Alone, Confidence, Darkness, Encouragement, Fear, Judgment, Light, Modeling, Scripture

WHO TURNED THE LIGHTS OUT

JOEL 2:10

“Before them the earth quakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and the moon become dark, and the stars lose their brightness.”

Have you ever been in a room when someone turned off the lights and left you in the dark? It can be frightening, can’t it? One moment you have light and the next you don’t. In one second, you go from seeing well to seeing nothing. In the 21st century we understand how all this works, but in Joel’s day it was a whole different story.

In today’s verse the locusts are described as so thick that they blot out the sun, moon and stars. The sky seems to shake at their presence (the vibration of their wings could cause that). The people of Judah would be in sunlight or moonlight one moment and suddenly darkness. For the people of this time, I am sure it was scary.

APPLICATION

Our Lord makes a reference in Luke 21:25-26 to a similar event. “‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,’” The Lord was saying this in reference to His return one day. I am not saying locust swarms indicate Christ’s return. But even He showed how God will use nature to tell a story.

The truth is there are signs all around us of Christ’s imminent return. So many prophecies have been fulfilled. It seems the world is teetering on the edge. Are you looking for Him? Are you aware of what is going on in our world that is preparing for that glorious day? You should be.

I believe He is coming soon. That may prove to be wrong. That’s okay. I am not building a bunker to hide in. I am okay with whatever happens because my trust is in Him, not the news. But I truly believe it’s near. I am okay with that as well. If the sun and moon are blotted out, I am trusting Him. Are you?

I will trust in the one who is my light. Though the sun and the moon fall, I will trust in Jesus.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confidence, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Failures, God's Will, Hope, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

FAILURES EVERYWHERE

JOEL 1:10

“The field is ruined, the land mourns; for the grain is ruined, the new wine has dried up, fresh oil has failed.”

We see failures all around us. Failures of economies. Failures of nations. Failures of people. The one thing that is certain about life is failure. No one likes it, but it comes, nonetheless. So, what do you do when everything around you seems to be failing? Do you throw up your hands? Do you put your head down and just weep? No! We have a great God who is aware of the failures.

Joel continues to tell us of the failures in Judah. In today’s verse we see the fields have ruined. The land is mourning! The crops have suffered. Even the vineyards have dried up and there is no oil for use. Utter failure. Judah is a mess. Why? Because of their disobedience. God will not tolerate that. We see that in these failures.

APPLICATION

You may have experienced failures in your life. In fact, your life may be in shambles right now. Sometimes we feel like a failure. Listen, our choices can cause many of our failures. Other failures come due to no fault of our own. Whatever the cause, we have to deal with them. Guess what? The devil wants you to feel like a failure. He doesn’t want you to know your position in Christ.

Are you a believer? If so, you have no right to see yourself as a failure. Why? Because you are a child of the King. He has given you victory. The Lord of creation died to give you promise. Failure is not in God’s plan for you. God can work through those failures, but they are not His plan for you. So, don’t stay there. Walk with Him today victoriously.

I hate to fail. I have never liked it. I like to win! Always! But sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I just blow it. When I do, I come hastily to my Savior. I know I can’t do it alone. How about you? Are you in need of a “pep talk” with your Lord? He’s ready!

I will not fail as long as I walk with You, Lord. If I keep my eyes on You, You will lead me.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Love, Scripture, Sowing

WHY WE SOW

HOSEA 2:23

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

In the past I enjoyed gardening. Have you ever thought about the process of sowing and reaping? We plant a certain seed in order to reap a certain crop. You don’t plant okra seed and expect to reap tomatoes. There is only one way that works. Plant the seed for the crops you want to enjoy later.

God says here in Hosea 2:23 that He is going to sow “her” for Himself in the land. He is going to sow Israel to reap Israel. Sowing requires something to die first before it sprouts. The seed has to die and give birth to new growth. There’s a waiting period.

