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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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NO FEAR

1 JOHN 4:18

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

What scares you? Do you have fears about things? Maybe heights scare you. Maybe it’s spiders or snakes. It’s not unusual to have some fears. Even Superman was scared of kryptonite, right? So, what is John talking about here?

Listen, if you are in Christ, you have the love of Christ dwelling within you. That love is perfect and drives out any fear of judgment from the Father. You are secure in Christ. There is no reason to be “scared” of being punished by God at the final judgment. Your sins are forgiven. You will be spending eternity with Him. That’s what John is talking about.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever feared you? Maybe they did something bad and knew they were going to be disciplined. They knew the rules but broke them anyway. They knew there could be consequences if caught but took the risk. Now, they are facing them. Fear is creeping in. They may even try to hide.

What an opportunity God has given you to teach this verse. You still have to be consistent with your discipline, but you have the chance to adjust that some for this purpose. Start out with how much you love them. Ask them if they believe that. Ask them if they think anything they can do could ever make you stop loving them. Tell them you never want them to fear you. You want them to be able to come to you with anything, good or bad. Your love is unconditional because your love is a reflection of God’s love for us. That’s your model for love, and they need to know that.

We should always be pointing our children and others to the love of God. His love is perfect and does cast out all fear. This is probably one of my favorite verses. I love knowing that I have no reason to fear God. Don’t get me wrong. I have an awe and respect of God. But I am not scared of Him. Why? Because of my security in Christ. I pray you have that as well.

Thank You for the love that casts out all fear. I am perfected through Your love.

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I SEE A LIGHT

1 JOHN 2:8

“On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

If you have read many of my devotional blogs, then you know I like to hunt. In fact, today is opening day for archery season for white-tail deer. As you read this today, I am sitting in my blind in the woods waiting to harvest a deer. Now, before you judge me for being a hunter, just keep reading. Hunting is not the topic of this blog.

When I have been in the woods in the past in the early morning hours before daylight, it has been of extreme importance to have a good light. I always carry a backup light just in case the one I am using goes out as I am walking. There’s not much more of a helpless feeling than to be walking in the woods and lose your source of light. Ah hah! Here’s my point. If we are walking with Christ, we can never lose our light. Why? Because He is the source, which is eternal.

APPLICATION

Kids, for the most part, love using flashlights in the dark. It just gives a new sensation that we can’t experience in the daytime. Get some flashlights and put different strength batteries in them. (You will need to test these before you do this with your kids.) Get in a dark room and turn on these different flashlights one at a time, beginning with the weakest batteries. The room seems pretty lit up, even with the weakest batteries. But, as you go from the weakest to the strongest, they will see the difference.

Ask them which flashlight they would want to take with them into a dark room. Of course, they are going to pick the brightest one. Ask them why. We want the brightest light possible to keep us from stumbling. The same is true in our spiritual walk. We need the brightest light, which is Jesus. We can’t walk alone. We are destined to fall.

Are you trying to navigate the dark passages of life by yourself? Take up the light that is available to you right now. Let Jesus light your path. Let Him show you the right steps to take. Aren’t you tired of falling down? As John says, “the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

ThankYou, Lord, for lighting my path. Thank You for being my one and only dependable source of light.

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GREETINGS

1 PETER 5:13

“She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.”

Who is “she” mentioned here by Peter? Most scholars agree that he is referring to a church or churches in the area of Babylon. And the Mark mentioned by Peter here is most probably John Mark who had accompanied Paul and Barnabus before he left them. This same Mark was picked up by Barnabus later. He also happens to be the author of the Gospel by his name.

But the point of this devotional today isn’t on that church or Mark. It’s on the word “greetings.” This word means to enfold in your arms. In other words, it means a hug. Now, I’m a hugger. I love to embrace with a hug. What better way to say “hi” to someone than with a big ole bear hug? Peter is sending a hug to the readers.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you hugged your child? I bet you did it today. If you haven’t, go do it now. Tell them Pastor Carl told you to. Most kids love hugs. Why? Because it’s intimate. It feels good. It’s warming. If you aren’t a hugger, ask yourself why you aren’t.

Don’t deprive your child of a good daddy or mommy hug every day. They need it. They need it especially when they have done something wrong. After you administer the discipline, hug them. This reassures them you love them, and all is forgiven. Hugs heal. I really believe that. Heal someone today.

Can I send you a virtual hug right now? ((( ))) Do you feel it? Guess what? God gives great hugs. He wants to embrace you and enfold you in His arms. You may not feel very embraceable right now, but that’s okay. God doesn’t care. He doesn’t dispense His hugs based on your value. Open your arms and feel His embrace right now.

Thank You, Father, for not withholding Your hugs from me. I need them daily. And I will pass them on to someone else.

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LET HIM HAVE IT

1 PETER 5:7

“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

This verse is quoted a lot. People need to know this profound truth from God’s Word. But let’s make sure they understand it. Did you know the Greek word translated “casting” is only used one other time? It is when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt. The people cast their coats on the road for Him to ride upon.

Now think about that image and apply it to this verse. If we could cast all our anxieties at the feet of Jesus, He would just walk all over them and reduce them to dust. He would crush them. Why? Because He cares for us. He doesn’t want us anxious. He wants us to rest in Him.

