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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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Persecution, Scripture

CLOSE CALL

1 JOHN 2:1

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”

A couple of years ago I was leaving Chattanooga to travel to Nashville for day conference with two other staff members. On the way out of town we were almost smashed by a semi-truck and trailer that hydroplaned right next to us on a curve. I can still give you every detail of that close encounter. Our vehicle was actually trapped in the bend between the semi-tractor and trailer until the tractor smashed into the guard rail and bounced back. That was an extremely close call.

Why do I tell that story? Well, there’s a word in this verse today that actually means close call. It’s the word “advocate.” It is the Greek word parakletos which is made of two Greek words, para (close) and kaleo (call). It can mean a legal advocate qualified to make the judgment because they are close to the situation. That’s Jesus. He is close to our situation, just like He was close to me in my close encounter on the road.

APPLICATION

Who is your child’s best advocate besides Jesus? You are, of course. Well, what does that mean? It doesn’t mean you defend your child’s reckless behavior just because they are your child. It doesn’t mean you attack anyone who comes against your child. No, it means you are close enough to the situation to know what is right and what is wrong. A good lawyer would never go against the law to defend his or her client. No, they use what they know is right to do that.

One of our roles as parents is to be our child’s biggest cheerleaders. We want then to excel in all they do. We should heap tons of praise on them. But we should also call them close and give them the advice needed. Jesus is our advocate, but He won’t excuse our bad behavior anymore than you can with your children.

Aren’t you grateful for our advocate? Go to Him today. He is close. He knows your situation. He can give you the best guidance. Trust it.

I am thankful to have You in my corner. I know You always have my best in mind, no matter the situation.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Deception, Destruction, Devil, Following, Freedom, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

TRUE ESCAPE

2 PETER 2:20

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”

We’ve all seen the suspense movie where the characters are being chased and finally escape. We all breathe a sigh of relief and then out of nowhere the villain reappears and catches them. They were so close. They had broken free. If only they had kept moving. We see it so clearly when it’s someone else, don’t we?

Peter is talking about that very thing here. People throw off the worldly lusts and desires and for a short time they live right. Now, this verse is NOT saying they are believers who have backslidden. A knowledge of Christ is not the same as knowing Christ as your Savior. Without that saving knowledge, what do they do? They return to the world, much like a meth addict quickly returns to the meth.

APPLICATION

How do you make application of this for yourself or your children? Have you and your children ever caught butterflies in a net? How do you catch them? Do you snatch them out the air or while they are on the flower? It is much easier to catch them while they are enjoying the flower nectar. Once they are entangled in the net, they can’t escape.

Explain to your kids that sin works the same way. The devil attracts us with stuff our flesh craves. Once we taste it, we keep going back for more. Before you know it, we are trapped. The more we go back, they more we are hooked. There is only one way out – Jesus.

Do you find yourself looking for an escape? He’s right in front of you. He’s waiting for you to stop struggling and allow Him to guide you to freedom. Let Him take your hand. Let Him take you in His arms. There is an escape. There is peace.

Oh Lord, I long for freedom from the desires of my flesh. Cleanse my thoughts today. Purify my mind so I can follow you.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Scripture, Self-control

STUCK

2 PETER 2:18

“For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,”

Have you ever gotten stuck in the mud with your car or truck? I’ve done that a couple of times, and it’s no fun. The most frustrating part is when you think you’re almost out of that mud hole and then you wind up sinking again. I have been stuck for hours before. No fun!

Peter is warning us in today’s verse. He is saying that these false teachers especially like to entice or lure those who think they have escaped. Once the devil sees a weakness in us, he will go after us like a dog with a bone. He smells blood in the water. We have exposed our flesh to him, so he just gives us what our flesh desires.

APPLICATION

Can you name your child’s favorite candy? Mine is a Butterfinger candy bar. What would happen if you bought your child a huge bag of that candy and told them they could eat as much as they wanted as often as they wanted? Most kids would jump on that. That would eat candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their world just got a whole lot better – or so they think.

What’s going to happen to them if they continue to do that? They are going to get sick and/or have dental problems. They may get overweight and sluggish. Listen, fleshly indulgence never leads us in the right direction. Whether it is candy or something else our flesh desires, these enticements don’t lead us to God. Keep what’s holy before your child’s eyes. Let that entice them to godliness.

