Malachi 3:10 “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.’” 


Have you ever been trying to put something in a bucket and realize you need a bigger bucket?  I remember when I was growing up we would go out to my Grandma Carter’s farm and pick vegetables.  She would always plant a huge garden with black-eyed peas, butterbeans, squash, okra and a few other items.  I will never forget trying to get the little stool before my siblings did so I could sit and pick.

We would be told what to pick and where and then be given a bucket.  Before long, the bucket would be full and overflowing with the bounty of the garden.  So, we would have to carry our small, full bucket to the end of the row and dump it in a bushel basket.  I often wished I had had a bigger bucket so I could make fewer trips to the end of the row.  But then I would have not been able to drag that big bucket very far.


In the same way, when God blesses us with His bounty, He doesn’t expect us to keep it all to ourselves.  We need to go the “end of the row” and pour it out for others.  God promises us blessings beyond what we can hold if we are faithful to Him.  But He wants us to share those blessings with all those around us.

Our children can learn this lesson ONLY by watching us do this.  They will model our behavior a lot quicker than follow our words.  Find a way to get them involved with giving to others out of their blessings.  They will grow up to teach their children the same thing.

Perhaps you know someone who could benefit from your blessings.  Maybe you have just what they need right now.  It might cost you something you really want to hold on to.  But God promises to bless you as you are faithful.

God, You are the Giver of all things.  I know that and believe that.  Help me today to let go of my blessings so I can be a blessing to others.



Malachi 1:8: “‘But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?’ says the LORD of hosts.”


What do you give to the Lord?  Leftovers?  Damaged goods?  What you can spare?  Here in this verse the Lord is chastising the people for giving Him damaged goods.  He demands you give Him a worthy sacrifice.

Now, understand something.  God DOES NOT NEED our sacrifice.  He is complete and holy without us.  But He desires that we WANT to give to Him in a way that honors Him.  We should WANT to give Him our best, whatever our best is.


Children tend to hold on what is precious to them.  I bet your little Gertrude has a favorite toy.  If you asked her to give it to someone she would probably not be very happy, right?  What a perfect way to explain this verse to her.  Ask her what her most prized possession is and then ask her to give it to the Lord.

Remind her that God gave us His very own Son to die for us.  He deserves our very best.  But also explain to her that “our very best” includes our time and talents.  God deserves our best at everything.  Even though God may give it right back to us, we should give it without that expectation.

What are you giving to God?  I know.  I have already asked you that question.  But I’m asking it again.  What are you holding on to with a death grip that you KNOW God has told you to give to Him?  Give it up!  Let Him have it!

Father of all, I give you my all.  I lay it all down at the altar without any thoughts of getting it back.  I owe you all.  You deserve my all.



Zechariah 13:9: “‘And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,” and they will say, “The LORD is my God.”’”


What does it take to refine silver?  Temperatures well over 1500 degrees are needed to refine the silver.  But did you know that the refining process does not destroy the dna of the silver?  It just makes it purer.  Hmmmm?  So, when the Lord says He will refine us, He doesn’t destroy our “dna.”  He just makes us purer.  That is only done through the blood of Christ and the testing with trials.

No one likes the fires of trials.  Right?  No one appreciates the refining process while they are in it.  But once you come out on the other side, reflecting the image of Christ, it is all worth it.  Why?  Because you have learned, once again, that He will bring you through any storm.  He will walk with you through the fire.  He will sustain you when you think all is gone.


Here we are again. This is a character building experience that your children will best learn by observing you.  They will see you trust in the fire and see you come out better.  As you endure the fires of life, you have the chance to show them how to trust and grow in the midst of them.

Then, when they face their own fires, you can remind them of yours.  They will remember, if you are open and transparent as you go through them.  Too many parents try to shield their children from the unpleasant things in life.  God allows these things in our lives to build us up and make us more like Him.  He is the purest!  He wants us to be pure too.

I want you to remember that the hotter the fire the purer the silver.  The silver releases the impurities as the temperature is increased or sustained.  Hot, long fires will allow you to become purer.  Don’t you want that?

Father, I do not like the flames of trials.  But Lord I do want to be more like You.  I can’t believe I am praying this, but turn up the heat.  Let the impurities in my life be burned away so that all others see in me is You.



Zechariah 10:12: “‘And I will strengthen them in the LORD, and in His name they will walk,’ declares the LORD.”


When will we learn that it is really all about Him?  Now, I am not calling God a narcissist.  You know, that person who thinks the whole universe spins around them.  I have known a few in my lifetime.  They can make everyone around them miserable.  They want everyone to adjust their schedule and their activities to fit their desires.  That is NOT God.

But, as believers, when we yield (and that is the key word) everything to Him, life is so much easier.  You see, God is the exact opposite of narcissistic.  When we yield it all to Him, He in turn makes us the center of His attention.  He wants to make sure we are blessed and protected.  He wants to focus on us.


