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ASLEEP

MATTHEW 26:36-41

“36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”

As I write this, it is 12:40 a.m. I don’t sleep very much, normally 4-5 hours a night. Most nights I’m awake by 1:30 or 2:00. Tonight, it’s a little earlier. So, I can relate to Peter in this story. They had traveled that day and had just finished eating the Passover meal. Tired + stomach full = ZZZZZZ. It’s no wonder he and the others fell asleep.

Do you think he would have dozed off if he had known what was about to happen in a matter of hours? I don’t think so, but we are quick to condemn Peter for sleeping. “How could he do that to Jesus?” How many times have you “fallen asleep” spiritually on Jesus? How many times has He asked you to follow Him only to hear you snoring? Don’t be too critical.

APPLICATION

The next time you catch your son or daughter falling asleep take a picture. When they wake up (and are alert enough to listen) read them this story. Ask them why they fell asleep. Ask them why they think Peter fell asleep. Sleep is a good thing. We need it to stay strong. Jesus wasn’t condemning sleep. He knew what was coming.

Jesus wants us to be prepared for the evil one. Judas was on the way to betray Jesus in the garden. He had asked Peter, James and John to “keep watch with Me.” Explain to your child the importance of keeping watch. Satan is always on the alert for our weakest moments. Make sure you’re ready to face him with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you snoozing? Or are you alert and keeping watch? Satan doesn’t take any days off. I’m not telling you to not sleep physically. I am saying to not sleep spiritually. Stay in the Word. Stay in the spirit of prayer. Be discerning. Let the Spirit guide you in your words and deeds. Wake up, sleepy head.

Father, keep me alert to Your every command. Let me rest in You, knowing You are able to defend me. You are my peace.

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GIRDING

1 PETER 1:13

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Girding! That’s a funny word to me. The phrase “prepare…for action” could be translated as “gird.” The Greek word is only used right here in verse 13. Do you know what gird means? It has the word picture of someone wearing a long garment (as they did back in Peter’s day), reaching down, pulling it up and wrapping it around the waste. This was done when they had to move quickly or do some work which required bending and stretching. This gave them some freedom to move easily.

So, why would Peter use this word to talk about our minds? Because so many things can entangle our minds and not allow us think clearly and respond quickly. He is basically telling us to clear our minds of unnecessary things. That can be hard, can’t it? But we must do that to be ready to respond to the things of God.

APPLICATION

This can be a fun verse to talk about with your kids. Your little ones will especially like this. Get some fabric or find a long garment, one that goes to your child’s ankles. Now, you need to wear one too. They will love that, Dad. Once you are all dressed, go outside and have a race. See how easily you can run and jump with that long garment on.

Now it’s time to “gird” yourself. Show them how to reach down, gather up the fabric and secure it around their waist. Once you have all done that, do some more running and jumping. They will be amazed at that difference. Read the verse and make the application. They will get it and probably won’t quickly forget it (or seeing dad in a dress, lol). Visuals are so good with kids.

What’s hindering your action today? Do you need to rid your mind of some things to allow it to react quickly? God will show you how to gird your mind, to prepare it for action. But you must be willing to let some things go or at least put them on the back burner. Nothing is more important than being prepared to act when God calls. Are you ready?

Cleanse my mind today, O Lord. Let my thoughts be focused on You. Show me what You would have me do.

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PROVEN PRECIOUS

I PETER 1:7

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 

Our faith is precious, more precious than gold. And Peter reminds us how gold is proven to be precious. It is tested by fire. The same is true about our faith. It, too, will go through testing.

One scholar wrote,
“Christians should be willing to pass through trials: (a) They will purify their religion, just as the fire will remove dross from gold.

(b) They will make it shine more brightly, just as gold does when it comes out of the furnace. (c) They will disclose more fully its value. (d) They will furnish an evidence that we shall be saved; for that religion which will bear the tests that God applies to it in the present life, will bear the test of the final trial.”

APPLICATION

So, how do you apply this verse? By living through those testings. As you encounter hard times, you have the God given opportunity to trust Him to prove your faith. Your children are watching. As you talk to them about how you are trusting the Lord in the process, they are listening.

You may not think these moments will be remembered by them. After all, they are young. But, oh, they will remember. God will make sure of that. Trusting moments stick. Faith producing moments make impacts, especially on young lives. And when God brings you through, and He will, celebrate that with your children.