Have you succumbed to the lures of the devil and find yourself in a mudhole, stuck up to the axle? Stop spinning your tires. Only the Lord Jesus can get you out of that hole you’re in. Turn to Him and allow Him to “dig you out.” Jesus has already paid the price for your sin. Repent and allow Him to put you back on solid ground.

Thank You, Lord, for coming to my rescue. You are always listening for my prayers. Forgive me for trying to handle it myself.

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Advice, Affliction, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Greed, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Satan, Scripture, Shame

DON’T BE BAITED

2 PETER 2:14

“having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;”

Anyone who knows me knows I love to fish and hunt. Heck, I just love the outdoors. If you want to catch fish, you have to know what they are eating. Their menu changes with the seasons and conditions of the water. Use the wrong bait, and you won’t catch much. Use the right bait, and you have a better chance of catching fish that day.

The Greek word translated as “enticing” is exactly that word – bait. It’s only used three times in the New Testament. It’s used twice here in 2 Peter (2:14 and 2:18) and in James 1:14. All three times it used in a negative context. Bait hides the hook. Bait lures us into traps. But catch what Peter says. They entice “unstable souls.” This literally means people who don’t have a staff to lean on. They are ungrounded, unsteady, not dependable.

APPLICATION

So, how do we protect ourselves against being baited? How do we protect our kids? We get grounded in the Word. When we are in the Word daily and seeking God’s face, we can easily recognize those baited hooks. We can see the traps that are being laid for us. We have to be alert at all times, though, because the devil can get very creative.

What does that mean? The devil won’t come at you or your children the same way every time. He knows we can “wise up” and see him coming. So, he will disguise his traps. They may even look okay. Ask yourself and teach your kids to ask themselves one question. Will this action I am about to take bring glory to God. If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” run as fast as you can. Back up and take a hard look. Don’t be baited.

Have you fallen for the bait and now you sit there with a hook in your mouth? You may feel shame and regret. Listen! Turn to Jesus. He is the ultimate hook remover. He can forgive you and set you back on the right path. You may have a scar from that hook mark, but it will serve to remind you, not of your sin, but of the forgiving power of Jesus. Amen?

Forgive me, Father, for falling victim to Satan’s lures. Keep my eyes on You. I know You will never lead me toward defeat.

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Advice, Angels, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Evil, Faith, Following, Holiness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Rescue, Suffering, Testimony

SNATCHED AWAY

2 PETER 2:7

“7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men” 

Peter continues the example of verse 6 into verse 7 by naming Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who had chosen to live in this area long ago. And now he finds himself surrounded by lewd men, men who had no restraints on their conduct. This conduct went against the laws of God and there was nothing Lot could do about it.

Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Our world has become tolerant of any and all behaviors, no matter the effect it may have on others. We, who hold to God’s principles, are supposed to smile and just go along with it. If we speak up, we are labeled as intolerant and cruel. But God rescued (snatched away) Lot from this immoral situation. He will rescue you, as well.

APPLICATION

Part of our roles as parents is to snatch away our children from situations which we know are immoral and against God’s principles. As long as your children are with you, you have to do that. We can’t allow our children to wallow with the pigs (I use this analogy loosely) and not get dirty. Evil influences will eventually affect them.

So, how do you do that? Prayerfully. There may be sports teams they can’t play on because of an immoral coach. There may be schools they can’t attend due to the philosophy of the administration or teachers. I know this is a hard decision to make, but you are not making it just for now. This is an eternal decision.

Lot could have stayed right where he was and compromised his beliefs. After all, he was living there, right? He could have fit in. But God heard his cries for deliverance and sent two angels to bring him and his family out. God still delivers today. Cry out to Him for the deliverance of your family. He will answer.

O God, rescue me from the evil which surrounds me. Protect my thoughts and actions as I dwell here. I will shine here as long as You have me here.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Deceit, Enemies, Greed, Modeling, Parenting, Persecution, Remembering, Scripture

PLASTIC WORDS

2 PETER 2:3

“and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

What in the world do I mean by the title for today’s devotion? Well, the Greek word for “false” is plastos from which we get our word “plastic.” It refers to something that is molded to fit someone’s vain imagination. You see, it’s easy to manipulate words to say whatever you want them to say. And people who are greedy won’t hesitate to do that.

