Alone, Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

ALONE TIME


1 THESSALONIANS 3:1

“Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone,”   

Sometimes, in the midst of pursuing God’s Will, we have to make tough, hard choices. Paul was faced with one here. He had to decide, probably for his safety and the future of his ministry, to not return to Thessalonica then. Instead, he remained in Athens and sent Timothy (and probably Silvanus) back to them. That meant he was left alone in Athens.

But it was in Athens where Paul made his famous speech on Mars Hill. I have stood there. It was quite humbling to know I was standing in the same exact spot as Paul as he looked at the Parthenon and city of Athens. Paul may have felt he was alone but standing there I guarantee you he felt empowered by the Lord Himself.

APPLICATION

So, what is my point from this verse for you and your children? We are never alone. Sometimes, while we are serving the Lord, we feel we are alone. You have to remind yourself that you are not. You may, in fact, have some of your greatest moments at those times. When no one is around you to distract you, you can hear God clearly.

In this day and age, however, we have to teach our children how to be alone. The digital age allows them to be in the presence of others all the time. That is not good. We need alone time. We need quiet to hear the Lord speak. The next time your little Susie says, “I’m bored,” tell her it’s a good time to pray and listen to the Lord.

Have you purposely sought out some alone time? When was the last time you did that? Do it soon. Do it today, if you can. Find a spot and some time to just get alone and listen. You may be surprised at what you hear.

Lord, I love our time with each other. It’s not alone time. I’m with You, and You fill every void of my life.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

YOU MAKE ME LOOK GOOD


1 THESSALONIANS 2:20 

“For you are our glory and joy.”

I have had the privilege in my four decades of ministry to supervise some awesome people. Whenever I have received kudos and praise for something that occurred under my responsibility, I have tried to be quick to give all the credit to my staff. They are the ones who did all the work, making me look good.

That’s a very loose example of what Paul is talking about here with the Thessalonians. He is telling them that they make him look good. He gets glory and joy from them. They give him his value and worth because they exemplify the investment he has made in them for the cause of Christ. And because of that, they give him joy.

APPLICATION

I bet you can tell your children that they are your glory and joy. Well, maybe not all the time, lol. I am sure there are moments when their behavior is not glorious and joyous. Am I right? But don’t think about their everyday choices. Think about their eternal worth. God has placed them in your care to prepare them for eternity. Wow! That sure changes your perspective.

And most of us parents will have the privilege to not only affect how our children live. We will have the opportunity to invest in our grandchildren and even perhaps our great grandchildren. They can all be our glory and joy, but only if we invest in them spiritually. How? Pray for them. Read God’s Word to them. Tell the repeatedly how much God loves them. That will impact them for life.

Are you doing those things right now? Are you investing in others so that they can be your glory and joy? If not, do it today. Impact their lives for Christ. One day you too could look back at them and tell them, “You are our glory and joy.”

I want to impact my children and my children’s children so that I too can say those words to them. I thank You, Lord, for entrusting them to me. I will invest in them today.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

I’M SO PROUD OF YOU


1 THESSALONIANS 2:19 

“For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?” 

I need to explain this verse. Paul is NOT boasting about himself or anything he has done. Paul is boasting about the Thessalonians. Basically, what he is saying is when the Lord Jesus returns, he will proud of them. Why? Because of the life they have lived in Christ. How was that possible? Paul introduced them to Jesus, and they accepted the Word of God.

The closest thing I can compare it to is when I have had the privilege to lead someone to Christ and then I get to watch them get baptized. When I see them publicly declare their love and allegiance to Christ, I am so proud of them. Knowing the Lord used me in the process thrills my heart.

APPLICATION

The greatest joy a Christian parent can have is to see their child walk with Christ. When we observe them making life decisions based on God’s Word, our chest should be bursting. Pride gets a bum rap a lot of times. But pride in the right things is good. Pride in godly living is good. Pride in pleasing Jesus is good. 

Teach your children to love and obey the Lord and your boasting in them will be centered upon that. Winning sports trophies or academic achievements may sound great. But nothing this world offers is eternal. When they achieve spiritually, that will last forever. 

In whom are you boasting? Are there people in your life whom you have led to Christ? Have you played a role in leading them to the Lord? If so, you understand this boasting. If not, you have no idea the joy you are missing. Paul says the Thessalonians were his hope, his joy, his crown of boasting. Who is yours?

I want to boast in You and what You have done in and through me in the lives of others. Show me, Lord, who You would have me invest my time and energy. I desire to see others come to know You.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

ROADBLOCK


1 THESSALONIANS 2:18 

“For we wanted to come to you-I, Paul, more than once-and yet Satan hindered us.” 

Has Satan ever got in your way? You were following what you believed was God’s will for your life, and all of a sudden, the devil jumped in. Boy, that has happened to me more than once. Now, to be honest, it probably wasn’t the devil. It was probably just one of his demons he sent. The end result is the same though.

