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NOT ON MY DIET

 Isaiah 65:25 “‘The wolf and the lamb will graze together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox; and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,’” says the Lord.

 A DIFFERENT APPETITE

How many times have you heard someone say, “That’s not on my diet” or “I can’t possibly eat that”?  Maybe you are the one saying it.  Lots of folks will be saying that next week as part of their new year’s resolution to lose weight.  But I don’t think the wolf or the lion were thinking that in this verse.

I don’t know what you know about wolves and lions, but they usually don’t eat grass and straw. They would have been eating the lamb and the ox.  But something is different here.  All evil and threat of harm are gone.  They are on the holy mountain of God, and He is the essence of peace.

TEACHING MOMENT

What a great verse to share with the kids.  We are naturally prone to evil.  Our flesh desires it.  We would rather chew someone’s head off when we are mad than talk calmly and peaceably.  This is something that is so important to teach our children. They need to learn to dwell in peace.  But in order to teach it, we must live it.

“Now, wait a minute Carl.  You don’t know how mad that person made me.”  Really.  They MADE you mad.  They have that much power over YOU?  Only if you give it to them.  We are going to always face “wolves” and “lions” who want to eat us.  We must rest in the peace of God to calm their souls.  Your children need to see that in you to learn it.

So, are you the wolf and lion or the lamb or ox?  If you are resting in Jesus, it doesn’t matter.  He has the power to calm you and give you a genuine love for others that only wants to see them live, not die.  Will you allow Him to do that in and through you?

Father of Peace, let me end this year in peace.  Let me begin next year looking for ways to make peace with those with whom I may be at odds.  But most importantly, let me live this out for my children.

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MARCHING IN GREATNESS

Isaiah 63:1 “Who is this who comes from Edom, with garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength? ‘It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’”

 MIGHTY TO SAVE

I am a visual person.  When I read a verse like this one, my mind starts picturing it.  I can just see the Lord, dressed majestically marching down the road.  I can just see the armies of heaven all around.  I can just see His might and strength being exhibited to all around.

Now, remember this – the Lord doesn’t NEED an army to defend Him.  He can speak just ONE word, and the enemy is defeated.  I truly believe He has the hosts of heaven for our benefit.  It is easier for us to believe in His strength and might when we read about that than to imagine a one God army.  That’s okay.  He understands.  But it doesn’t change the fact that He is the Mighty One.

TEACHING MOMENT

The next time you and your children watch a parade, talk about this verse.  You may see a drum major leading a band down the street.  Point out the drum major’s clothes, how they are different than the rest of the band.  Talk about how he or she is the one leading and in charge.  Point out how that shows their authority.

But then compare it to God’s authority and might.  Explain to them, the best you can, how God has the strength to just speak and defend us.  He is always majestic, but He will come down for us at the mere mention of His name.  He is always holy, but He is also the ruthless defender of the innocent, of His children.

Are you relying on your Great Defender today?  Look at Him.  Look at His regality.  Look at His majesty.  Be in awe of Him.  But know also that He is your God.  He wants to be called by you.  He stands at the ready to hear and show His power in your life.

O holy and majestic God, I stand in awe that You would love me.  I find it hard to believe that You know me personally and will come to me when I call.  I love You and will serve You.

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WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

Isaiah 58:9a “Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”

 HERE I AM

I heard a joke once about an old married couple who were driving down the road in their old pickup.  She looked over at him as he was driving and said, “When we were dating we used to sit right up next to each other.”  Without even casting a glance in her direction, he said, “I haven’t moved.”

That’s how it is with us sometimes with the Lord.  We cry out, “O Lord, where are You?”  He answers back, “Right where I have always been.”  We tend to stray from the Lord.  He never strays from us. Don’t forget that.

TEACHING MOMENT

Have your kids ever started hollering at you, “Mom!  Dad!  Where are you?”  You’ve been in the same place for the past two hours, but they just realized they weren’t hearing you.  They assume you have left.  They can’t see you and panic.  But as soon as you say, “Right here Elrod” he calms down and starts playing again.