APPLICATION

Therein lies the question. Are you willing to die to yourself in order to rise up as a new growth in Christ? Are you willing to lay aside all the stuff required to be sowed by God? You will never produce new growth or bring in a harvest if you don’t let yourself be buried by God. He has to sow you. But rest assured, what He sows, He waters, He nourishes. He doesn’t forget where He planted you.

Once when I was planting a row in my garden, I forgot to mark what I planted in that row. I had to wait until the plants began to sprout and grow to find out what it was. I kept watering and fertilizing the seed, though. I knew it was something I wanted. God doesn’t do that. He knows exactly where He planted you and He already has a purpose for your new life.

Seed have to get dirty in order to fulfill its purpose. Allow God to get you dirty. Let Him plant you and water you to bring you to a place of new growth. You will be amazed at the number of people who will benefit from your crops.

Bury me Lord so I can sprout. Let me produce new growth which will bring forth fruit.

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Abiding, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Truth

FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH

2 JOHN 2

“for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:”

In the first three verses of 2 John, John mentions truth four times. Any time you see a word repeated like that in Scripture it is important. Why do you think truth was so important to John? Don’t forget that he literally walked with Truth for three years. He was probably the closest of all the disciples to Jesus. John knew the Truth and wanted everyone else to know Him as well.

We can’t forget that the enemy is spewing everything but the truth. He will tell everything we want to hear and even mix in a little truth to make it sound good. But as believers, we have the truth abiding in us. We have a built-in truth detector. Don’t forget that.

APPLICATION

Children don’t tell the truth all the time, do they? Sometimes, for them, lying is easier. I know that is wrong, but that’s our sin nature. It is only when Christ becomes a part of their lives that they can begin to understand the importance of truth. It is our job as parents to reinforce that. How? By being truthful ourselves.

What does it mean to your kids to have truth in them? Ask them. Ask them how it feels. Be prepared for some strange answers, lol. But they need to know that the Holy Spirit who lives in them as a Christian will always speak truth to them and direct them in the right way. That means telling the truth and living the truth.

Aren’t you grateful that the truth is with us forever? That’s what John said at the end of today’s verse. Not only does the truth abide in us, but it is with us forever. What a promise. And don’t forget that if this is in the Word, it is truth.

Thanks, Lord, for the truth. I know I can rely on You to direct me in the truth.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Direction, Disciplemaking, Faith, Gifts, Giving, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Knowledge, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Truth, Understanding

CRITICAL THINKING

1 JOHN 5:20

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Do you ever get to thinking about something so intensely that you lose track of time? I’ve done that. The topic becomes so interesting that I could spend hours researching every side angle or story. I look at both sides of the story. I delve into opposing views. And by doing so, I come away with a better understanding of the topic and how to apply it to my life.

That’s the word “understanding” used by John in this verse. And the word “given” is in the Perfect tense which means it happened in the past with lasting results. So, Jesus gave us understanding that will last. He has given us the gift of knowing Him who is true. That truth sets us free. We are in Him, and He is in us. Praise be to God.

APPLICATION

Sometimes the hardest thing to teach our children is why we teach our children. Did I lose you there? Listen. We are so busy teaching our children things that we often forget to teach them why we are teaching them. They need to understand that we are not just teaching them stuff to make us feel better. There is a purpose behind our teaching, right? Do you know that?

We teach them so they can teach others. It’s the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle of passing our knowledge on to the next generation. Without a clear understanding of what we are teaching and why we are teaching, that won’t happen. That’s why rules without reasoning don’t work. Even our children need to experience critical thinking.

Are you doing that? Are you critically thinking about your faith and why you live it? You need to know why you believe what you believe. You need to be able to apologetically defend the faith. I don’t mean you need to be able to argue your points. I mean you need to fully understand it so if you are asked why you believe, you can explain it. Better yet, let the Spirit inside of you do that. He can speak better than any of us. Amen?

Father God, thank You for giving me understanding of You and Your Word. Help me, when asked, to explain my faith to others. Let me be bold and daring when faced with opposing views. 

