Angels, Belief, Bible, Born, Compassion, Covenant, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Gospel, Hope, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

LABOR PAINS

MICAH 5:3

“Therefore, He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth. Then the remainder of His kinsmen will return to the sons of Israel.”

I vividly remember my wife’s labor pains with our first child. She was in labor for quite a while. Her doctor kept her comfortable for as long as possible. When the contractions got closer, he knew it was time to move her to the delivery room. She almost broke my finger squeezing it so hard (note to my male readers: If you are in that position, take off your wedding ring BEFORE she starts squeezing, lol).

“Until the time when she who is in labor has given birth” refers to the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus. It is prophesied here. But the prophecy does not stop there. It goes on to say, “the remainder kinsmen will return.” How glorious! God promises redemption after the coming of His Son.

APPLICATION

The long-awaited Savior was born to a virgin. Salvation has come. Why have so many people been blinded to this fact? Why have they spurned this incredible news? I know people who just cannot wrap their heads around the fact that salvation is free and for everyone. They either think they cannot earn it or that it is meant for only certain people.

It is our job to spread the good news of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. We need to tell the whole story. The Christmas story is nice, but it was only the beginning of Christ’s story. Mangers and shepherds, angels and wise men make it a memorable event. But that empty tomb tells it all.

I am so thankful that God told us way back in the Old Testament His plan. It should come of no surprise. I am secure in my faith because of what He did through Jesus. I did nothing to earn it and can do nothing to lose it. My salvation comes from Him. Do you know that today?

Away in a manger…Thank You, Lord, for sending Your Son, promised so long ago.

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Accountability, Angels, Battles, Bible, Deceit, Destruction, Eternity, Following, Idols, Judgment

BLOWS FROM ABOVE

AMOS 9:1

“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said, ‘Strike the pillar capitals so that the thresholds will shake and break them on the heads of them all! Then I will put to death the rest of them with the sword; they will not have a fugitive who will flee, nor a survivor who will escape.’”

Anyone knows when you are engaging your enemy you always want the high ground. That gives you a better view of the enemy’s moves and you can better defend yourself. Also, when you strike, you strike from above. Being above your target can give you an edge in the fight.

God is standing in Amos’ vision and tells His Angel of the Lord to strike the place of worship that Jeroboam had built. Strike it from above. Crush it and anyone who is there worshipping. God was done with this façade of worship. He wanted it done away with.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want to feel God’s blows from above, do you? Well, if you are in Christ, you have nothing to fear. That’s not how God treats His children. He may discipline you, but it will always be in love and to draw you to Him.

But for those who are not in Christ, they have no idea what is coming. They will be judged one day, and they will feel those blows from God. He will crush them and send them to their eternal punishment.

There is a person on television right now who claims to be an atheist. He has done a commercial to talk about his atheist group. Just because he doesn’t believe in God, doesn’t make God not exist. But he closes his commercial by stating that he is okay with burning in hell. He has no idea. We should all pray that all these who claim such nonsense will come to their senses and realize there is a God who loves them so much.

God, I am so thankful I don’t have to fear Your blows from above. I am safe in the arms of Jesus.

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Accountability, Angels, Bible, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Harvest, Hope, Judgment

HARVEST TIME

JOEL 3:13

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread the grapes, for the wine press is full; the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

I grew up in South Georgia in a very rural community. Farms were all around me. I had cousins, uncles and grandparents who were farmers. So, I understand harvest time. I grew up being a part of harvesting the crops. I distinctly remember bringing in beans, peas, corn and watermelons. Those were fond memories, and I am thankful I had that experience.

But Joel isn’t talking about that kind of harvest in today’s verse. He’s referring to an end time harvest. The enemies of Judah were going to be judged by a holy God. He is sending His angels to swing the sickle. Our enemies will one day be judged “for their wickedness is great.”

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Are you ready for the harvest? One day the Lord is going to return for His church. Will you be taken up in that great harvest of believers across this world? In one blink of an eye, we will be taken up. Or will you be left behind to put the pieces together.