Are you in a trial right now? Is your faith being put through the fire? Thank the Lord that He is purifying it. Thank Him that You know it is more precious than gold. Gold will not last forever. Even it is eventually destroyed. But not our faith. With each “firing” it becomes stronger. Believe that!

I praise You for the fires! I may not enjoy the process, but I am thankful for the outcome. Purify me, Lord!

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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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MY STUFF

2 TIMOTHY 4:13

“When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.”

Paul was in prison, his last imprisonment, and like a lot of prisoners, was asking a friend to bring him a few things. From what I have read about his conditions, they weren’t too nice. He was basically in a hole in the ground, guarded around the clock. It was a damp, cold, uncomfortable cell. So, he wanted that cloak to stay warm.

But why the books and parchments? He wasn’t through writing and reading God’s Word. We don’t know what the books were, but I bet they were Greek fables. Paul didn’t have time to waste on mindless thoughts. His focus, even there, was presenting the Gospel. And the parchments? I suppose they were for more writing. Aren’t you glad Paul wrote his thirteen letters of the New Testament for us to read today?

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking, “How will you apply this verse, Carl?” Well, think about it. How much time and energy are you wasting right now? Paul didn’t spurn one moment. He was laser focused even in his last days to present the Gospel. Are you and your children doing the same? We may not be in a prison cell, but we are in the last days. Yep, I believe that. I believe every day could be our last, so bring me my cloak and books and parchments.

Explain to your children that we have a responsibility to take every opportunity we have to share the Word of God with the lost. Do they have lost friends? Make sure your children know how to share with them. Do they have a teacher who needs to hear about the Lord? Perhaps you can go with them to share. That would be cool – tag teaming with your child.

Just don’t waste these moments. Take full advantage of every day the Lord allows you to be here on planet earth. He has placed you here and brought you to salvation for one purpose. He wants to use you to spread His message of salvation to a lost and dying world. Will you do that? What do you need? A cloak? Some books? Some parchments? Ask and it will given.

O Lord My God, I know You will give me exactly what I need to accomplish Your mission. Give me the gumption and desire to fulfill all You have for me. I want to see many come to You.

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FOLLOW THE RIGHT LEADER

2 TIMOTHY 3:10

“Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance,”

That may sound simplistic. “Of course, Carl, I wouldn’t follow the wrong one.” Okay, okay. But sometimes we can be misled. Leaders say things to get people to follow. And if we are listening and watching carefully, we can begin to follow someone who does not match up to the principles God has for us in His Word.

Paul commended Timothy for following him back in his first letter to him (1 Timothy 4:6) and here he does it again. Timothy had thoroughly investigated Paul’s teachings and life. That’s what the Greek word for “followed” means. He was convinced of Paul’s mission and message and could follow it himself. Paul had proven to be someone worth emulating and following.

APPLICATION

Who will your children follow? What habits, quirks, and lifestyles do you want them imitating? We have the unique opportunities as parents to daily plant those messages in our children. As we live out a surrendered life to Christ, they see that in us. When they watch us respond in life’s crises, they learn to trust God. As they see us and hear us read His Word and pray, they see the value in growing their personal faith.

But we can’t be perfect in front of our children all the time, can we? We blow it. We blow it with them. We blow it with others. And they see that too. However, these can be the best teaching times. When they can see us repent and ask for forgiveness, it shows them our trust in a graceful and merciful Father. That’s a lesson they need to learn early and that will carry them through their life.

Are you a Paul worth following? Is there a Timothy out there who needs you? If you are a believer in Jesus, you have the responsibility to lead others to Him. Why wouldn’t you want to? Why hoard the most precious gift to yourself. Share the wisdom the Lord gives you. Share the love He pours out on you. Be a right leader. There are many who will follow.

I am humbled at the privilege to lead. Help me lead only towards You and may You get all the glory!

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FOOLISH THINKING

2 TIMOTHY 3:9

“But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.”

I find it rather curious how this Greek word for “folly” is used here. It is only used one other time in the New Testament and that is in Luke 6:11 when the religious leaders “lose their minds in rage” when Jesus heals the man with then withered hand on the Sabbath. Then we have the same word used here to describe Jannes and Jambres. They must have been quite a pair to observe in Pharaoh’s court.

