doesn’t care so we might as well let go.  Holding on to God is a matter of faith and sometimes we just need to join the person in scripture in saying, “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!”  Even when it is unclear if and when life will ever be “normal” again, holding on to God will give us a sure foundation for whatever the days ahead will bring.  Yes, there will likely be people that abandon us and even people that we abandon, but we must be careful to not let our failures define God.  As we hold on to God we find that He also has a firm hold on us with a desire to see us through the troubles of life.  When we hold on to God in the midst of our chaos, we find that we not only have a point of stability in our life but that He will use us to help others see Him as the reason for our hope.

As you pray, thank God for always being there for you to hold on to.  Pray that you would not allow the actions or inaction of people to entice you into letting go of God.  Pray that you would hold on to God in such a way that He provides hope to you and to those around you.

In prayer,

Tom