That word “hindered” literally means to cut into like blocking off a road, to introduce an obstacle that stands sharply in the way of a moving object. But guess what?  When Satan does that, God reroutes us. He sees the big picture. He knows the end result. We just have to listen. He will tell us what to do when this happens.

APPLICATION

Sooner or later your child is going to face one of those obstacles. They have something planned which they truly believe is in God’s will. But…obstacle after obstacle is blocking their path. That can be so frustrating. We have to teach them to listen closely to God’s voice. He will guide them through the most difficult course. But they have to listen.

And do you know what I have discovered? A lot of the times the new path is more exciting. It’s more scenic. I learn more. I didn’t want to go that way, but I was sure glad I did in the end. Share that with your children.

Is Satan in your way right now? Are you sure it’s him? Sometimes what we blame on the devil is actually the Lord trying to keep us out of trouble. Listen to His voice. You can hear it clearly in His Word. He has the PERFECT destination planned for you.

O God, I know You are the one who directs my path. In those times when Satan tries to block me, show me how to get past him. You may choose to reroute me or have me plow right through. I trust You to show me.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU


1 THESSALONIANS 2:17 

“But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while-in person, not in spirit-were all the more eager with great desire to see your face.” 

Have you ever been away from someone for a while and can’t wait to see them again? When my children were small, I traveled a good bit. I was always anxious to get home to see them and hold them and kiss them. Oh yeah, my wife too, lol.  But I missed them terribly.

The word “eager” here in this verse comes from the root word which means “with speed.” It means to hasten, go quickly or hurry. I love that. But what is great about that is Paul is saying this to his Christian brothers and sisters, not his biological family. He had that kind of love for them. 

APPLICATION

Children naturally get excited about going to see Grandma or Grandpa. They can’t wait to get home and see their dog or cat after they have been gone for a while somewhere. How do we teach them to have that same kind of desire for their Christian friends and family? We want them to desire that kind of deep fellowship because those are the people who will walk with them in this life long after we are gone.

Are you modeling that kind of love for others? Are there people in your life who you just can’t wait to see? Children watch that. They will ask you, “Why do you love Mr. Sam so much?” Then you can read this verse and explain it is all because of Jesus. They will get that.

If you don’t have someone in your life like that, you need it. I have some dear brothers in Uganda and Kenya whom fill that role for me. I can’t wait to see them when I travel there. I long for their fellowship and embrace. They are truly my brothers from another mother.

Father, thank You that as much as I love others, I can never run out of love to give. Thank You that Your love is endless. It is through Your love that I can love others that way.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

SIN-FULL


1 THESSALONIANS 2:16 

“hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.” 

I have to admit that I don’t ever remember reading this verse. Now, I know I have, but it has never been clear to me – until now. Look at it again. Paul is telling the Thessalonians that those people who are accusing them and being hostile to them because of the gospel are just full of sin. They are not just sinful. They are sin-full.

Some people relish sin. They love to hurt people. They love the evil. That only comes from one source – the devil. He will pour into the willing vessel that kind of hate. And the sad part is they don’t know they are being used by him. They think they are in control. Don’t forget that we are battling in the spirit world, not flesh and blood.

APPLICATION

Teach your children the truth about evil people. The truth is they need Jesus too. If we return hate for hate, if we return evil for evil, we may further drive them away from the Lord. The Word tells us to turn the other cheek. This doesn’t mean we are to let people run over us, but it does mean we are to not take offense.

Our children will, once again, watch us doing this. Let your life exemplify cheek turning. Show them how to treat those people who are sin-full. Show compassion and love to those who attempt to hurt you the most. You are not doing this for yourself or them. You are doing it for Jesus.

Who is the sin-full person in your life right now? Today determine to just be Jesus to them. Ask yourself how He would treat them. Remember He died for them. Would you?

Lord, I want to lash out at those who hurt me. Let me see them as You do – as people in need of a Savior. Use me to draw them to You.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

HOSTILE PEOPLE


1 THESSALONIANS 2:15 

“who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,”

The truth is there are people in the world who are just hostile towards God and anyone who stands with Him. They can’t stand the fact that He loves them. They don’t want to hear that He sent His Son to die for them. They had rather fight than listen. And the sad fact is you can do nothing to persuade them otherwise. That is the Lord’s fight.

So, what do you do when you face these people? You love them anyway. You pray for them. You do kind things for them. You find ways to just be Jesus to them. And when they attack you for doing those things, you smile and do it some more.

APPLICATION

This is a hard lesson for our children. We don’t want to see them ridiculed or harassed. We don’t want them around nasty, mean people. But we can’t always protect them, so we have to prepare them. That means letting them watch us deal with these people. They need to see us loving while being hated.

Why is it most of a parent’s teaching involves modeling? Because children learn best by imitating. They will mimic and follow the example of those they love and respect. God knew that. He even asks us to imitate His Son. Why shouldn’t our children imitate us? Give them something to imitate.