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Asking, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Hearing, Inspirational, Listening, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

DID YOU HEAR THAT?

1 JOHN 5:15 

And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

I turned sixty this year. It’s hard to believe that. And with age comes the sure signs that my body is wearing down. One of those signs is my hearing. I have lost a lot of my hearing in my left ear and some in my right. I have to ask people to repeat what they say sometimes. That can be kind of embarrassing and aggravating. But that’s just the way it is. 

Aren’t you glad God is not hard of hearing? He hears our every cry. He hears the very tear drops that hit the ground. He is the most attentive listener ever. You will never hear God say, “Huh? I didn’t catch that.” He doesn’t have to mute the television to hear you. He is always listening. 

APPLICATION 

On the other hand, we have our children, lol. How many times have you had to repeat yourself to your kids? A dozen? A hundred? It probably seems that way. Our kids get so distracted by what they are doing that they totally tune us out. I have known children who required you to get right in their face for them to hear you. 

As important as it is for them to hear you, it is even more important for them to hear God. That can be tricky to teach, can’t it? Hearing God’s voice means you must be willing to hear it. Being tuned into the spiritual realm takes discipline. They need to be in the Word and have an active prayer life. God can speak whenever He wants, but He normally speaks when we are listening and attentive. Help your children understand that. 

Are you listening to Him today? Maybe you don’t want to hear from God because you’re afraid what He might tell you. Some believers are like that. They want to pray but they don’t want to listen. Communication with the Lord is not a one way thing. As we speak, He is listening. He will respond to us if we are listening. Will you today? 

I am all ears today, Lord. Fill my heart and my mind with Your desires for my life. I want to hear Your voice. 

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Advice, Asking, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

ASK WITH CONFIDENCE

1 JOHN 5:14 

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 

I remember a few times in my life when I asked for a raise. Have you ever done that? It can be a scary thing, can’t it? You’re not sure how your boss is going to take it. He may get mad or irritated by you for asking. Or he may grant your request. I have found that if you ask with confidence and boldness, you are more than likely going to get some kind of raise. 

I love that John uses the word “confidence” here in reference to prayer. That is the same word that the writer of Hebrews uses in Hebrews 4:16 referring to how we approach the throne of God in prayer. We do it with boldness because of whose we are in Christ. John tells us something similar in John 14:6. “Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” Ask! 

APPLICATION 

Most children don’t have a problem asking for things, do they? They may bug you and bug you about something until you finally give in and get it for them. I am not talking about that. We need to teach our children how to ask with boldness, with confidence. That word “confidence” means to speak out with resolve, with sureness. That’s how we want our children to ask, not timidly and fearful. 

But what do they need to ask for? Simple. John tells us. “Anything according to His will.” If we teach our children to ask the Lord to bless them according to His will, the Lord is quick to answer. He wants His will done in our lives. He wants to see us walking with Him. He is pleased when we ask for His will to be done. Teach your children that way of asking. 

Maybe you are stuck in the old pattern of asking what pleases yourself. You are wondering why God won’t answer your prayers. Well, that’s simple, too. God is trying to direct you towards His will. He could answer your prayers the way you ask, but you would not like the results. God knows best. Ask with confidence but ask according to His will. Then watch what happens. It will amaze you. 

I come before You to ask You to give me the wisdom to walk in Your light. I want to live in such a way that others are drawn to You.  

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Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

GOD’S TESTIMONY

1 JOHN 5:9

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.”

Have you ever had to give a deposition for a trial? It’s no fun. I have done that a few times in my life. How it goes all depends on the one who is asking the questions. If they are professional and courteous, it goes well. If they are trying to trip you up and are asking confusing questions, it can be very frustrating. I have been the recipient of both. But…as long as you just tell the truth, it will be okay.

John tells us in today’s verse that God testified concerning His Son. Now, no one deposed God. Who is going to do that, lol? But He did testify for His Son. When did He do that? A few times. How about at Jesus’ baptism? He spoke from heaven. Again at the transfiguration of Christ He spoke to the disciples. God the Father had the Son’s back. He was the ultimate witness of who Christ was.

