Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, Victors

DESTROYED

2 PETER 2:12

“But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,”

When I was a boy, I used to build models. You know, model cars, trucks, boats, etc. I especially like the boats. Do you know why? Because I would build them and then destroy them. Yep, that sounds kind of dumb now, but we thought it was fun. Me and my neighbor buddy would go down to the local pond with our models, some duct tape or glue and firecrackers or M-80’s. We would light the fuses, push those models out in the lake and watch them explode. It was awesome.

My point? These “unreasoning animals” referred to by Peter are intentionally destroying themselves and others by their behaviors and teachings. They are not accidentally doing this. It is done with malice and evil. They do not understand what they are up against and will eventually be held accountable by a holy God.

APPLICATION

How do we protect our children and others from these evil influences? There is really only one way. I have said it hundreds of time and will continue to say it. We have to ground them in the Word of God. Nothing else will thwart the challenges of those who seek to destroy us. It is sharper than any two-edged sword.

Daily devotions, prayer time and application of truths learned are key. Make sure you are not just reading a passage (even though that’s good) and going about your day. Reading the Bible without applying the Bible doesn’t prepare you for these people. Make the Bible real to you. See how it affects your life each day. He gave it to us for a reason.

Are you prepared today to face whatever the Lord allows in your life? If an enemy of the cross comes across your path today, how will you respond? Spend time in prayer now to get ready for the battles that lie ahead. They are on the way. But with the Lord on your side, the outcome is sure. We are victorious.

Father, for those who battle against truth I pray. I pray they will see the error of their ways before it is too late. Help me today to face the challenges You allow with integrity and boldness.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deception, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fighting, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Safety, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

A ROARING LION

1 PETER 5:8

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Have you ever seen and heard a roaring lion? I don’t mean one on television. I mean in real life. I saw a lion in Uganda once on a safari, but it wasn’t roaring. It was lying in the shade sleeping. It didn’t seem very scary. In fact, it looked very calm and peaceful. But believe me, I wasn’t about to jump out of that jeep and go over and scratch its belly. I knew what it was capable of.

Peter is warning about the dangers of the devil. We can’t let our guard down. He says to be sober and alert. The devil can lull us into thinking there is no danger and then he attacks. Just like a lion, he stalks his prey. He doesn’t present himself as he really is. He disguises himself and slips in for the kill. Don’t let him devour you or those around you.

APPLICATION

The last thing I want you to do is scare your children about the devil. However, they do need to know he is real and not some imaginary figure. We don’t want him to be talked about in the same company as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They must know the devil has one goal – to take as many souls to hell with him as possible. He knows he has already lost the war, but he wants to cause as many casualties as possible along the way.

How do you protect your child from this? By pouring the Word of God into them from birth. We raise our children to love and honor their God. And when they come to Christ and accept Him as their Savior, they are secure from the grasp of the devil. Then we must continue to disciple and mentor them to walk in the light and avoid those dark recesses where Satan dwells.

Living sober and alert may sound draining, but it’s not. The key is to stay in the Word. The moment we start living for ourselves and we put down the Word, we open ourselves up to attacks. The Word is called the sword for a reason. Use it to protect yourself and others from that nasty roaring lion.

I thank You for giving me the Word to defend against the schemes of the devil. I will watch carefully as I advance the kingdom, knowing he will do all he can to distract and attack.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Fighting, Forgiveness, Gentleness, Harmony, Modeling, Parenting, Testimony

EXPLAIN YOURSELF

ACTS 11:2-4

“2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3 saying, ‘You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ 4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence,” 

Disagreements happen. Even among believers, disagreements can occur. If we aren’t careful, those disagreements can erupt into fights and then grudges. Before you know it, friendships are shattered, and things are said that cause hurt feelings. I have seen churches split over small disagreements.

Peter was facing a pivotal moment. He needed to explain what had happened in Joppa with the Gentiles. Jews weren’t supposed to associate with Gentiles, and he was accused of eating with them. You need to read the rest of the story (Acts 11:5 and following) to see how he explained himself. He simply told them what God had done. It wasn’t Peter’s plan. It had been God’s.

