Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Leading, Ministry, Redemption

ARCHER

Amos 2:15

“’The one who grasps the bow will not stand his ground, the swift of foot will not escape, nor will the one who rides the horse save his life.'”

A friend of mine has a son who is an incredible archer. He has won just about every state and national title shooting a basic recurve bow. He has accomplished so much in such a short time. But one thing about an archer is they must be able to stand still. You can’t be moving around and be precise. My friend’s son is precise. He knows how to stand still and shoot straight.

I noticed in today’s verse that the Lord points out the fact the archer must stand his ground. He must stand firm, even when the battle is headed his way, even when the enemies arrows are falling all around him. In order to hit the target, the archer has to stand firm. Then he has to aim at the target to hit it. The Lord is saying here that they no longer will be able to do that

APPLICATION

Standing firm is critical to fighting our spiritual battles. We have to face our enemy head on. 1 Peter 5:9 tells us to stand firm and resist the devil. Paul tells us in Ephesians to stand firm and put on the full armor of God. All through the Bible we are told to stand firm. It must be pretty important. So, why aren’t we doing that?

We, myself included, tend to limp around when it comes to spiritual warfare. So many believers are scared of the subject. But listen to me, you have to stand firm, draw back your bow and trust God with the rest. We may not be skilled with a bow, but we can sure stand firm and ask the Lord to guide the arrow. He will, you know.

I am so thankful for a God that understands my need and prepares me for battle. I do not want to be like that archer who will not stand his ground.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commands, Compassion, God's Will, Goodness, Idols, Kindness, Ministry, Scripture

OTHERS’ THINGS

AMOS 2:8

“‘And on garments seized as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.’”

My dad had one rule about borrowed tools. If you borrow it, take it back. If it’s borrowed, get it back. My dad had a shop full of tools, and when he died eight years ago, they were still there. My brother, nephews, son and other family members got all the tools they wanted, and they were still tools left. That’s because of the “borrowed” tool rule. They were always in the right place.

The Lord had a command against keeping the garments of the poor that had been given as pledges of debt. Those garments were to be returned at night since they most likely were the poor’s means of keeping warm. Here the Lord rebukes them for keeping them and stretching them out at altars. They also mockingly drank the wine received as payment in their places of worship, further reveling in their idolatry.

APPLICATION

Well, I can hear us now. We don’t take other people’s clothes and wine. This doesn’t apply to us. Don’t forget that every word of God’s Word is inspired. So, it always relates to us in some manner. These Israelites saw others in need and turned their heads. They knew God’s command and still did it. Don’t we do the same? Don’t we see others who are cold and thirsty and turn our heads?

Now, I know we can’t meet the need of every person. But we can meet the need of one. It’s coming into winter here in Tennessee where I live. I see the homeless just about every day and wonder how they stay warm. I wonder if they have enough to eat or drink. And what do I do about it? Very little. I may hand out a bag of food or something, but that’s about it. Many of these I see choose to live this way. I realize that. But that doesn’t lessen my responsibility.

How about you? What can you do about it? I bet you see the same people in your town. People who just need a little help. Don’t wait on someone else to step up. Get your church involved. Ask around and get others involved. Even a little group can make an impact on one person’s life.

Thank You, Father, for blessing me to be able to bless others. Open my eyes to those around me who need a helping hand.

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Abiding, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Ministry, Obedience, Sacrifice, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

HIS WORD

JOEL 2:11

“The LORD utters His voice before His army; His camp is indeed very great, for mighty is one who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?”

I have never served in the military. I admire those who have and am thankful for their service. Many of them have sacrificed greatly. Many others sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice to follow the commands they were given. When you are in the military you are expected to listen to your commander and do what they say. You follow orders. You obey.

The phrase that caught my attention in today’s verse was “for mighty is one who carries out His word.” They recognized then and we recognize now those who heed His word. Obedience is expected, is it not? Joel knew that. I am sure Joel had rather be doing anything other than preaching this message to the people of Judah who didn’t want to hear it. But he listened to the Lord and carried out His word.

