Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Following, Fruit, Glory, Harvest, Life, Modeling, Scripture, Surrender

IT LOOKS GOOD, BUT…

HOSEA 10:1

“Israel is a luxuriant vine; He produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made; the richer his land, the better he made the memorial stones.”

My dad always had about three grape vines in our yard. They were muscadine vines. Every year we would pick those grapes and make jelly. My dad loved his jelly. But also, every year we had to cut back those vines so they could produce grapes and not just vines and leaves. A leafy vine is pretty but not very productive.

Today’s verse, at first glance, is confusing. It sounds like Israel is a good vine. But it actually means leafy and pretty, but not productive. And even when they did appear productive, they squandered their blessings on other gods, not Jehovah. Israel was not acknowledging their bounty as coming from the Lord.

APPLICATION

Your blessings are from above. You need to acknowledge that as a believer. And when you do acknowledge that, you need to give Him all the praise. It’s not about you. It’s all about Him. So, why do we try to toot our own horn? Why do we try to claim credit for it?

Maybe you’re one of those “leafy” Christians. You appear to be productive for the Lord, but you have no fruit. You look like a healthy Christian, but there is nothing in your life that points back to Jesus. You are all show and no go. You are missing out on the blessings He wants to bestow on you. He longs to show you how to be productive and bear fruit. But you must let Him in.

I have come to realize in my latter years that anything good in me is just Jesus. Anything I produce is for His glory and for the benefit of others. It has nothing to do with me. I am nothing outside of Christ. He deserves all the praise for any fruit in my life. I truly believe that. I don’t want any credit. It all belongs to Him.

Lord, I praise You for giving the opportunity to serve You and others. Help me be a productive believer for Your sake.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Exalting, Glory, God's Will, Inspirational, Life, Modeling, Passion, Praise, Scripture, Thanksgiving

NO TIME TO PARTY

HOSEA 9:1

“Do not rejoice, Israel, with jubilation like the nations! For you have been unfaithful, abandoning your God. You have loved the earnings of unfaithfulness on every threshing floor.”

There is a time to party and a time not to party. All through my life I have experienced moments when celebrating was appropriate like after a huge victory on the football field or the birth of one of my children. But there were other times when celebrating wasn’t right like the death of a loved one or hurting someone’s feelings. You get the picture. You have to know when to party and when not to party.

Israel had everything backwards. They were celebrating the wrong things. They had embraced all the wrong festivals and religious celebrations, which meant they were worshipping the wrong thing. Those gods were no gods. There is only one God, Jehovah. But when the celebrations look inviting, you get pulled in a direction that can cost you dearly. It did Israel.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you what you are celebrating today. Now there is nothing wrong with a party. I can party with the best of them. I love a good party. We need to celebrate but only those things that bring glory to God. You see, our purpose as believers is to bring Him glory, not ourselves.

This time of the year here in the States, we are celebrating a lot of high school and college graduations. In fact, I was at a celebration last night. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s make sure in the celebration that we give Him all the credit. He is the one we need to celebrate. Last night we did that. We pointed people to Jesus and His Word.

Hey, I have an idea. Instead of waiting until Christmas, why don’t you have a Jesus celebration this week. Invite some friends over and have a party for Jesus. Celebrate what He’s done in your lives. Thank Him for saving you. Praise Him for His promises. Now, that’s a party.

Father, I praise You for rescuing me from the pit of darkness. I thank You for who You are in my life. I celebrate You today.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devout, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Glory, Holiness, Inspirational, Modeling, Parenting, Rescue, Scripture

THE LORD KNOWS HOW

2 PETER 2:9

then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,” 

God is our deliverer. When will we get that through our thick skulls? I am talking to myself here, as well. I can forget God’s faithfulness at times and start wringing my hands. I may find myself in a predicament and begin to fret. I am so glad Peter wrote these words – “the Lord knows how.”

Aren’t those words comforting? It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again – Everything over our heads is under His feet. God just knows how to rescue us. But look what it says – “the godly.” That Greek word is only used three times in the New Testament. Once referring to Cornelius, the Roman Centurion who sent for Peter. The second time it is in reference to one of Cornelius’ soldiers. And the third time is here in 2 Peter. It can be translated as devout.