We need to teach them to trust God’s presence.  They need to stay close to Him.  They are going to be tempted as they get older to move away.  They will have friends who don’t know Him and may even put doubts in their minds.  But they need to keep talking to Him.  They need to keep listening.  He does not move.

Are you feeling alone right now?  Are you thinking God is nowhere to be found?  You are wrong.  He hasn’t moved.  You have.  Turn to Him today and ask Him to revive your spirit.  He is just waiting to respond to your call.  Listen as He say, “Here I am.”

God, I know You are there. I believe You are there.  Make me aware of Your presence in everything I do. And help me point You out to my children every time.

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NOT TO HIGH TO STOOP

 Isaiah 57:15 “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”

REACHING DOWN

Don’t you just love the imagery of this verse?  The high and exalted One is willing to get down on our level.  He comes to the contrite (brokenhearted) and the lowly (humble).  Even though He dwells on a high and holy place, He comes down.  That’s exactly what Jesus did.

We just celebrated Christmas, the birth of Christ.  He left His heavenly abode to come to the lowly.  Just look at who the Lord chose as His earthly parents, a humble carpenter and a teen virgin.  He could have come in majesty and with angelic choirs announcing His arrival to the crowds in Jerusalem.  But He chose to come this way.

TEACHING MOMENT

Do your kids ever get cocky and a little arrogant?  It happens to the best kids.  When that happens show them this verse.  God looks for the contrite and lowly.  He wants to see that humble, teachable spirit.  He wants your children to see themselves that way, not as unworthy, but as a servant to others.

How do you teach lowliness and a contrite heart?  You don’t.  You can’t.  This is something the Lord has to teach them by allowing them to experience life.  As parents, you cannot protect them, nor should you, from these trials.  They need to learn this while they are young to prepare them for life ahead.

That may sound harsh.  I don’t mean it to be.  But I want to make sure you realize that as holy and righteous as our Lord is, He loves to dwell with those who are broken.  When we have nothing in ourselves that magnifies us, that’s when He can start using us.

Lord, I don’t like the sound of that whole lowly and contrite thing.  But if it will make me more like You, bring it on.  I know that is dangerous to pray, but I mean it.

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PROPHETIC WORDS

Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

HATED

We have heard and read this prophecy concerning the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  We quote and reflect on the words every Easter.  But do we really understand the words?  Have you ever known anyone who had done nothing wrong who was hated like Jesus?  Look at the words – despised, forsaken, sorrow, grief, hide their face, did not esteem.  That’s pretty low.

Guess what?  He would do it all again.  He would take all that on Himself again, just for you.  Isaiah wrote these words long before Christ was born, but he believed them.  He spoke truth to a lost world who would not see the Messiah for generations to come.  But it was still truth.

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children need to know that sometimes things don’t happen quickly.  Sometimes we have to wait a while.  Christ did what He did for them.  They may not see the result of all His works until later, but they will.  They may not see feel His power every day, but it is still there.

When your little Johnnie or Susie comes home saying that Bubba or Mildred hates them, pull out this verse.  Remind them, in comparison to the hate Christ felt, that is nothing.  It’s still real, and it still stings, but it pales in comparison.

Let me ask you a question.  Would you die for someone who hates you?  I bet not.  Would you give your life for a crowd of people who spit on you?  Probably not, but we should be willing to.  Just like Christ, we should lay down our life for others.  Who do you need to die for today?

O God, there is no way I can die for someone else without You living in and through me.  I just don’t have it in me.  My flesh is too strong.  But You can do it through me.

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BEFORE BIRTH

 Isaiah 49:1 “Listen to Me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The LORD called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me.”