It’s interesting that Peter goes on to say that they are not idle or asleep. In other words, these people don’t waste time. They have an agenda. They want to tear down any semblance of truth they find. Nothing will stand in their way. Oh, wait! God will, but we have to trust Him to do just that.

APPLICATION

That’s the application for today. This verse, in and of itself, is not very encouraging. But we know how this all ends. That’s the message we teach our children. No matter how bad things seem and no matter how many people are against us, God is on our side and will be victorious.

The hard part is trusting that. Life can get overwhelming. Crises come and go. Hardships fall upon us. We may see no way out, but how we respond during those times teaches our children volumes. They will remember our courage. They will remember our prayers. Let our enemies mold their words. We have THE Word.

Are you cowering in fear because of those who want to speak evil against you? Stand up and trust the Lord. Your enemy’s words may sound convincing to the world, but you know the truth. Allow the Lord to defend you. He will. And so what if you suffer innocently. Didn’t He?

Father, I will trust You to defend me against fabricated words intended to do me harm. Your truths will win out. I will hold fast to them.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Devil, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Scripture, Suffering

RESIST THE DEVIL

1 PETER 5:9

“But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

What does it mean to resist the devil? We too often blame the devil for the things we do that he had no part in. Our natural self, the evil flesh, takes over and we run with it. Then we blame the evil one. To be honest, the devil has bigger fish to fry. If you are so busy blaming him, he doesn’t have to worry about you too much.

The Greek word for “resist” means to take a complete stand against, to take a 180 degree, contrary position. It means to establish one’s position publicly by holding your ground and refusing to be moved or pushed back. It’s not just saying, “not right now” to the devil. We are enemies with Satan. We can’t give him an inch.

APPLICATION

As your children come to faith, you need to remind them of the battle we are in. I don’t mean you have to scare them with stories of the devil. But I do mean you have to teach the dangers of evil that are all around. Evil comes in all shapes and sizes and very seldom appears in its real form. If it did, most everyone would run.

So how do you teach your children to resist the devil? Peter says to be firm in your faith. Foundation, foundation, foundation! It is the key. What is that foundation? Living out the Word of God. Notice I didn’t say reading or memorizing it. You have to live it. The Word will show you exactly how to resist the devil if you spend time in it and apply its principles to your life. Teach your children that.

Are you resisting the devil? Are you glorifying God with your actions? If we focus on glorifying Him with our words and deeds, we will naturally resist any actions from the devil. The devil doesn’t stand a chance against the Word of God. Just live it out as you encounter others. The Lord will be pleased, and the devil will hate it.

Your Spirit within me is much stronger than any attack of the devil, Lord. Keep my eyes on You and I know I will be able to resist those fleshly lusts.

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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, Bible, Blameless, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution

DO NOT BE ASHAMED

1 PETER 4:16

“but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.”

I love these words from Peter. Why? Because sometimes when we suffer, we are made to feel ashamed, like we’ve done something wrong. When we suffer for living for Christ, we have nothing to be ashamed of. When we suffer for loving someone who has fallen into sin, we have nothing to be ashamed of. The devil wants us to feel shame. The Lord never does.

Now, let me explain that. The Lord does convict us, as believers, when we fall into sin. He wants us to know we have done wrong and need to repent. But He never shames us. He never wants us to feel unworthy. Guilt from sinful behavior is not the same as shame. Remember that.

APPLICATION

If you can’t see the application for our kids from this verse, you need to stop reading my devotions (just kidding, don’t do that, lol). Seriously, kids are so easily shamed. Their friends can shame them for doing the right thing. Society can shame them for bad behaviors. Shame should have no place in our kids’ lives.

Are you guilty of saying Shame on you when your kids misbehave? Lose that vocabulary. Never shame your kids. By all means, they need to be told when they do wrong, but don’t shame them. And when they are shamed by others for pleasing the Lord, you build them up and support them.

Live for Jesus no matter what others may say about you. When they try to shame you for living right, keep on living right. When they shame you for standing up for God’s principles, keep on standing. Do not feel ashamed of Jesus.

I will not be ashamed. I will be true to You, O Lord. I stand proud of knowing You and living for You.

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