APPLICATION

The application for us from this verse is obvious. Will we carry out His word? What does that mean for us? What does the Lord expect us to do? It’s pretty simple, really. He expects us to take His Word to a lost world. He expects us to glorify Him in all we do. He expects us to live out Matthew 28:18-20.

The expectations are clear. The question is – will we do it? You don’t have to be in full time ministry to do this. Witnessing to your neighbor is carrying out His word. Helping someone in distress is carrying out His word. Praying in your prayer closet because you are too weak to get out is carrying out His word. There are all kinds of ways to carry out the word of God. We just have to be diligent.

I have not always done this. Even as a pastor, I have not always done it. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of ministry, but I haven’t truly carried out His word. But over the past several years I have been convicted to be more and more diligent to do that. I pray more. I read more of His word and memorize it. Let us all join together to carry out His word to the world.

I am so grateful for Your word. Help me proclaim it to a lost world daily.

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Advice, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Friends, Giving, God's Will, Joy, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting

SEE A NEED, MEET A NEED

1 JOHN 3:17

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

Have you ever been blessed by someone? Boy, I have. During this past year many of my friends have stepped up to meet some needs that my wife and I had during my extended illness. I didn’t ask for any them, but they were led of the Lord to step up and do what He said to do for us. We were blown away.

There are people all around us who are in need. Sometimes they hide it very well. We can’t see the need. But what do you do when you find out? Do you wait for them to come ask you for help? Let me encourage you to make the first step. So many are too proud to ask. They think it’s beneath them. It’s not. God wants us to come alongside each other.

APPLICATION

I love seeing children who give without even being told to do so. I have known children whom I literally had to tell to stop giving so much. They just didn’t care about stuff. They had rather see someone else’s needs met than their own. They were just bent that way. Others…well…not so much. You would have to peel the last cookie out of their hand, lol. 

Giving is a privilege and a blessing. Until your children experience the joy of giving to someone else, they will never really understand it. You have to help them to learn this joy. How about before they get anything new help them pick out a toy they can share with someone else? How about leading them to have a birthday party where all their gifts go to the Ronald McDonald house? There are all kinds of ways to teach them to give to others.

You may not be blessed with an abundance of goods, but I guarantee you have more than most. Look around and see how you can give to someone today. Perhaps you want to do it anonymously. That’s okay. It’s not about you. Jesus is the one who gets the glory, right. Just give.

Reveal to me, Lord, to whom I should be a blessing today. Help me meet the need of someone today.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, Inspirational, Ministry, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Service, Surrender, Witnessing

THE FIRST

MATTHEW 10:2-4

“2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.”

Of all the apostles, Simon, “who is called Peter,” is listed first. You could suppose that was because he was the very first one called by Jesus. But I think it was more than that. He was the only one whom Jesus changed his name. He was making a point. Simon would now be called Peter. He called him a rock, specifically a pebble that could be thrown.

Some scholars argue this referred to his future role as leader of the church. Jesus appointed Peter to be resolute and firm, compared to his original rashness and hot-headedness. Whatever the reason, Peter is the first of the disciples. Jesus chose him first. Jesus changed his name. Jesus used him fully. Jesus saw in Peter what he couldn’t see himself.

APPLICATION

Children often pick teams when they play games. I remember being chosen for teams during recess play times. No one wants to be chosen last. If you were picked first, it usually implied the one picking saw you as a good player and one who could help win the game. You had skills or at least the ability to make the team stronger.

Your child will probably face that situation and may come home dejected from being the last one chosen. Take them to this verse. “But Carl, won’t that make them feel worse?” Just wait! Listen, Jesus chooses ALL of us. We ALL have something to provide the team. Jesus sees in us what we can’t see ourselves. He sees what He will do to make us whole and complete. We just have to say “yes” and allow Him to use us.

Will you say “yes” today? Will you allow Jesus to make you part of His team of ministers spreading the gospel to a lost world? Peter was a fisherman. He was uneducated. He was brash and crude. But Jesus transformed him into the leader of the early church which shook the world. Jesus did in and through Peter what Peter could have never done on his own.

Father, take me and use me however You choose. Knock off my rough edges. Make me into an instrument of Your choosing.

