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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Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commitment, Encouragement, Eternity, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Promises, Scripture

MAGNIFICENT PROMISES

2 PETER 1:4

For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 

All I can say is wow! What a verse! How have I missed this verse all these years? Peter continues his thought from verse 3 (look it up) on the gift of everything pertaining to life and godliness. But he goes on to say God has granted us his precious and magnificent promises. I want to camp out there in this verse.

That word “magnificent” is used to describe how the shepherds reacted at the news of the angels. It says with “great joy.” That word “great” is the same word used here. It’s amazing. But what is? His promises. And get this. That Greek word for “promises” ends with -ma. Why is that important? Because it focuses on the results of the promise and not the promise itself. We know God’s promises never fail.

APPLICATION

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Promises mean nothing if you don’t keep them (the -ma on the end). It’s the results of the promises you make that your children will remember. They will always remember those broken promises and the promises you keep.

Teach your children to make keepable promises (I think I just made that word up, lol). It’s so easy to promise things we know we can’t keep. We need to teach them to follow the Lord’s example. He can do anything, so there are no promises He can’t keep. But even God’s promises all make sense. He promises to love and protect us. He promises to take us to heaven based on our decision to follow His Son. Promises are good – as long as they are kept.

What promises have you made that you have not kept? Can you fix those? If so, do that today or this week. It’s never too late to keep a promise. And before you make the next one, make sure it’s one you can keep and that agrees with the direction the Lord is leading you.

You have made promises, Lord, that I know You will keep. I look forward to seeing the -ma to many of those.

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Alone, Angels, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer

DON’T BE SHOCKED

ACTS 12:16

“But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.” 

This story tickles me. Back up and read verses 6 through 15. Peter is in jail and the church is praying fervently, according to verse 5. If they were praying fervently for Peter, why was Rhoda and then the rest of the church so shocked when Peter showed up on their doorstep knocking? In fact, they thought Rhoda was crazy.

And poor Peter, recently “escaped” from jail, is left at the door knocking. He told them to be quiet. After all, he is an escaped prisoner. Then he leaves them after telling them the whole story. Can you picture their faces? They were probably thinking, God does really answer prayers. Are you as shocked as they were when God answers your prayers?

APPLICATION

Read your children this whole story and ask them what they think the people were praying. Then ask them why they were surprised Peter showed up. Emphasize the fact that God answers prayers. We should never be surprised when God does. He is always working to answer our prayers. The key is He does this according to His timetable.

Do your children have any prayer request right now to lift to the Lord? Pray those with them. Write them down somewhere and date them. And when (not if) God answers them, go back and see how long it took. Sometimes God answers quickly, like in Peter’s case. Other times, He waits. But He will answer.

How is your prayer life right now? Are you trusting the Lord with your needs? He wants to work miracles in and through you. Go to Him today with the needs of your heart and watch God work. You may be amazed. Don’t be. Expect it.

I want to live my life shock free. I want to expect Your answers, not be surprised by them. Thank You Lord for hearing my heart.

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FREE

ACTS 12:7

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

You really need to read Acts 12:1-19 to get the full story of Peter’s imprisonment and release. It’s a fascinating story of God’s miraculous power. This verse, in the midst of that story, is great. Peter is sleeping between two soldiers when an angel appears, wakes him up and his chains fall off.

Can you imagine Peter’s surprise? But notice too that Peter was sleeping. He was at rest in prison. He was not up all night wringing his hands. He was trusting his Savior with his outcome. Whether he was released, kept in jail or killed, he was at peace. We could take a lesson from Peter here. Even when in chains, trust.

APPLICATION

This story would be a fun one to act out. Get your family together and assign the parts (Peter, angel, guards, Rhoda). Kids learn a lot from role playing. Act it out two or three times, changing roles each time. You have to video this too. Make sure to get the reaction of “Peter” each time he is awakened by the angel.

Ask your kids what they would do if an angel woke them up in the middle of the night. Ask them if they would follow the angel’s instructions or hide under the sheets. Our children need to understand that God still performs miracles. He may never send an angel to them, but He is still working in their lives every day. They just have to keep their eyes open.

What would you do with an angelic message? More importantly, what will you do with the message of God’s Word? He is speaking to you, if you will listen. The Scriptures are God’s way of talking to you today. But you have to read it to receive the message. Take time each day to read it.

Thank You, Lord, that I am free wherever I am because of Jesus in my life. The chains of sin have fallen off of me.

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