Happy Tuesday Friends! Today’s devotion is a lengthy one, so I’ll keep this opening statement short. Being Tuesday, I have to share Pastor Steven Furtick’s message from this past weekend. He’s continuing to preach on my favorite story from the Book of Acts: the story that demonstrates God’s intention for Jesus to be the Savior of the world, not just of the Jewish people.
Our worship song is the next single released from Matt Maher‘s new album, Alive and Breathing. Click the image below to listen to another toe-tapping anthem that raises a joyful noise for the world to hear.
42When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it…46After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Luke 2:42-47)
This message is mostly for the parents out there. But it also goes to the Aunts, Uncles, Godparents, friends of friends with kids, anyone around children. Did this passage jump out at you when you read it a little over a week ago? This part of Luke has always grabbed my attention. When I read it the first time I was mostly puzzled that Mary and Joseph could lose Jesus. He’s not Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, this is the Son of God and they left Jerusalem and started heading home without Him! But as I grew older and began to research these passages more I read an article that pointed out how this was Joseph’s entire family that had come to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. This could have been a pretty big procession of uncles, aunts, cousins, their kids, their grandparents; the entire Joseph clan from Nazareth. Who knows, maybe when they traveled the entire town of Nazareth may have gone together. So thinking of that, I finally understood how they could have departed Jerusalem and trusted that their mature, twelve year old son was with them and not hanging behind at the Tabernacle. When Mary and Joseph finally realized Jesus was not with them, I can imagine the panic that set in.
When my daughter was a toddler, two or three, we were outside walking the dog at the apartment complex we lived in. My daughter loved to run away from me and have me chase her. Well, our dog got herself wrapped up in her leash, and as I bent down to untangle her, my daughter took off. She got around the end of the building we were walking parallel with as I freed the dog. In hindsight, I should have left the dog as soon as my daughter started running, grabbed her, and then dealt with the dog. But I did not think she would get far so I did the opposite. Practically dragging the dog with me, I sprinted down to the corner and turned, expecting to find her there, hiding behind the wall. She was nowhere to be seen. I looked down the hall that split the apartment building. There were three staircases I feared she might have made her way to. But before I checked those, I quickly peeked around the opposite side of the building which butted up against the parking lot. No sign of her there either. My heart was racing at this point. Where had my daughter just vanished to? Had she run around the entire building and I just kept missing her flashing feet everywhere I looked? Did someone grab her? This was my greatest fear, but no cars were moving in the parking lot. Which way do I go next?
I split the buildings and began to call out for her. I sprinted down the hallway that ran the interior of the apartment buildings. Just pass the middle of the building, which provided a breezeway toward the parking lot, there was an apartment with the door slightly ajar. I went in without hesitation, thinking someone might have grabbed my daughter. I startled a man painting in one of the bedrooms. I asked him if he had seen a child run through the house. He said “no,” and for the meantime, I took his word for it. I was making my way out of the apartment when I heard him call to me. He said he could see my daughter from the window. She had made a complete lap around the building. This kind man caught my daughter’s attention just long enough for me to round the corner and catch up to her. We would spend the rest of the day having a lengthy discussion about not running away from Mommy or Daddy. For her it was just a game, but for knowing parents who understand the evils in this world, and even the unintentional accidents, like if my daughter had bolted out into the parking lot as a car was speeding through, this was a horrifying three minutes for me. So when I read the passage above, I cannot help but think that in those three days where Mary and Joseph searched for their lost 12-yo son, they must have been pretty worried. Those were probably three sleepless nights. Even though M&J knew Jesus was the Son of God, I’m sure they were scared to death when they could not find Him for those three days. It would end up not being the only time in their lives that they thought they had lost Jesus for three days. The next time would be when His body was put in a tomb for three days. But we’re going to spend some time looking at that part of the story of Jesus later this month.
The story from Luke and the story I shared are examples of physically losing a child for a certain period of time. I pray that no one ever has to experience that kind of fear with their children. But today, I have written all of this with the sole intention to talk about the “hidden” lost children, children that are lost right in front of you. I am talking about the nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, grandchildren, godchildren, neighbor’s children, best friends kids, all these kids may be lost because they do not know or understand who Jesus is. These “lost” children are the ones we need to reach the most. It’s not that children cannot find Jesus on their own when they are older, but walking with them toward Christ at an early age helps keep them along the right paths when they grow older. I have been personally guilty of not helping the “lost” children in my life know the truth of Christ. I wish I could say that 2020 was the year I fully committed to helping lead all the young children in my life to be found through Jesus Christ. I’m not even sure how successful we have been with our own children.
Unfortunately, we do not know how great an influence we are in our children, or our extended families, until they are grown and, hopefully, living God-filled, Jesus-centered lives. Don’t be like Mary and Joseph. Don’t let the children you have influence over become lost right before your eyes. Be the right example and help walk them to become stewards of Christianity and Christian living.
Reading plan: Luke 7:18-50
Deeper reading plan: 1 Samuel 4-7
Prayer and meditation: continue to pray for your request from day 1 and pray for God to give you the purpose and power to be the right influence on children in your life.
Fitness challenge: Sprint day! Jog a 1/2 mile warm up and knock out 8x100m sprints, working at 50% max effort the first seven, then give it all you got in the second half of the workout.