Wednesday, June 24

Apostles' Creed Focus

“He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.”


Reflection Verse

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” - 1 Peter 3:15


Reflection

Broken appliances, strained relationships, and global pandemics are not on my top five list of favorite things to navigate. Life’s complications threaten to drag us down into negativity. Our struggle with hope in the midst of suffering isn’t a new problem. The apostle Peter wrote a letter to encourage believers to leverage their difficulties as opportunities to tell others about Christ. 

In 1 Peter 3:15, he quotes from the writing of Isaiah to remind us that fear of the Lord trumps all other fears. “The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread” (Isaiah 8:13).

Life is scary, but when we revere Christ as Lord in our hearts, we are choosing faith in Jesus to be bigger than all our other fears. When we fear God more than circumstances, our crisis becomes an opportunity to put Christ on display. He is the strength in our weakness. 

When we have hope in the midst of cancer diagnosis, betrayal, job loss, and a myriad of other difficulties, the watching world perks up in wonder. How can we have hope when all outward signs point to despair?

This is when Peter urges us to be prepared with a reason for our hope. It isn’t because we are stronger, more mature, listened to the right podcast, or discovered the perfect vitamin. The answer for the hope that we have is Christ. 

The word translated “answer” in 1 Peter 3:15 is closer to the English word “apology.” However, it  does not mean “to say I am sorry.” An apology is more like a defense presented in court. “Apologetics” is the branch of theology that deals with the defense of the faith. Warren Wiersbe said, “Every Christian should be able to give a reasoned defense of his hope in Christ, especially in hopeless situations.”

Giving a defense doesn’t mean arguing with lost people, but it does mean that we prepare to claim Jesus as the reason for our hope. We have hope that our trials will produce endurance and strength of character (Romans 5:3-5). We have hope that the Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-27). We have hope that what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory God will reveal later (Romans 8:18). 

We can share this hope with respect and gentleness. The purpose is not to win an argument, but to share the news that Jesus brings hope to the hopeless. We still lament our pain and validate the feelings of others while at the same time, choosing to believe God more than our fears. 

What has been your personal brand of suffering lately? What is nagging at the corners of your mind? Peter’s first encouragement is to fear God more than anything else - revere Christ in your heart. Then be ready to share with others how you are holding hope and heartache in the same hands through the power of Christ in you. Take a moment today to write down three reasons that you have hope because of Jesus.


Prayer

Lord, help me to revere you in my heart. I want to see you for who you really are - the God who is bigger than all my problems. Help me to hold on to hope and heartache at the same time. When others see my hope, give me the words to share with gentleness. I want to be able to explain my faith in you - especially in the midst of difficulties. Thank you for being my stability in an unstable world. In Jesus Name, Amen.


Verses for Further Reflection

Romans 5, Romans 8, 1 Peter 3


Family Focus

When children are young, it’s so easy to spend little time thinking about teaching them apologetics. We get lost in the hustle and craziness of homework and baseball and tests and “Do I have any clean socks?”, and well, just getting dinner on the table each night is a challenge. Yet we need to teach them the Biblical truths that will equip them to withstand spiritual attacks and answer the tough questions that they might someday face from their peers.

Do you think ten-years-old is too young to begin conversations about apologetics? How about six? The fact is, it’s never too early! Children will face challenges to their faith often beginning in grade school and into high school, and it continues on the college campus. Our children need to be taught how to defend their faith and answer skeptical questions, and it doesn’t have to be something left to Sunday school teachers. It starts at home, and yes, it can even be fun!

Ask Them Questions

If you want to know what they think about God, what they do and don’t understand, ask them. When we sit with them and ask them questions, they begin to do the same as us. 

Prepare Them to Answer Others’ Questions

Here is a  list of resources to help you and your kids understand the foundational truths of Scripture, as well as some great books to answer some of the really tough questions about our faith.

  • The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel
  • The Case for Christ - Student Edition by Lee Strobel
  • The-Ology by Marty Machowski
  • The Radical Book for Kids by Champ Thornton
  • Can I Ask That? - Vol. 1 & 2 by Candy, Griffin & Powell
  • If I Could Ask God Anything by Kathryn Slattery

Do you know how your kids would answer friends with questions like: Was Jesus really born in a stable? Did His friends tell the truth? Did He really come back from the dead? These resources not only provide children with the answers to questions about Christ’s existence, miracles, ministry, and resurrection, but offer it in such a way that they will be equipped to tell others. These books are also incredibly helpful for parents in answering the tough questions children ask about who they are and where they came from and who Jesus is, interweaving science and faith, compelling stories and facts to support the truths in the Bible.

Of all the things we want our children to take with them when they leave our home, a deep relationship with Jesus and understanding of the Gospel is what we want most, right? So, why not help to lay their spiritual foundations now by teaching our kids apologetics. And let  God use us to help mold and shape our children - as we pray together, ask and answer questions, and read and study about who He is, and why He loves them so.