APPLICATION

Your children are going to have disagreements and misunderstandings with their friends. How do you, as a parent, help them navigate these troubled waters? Once again, how you handle these situations yourself will teach them. How do you handle disagreements with your spouse? How about with other family members? They are watching you. Are you in the wrong? Have you done something to offend someone? Make it right.

And if you are doing the right thing and are falsely accused, how do you handle the situation? Do you get defensive? Show your children how to deal with this. Allow God to come to your defense. Be like Peter and calmly state what happened or what you did. Peter couldn’t be held responsible for how his accusers received his explanation. He just needed to tell his story and trust the Lord.

Do you trust the Lord with your relationships? He wants you to have healthy relationships, not ones that are strained and troubled. You simply need to do what He asks of you and leave the results up to Him. Try that today and see what He does in and through you.

O Lord, I trust you with my eternity so surely I can trust You with my relationships. Guard my tongue from unkind words. Let my spirit be knit with Your Spirit every moment.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fighting, Flesh, God's Will, Inspirational, Life, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Perseverance, Sanctification, Surrender, Testimony

WE ARE AT WAR

1 PETER 2:11

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” 

I never served in the military. I came close after completing seminary. I looked into going into the Air Force as a Chaplain. That didn’t happen though, so I missed out on serving our country in uniform. I applaud all those who have served and are serving in every branch.

But I have been in a battle my entire life. It’s the one Peter refers to here in today’s verse. He calls us aliens and strangers because this world is not our home. We are just passing through. And as we pass through it, we are battling the flesh. Only through submission to Christ can we defeat these “fleshly lusts” which seek to pull us down.

APPLICATION

Your children may have a better idea of war since they have never known a day when our country, the United States of

America, was not at war. We’ve been fighting somewhere since 2001. Talk about that with your children. Ask them what they understand about this war we are fighting.

But then talk about today’s verse. Ask them if they realize they are in a daily battle. They are soldiers fighting against the lure of the flesh. Now, you may have to explain that to them. Things like lying, cheating, being mean to their siblings or disobeying you are all good examples of “fleshly lusts.”

How are you fighting? Are you armed with the sword of truth? You cannot fight this battle alone. You do not have the strength or wisdom. Only the power of the cross can defend you and guide you. Let Jesus be your Commander in Chief and lead you into battle today.

Lord, You are my Commander in Chief. I will follow You. Help me defeat the lusts of my flesh by surrendering to You daily.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Fighting, Godliness, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting

DON’T GO THERE

TITUS 3:9

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

I know you’ve played tag, right. Every child has played some kind of tag game. Well, this is one tag game you don’t want to play. Paul tells us to “avoid” these things. Controversies, genealogies (really, he is talking about arguing about your pedigree), strife and disputes are all things we need to avoid. He just told us in verse 8 to be careful. You can’t be involved with these things and be careful.

Some people just like to fuss and argue. They are always looking for a fight. If we are to walk with Christ and be an effective witness, we can’t spend our time with those sorts of people. That may mean letting some relationships go. What? Yep! Some people are determined to bring you down. You should continue to pray for them, but don’t spend your time arguing and fussing with them. It will never end.

APPLICATION

This is an especially important lesson to teach our kids. They will be bombarded with people all their lives who want to drag them into endless arguments. The sooner they learn to avoid these “foolish controversies” the better. The hard part is when that person is a friend. But true friends don’t fuss and argue with us all the time, right?

That’s why your children need to have friends who share the same worldview. When you share God’s view of this world, there is normally fewer opportunities to disagree. I am not saying that will never happen, but there will less times. Why? Because you both see through God’s eyes. You both are surrendered to His will. You both are seeking to please Him. The petty things just don’t matter.

Are you an arguer? Do you seek out fights and quarrels? I know a lot of Baptist who are, lol. We need to spend our time concentrating on serving our Master instead of trying to make ourselves master. We have a God who is worth serving. Why don’t you and I both try to more diligent today in doing just that?

I confess I want my way too much. Forgive me for being argumentative and quarrelsome. I want to please You, Lord.

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KEEP AN EYE ON YOU

TITUS 1:7

“For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain,”

The position of overseer or elder has often been misinterpreted as a position of authority or title. The Greek word for “overseer” actually means someone who intently keeps their eye on something or someone. In the church that man is watching over the church body to provide first-hand care and protection. It’s a service role more than an authority role.