So many parents I know hover over their kids and make them the center of everything.  We should make sure our kids are cared for and reared properly.  But when we make our children more important than our time with the Lord or time with our spouse, things start to break down.  There is an order to things.  God ordained the order for us to follow.

This teaching moment is more about you pouring yourself into God’s Word and into your spouse (if you are married) BEFORE you pour yourself out for your kids.  They need to see your priority is a healthy relationship with Jesus and a healthy marriage.  I promise if you do that, they will feel much safer than if you centered everything on them.

How are you doing with that?  Do you need to confess to the Lord that you have cheated Him out of His time?  Do you need to ask your spouse for forgiveness for putting little Johnny or Susie before them?  Do that today.  Make sure your children are third on your list, not one or two.

Father, You established order and rules for a reason.  You know what works best.  Help me to see that more clearly.



 Zechariah 7:11: “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing.”


“Wow!  What audacity!  Such nerve!  How dare they turn their backs on God!  I can’t believe they would do such a thing.”  Have you ever said those words about someone?  Right now in America we have some professional athletes who are protesting America by refusing to stand for the national anthem and the flag.  Many, myself included, have been appalled at this.

But wait a minute!  I do the exact same thing to God.  I refuse to pay attention to Him at times.  I turn a stubborn shoulder when I think I have a better way.  I stop my ears from hearing Him because I do not want to hear what He has to say.  Who am I to judge anyone?


Outright rebellion should not be tolerated from our children.  That deserves discipline.  We cannot let that go.  If we do, we will raise them to believe they can do that to anyone, including God.  Now, because little Gertrude and Elrod are flesh and blood, we can expect them to rebel.  It’s their sin nature.  But we cannot let them do it without consequences.  That would not be loving.

The next time (and believe me, there will be a next time) your child rebels against you, take them to this passage.  Show them God said the same thing about His children.  But God did not let them get away with it.  Why?  Because He loved them.  Discipline is necessary.  Correction is appropriate.  He (and we) disciplines those He loves.

Are you rebelling against God right now? Are you shirking some responsibility He has given you?  You had better expect Him to correct your actions.  If you are His child, He won’t let it go long.  He will bring correction into your life.  Expect it.  It is much better to repent now and turn to Him.

Father, I have sinned against You.  Take my rebellious spirit and mold it into something more like You.  Please forgive me today.



Best Verse: Zechariah 3: 1-2 “1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’”


Don’t you just love what happened in these two short verses.  Satan is standing there before the “angel of the LORD” (which we know to be the Messiah, the Lord Jesus) ready to accuse Joshua, but the tables are turned on him.  The Lord accuses him.  I would have loved to have seen his face.  This is a prelude to the future when Jesus would defeat death, and the accuser would be defeated.

Jesus is our defender before the great accuser. Don’t forget that.  Satan wants to whisper doubt and disbelief in you.  He wants you to believe that the Lord has deserted you.  Don’t believe those lies.  Jesus is defending you and accusing the devil of HIS crimes against you.  The devil CANNOT win!


Your children are going to have those moments of doubt.  Their peers are going to turn on them.  They are going to be accused by the great accuser.  Your job is to speak truth to them through God’s Word.  Your job is to remind them how much the Lord loves them and will never leave them.  Your job is to show them how the Lord,  just like He did for Joshua, will exchange their filthy robes for clean ones.

There is nothing worse for a parent than to see their child feeling defeated, as if they have no way out.  You must do all you can to point them back to Jesus.  Satan can’t have them.  If your child is a believer, Satan knows he has already lost them.  If your child has not asked Christ in their heart, then you need to show them and live for them the gospel of Christ every day.  There is nothing more important.  NOTHING!!!

Are you living a defeated life?  Are you allowing the old accuser to accuse you?  Are you believing his lies?  Stop it NOW!  In the name of Jesus, rebuke him, just as the Lord did in these above verses.  Satan has NO claim on you as a child of God.  And he knows that.

My Defender and Lord, thank you for rescuing me.  Thank You for rebuking Satan on my behalf.



Haggai 1:5-6 “5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! 6 You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’”


Haggai is a short, little book with only two chapters.  It is often overlooked.  I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon preached on Haggai.  Why is that?  Well, it’s kind of a harsh message.  The people were allowing the house of the Lord to lie in ruins while they went about their everyday life.  Haggai, speaking for the Lord, called them on it.

You see, the condition of the temple was a symptom of the problem.  The people weren’t dedicated and surrendered to Jehovah.  They were complacent and full of apathy.  They were too busy trying to live their own lives to give much attention to the Lord, to the One to whom they owed their very lives.


Teaching our children respect for a Holy God is so important.  Going through life without sacrifice to and for Him is possible, but dangerous.  Your little Johnny needs to learn to give, not just his financial blessings, but also his very life.  Complete surrender is the key to the Christ life, not “playing church.”

How do you show your children to give their all to the Lord?  By being the example.  They need to see you making sacrifices for God.  They need to see you choosing Him over your own desires.  They will learn more by observing you being obedient than they will ever learn by lecture or coercion.