APPLICATION

So, if we want the Lord to rescue us and our children, we need to work on that devout thing. How do we do that? Being devout sounds like you have to be in full-time ministry or something. But it’s not. It just means you strive to live for the Lord in all you do. Are you doing that? Are you modeling that for your children?

What better legacy to leave your children than to be seen and known as a devout Christian? What better joy could you have than see your children living devout lives. It is not impossible. It is not reserved for the “super godly.” NO! It is within the possibility of every believer to live sold out lives for Christ.

What are you doing to prepare yourself for that kind of living? Are you in the Word daily? Are you spending time in prayer for others? Our “devoutness” is really a residual effect of spending time with the Lord. You absorb His glory. You soak in His holiness, thus making you devout. It’s nothing you can do on your own.

I am so thankful for the osmosis process of godliness. I know the more time I spend with You, Lord, the more godly I will be.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Glory, Hearing, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Teaching

BROUGHT ALONG TO HEAR

2 PETER 1:18

“and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”

Peter had the privilege, along with James and John, to see Jesus transfigured on the mountain and to hear God’s voice from heaven. Can you imagine being there? It must have been quite the scene. They were overwhelmed. They saw Jesus in all His glory for a moment.

But I want you to see something in this verse. The phrase “when we were with Him” could be translated “when we were brought along with Him.” Do you see the difference? Jesus intentionally brought Peter, James and John along so they could witness this and hear from God directly. It was no mistake. Jesus wasn’t surprised by this. He knew what was going to happen.

APPLICATION

Have you ever brought your children along with you to see something so they would not forget it? I remember I used to take my son with me to watch the deer crossing the road to feed. It was a special time for us. One night we got to see an albino doe and her piebald fawn. You had to be there to appreciate it. Words wouldn’t describe it.

You need to invite your children to experience holy moments. Spending time in prayer with your children is one such moment. It’s a chance for them to hear you talk to the Father. Who knows, maybe the Father will choose that moment to talk to them. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? But they have to be there.

Have you missed hearing God’s voice because you weren’t “in the moment”? God is always ready to speak. Our problem is we aren’t always ready or willing to listen. Hearing God’s voice can change your life. Are you ready to listen?

Speak Lord! I want to hear Your voice.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Glory, Heaven, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Rejoicing, Scripture

REJOICE IN SUFFERING

1 PETER 4:13

“but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”

What a happy verse! You are probably saying Carl, are you crazy? Let me explain. You have to understand the words used in this verse. For instance, the Greek word for “share” is koinóneó. It’s the word we associate with fellowshipping. That’s usually a happy time.

And the Greek for “rejoicing” comes for the same root word for joy and grace. How happy is that? Finally, the Greek word for “exultation” has the idea of leaping for joy. Now, you can’t tell me that’s not happy. You see, the word that throws us in this verse is “sufferings.” You don’t see that as happy. But Peter is telling us here that we should rejoice in those times.

APPLICATION

The next time your children get overjoyed about something, read them this verse. Ask them if they have ever been happy about suffering. I bet they say no. Ask them if they think it is even possible to be happy (to rejoice) in suffering. This is a really hard concept to understand, especially for children.

Explain to them the key part of this verse is “at the revelation of His glory.” When Christ is fully revealed in all His glory, whether that be while we are still alive or after we have long been in heaven, we will rejoice. Get your kids to act out that word exultation (leaping for joy).  Measure how high they can jump for joy. Make it a game. Then make sure they know that jumping off the ground doesn’t really measure their joy. That’s a heart thing that only God can measure.

Are you jumping for joy? Do you rejoice in your times of suffering? I don’t mean your self-induced sufferings. I mean those sufferings on behalf of Christ. When we suffer for Christ, our hearts should leap for joy knowing we are being counted worthy of His sufferings. Amen?

No one likes to suffer, Lord, me included. But I will suffer for You when I am called upon to do so. I will consider it an honor to suffer in Your name.