APPLICATION

I am sure your child has been anxious before. Maybe a thunderstorm has made them anxious. Perhaps something else scared them. It could be that big test that is coming up. We need to spend time teaching our children to cast those on Jesus. Make it visual for them.

Have them write down on pieces of paper all the things that make them anxious. Then write “Jesus” on the side of a box. Have them crumple up those pieces of paper and throw them into the box. The next time they get anxious, have them do it again.

Have you cast your anxieties on Jesus? If you are like most people, you probably are carrying them around. Put that stuff down. You can’t handle that load, but Jesus can. He can shoulder everything you’ve got. You just have to trust Him. If you can trust Him with your eternity, can’t you trust Him with your anxieties?

I will let You have them all, Lord. When I am feeling anxious, I will turn to you. Thank You!

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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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AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD

1 PETER 3:22

“who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”

Do you realize how comforting it is to know Jesus, our Savior, is sitting at the right of the Father right now? Do you know what that means? Adam Clarke says this is “the place of the highest dignity, honor and influence.” He has the Father’s ear. God the Father is listening to God the Son.

And what is that conversation like? Jesus is appealing to the Father on our behalf. Every time the devil accuses us (believers) of something, Jesus speaks up and says, “That is paid for, Father. My blood took care of that.” He is our Advocate. He is constantly defending us.

APPLICATION

Ask your children if they have ever spoken up for someone in their defense. You know, perhaps a friend is falsely accused at school of something and the teacher starts to come down hard on that person. Would your child speak up to defend them? How about if THEY were falsely accused of something and facing serious consequences. Wouldn’t they want someone to speak up for them?

Well, someone already has. Jesus has paid the price for all our sins. Once we accept Jesus as our Savior, there is NOTHING the devil can accuse us of. We are forgiven. We are free. We are secure in Jesus. That is worth sharing with everyone.

Are you celebrating your security in Jesus today? Take a minute and thank Him for interceding on your behalf today. Thank Him for speaking up against the devil when he mentions your name. Thank Him for setting you free from the guilt and punishment of your sins.

O Father, Your Son is whispering my name to You today. I know He is. I am so thankful He and You both know my name.

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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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DOING GOOD REGARDLESS

1 PETER 3:17

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

This just sounds backwards, doesn’t it? You shouldn’t suffer for doing what is right. You should only suffer for doing the wrong things. At least that is what we think. But God doesn’t think like we think. Boy, I’m glad that is true, aren’t you?

So, what does this verse mean for believers? At times the Lord will call on us to suffer. Suffering is NOT punishment. Suffering is a gift. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. In the midst of suffering we discover God in a whole new way. Others see Jesus in us and are encouraged in their own faith or perhaps drawn for the first time to give their lives to Christ. We must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.

APPLICATION

Teaching suffering to our children is no easy thing. We don’t want to see our children suffer. They may not understand why they are suffering for doing the right thing. These are teaching moments. Don’t overlook them just trying to soothe your child. You shouldn’t tell them to suck it up and get back on their feet either. It’s okay to feel hurt. That’s normal. We comfort them through God’s Word.

Suffering is a teaching time for our children. Perhaps you are going through a tough time right now. Maybe the Lord has led you into a suffering season just to model how to handle it for your children. Embrace it and live like Jesus. Your kids will never forget how you suffer for Him.

This is not a subject we want to talk about. We don’t want to suffer, especially when we are doing all the right things. We want to be blessed and be found faithful. You can be blessed through suffering also. Trust me, I know. Everyone’s suffering is different, but it is the same God who sees us through.

I will embrace the suffering You have for me, Lord. I know You know what is best for me. I trust You to teach me through the suffering.

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RIGHTEOUS PRAYERS

1 PETER 3:12

“’FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.’”

There has never been a more misunderstood truth. So many people believe that whomever prays to God will have their prayers answered. That simply isn’t true. Now, hear me out. God will always respond to the prayer of anyone who is repenting and coming to surrender to Him. But if that same lost person is begging God for relief without surrendering to Him…well…today’s verse answers that question.

God longs to answer our prayers. He wants to work in our lives. But we must come to Him with repentant hearts. We must acknowledge our need for a Savior. He is not going to look on our sin and just look past them. He demands and deserves our allegiance in order for Him to work as He desires in our lives. This may sound harsh, but it is meant to drive us all to our knees.

APPLICATION

Teaching our kids this truth is so important. We want them to understand how to pray. I use the acrostic A-C-T-S to pray. A stands for Adoration. I praise Him for who He is and acknowledge His supremacy in my life. C stands for confession. I confess my sins each time I pray. I long to be sinless, but I haven’t arrived yet. T stands for thanksgiving. I thank Him for His blessings in my life. And S stands for supplication. Here is where I come to him on behalf of loved ones and myself, asking for His will to be done.

If our children will learn to pray this way, they will not go wrong. Our children need to understand that our righteousness depends on the blood of Christ, which we claim every time we confess our sins to Him. We, the righteous in Christ, have an open portal to the very throne of God.

Are you praying as a righteous child of God? Or do you pray because you are doing good deeds? Righteousness is not yours to earn. It is given freely through Christ to those who call Him Savior. And because we are righteous, we desire to live righteously. God is waiting to answer your prayers. Pray in righteousness.

I know the only thing good about me is You, Lord. It is Your righteousness that gives me the freedom to call on You daily for my needs and the needs of others.

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