 HE KNOWS MY NAME

My daughter-in-law (I call her my “other daughter”), Kira, is expecting a baby girl in February of next year.  Even though she won’t be here until about a month and a half AFTER Christmas, my wife, Mimi, has already bought her clothes and has packages under the Christmas tree with her name on it.  You see, my son, Christopher, and Kira have already named her.  She will be called London.  She is already named and loved by many.  I can’t wait to meet her.

Isaiah is saying here in this verse that the Lord called him from his mother’s womb. He even named him.  God knows us from the moment of conception.  He calls our name, even in the womb.  If that is not a Pro-Life verse, I have never seen one.  How precious to think that God sees us even then?  He doesn’t need an ultrasound.

TEACHING MOMENT

I am sure your children have asked about their name.  What did you tell them?  When did you name them?  Did you wait until they were born or did you have them named long before?  Tell them how you loved them even before they arrived.  Tell them how you prayed for them while they were still inside their mommy.  Tell them how much God loved them even then.

I have watched my other grandchildren feel their mommy’s tummy when London moved.  I have watched them as they saw my son talking to London.  This sends a great message to them.  London is REAL now.  She is already known by her family.  But more importantly, they need to know that she is known by her Lord.  He already knows her fully.

Do you believe that the Lord knows you fully?  He does, you know.  He knows you more completely that anyone.  There is nothing about you He doesn’t know.  He formed you in your mother’s womb.  And He has been calling your name since conception.  Listen, is He calling now?

Father, I know You know me.  Thank You for not forgetting my name, like I do so many times with others.  Help me pass on Your love to others.

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THE BEST LAID PLANS…

 Isaiah 46:11b “‘Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.’”

 BE CAREFUL HOW YOU PLAN

You may have heard the saying “the best-laid plans of mice and men.”  Do you know where that comes from?  It comes from a line in the poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns.  He wrote “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men often go awry.”  So, what does that mean?  Lol   No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it.

I am a planner. I like to know what I am doing long before I do it.  I have a one year planning calendar on my office wall which I use to map out my year.  But sometimes, God gets in the way of that.  Do you know what I mean?  Our verse today is telling us that God’s plans will always come to pass.  WE get in the way sometimes of God fulfilling His plan the way and time He sees as best, but He will fulfill His plans.  Why would we think we could stop God?

TEACHING MOMENT

It is so important to teach our children to plan ahead.  Most schools require students to have a planner as part of their school books.  This gives them a place to mark down homework assignments, upcoming tests and school events.  But we need to make sure we don’t teach them to “over plan.”

Your children need to allow the Lord to direct them as He wants.  But hang on, Mom and Dad.  That may even mean He directs them in a way that is against YOUR plans for your child.  How dare He do that!  Right?  Remember, your child is on loan from God.  They really belong to Him.  He has given you temporary stewardship, but they are His.  Let Him lead them.

Are you allowing God to direct your plans?  You may have your next ten years all planned out.  Be careful.  The mouse in the poem had his home established too, but the next harvest destroyed it (google and read the poem).  We must be willing to flex our plans to follow the Lord.  After all, He sees the whole picture.  We can’t.

Lord, it is so hard to give up my plans to follow Your plans.  Help me hold my calendar loosely so I can let it go if necessary.  Let me teach my children to do the same.

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TALKNG BACK

Isaiah 45:9 “‘Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker- an earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, “What are you doing?” Or the thing you are making say, “He has no hands”?’”

SHUT YOUR MOUTH

The absurdity of it all!  Clay talking back to the potter?  That is just dumb!  The clay has no right to question the hands that are forming it.  The clay doesn’t know the intention of the potter.  The clay has no idea the purpose for which it is being made.  How dare it talk back!

Sounds funny, huh?  But we are the same as the clay.  We have no idea of the perfect plan God has for us.  We have no right to question when He pushes and pulls us into shape.  We may become a beautiful vessel to be displayed in a store window or we may become a pot to cook in.  The key is God is the One Who knows best.