Who are you emulating? Is it Christ? If it isn’t, be careful. Our only perfect example is Jesus. He was loving even while on the cross. He loved Judas to the end. He refused to lash out when He could have easily called the angels. Be like Him.

I know imitation is the highest form of flattery, Lord. Let me show, even my enemies, Your love. Help me stand firm and remain gentle.

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IMITATE SUFFERING?


1 THESSALONIANS 2:14 

“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,”  

I actually had to read this verse a few times to understand what Paul was saying about the Thessalonian church. This church imitated the actions of the Judean churches, even though they knew it would bring them suffering. That doesn’t sound very smart to me, lol. But they were following the Lord Jesus, wherever that led.

So, you have to ask the question, “What exactly did they imitate?” I am pretty sure it wasn’t giving church socials and serving kool-aid and cookies. They were witnessing about Jesus. They were testifying to their neighbors about the saving power of the gospel. They were talking about freedom from idols. All of these would have gotten them into trouble with the Jews, Romans or Greeks of their city. But they imitated anyway.

APPLICATION

We teach our children to not imitate people who might get them into trouble. In fact, we tell them to keep their distance. But in this case, they actually do need to imitate people who stand for the truth, even if it means they could face trouble. We don’t want our children to suffer. No sane parent would. But we do want them to serve Jesus, and that can include suffering.

Make sure your children know that you will always support them should they be faced with this kind of decision. Let them know if they are following the Lord Jesus and get into trouble for standing up for the truth, you have their back. That doesn’t give them permission to be arrogant or obstinate. But is does mean you will stand with them when they stand for what is right.

Will you? Will you risk suffering to defend the gospel? Will you imitate the Judean churches? In our day standing up for the truth will bring ridicule and harassment from those who oppose our Lord. Satan does not want the truth of the gospel to permeate our society. He will use whatever means he can to discourage us. Don’t let him.

I want to be bold for You, Lord. I want to stand up for You, no matter what. Let me be known as a truth defender. 

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Motherhood, Parenting

GOD’S ENERGY


1 THESSALONIANS 2:13 

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted itnot asthe word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”

If you have EVER watched television, then I know you have seen the Energizer Bunny commercial at least once. Right? That bunny keeps going and going and going, not on his own strength, but through the power of the Energizer batteries. His source of strength is not his own.

We could learn a thing or two from that bunny. Our source of strength, as believers, is not our own. We are strengthened, we are energized by the power of God. In fact, this verse says that. The word “work” in the last phrase is the word from which we get our word “energy.” God gives us energy through our receiving of His Word. Now that is powerful.

APPLICATION

Why do you feed your children? “Now, that’s a silly question, Carl.” Think about it. Their little bodies would not last very long without proper nutrition to energize it. They need protein and carbohydrates and vitamins. All those things come from outside their body. Then their little bodies transform those sources of energy to fuel so they can run and jump and think.

The next time you sit down to eat, explain that to them. That’s why you insist they eat healthy. And explain that’s why the Lord wants us to “eat” His Word. It gives us spiritual energy. When we read and “digest” His Word, the Holy Spirit in us transforms it into spiritual fuel for our soul. How cool is that? As believers, we have our own energy refinery in us. But we have to take the fuel in (His Word) daily. Our souls crave it.

Are you feeding your soul with God’s Word? Are you allowing the Lord to energize you? Don’t starve your soul. Don’t suffer from  spiritual malnutrition. You will only grow spiritually as you ingest God’s source of energy to you – His Word.

Feed me, Lord. Let Your Word satisfy me. I hunger and thirst for what only You can provide.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Fatherhood, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting

WALK IN STEP


1 THESSALONIANS 2:12 

“so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

Have you ever had to march in a line? How about keeping step with someone else? That’s exactly what Paul is talking about here. Walking worthily means that. We have to live in such a way that our lifestyle matches the value God puts on it. And if you don’t know, God has placed a high value on our lives. It cost His Son’s life.

I have used a tool to help groups learn to walk together. It’s a pair of 12 foot 4X4 posts with 8 holes drilled in each. Through each hole is a 4 foot piece of rope. Each person in the group of 8 stands on the posts with one foot on each post and holding two ropes. The group must then attempt to walk those posts, like a couple of snow skis, to a goal. It may sound easy, but it’s not.

APPLICATION

Walking together is hard. Walking as one is harder. The next time you take a walk with your child, make sure you are both taking your steps together. That will mean you have to shorten your strides to match their shorter legs. It may mean they need to slow down their pace to match yours. But if you concentrate you can do it.

The Lord wants us to walk in tandem with other believers and Him. He wants us to take the lead sometimes and other times to follow. But, however we walk, we should not walk alone. We need each other to complete the course, to finish well. Walk with others in a worthy manner.

How is your walk? I don’t know about you, but I need others to walk with me. I need to lean on them sometimes. I need them to correct my steps sometimes. I just need them.

Father, You order my steps. Use me to help guide others in their steps. Let us walk together with You toward the place You would have us go.

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