So, how are you doing with that?  Are you comfortable in “your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”   That’s the question asked in Haggai.  It still needs to be asked today.  We (myself included) are so comfortable that we forget to sacrifice.  God has not called us to riches.  He may choose to bless us that way, but His intention for blessing us is for us to bless others.

O God of the Universe, show me how to sacrifice for You.  Help me be the example my children see in self-sacrifice.  And when they see that, let them see Jesus!



James 3:5-6 “5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.”


Oh the tongue!  It can get us in so much trouble.  Have you ever known someone (it may be you) who didn’t have a filter between their brain and their tongue?  Whatever came to mind came out of their mouth.  They just said whatever was on their mind.  Not smart!

These verses are just two of the verses on the tongue which James writes.  The first 12 verses of chapter 3 deal with this.  James gives some great examples of the tongue (ship’s rudder, bridle, flame).  But as clear as James makes this warning, we all still struggle with it.


Do you spend a lot of time correcting your children in this area?  Name calling, tattling and “poor choice” of words are just a few of the things parents deal with, right?  Take your kids to this chapter of James.  Show them it is not just your rule. God demands we control our tongues for the benefit of others.

Little Elrod or Susie need to know that words have consequences.  They can’t say one thing to one person and the exact opposite to someone else (bitter and sweet waters).  They can’t say they love God and then spew hatred towards someone that hurt them.  James is very clear on this.  Even a child can read this chapter and get it.

Have you done that lately?  Have you spoken evil of someone?  “Not me, Carl. I would never do that.”  Right!  Sure you haven’t.  We may not call it “evil,” but if it is not building that person up then it is better to keep our mouths shut.  It is better to bite our tongue.  In those situations, it is better to be tongue-tied.

Father, you created this tongue to praise You.  Give me the power through Your Holy Spirit to control it and use it only in ways that honor You.



James 1:19: “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” 


There are so many great verses in James 1.  I really struggled which one to choose today.  The Lord was speaking through all of them.  But verse 19 is such a great verse for us and for our children.  It just kind of leapt off the page at me.

How many times have you engaged your mouth before you had all the facts?  If you are like me, you start formulating your response to someone before they even finish speaking.  The word “slow” in this verse means to be deliberate or to be unhurried while still moving forward after considering all the facts.  Whoa!  Is that what you do?  That’s not me most of the time.


If there is one important skill for our children to learn, it is listening.  Remind them that’s why God gave them two ears and one mouth.  Listening well is a learned art.  It does not come naturally.  We must teach them to stop talking and listen.  You can hear while you talk, but it so much easier to REALLY hear what is being said if you are quiet and listen.

Do your children accuse you of not listening to them?  I believe every parent who has ever lived has been accused of that at some time by their child.  The next time you hear that from your child, stop and look at them, take their little cherub cheeks in your hands and say, “I am sorry, honey.  I am listening now.”  That will teach them so much about listening to others.

Our prayer life also involves listening.  We are often so busy talking to God that we are not quiet enough to hear Him speak.  Does God still speak?  You had better believe He does.  Use those ears of your heart.  Listen intently.  Be silent before Him.  He has much to say to you.

Father, thank You for creating me with the ability to hear.  But I am even more thankful that I can hear You without ears.  You have given me the Holy Spirit Who speaks into my heart Your very Words.  Help me listen well today.



Titus 1:7 “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”


I recently taught this verse to our kids at church.  We’re studying the book of Titus, and we are calling the series “Intentional.”  One word – one long word – one intentional word – to describe a short, three chapter book from Paul to Titus.  I walked the children through this long list of do’s and don’ts regarding the qualifications of an elder.  But guess what?  These qualities really apply to everyone who wants to walk with Christ.

One word really got their attention – pugnacious.  I don’t think I had EVER used that word in my vocabulary before.  The word means bully, striker, or someone who fights.  Now who, besides a prize fighter, wants to be like that?  What believer wants to be a bully?  No one should.  It goes totally against the character of Christ.  But so many of us can’t wait for a good fight. Of course, we rationalize every one of those fights.


You probably think this is an easy trait to teach our kids.  They fight, and we discipline.  Simple as that!  But what kind of fighting are we talking about?  Is it really as simple as that?  There are all kinds of fighting and bullying.  Today, that can happen online.  Thousands of kids a day are being bullied through social media.  You can fight without saying a word.  I’ve seen girls who bully other girls without saying a word.

Being pugnacious has nothing to do with Christ.  That word should not describe us either.  No one should see your child coming and think, “Here comes that bully.”  How horrible that would be.  So how do you prevent it?  You model being unpugnacious (not sure that is a word, lol) yourself and you hold them accountable if you see a glimmer of that in them.  Easier said than done, I know.  But that is why you are getting paid the big bucks as a parent.

Father, give us the wisdom as parents to recognize and correct any ungodly character we see in our children.  Help us to point them towards You, the most UNPUGNACIOUS of all.