TEACHING MOMENT

Okay, it’s time to get out the playdough again, either homemade or store bought.  Let’s get the kids to make something (They are God in this scenario).  As they are forming it, start talking as if you are the playdough.  Tell them to stop smashing you.  Tell them that hurts.  Tell them what you want to be.  Make sure it’s something that is not possible to make.

When your kids stop laughing, tell them how silly it sounds to God for us to do the same.  We all have to trust the hands of God to form us into what He wants to use to accomplish His will.  Now ask Gertrude or Elrod what THEY want to make with the playdough.  It’s the same with God.  We need to ask Him what He wants to make us.

Aren’t you tired of arguing with God about what He is trying to make you?  Just let Him mold and shape you into His perfect image.  When He is finished You will look more like Him and less like You.  And that is a good thing since that will draw more people to Him.

You are the Potter.  I am the clay.  Help me remember that, Lord.  Help me trust You to shape me and my children into whatever You desire.

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WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND MY BACK

Isaiah 41:10 “‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

HIS RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND

I love this verse.  I just love how the Lord reassures me.  Look at what he tells us NOT to do.  First, He tells us to not fear. Then He says to not look anxiously look about.  In other words, “Trust Me.”  But He doesn’t stop there.  He says He will do three things:                  1) strengthen us 2) help us 3) uphold us.

I think it’s kind of neat also that God tells us He will do this with one hand.  That reminds me how we used to tease someone by saying, “I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back.”  God is powerful enough and strong enough that He only uses His right hand.  Now maybe that’s not what He meant, but it’s a cool thought.

TEACHING MOMENT

When my kids were little (and that’s been a while ago) they loved for me to pick them up and swing them or throw them in the air.  They also love to swing on my extended right arm.  They would do that as long as I could extend my arm.  Even though they were small, it didn’t take long for my arm to get tired.

Do that with your kids, if they are still small. And when your arm wears out talk about God’s right hand.  It never gets tired.  His right arm isn’t made out of muscle and bone.  His arm is all power and Spirit.  He can hold us…well…forever, which He will.  He will hold us for eternity.  But He holds us now, too.

Are you allowing the Lord to hold you?  Maybe you are too proud to be held.  “I’ve got this, God.  I don’t want to be held.”  Put away the pride.  Let God lift you up.  He wants to.  He wants to hold you with His righteous right hand.

Powerful God, I praise You that You are all strength and might.  You can and will hold me forever.  Remind me daily of your righteous right hand.

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JUST ONE ANGEL

Isaiah 37:36 “Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead.”

IT ONLY TOOK ONE

Pretty amazing, huh?  The entire Assyrian army is laying siege to Jerusalem, so what does God do?  He sends one angel, not two, not three, not a legion of angels.  One lonely angel.  What was He thinking?  You see, when it’s the angel of the Lord, that’s all it takes.

Now, how did this “angel” do that?  Well, we aren’t told, and it really doesn’t matter.  It was done.  The Assyrians were threatening His people.  They even questioned His power.  He had to show them Who was powerful.  So, He sent just one angel who was empowered by God.  That’s all it took.

TEACHING MOMENT

What a great story to read your child!  This is “made for tv” type stuff.  They will love hearing how God defended Jerusalem.  Let them speculate how He did it.  Since we don’t know, they can just dream.  But don’t lose sight of the truth of this story.  What is that?

God is still defending His people.  He still hears us when we cry out to Him.  He still sends His angels to defeat the enemy.  Satan is no match for God, and he knows that.  Your children need to know that.  Knowing God is always there is comforting.  It does not matter who is battering the gates, He is there.

Are you looking for the angel of the Lord?  I am!  I am always looking for His Son to appear.  He is coming back.  He will take us home.  He will defeat Satan permanently.  He will rule and reign forever.  Won’t you just believe that?

O Lord, You are my rescuer!  You are the One who stands for me against those who want to harm me.  I trust You to defend me and my children.

 

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