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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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Fear, Following, Godliness, Holiness

TREMBLING

HOSEA 3:5

“Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.”

When I read this verse I had the image pop into my head of the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz. Do you remember the scene when they finally get to Oz and they are approaching the Great Oz for the first time? When Oz shouts at them, the lion begins to tremble and shake. Then he takes off running and dives through a glass window to escape Oz.

Now, I don’t think that is what Hosea meant in this verse. But he did mean that Israel would be trembling before a holy God. They would be bowing before Him. They probably would not even lift their eyes to look upon Him, for fear of being struck down. They will realize they are in the presence of holiness.

APPLICATION

Sometimes I think we have relegated our God to a buddy. We don’t stand trembling in awe of Him. We don’t appreciate His holiness. In fact, we are way too comfortable. The reverence He is due has been forgotten.

How do you approach God? I am not implying that you need to be scared of Him. No! He is our friend and the lover of our soul. That it true. But we all need to recognize His divinity and holiness. We all need to see Him as the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of our soul. His majesty is beyond description.

I come before Him each day in awe of the fact that He would even look upon me. I don’t deserve anything but hell, and He has given me His only Son to rescue me from that fiery destination. May I encourage you today to stop and reflect on His holiness? It might just amaze you.

Father God, I stand in awe. Actually, I bow in awe of You. You are holy and worthy of my praise.

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Advocate, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fear, God's Will, Godliness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Prayer, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Trust, Victors

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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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Encouragement, Fear, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

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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Antichrist, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christ's Return, Courage, Darkness, Encouragement, Fear, Inspirational, Parenting, Persecution, Scripture

THE LAST HOUR

1 JOHN 2:18

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”

Picture yourself at a ball game. Your team is behind and the clock is ticking. You have the ball and are driving towards the end zone (yes, this is a football analogy, lol). Just before the clock hits zero the ball is snapped to the quarterback who makes an incredible pass into the end zone for a game winning catch to his receiver. You cheer and yell. Your team has won.

We should be doing that very thing regarding the antichrist. We don’t know when he will appear, but it is no matter. We have already won. There is no way we can lose. We’ve already seen the end of the war. Jesus is victorious and there is nothing that the antichrist can do about it.

APPLICATION

Do or did your children play soccer or another sport? Ask them how hard they would have played a game if they knew they were going to win. Some kids may say they would slack off, but I bet most of them would say they would play even harder because they would know the outcome. The game would be much more fun because they already knew they would win.

Explain to them that’s how we should live our lives in Christ. There is no reason to worry about what the enemy does because there is no way he can defeat us. We have the trump card – Jesus. And the best thing about this is our enemy knows he can’t win. That means we are victorious. We just have to keep playing the game. We can’t stop in the middle of the game.

Don’t read today’s verse and start worrying about the antichrist. In fact, be excited about it. Why? Because that just means the Lord’s return is near. Isn’t that great? Keep living daily as if it could be the day of His return. Don’t cower in a corner.

Lord, I welcome Your return. I will not fear the arrival of the antichrist because I know he is toothless.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Fear, Heaven, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

GOING HOME

2 PETER 1:14

“knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” 

The Lord speaks to my wife from time to time very clearly and tells her things that are going to come to pass. I’ve often joked that if my wife tells me I am going to die, I am going to go ahead and crawl in the grave. LOL. That’s not being morbid. I just know she hears from the Lord. Peter had heard from the Lord that his days were short on this earth. He was at peace with this.

We know that Peter was crucified upside down. He requested that because he felt he didn’t deserve to die in the same manner as His Lord. But he was ready to go. He knew where he was going. He had given his life to Christ and had spent the remainder of his life serving the Lord.

APPLICATION

Death is not something we discuss with our children very often. That usually doesn’t happen unless a friend or family member passes away. But death shouldn’t be a taboo topic in our households. For believers, death is just a portal to glory. We may not like the idea of dying, but death is not to be feared.

I truly believe the more we talk about death with our children when the proper times arise, the better it is for them. Death, for believers, is not final. It’s actually a beginning. They need to know that. Death brings us face to face with the One whom we love – Jesus. Why should that be scary? It’s not.

Do you fear death? Don’t! Rest in the knowledge that Christ has you securely in His arms. He paid the ultimate price for us on the cross so that death would not have a grip on us. We pass from this life to the next with expectancy. When we close our eyes in death, the next face we see will be Jesus. Hallelujah!

Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory? Thank You, Lord, for removing the threat of death from me when I gave my life to You.

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Advice, Child Bearing, Child Raising, Commands, Conceit, Fear, God's Will, Honor, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Reputation, Scripture, Submission, Surrender, Testimony

NOT AN OPTION

1 PETER 2:17

“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

Peter gives us four commands in this short verse. And he pretty much covers everyone in these commands. Honor all people means to place value on someone according to how precious you consider them. He says to do the same toward the king. That’s convicting, isn’t it? How precious do you consider everyone? How precious do you hold your “king”, which for us would be our President or leaders? Hmmm!

Then Peter says to love the brotherhood which refers to all believers. Be honest, aren’t there some believers you don’t like? Peter doesn’t leave room for that. He uses the Greek word for love agapao which means always doing what the Lord prefers. Ouch! And finally, he says to fear God. Now, he doesn’t mean to be scared of God, but rather to be in awe of, to show reverence toward.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to honor, love and fear is no small task. Some of these they won’t get until they are older, but we must start when they are young. But all these are best taught by example. We have to model these behaviors. Therein lies the rub, eh? Children learn the easiest by observing us, we have to love, honor and fear.

Ask your children what they think it means to love, honor and fear. You just might learn something. Often their answers are convicting to we adults. They speak with such innocence (at least most of the time) that it drives the point home. You know Jesus often used children to illustrate faith. Don’t you think if He used them, we could learn something from them?

How are you loving, honoring and fearing? Well Carl, I’m doing pretty good with the fearing thing, but that loving thing is tough. I know it is, but all four of these are in the imperative which means they are commands, not suggestions. If you are aren’t doing so good on one or more of these, you need to ask the Lord to show you how. He will you know.

Honor, love and fear need to be more a part of my daily behaviors. I need to spend more time loving and less time judging. I need to depend on You for my ability to do these.

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