We are going through some challenges right now in my country. We are seeing store shelves empty. Prices are increasing. Things are getting tough. But can you imagine how it’s going to be after the Rapture? Can you imagine how countries around the world are going to react to the sudden loss of thousands of people? You don’t want to be here to see that.

I am so thankful that my “harvest ticket” has been punched. I know I’m going with the first trumpet. I’m ready. But I know too many people, including some family members, who will be left behind. That grieves me. Will you join me in praying for the lost? We don’t want to leave anyone behind.

Father, thank You for assuring my place in eternity. I do not fear the harvest of believers because I know I will be among them.

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Abiding, Angels, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Compassion, Courage, Encouragement, Inspirational, Passion, Prayer, Reward, Scripture

ANGEL WRESTLING

HOSEA 12:4

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and implored His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us,”

When I was growing up with my older brother, Tim, we used to wrestle a lot. I can still hear my mother screaming for us to stop. She hated when we did that. And in all those years, my brother would win. After all, he was over 4 years older than me. Until…he went away to college, and I started seriously lifting weights at school for football. I remember when he came home for Christmas during his freshman year at college. I pinned him. He was shocked. It felt great, lol.

Jacob wrestled the angel “and prevailed.” The angel of God or the man with whom Jacob wrestled is believed by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ. He gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he who contends with God. That sounds bad but it isn’t. Jacob was persistent in asking for his blessing, and he received it.

APPLICATION

Have you ever wrestled with God? I don’t mean like my brother and I used to do. Have you wrestled with Him in prayer? There is nothing wrong with getting intense during your prayer time. When we do that we really have God’s ear. We already have it, but He knows when we are intense. He can feel our passion.

I want to encourage you to make a plan to do that. I am sure you have something which you need to come to the Father about. Maybe it’s something you have been praying about for years. Go to Him and don’t let go until you hear. God’s answers are always right on time. You need to pray expectantly, knowing He will answer, just like He did with Jacob.

Prayer for me is intimate. I love talking to my Lord. There have been times when I wrestled with Him over things. God has never let me down. He has always come through. He will for you also, if you trust Him with it. Are you ready to wrestle?

I am so thankful You hear my prayers when I wrestle with You. Give me the wisdom to wait on You.

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Abiding, Advocate, Angels, Battles, Bible, Demons, Devil, Fighting, Holy Spirit, Opponents, Satan, Scripture

WORTHLESS DEFENSES

HOSEA 10:14

An uproar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were slaughtered with their children.”

If you have read very many of my blogs, you know I love to hunt. The area I hunt here in Tennessee has black bears. Now they aren’t known to be very dangerous, as long as you stay away from a mama bear and her cubs. But I always want to be prepared in case I run into one. I know if a bear really wants to hurt me, he will. I am no match for a bear. My best defenses fall short.

Hosea was reminding Israel of the Assyrian conquest of Beth-arbel. Any defenses they may have mustered on their own couldn’t hold them off. I am reminded, however, of the ONE angel that killed 185,000 Assyrians another time. Our defenses are worthless, but God has the power and resources to conquer all our enemies, if we will trust Him.

APPLICATION

Enemies come from all angles and directions. Satan scouts us out to find our weak spots and will send his demons to target those areas. Men, are you prone to look at pictures you shouldn’t? Be assured Satan will give you lots of opportunities. Ladies, do you gossip too much? Old Satan loves to whisper in your ear the latest juicy news to spread. Only by surrendering to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis will you overcome these temptations. Only God’s defenses are strong enough for victory.