The point is this – foolishness is not hard to spot. When someone gets so upset they can’t think straight, that is folly. Have you ever been that upset about something? Before reacting, stop, count to ten (or twenty or thirty), pray, then speak or do something. In this day of electronic communication, write the text, but then delete it.

APPLICATION

Wow! This is important to teach our children. Holding their tongues and keeping their heads is so important. Some kids are naturally wired that way and it takes a lot to get them to respond. Others, well, let’s just say they are ready for a fight if the shoe drops just right. Those are the ones we need to drill this into. Foolishness never accomplishes anything. Foolish words, foolish deeds, foolish thoughts – none of them.

And no one wants to be thought of as or called a fool. So, how do you prevent that? By being more like Christ. Christ is as anti-fool as it is possible to be. He never loses His mind. He never says words He wishes He could take back. He never did something that He shouldn’t. Teach your children to think and act like Jesus and they will never be foolish.

We all get tempted to “act the fool” sometimes. But I have found if I am bathing myself in prayer and in His Word, those moments are fewer and fewer. If I let myself just self-contemplate, I can get “foolish.” I let my rationale and wisdom get in the way. I have no wisdom outside of Christ. He is my fool guard. How about you?

Father of all wisdom, guard me from folly. Keep my eyes on your purpose and calling on my life. I praise You!

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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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YOU ARE CHARGED

1 TIMOTHY 6:13

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,” 

Unfortunately, when we hear the word “charge” we automatically think about a financial transaction. Paul had no concept of Mastercard or Visa, lol. This word “charge” had an entirely different meaning. This Greek word means “to charge, give a command that is fully authorized because it has gone through all the proper (necessary) channels.” It also originally carried a military meaning as when an officer would give a command to an inferior. 

You are charged by God to carry out the duties in His army. God expects us to comply. Now, He won’t make us. He never will. But obedience is expected. Where do we find these “charges”? In His Word. It is full of commands from the Father. All we have to do is read His Word and then follow His commands. Easy peasy, right? I wish.

APPLICATION

Have you ever given your children a command to clean their room or brush their teeth? I am sure you have. No child I know naturally does that without being told. And I bet you had to show them how to do it, right? I remember teaching our children how to brush their teeth. I remember teaching them how to pick up their toys and make their bed. Commands are great, but if we don’t know how to carry it out, it’s useless.

Jesus showed us how to obey our Father. Point your children to Him. He will show them how to obey you and God. His examples of obedience all through His life show us it is possible. Of course, we aren’t Jesus. We will make mistakes. That’s okay. God simply wants us to strive toward perfection. He is the perfecter, not us. 

Are you obeying the commands given to you by the Lord? Maybe you are more like me and try to find ways around it, lol.  Resolve yourself today to be an obedient soldier of the cross. When the Lord charges you with a new task, gratefully take it on and fulfill His desires for your life. You won’t be sorry.

Lord, I want to obey. Sometimes my flesh gets in the way, but I know that is just an excuse. Forgive my disobedience.

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CHASE THIS!

1 TIMOTHY 6:11

“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

You need to read verses 3 though 11 of this chapter in 1 Timothy to remind yourself what Paul is telling Timothy to flee. That word “flee” means to escape or to run away. In other words, run as hard as you can away from this stuff. In contrast, Paul tells Timothy to chase as hard as he can “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

You see, running is okay as long as you are running from or running towards the right thing. Of course, we know if you pursue the Lord will all your heart, you will find “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” How? Because He is all those things.

APPLICATION

Do you want to teach your children to chase after the right stuff? Of course, you do. Why not show them what to chase yourself? If you are seeking righteousness, they will see it in you. If you are striving to be godly in your behaviors, they will imitate you. If your faith is tested and you rely on the Lord, your children will remember that.

Are you getting the picture here? These pursuits are best taught to your children by you modeling these to them. These are not things you can tell them to do and then not do yourself. In fact, words are not even necessary. Just pursue them yourself time after time. They will see it and learn. When they ask you why you are doing what you are doing, then you have the perfect opportunity to tell them.

What are you running from and towards? Make sure you are chasing after God. Only He can provide “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” There is no other source. Do you want to be more Christlike? Then run!

I want to be seen as righteous, godly, faithful, loving, persevering and gentle. I know all these are in You, Lord. Help me pursue them with all my strength.

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