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Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Following, Love, Ministry, Obedience, Parenting

FAMILY MAN

Matthew 8:14

“When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.”

Mark 1:29

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.”

We often don’t think of Peter as a family man. But from these references about Peter from Matthew and Mark, we see a few things. First, in Matthew, we see he was a homeowner, and secondly, he was married. His mother-in-law was in his home. Either she lived there or because she was sick, they had taken her in. Whatever the reason, Peter was providing a home for his family.

In Mark, we read “the house of Simon and Andrew.” This home may have been a larger home with multiple families (Peter’s and Andrew’s) or Peter also provided a place for his brother to live. We do not read anywhere that Andrew was married. Perhaps Peter was the big brother, so Andrew lived there with Peter’s family. Peter was a family man.

APPLICATION

“Big deal, Carl. How does this inspire me?” Well, think about it. Peter had all this – a fishing business, a home, a family – and left it all to follow Jesus. What are you willing to lay aside to follow Him? Ask your children if they could leave everything behind to follow.

I will never forget during one of our ministry moves our son was unusually upset. It was the first move that he was conscious of the packing and preparing for the move. When his mom asked why he was so upset he told her he didn’t want to leave his toys. Once she explained they were all going with us, he was fine. His stuff meant something to him.

Could you leave it all behind? Is there some possession or person that could hold you back? Peter laid it all aside to follow the Master. He asks us today to do the same. Now, He may not do that, but if He did… We don’t know what happened to Peter’s family during those three years he followed Jesus. I am sure he continued to provide for them. Jesus would not have allowed his family to suffer for Peter’s obedience. That’s not how Jesus works.

Thank You, Lord, for not only caring for me, but also for my family. I trust You to provide for them as I seek to follow You. Let them see You as their true source.

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MAKING PLANS

TITUS 3:12

“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.”

I don’t know about you, but I like to plan things out. I don’t like loose ends. It also hard for me to plan to travel without making sure everything is covered at home. Paul, undoubtedly, had a similar concern. We see in today’s verse that he wanted Titus to come visit him at Nicopolis where he planned to spend the winter. But he didn’t want to leave the church there in Crete without a strong leader. So, he planned to send Artemas and Tychicus to there first.

We know nothing of Artemas except he must have been a trusted companion of Paul. Otherwise, he would not have given him such an assignment. One day, when I get to heaven, I look forward to meeting all these people who are just mentioned once in Scripture. I want to ask them about their relationship with Jesus and Paul. I am curious how they felt being named in Scripture. That’s not important, but I want to know.

APPLICATION

Let’s talk about that a second. We never know how our reputation is going to be remembered. Artemas had no idea Paul’s letter to Titus would become part of the New Testament. I am sure he also had not idea his name would be recorded in it. If he had known, do you think he would have acted differently? You see, we never know who is looking at us. His friendship with Paul and his obvious trustworthiness made him a perfect choice to help guide the Cretans in Titus’ absence.

What do you think the Lord is preparing your children to do? Do you realize that He chose you to be the mom or dad to help prepare them? They weren’t given to you out of chance. No! They are yours for a purpose. You have been given a great responsibility to help develop them into the man or woman God wants to use to further His kingdom. What an opportunity we have!

Are you squandering this opportunity? Are you taking advantage of the years you have? Don’t waste these moments. You will reap a reward for your selfless service. You will be blessed by your kids as they grow into God-fearing, selfless servants of Jesus. Remember, you are not raising children. You are raising child raisers. So, you are impacting generations to come. Let God use you today to prepare your child to be ready to be used by God, like Artemas was.

Oh Lord, I want to be used. Having my name known is not important, but I do want the generations to come to know that I was devoted to You. Help me point them towards You so they too can be used to further Your kingdom.

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LEFT BEHIND

TITUS 1:5


“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,” 

We have all heard stories about parents mistakenly leaving their children. Of course, one of the classic Christmas movies is “Home Alone” in which Kevin McAlister is left behind when his family leaves for vacation. It’s humorous on the screen. It’s not so funny in real life.