I am just too old to try to fight these battles on my own. I know I need Jesus every day, or I will be whipped. I bet you are the same. Aren’t you tired of battling on your own? Step back and let the Lord fight for you. He will, you know. And when the victory is won, He gets all the glory.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever! Thank You for the victory I have in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Joy, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

IN THE FLESH

1 JOHN 4:2

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” 

One of the joys of being a Children’s Pastor is going to the hospital when a baby is born. I love seeing that newborn for the first time. The whole process of conception, pregnancy and delivery amazes me. Looking at those little fingers and toes just blows my mind. I understand the biology behind the whole thing, but it is still a miracle.

Jesus came that way. We all know the story. He was born as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. We can probably all tell the  story by heart, right? So, John tells us here in today’s verse that knowing that and confessing that shows that the Spirit of God dwells in you. You may be saying Well, everyone believes that. Not really. There are many who deny the birth of Christ, especially the virgin birth.

APPLICATION

Why don’t you lead your kids in some Christmas carols? I know it’s only November, but it’s never too soon to do that. I love “Away in a Manger” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Don’t you? Let your kids pick out a few, but keep them about Jesus. There will be plenty of time for the silly Christmas songs later.

Now, that you have done that, talk about the songs. Ask them why we celebrate Jesus coming in the flesh. Get them to thinking. How else could Jesus have come? He could have just appeared with the angels in the sky over Bethlehem. Why was it important for Him to come as a baby in the flesh? He had to be the God-Man, perfect and divine, to die for our sins on the cross. He had to shed His blood for us. That’s why His fleshly birth was important.

Do you celebrate Christmas correctly? Do you recognize the importance of His humanness? Don’t skip to the ministry years and His death. It all began in Bethlehem. Aren’t you glad? God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son. Don’t ever forget that. Thank the Lord today for His birth. Praise Him for coming in such a humble way.

I praise You, Lord, for humbling Yourself and taking the form of man. Thank You for yielding Your Spirit to take on the form of flesh for us.

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Advice, Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Evangelism, Exhortation, Gospel, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Witnessing

NOT OUR JOB

2 PETER 2:11

“whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.”

Why do we think we have the right to judge others? That’s God’s job. Peter states so here. Even the angels don’t point their fingers (or wings, lol) at the wicked in judgment. They know God is holy and just. They know He will judge all mankind at some point. It is not their concern.

Why can’t we learn from the angels? We judge others because it makes us feel better. It puts us above them, or so we think. Judging others is not our responsibility. That does not mean we shouldn’t confront a brother or sister about sin. That’s love. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share the Gospel with the lost. That’s not judging. That’s love.

APPLICATION

Children can be very judgmental. It starts early. When your child comes home putting down another child for the way they look or act. It starts by your child thinking they are better than the boy down the street. You have to stop that thinking quickly.

How do you do that? Every time a judgmental attitude is exhibited, stop and lead your child in prayer for that other child. Explain to them how Jesus loves them just as much as He loves your child. Talk about ways your child could be more like Jesus to them. It’s really hard to judge someone you are praying for, isn’t it?

Are you guilty of judging others? Do you see yourself better than the world around you? Listen, dear brother and sister, the only thing that makes you any better is Jesus. Therefore, only He has the right to judge anyone. Let Him handle that. You need to focus on loving, not judging. And watch what happens. It may just surprise you.

Forgive me, Father, for my judgmental attitude. Show me how to love others like You do. Use me as Your vessel.

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Advice, Angels, Bible, Blasphemy, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Enemies, Evil, Judgment, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Sin

NOT NICE PEOPLE

2 PETER 2:10

“and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,” 

I had to read this verse a few times to catch all the negative words in it. All of them are referring to those who will be judged by the Father for their conduct and behaviors. Just look at this list:

  1. Indulge the flesh
  2. Corrupt desires
  3. Despise authority
  4. Daring (this word means to foolishly ignore safety)
  5. Self-willed (this word means to selfishly satisfy self)
  6. Do no tremble at God
  7. Revile God

Wow! Unfortunately, we are seeing that all around us today. These behaviors are front page news. We see it being carried out in protests and riots across our world. This is nothing new. Sin is sin. Until the Lord returns, we will be faced with an ever- growing resistance to the Lord and His teachings.