Now, elders must help guide the body. But they do this from a position of service, not by brow beating. That is exactly why Paul lays out all these qualifications. In this verse he gives six more character traits (good steward, not self-willed, not quick tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain). He has further limited the pool of men who rise to the position, this ensuring their heart for service, not rule.

 APPLICATION

It is interesting that these traits Paul lists for an elder are traits we as parents want for our children. We want them to handle what God gives them well. Money management is an important skill for us to teach them. Secondly, we want them to think more of others than themselves. Self-willed children will face many more challenges. Thirdly, we definitely want them to know how to control their temper, to not be easily upset or angry.

We also want our children to know how to handle the issue of drinking. If you think they won’t face that temptation, you are fooling yourself. You have to model that. The next trait, not pugnacious, means not a fighter. Some kids are always ready for a fight. We want to teach them how to avoid that. And finally, we want them to not be greedy. In fact, we want them to share liberally.

So, you see these elder traits are really traits for us all. How are you living up to these? These are all characteristics of someone surrendered to Christ. It requires dying to self daily. Then you too can help oversee the flock. You can keep your eye on your brother or sister to help guide and protect. Aren’t we all called to do that in the family of God?

Father, remind me to live my life in such a way that I am worthy of “overseeing” my brother and sister. I want to live like Jesus so I can help guide others in the path of righteousness.

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THE LORD WILL REPAY

2 TIMOTHY 4:14

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”

It’s pretty obvious that Alexander didn’t care for Paul. We aren’t exactly sure who he was, but there are a few speculations. He may have been one of the metal workers thrust forth by the Jews to denounce Paul in Ephesus. Demetrius had begun this protest, but a man named Alexander was trying speak about how Paul’s mission work was hurting the sale of idols of the great temple of Artemis, which was their livelihood.

This name appears later in Acts at Paul’s trial. This time he is there publicly to speak against Paul. Animosity, hatred, pure evil. Paul knew it, but what did he tell Timothy? Turn the other cheek. Do not engage this man. God will handle him. As powerful and as loud as Alexander may appear, God is bigger and louder (if necessary).

APPLICATION

Do you think your children are going to face an Alexander? You had better believe it. If your children are attempting to live for Jesus, there will be people who will feel threatened. You may not know why they feel threatened, but they will. It may go to their own insecurities. It could be from their wrecked childhood. But for some reason, they have it out for your son or daughter. So, what do you tell them to do? The exact same thing Paul told Timothy – let God have it.

Do you now what all “Alexanders” need? Jesus! They need His forgiveness. They need His love. They need His mercy. And all of that comes through us. God still uses His people to deliver the gospel. Teach your children to be that deliverer of hope to “Alexanders.” And when they rise up in hatred, love them more.

Who do you need to approach in love today whom has set out to tear you down? We all have someone who just doesn’t like us. We may not know why, but God does. Ask Him. You may share a past with that person that could bring them to Christ. But whatever you do, don’t retaliate. That’s the Lord’s job, and He can handle it much better than you.

Father, I lay down my plans to get even right now. It is hard not to want to get back at those who have harmed me. But at Your command, I will obey.

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THREE GOOD F’S

2 TIMOTHY 4:7

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;”

Most of the time when you hear someone has three F’s you think failure. But not this time. Paul has “fought,” “finished,” and remained “faithful.” Those are three awesome F’s. First, he fought the good fight. Both the verb “fought,” and the noun “fight” come from the same Greek word from which we get the word “agony.” It means to strive as if in an athletic contest or a battle.

He finished the course. The word for “finished” has the word picture of the old pirate’s scope that unfolds to complete it for use. It reaches an end. And “course” is a race. Paul has come to the end of his race. Finally, he kept the faith. He has guarded and protected the faith he has proclaimed. The most important thing about these three F’s is they are all in the perfect tense which means the action has lasting results. That’s cool.