This is NOT what Paul is talking about. He left Titus in Crete for two reasons – to set things in order and to appoint elders. Paul had seen Titus’ worthiness during their travels together. He knew he could be trusted to carry out these duties. Crete was not an easy place to minister. Cretans were known to be pretty crude and hard to deal with. But Paul knew Titus could handle it.

APPLICATION

I pray you never leave your child behind accidentally. But I do pray that you can have enough confidence in them to do it intentionally. “Boy Carl, that’s confusing.” Let me explain. We want our children to become independent. We want them to show responsibility. What better way than to let them be tested for short periods of time, all the while under your guidance.

We have way too many “helicopter” parents. These are parents who literally hover over their children and do everything for them. That will never prepare your child for living on their own. Think of some tasks you can give your child to let them learn to be depended upon. They may fail, but they will fail safely.

Are you trustworthy to be left behind? Could Paul have left you behind to accomplish his instructions? We are not all leaders. That’s okay. But we all have our roles to play in carrying out God’s plan. Are you doing what the Lord has asked you to do? If not, start today.

I am thankful You see me as worthy of Your trust. I will do my best to accomplish Your will for me. I consider it an honor to serve You.

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I’VE GOT FAITH IN YOU

TITUS 1:3

“but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,”

You can’t tell from the English translation, but “was entrusted” is the Greek word from which we get the word “faith.” It’s the verb form. It’s also a passive verb which means someone else has the faith in or has entrusted Paul with this proclamation. Who is that?

The same God who entrusts us with the Gospel entrusted Paul with the Gospel. He gave Paul a specific task – to preach His message to the Gentiles. Paul spent his whole ministry doing that. He was unashamedly bold in his approach. He risked it all because the Lord had faith in him.

APPLICATION

I pray you let your children know how much you believe in them. They need to hear you say that, not just think it. You may not have a task as big as Paul’s to give to your children, but they need to know that mom and dad believe in them. How do you do that? There are a number of ways, but here are a few.

  1. Give them small tasks to complete
  2. Encourage them to try out for that part in the play they want
  3. Be at their performances
  4. Let them hear as you tell others how proud you are of them.

You can determine the growth or the downfall of your child’s spiritual by the way you show your faith in them. How are you doing with that? I want you to think of at least one way today you can portray your faith in your child. They may not be in a good place right now. That’s not important. Let them know. Entrust them. Show faith in them. See what happens.

Lord, You have faith in me and I am thankful. Help me do the same for others. As underserving I am of Your faith in me, I will serve You.

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Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, Love, Ministry, Parenting, Witnessing

WHO?

2 TIMOTHY 4:21

“Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.”

In this next to last verse of 2 Timothy, Paul mentions four individuals who we know nothing about. You might just read this verse and move right on. Who cares about Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia? Paul did. And he thought enough about them to mention them to Timothy who also must have known them by name. Otherwise they would not have been mentioned.

Some people are name droppers. They like to mention they know or have met “so and so.” Usually that person they mention is well known or famous. It would be like me saying when he was alive, “Yesterday Billy and I were just talking.” Of course, I am referring to Billy Graham. Listen, everyone is important. Treat them that way.

APPLICATION

I want you to make a list of all the friends that your children have. Sit down with them and do that. Then make up a scale of one to five and have them score them according to how much they like them. One will be the least liked and five will be their BFF. This may take a while so be patient.

When they get done tell them to tear it up. They may argue a bit but insist. Now, read the verse to them. Explain that these four individuals fell somewhere on that one to five scale, but they probably weren’t fives because in all of Paul’s letters they aren’t mentioned anywhere else. But here, in Paul’s very last letter, they are the last people he mentioned. Friends are friends. They are all important.

How many friends do you have? I have over two thousand on Facebook. Some I have met through other friends. Some are mere acquaintances. Do you know why I made them my friends on Facebook? So I can expose them to the Gospel and encourage them. Will you make the effort today to reach out to one of your “lesser” friends and encourage them? God placed them in your life for a reason. Don’t forget that.

I am grateful for each friend You have allowed to cross my path. Help me encourage them today through Your Word. Let me be the friend they need today.

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