APPLICATION

Thanks Carl. Now that I am thoroughly depressed, what do we do about it? I didn’t mean to depress you. It’s just our reality. But there is hope. The Lord will handle those who rebel. We don’t have to. Our job is to be Jesus in a lost and fallen world. We can change the world one life at a time.

As parents, we can affect the next generation by teaching our children to do the exact opposite of those things listed above. We should teach them to not indulge the flesh and to respect authority. You can go through the whole list and develop ways to teach them how to do it God’s way.

Can you live in this world and live for Jesus? Certainly! But you have to depend on Him to guide you. You can’t do this on your own. And when you encounter those who live like Peter describes in this verse, just be Jesus to them. Respond to them in the same way Christ would have – in love.

Lord, I know I live in a fallen world. But with You living in and through me, I know I can face any challenging person or situation.

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Advice, Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Evil, Faith, Following, Holiness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Rescue, Suffering, Testimony

SNATCHED AWAY

2 PETER 2:7

“7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” 

Peter continues the example of verse 6 into verse 7 by naming Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had chosen to live in this area long ago. And now he finds himself surrounded by lewd men, men who had no restraints on their conduct. This conduct went against the laws of God and there was nothing Lot could do about it.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Our world has become tolerant of any and all behaviors, no matter the effect it may have on others. We, who hold to God’s principles, are supposed to smile and just go along with it. If we speak up, we are labeled as intolerant and cruel. But God rescued (snatched away) Lot from this immoral situation. He will rescue you, as well.

APPLICATION

Part of our roles as parents is to snatch away our children from situations which we know are immoral and against God’s principles. As long as your children are with you, you have to do that. We can’t allow our children to wallow with the pigs (I use this analogy loosely) and not get dirty. Evil influences will eventually affect them.

So, how do you do that? Prayerfully. There may be sports teams they can’t play on because of an immoral coach. There may be schools they can’t attend due to the philosophy of the administration or teachers. I know this is a hard decision to make, but you are not making it just for now. This is an eternal decision.

Lot could have stayed right where he was and compromised his beliefs. After all, he was living there, right? He could have fit in. But God heard his cries for deliverance and sent two angels to bring him and his family out. God still delivers today. Cry out to Him for the deliverance of your family. He will answer.

O God, rescue me from the evil which surrounds me. Protect my thoughts and actions as I dwell here. I will shine here as long as You have me here.

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Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Deceit, Demons, Devil, Evil, Following, Heaven, Hell, Light, Mentoring, Parenting, Satan, Scripture

FALLEN ANGELS

2 PETER 2:4

“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;”

Did you ever wonder where demons come from? Well, here you have it. When Satan rebelled in heaven, he was cast out along with the angels he had convinced to follow him. Their punishment was swift and just. God could not and would not tolerate sin.

Why do you think the devil and his demons hate us? Because they know what they have lost. They know they are doomed forever to those pits of darkness. They know once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we are destined for the place they were cast from. So, their intent is to keep as many as possible from making that choice.

APPLICATION

Pretty heavy subject for the kiddos, right? But we shouldn’t shy away from the subject of hell around our kids. We don’t hesitate to talk about heaven, do we? Of course not. Hell is just as real, so they need to know about those who dwell there. Demons are real and are still being used in the spiritual realm in which we live.

The last thing you want, however, is for your children to be looking for a demon around every corner. We have to teach them to live for Jesus and trust Him to fight for them in these battles. They are no match for Jesus. He will defend His children. Evil exists in this world. Make sure your children know no matter how dark the evil, Christ’s light shines brighter.

Are you a demon watcher or a Jesus watcher? The devil wants your attention on the demons. By doing that your eyes are off of Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus and demons are of no concern to you. When you are walking in the light, the demons are exposed. They can’t stand that. Stay in the light.

I choose to walk in the light, Lord. May Your beams of light drive any evil away from me. Help me walk securely holding Your hand.

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