APPLICATION

Children need to be taught who to stand up for? They can get caught up with some friends who aren’t exactly dependable. Before you know it, they are defending these less than desirable actions of these friends. That is not a good thing. We don’t want our kids on the wrong side of truth, do we?

How do you teach them the right way? There’s only one way – the Word. We must show them that the Word will always point them to the truth. They can testify to it without doubt. Anything else must be measured against it. Because we know Jesus is the truth, we can testify for Him. He is trustworthy and has the backing of the Father.

Will you join the Father as a witness for Jesus? That’s pretty good company. If I had to choose who take sides with, I would definitely be on God’s side. We all like sure wins, right? Well, with God on your side you are guaranteed a win. Testify about Jesus today. Tell someone of His love.

I join with God the Father as a fellow witness on behalf of Christ. I believe He is the way, the truth and the life.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Victors

DO YOU WANT TO WIN?

1 JOHN 5:5

“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

The world tells us we have to believe in ourselves in order to succeed. Now, that is important. You have to have self-confidence. You need to believe you can do it. If you are part of a team, you have to believe in your teammates. That is so important to win.

But here in today’s verse, John tells us if we want to overcome the world, we have to have faith in Jesus. That’s it. No matter what the world may throw at us, if we have faith in Jesus, we will overcome. Now, listen carefully. Our overcoming may look different than what the world thinks overcoming is. That’s okay. We know how it all ends, don’t we?

APPLICATION

There is no more important thing to teach our children than this truth from today’s verse. Faith in Jesus is the only way to overcome this world. If our children give their hearts to the Lord, He gives them the faith to face whatever the world may throw at them. Will it be easy? No! But through it all, they will be victorious because of Jesus.

So, we must spend whatever time and energy necessary to teach our children what real victory is. We need to share with them every little victory we have. They will learn from that. Small victories lead to bigger victories. Spiritual victories are measured differently than earthly victories. Only in eternity will be see the actual results of these victories in our children’s lives.

Will you believe today? Will you trust Jesus with everything you have? As John tells us, faith produces victories. Faith helps you overcome. You cannot experience true victory apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus. Trust Him. Believe in Him. Experience victory.

Thank You, Lord, for the victories You give me. I know faith in Your Son, Jesus, is the key. I will overcome.

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Advocate, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Direction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

CONFIDENCE

1 JOHN 4:17

“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”

I like being around confident people. Their confidence makes me more confident. I had a football coach in Junior High School who was like that. He was always positive and upbeat. He wasn’t the greatest coach, but his confidence was infectious. It made us better players. We played hard for him because he made us more confident.

The Greek word here for “confidence” means to be bold, to speak with resolve, to be remembered. That’s it! We have boldness. We live in such a way that we will be remembered. And John says we will be confident “in the day of judgment.” I know that I know that I know I am in Christ, so I do not fear judgment. My sins are forgiven.

APPLICATION

Don’t you want confident children? A father I meet with regularly was speaking about one of his young sons recently. He was concerned that he was “too whiny.” We talked about that. We both agreed that he needs more time with him than perhaps his other kids. He needs to build more confidence in him now at an early age so he won’t be whiny and complaining as a teen or young man.

The best way to build confidence in our kids, of course, is leading them to a saving knowledge of Christ. Even before they make that decision, we need to be pouring Jesus all over them. We need to reassure them of His love for them. We need to remind them over and over that He will fight for them. We want them to have that confidence in the day of judgment knowing that their sins have been washed away and they can stand boldly before the throne of God, not because of anything they have done, but because of Jesus.

What is your confidence in? I pray it is not in your own abilities or talents. Those can be lost so quickly. I pray it’s not in your position or career. That too can be snatched away. Is your confidence in Christ? He is the only sure thing. He is always there. He will always be with you, no matter what you face. He has to be your confidence.

I am confident in You, Lord. I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep me until that day.

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