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Conceit, Encouragement, Following, Gifts, Glory, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Service

IN ALL THINGS

1 PETER 4:11

“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

The previous verse in 1 Peter 4 states that all believers have been given a special gift. That’s wonderful. But Peter goes on in this verse to emphasize why. Look at the third part of this verse. Peter says, “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” This is why we have our gifts – to give Him glory.

Why does Peter say this? I think it is because some people can begin to get proud of their gift. It happens quickly. Others start praising you for what you are doing. Soon you begin to think your gift is better than other gifts. You begin to see yourself as better than others. After all, God you the best gift. No! That is not how it works. Focus on Him! He is the reason for the gift.

APPLICATION

Children can get boastful pretty quickly, can’t they? As they discover their gift in Christ, make sure they understand why they have been given that gift. It is not to bring attention to themselves. It is not to gain praise from others. It is simply to bring glory to God. He will exalt the humble.

And we parents can be the guilty ones. We can brag on our kids too much. I believe in praising our children. They need that. However, too much praise can give our kids the bighead. There’s a balance needed. Always point them to Jesus. Tell them how pleased their Heavenly Father must be of them for being obedient in their gift.

Are you giving all the glory to God all the time? As He gives you the opportunities to exercise your gift, praise Him. As He uses your gift to bless others, praise Him. Whatever it is He has you to do, praise Him. Let all your praise be directed to Him and not to yourself. Praise be to God “to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

I will praise You, Father. You deserve all the glory and honor! You have gifted me with Your gift to use to glorify You. That is what I will do.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith, Following, Glory, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

YOUR TESTIMONY

1 PETER 2:12

“Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

So often Christians are ridiculed and made fun of by the world. Sometimes, as in persecuted countries, Christians are seen as evil or lawbreakers. This was the case in Peter’s day. Not only did the Jews hate the Christians, the Roman government persecuted them.

Peter is telling the believers to continue living in an excellent way. Let their behavior talk for them. He wanted those who persecuted them to see their good deeds and eventually glorify God. This “day of visitation” is hotly debated among the scholars. Some think it meant a day of judgment while others believe it was a day of blessing. Either way, we must conduct ourselves as He would have us live.

APPLICATION

This is a perfect verse (not that all verses aren’t perfect) to talk with your children about. They understand behavior, whether it be good or bad. Ask them what they think “excellent” behavior is. It doesn’t mean they have to be perfect. The word actually means to behave in such a way to inspire others to want to act like you. Be a role model.

How many times have you told your older children to do that? How many times have you said, “Be an example for your brother”? This is the verse to use to back that up. God’s word says it, not just you. You want them to behave in such a way that you can glorify God. Right?

How are you living right now? Do your work colleagues even know you are a Christian? Walk the walk. Your faith is personal, but it’s not private. Everyone we meet should know what we believe and why we believe it. We should live in such a way that they too can be drawn to a saving knowledge of Christ and give God the glory for our testimony. Is that you?

O Lord, help me live in such a way that others see Jesus in me. Let me never say or do anything that would drive them away from You.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Encouragement, Faith, Glory, God's Will, Inspirational, Promises, Salvation

YOU’RE G0ING TO GET WHAT’S COMING TO YOU

1 PETER 1:9

“obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

When we hear “you’re going to get what’s coming to you,” we usually think that’s bad. If you’ve done something bad, that may be true. But that’s not the case in today’s verse. Peter is telling us we are going to reap the outcome of our faith at some point. And that is the salvation of our souls. Now that’s something to look forward to.

The Greek word for “outcome” is telos. We get our word “telescope” from it. In fact, this word can be illustrated with the old pirate’s telescope, unfolding one stage at a time to function at full-strength. Your faith will unfold fully one day to your full-blown salvation. Your faith grows up until the day you receive your salvation reward.

APPLICATION

Why not make a pirate’s telescope with your kids to explain this verse? Get some cardboard tubes and make one. Make sure it will slide out in at least three sections. Help them draw on each tube and label them Faith 1, Faith 2 and Faith 3. After the tubes are put together, slide them all out and write SALVATION across all three tubes.