APPLICATION

Ask your children if they think it’s okay to fight. If you have taught them well, they will probably say it isn’t. Then read them this verse and explain some fights are worth fighting. We have to be ready to defend our faith. Have they ever run a race? If so, they know the fulfillment of completing that course. All the energy expelled is worth it when they cross the finish line. One day they will experience that, if they are a believer, when they finish the race we are in as Christians. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And how do we teach them to guard the faith? By teaching them the truth of God’s Word. It’s not just a Sunday, feel-good book we read. It guides every decision they make. It is the truth above all truths. When they understand that, they will eagerly defend it against all attacks, thus defending their faith. The three F’s are still worth pursuing.

How’s your report card? Are you fighting, finishing and staying faithful? Sometimes we get tired in the fight. Don’t stop. The Lord is there to lift your hands. We get weary in the Christian race. Don’t throw in the towel. Keep your eyes on the finish line. And keep defending your faith against the enemy. Don’t give him an inch.

I will pursue these three F’s today. Above all I want to please You, O Lord my God. I know my efforts are strengthened through Your Spirit who indwells me, making all things possible.

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PREDATORS

2 TIMOTHY 3:6

“For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,”

The first word that came to mind when I read this verse was “predator.” A predator is someone or something that preys on a weaker species. They take advantage of their weaknesses and use them to their advantage. That’s what these people Paul is describing in chapter 3 do. They only think of self, of satisfying their own appetites. They have no regard for the emotional, physical or spiritual well-being of anyone else. So, they leave a wake of human tragedy behind them.

You need to know that the Greek word for “enter” here means to creep in. It doesn’t mean to knock and announce yourself. These people don’t do that. They are sneaky. And then they take you captive. You are led away as if you are a defeated enemy captured in war. But don’t be fooled. It is war.

APPLICATION

Oh, this is a fun verse to act out with your children. Have you ever played “Battle” or “War” with your kids? You’ve got to take the time to do this. You will need to get some more players and set up some battle lines, but trust me, it will be worth the effort. Kids love acting out scenarios. And when we can teach a Biblical truth at the same time – Bam!

Choose sides and start the war with the goal of capturing the other team’s flag at their headquarters. People miss the fact that stealth, covert (sneaky) tactics are usually much more effective than blatant frontal assaults. Once the game is over, talk about that and apply this verse. Satan is on the attack against us every day. The difference is the game you just played is temporal. Satan is playing an eternal game.

Are you prepared to defend yourself against the onslaught of the devil or his minions? Don’t just look for the obvious. Watch for the subtle things that distract you. Keep a look out for the things that don’t quite match up with the truth you’ve been taught. Above all, hold to your battle plan – follow the Master.

Lord, I will follow You in the deepest, darkest battle line knowing You will never lead me where You do not want me to go. And whatever comes my way in the battle, I will give You all the glory.

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HOW TO AVOID A FIGHT

2 TIMOTHY 2:23

“But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

Some people are just looking for a fight. They say things to try to get someone else stirred up. They choose their words carefully in order to lure another person into a fight, usually to make themselves look better. Paul is warning Timothy to refuse that, to walk away, to stay out of those arguments.

You have to decide yourself on that. You may like the arguing. You may like the back and forth verbal exchanges. But if this talk does not glorify the Lord, then it is empty, foolish and ignorant words. Having lived in Ephesus, where Timothy was residing, he knew how the Ephesians delighted in debate. He didn’t want Timothy wasting time in these endless pursuits.

APPLICATION

This is a hard one for kids. If you have more than one child in the home, you have undoubtedly experienced foolish and ignorant speculations that led to quarrels, lol. Keeping these quarrels to a minimum can be a tiresome task. But the second you hear two children arguing, read them this verse and ask them this question – “How does this discussion bring glory to our Lord?”

You see, our focus should be to continually point them towards the Father. If we do that and follow our lead, they will be able to avoid these useless arguments. This skill will be so beneficial as an adult when they grow up. They may not understand it all now, but one day they will.

Are you one of those people looking for a fight? Why do we do that? Maybe it’s because we want to prove we are right. Perhaps it’s because we want to prove the other person wrong. Either way, glory isn’t given to the Lord. Surround yourself with like-minded people and avoid those people who can’t wait to quarrel and debate. Life’s too short. 

O Lord, keep my mouth shut when appropriate. Thank You for the wisdom to know how to respond to those who have no desire to glorify You. Today I will not quarrel or debate.

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