Now, collapse the tubes and open them one at a time. Explain how our faith grows as we grow in Christ. Show them the tubes labeled Faith 1 and Faith 2. But also show them the letters that are showing for the word “salvation.” The word is growing. Open the third tube with Faith 3 and now showing the full word “salvation.” Our salvation is “full” when it reaches completion in glory.

Is that too elementary for you? Maybe. But our salvation is really not that complicated. God promises us an outcome of our faith. It’s the salvation of our souls. Believe it. If you are His child, you will get what’s coming to you. And that’s a good thing.

Lord Jesus, I am thankful for the promise of my salvation. Your promises are true! I look forward to the fulfillment of them all one day in glory!

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christ's Return, Encouragement, Eternity, Glory, Holy Spirit, Hope, Love, Parenting, Rapture, Scripture

HE’S COMING

TITUS 2:13

“looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,”

Waiting can be hard, can’t it? It’s especially hard when you know what’s coming. The Greek word for “looking” can also be translated as “awaiting” or “watching for.” It carries the idea of anxiously waiting and ready to receive. That’s a lot more than just looking. Paul knew Jesus was going to return and was anxious for the day. He was ready for it.

Paul calls Jesus the “blessed hope” and “our great God and Savior.” He wanted to make sure Titus understood just who He was. We have no other hope than Christ. All other hopes pale in comparison. All other hopes can fail to materialize. All other hopes are just that – hopes. They aren’t certain. And why is Jesus certain? Because He is God!

APPLICATION

How do you teach your kids to wait? That’s a hard one. Some kids are better at it than others. Parents will do just about anything to keep their children calm while waiting for something. I’ve seen parents bribe their kids. I’ve seen parents come prepared with toys and activities and snacks. Waiting is hard for little ones.

But the most important “wait” we need to prepare them for is Christ’s return. We know He’s returning, but we don’t know when. Our role as Christian parents is to introduce and lead our children to Jesus so that however long the “wait” is, they are ready. We don’t want them caught off guard. We don’t want them left behind when He appears. Once they know Him as their personal Savior and Lord, they can join you in the wait. It could be today.

Are you anxiously waiting for His appearing? Are you prepared for His return? If not, get ready today. Give your heart to Jesus. Let Him fill you with His Spirit. And then do all you can to bring as many as you can with you. If you are like me, I know dozens of people who will be left behind if He came today. That burdens my heart. Let’s join together to bring them with us when He appears again. Keep watching.

Lord, I know You are coming because You said You were. Help me lead others to You so they can join us. I am ready! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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Career, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Family, Following, Glory, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

TITUS 1:1

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,”

Several years ago, Pastor Rick Warren wrote a book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life.” It was a number one best seller and launched him on to talk shows all over the United States. Why? Because people want to know their purpose in life. They want to know why they are here. They want to know what they should be doing.

Paul knew! He was a bond-servant of God (a slave of his own choosing). He was an apostle of Jesus Christ (one sent with a message). He purpose was to grow the faith of those chosen by God (reach and teach them). And he was to preach the truth.

Paul knew his purpose and makes sure Titus knows this in his first words of the letter to him.

APPLICATION

Man, oh man! If we can help our children discover their purpose early in life what a difference that would make. I am not saying they should know their career path at five. I am talking about knowing who they are and why they are here. That can only be taught through God’s Word through His worldview. When your child comes to Christ, He will reveal through His Holy Spirit what they are to do with their life to glorify Him. What they do for a living isn’t important.

But so many of we parents are so focused on our children becoming doctors or lawyers (nothing wrong with that, just examples). Instead we need to focus on bringing them up with a vision for God. That can only be taught if we have it. Do you?

What exactly is your worldview? Do you see everything through God colored glasses? As believers, we should see ourselves, our family and others as God sees us. We were all created in His image with one purpose – to glorify Him. We exist to give Him glory. Those whose follow His calling on their lives (and He calls us all but only a few answer) will discover their purpose. Have you?

Father, I am so thankful my purpose is clear. I will glorify You today. I will give glory to You for all You do in and through me.

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