Battles, Bible, Blessing, Drought, Fruit, Harvest, Hope, Joy, Rejoicing

DON’T BE A SCAREDY CAT

JOEL 2:22

“Do not fear, animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness have turned green, for the tree has produced its fruit, the fig tree and the vine have yielded in full.”

Have you ever been around feral cats? You can’t get near them. They come out of the barns or bushes and look at you, but if you make one step toward them, they disappear. They hunt constantly for food and always look scrawny and underfed. It’s hard to see any animal like that – even a cat, lol.

Joel is spreading good news to even the animals. They have been suffering for so long with the drought and the locusts. They haven’t seen anything green to eat in quite a while. Now the Lord is turning the pastures green. He is bringing forth the fruit of the trees and the vines. The animals should be dancing with joy.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord restored in your life? Do you remember times when your needs were great, and the Lord came through and met just what you needed? The Lord always comes through – every time. He may be late, according to our timetable. But He’s not late according to His. Listen to this verse. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”

Maybe you are going through a tough time right now and feel the Lord is not hearing your prayers. He is. I promise. Trust in His timetable. I am sure those people in Judah thought the Lord had forgotten them. But He showed up just when He planned. Our suffering is always to make us more like Him. Don’t complain about it. Embrace it and allow Him to bring you through.

I remember vividly the days after I came to Christ. The grass was greener, and the sky was bluer. I saw life for the first time in a long time. His promises are true. I learned I could trust Him. He brought me through some tough times to get me there. He has continued to bring me through. Each time I trust Him, He teaches me more.

O Mighty Father, I will wait on You. You have always come through and I know You always will.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Direction, Disciplemaking, Drought, God's Will, Inspirational, Joy, Praise, Rejoicing

SHOUT FOR JOY

JOEL 2:21

“Do not fear, land; shout for joy and rejoice, for the LORD has done great things.”

I am a huge football fan, especially of the Georgia Bulldogs (Go DAWGS!). If it’s possible, I’m going to watch them play on. Saturdays. And when they are scoring and winning, I am shouting for joy. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but that’s okay. I love my DAWGS, and I’m going to support them every chance I get.

Joel isn’t talking about my DAWGS today, but he is talking about shouting for joy. In fact, he tells the land to not fear, but to shout for joy and rejoice. There’s been a period of mourning with the droughts and the locusts, but now the Lord is restoring the land. He says “for the Lord has done great things.” It is only because of the Lord. It is His workings.

APPLICATION

Do you feel like shouting? Can you rejoice in the great things the Lord has done in your life? You may not feel much like shouting for joy. Perhaps you have been in a period of mourning. But the Lord has still done great things. Look around you. I bet you can point out several things He has done for you lately. Rejoice in them.

It is often in our lowest moments that we can see His handiwork. The Lord comes down to us to lift us up. And He often teaches us very important life lessons when we are at our lowest. That may seem crazy, but it’s true. I know it’s been true in my life. So, take a moment and look around. Ask the Lord to reveal them to you.

When I was going through my first stem cell transplant in 2010, the Lord taught me to trust Him. My faith grew exponentially during those months. In 2020 during my second stem cell transplant, the Lord taught me the importance of being a godly example to others. He wanted to use me to show others how to trust. It wasn’t about me at all. For those lessons, I rejoice. Will you rejoice for yours?

I thank You, Lord, for all the lessons You have taught me in my life. I praise Your holy name.

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Cleansing, Comfort, Confession, Encouragement, Flesh, Gentleness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Joy, Life, Refreshing, Rejoicing, Salvation, Scripture

SPRING RAINS

HOSEA 6:3

“So let’s learn, let’s press on to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain waters the earth.”

When I was a little boy, I loved to play in the rain. Now, I don’t mean the rains that came during the Winter. Those are terrible. It’s cold. You can’t enjoy the rain because you’re freezing. But in the Spring those rains are awesome. Growing up in Southwest Georgia, here in the U.S., Spring is normally pretty warm. So, Spring rains are welcomed.

Hosea describes the Lord like that. He says, “He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain…” What does a Spring rain do? It refreshes the earth. It brings things back to life. Winter has caused everything to die back. But when those Spring rains begin, the new growth pops out. That’s what God does for us.

APPLICATION

Do you realize we can have the same effect on others? If we are living for Him, we can be like a refreshing Spring rain. The joy of Jesus should be all over us. People should see us and practically run to be near us. They should desire our presence. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Do you know someone you just love to be around because of their sweet spirit? That’s what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, too many of us are “Negative Nancy” or “Troublesome Tom.” We exude negativity, and people avoid us. Isn’t that a shame? I have to admit that I have slipped into that character from time to time. When I do, the Holy Spirit convicts me. I truly want others to be drawn to the Jesus in me. I really want them to want to be around me and not avoid me.

Would you join me today in being more like Jesus, more like that Spring rain? Would you let the Holy Spirit show out in your life? All it takes is us dying to ourselves. We have to give up our fleshly desires and pursue the Spirit. He is waiting to show Himself. Ah…I can feel the rain now.

I love the feel of You working in and through me. Help me get out of the way, so You can be seen in me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Baptism, Belief, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Rejoicing, Scripture

WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Rejoicing, Scripture, Testimony

FULL OF JOY

1 JOHN 1:4

“These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

There’s a difference in being joyful and being full of joy. Being joyful can be spontaneous and last for a while. Being full of joy is more about a lifestyle. Let me prove my point from the text. The Greek word for “complete” is pleroo. Any time you see a Greek word which ends in -oo the emphasis is more about the result of the word than the word itself. That word means “fill to individual capacity.

Being full of joy is a choice we make as believers that has results. We cast that joy onto others. We want to spread the joy to others because we know how great we feel because of it. We know the source of the joy is not of our own making. It comes from the Lord, so the source is bottomless.

APPLICATION

Ask your child if he/she knows what joy is. Let them define it in their own way. This could be quite hilarious. Then ask them if they would want to always feel that way. Some kids may say “no.” Why? Because they don’t know how to handle it? Maybe.

Here’s your opportunity to talk about the reason Christ gives us joy. We are not supposed to handle it. We are to pass it on. When we are full of the joy of Christ, we spread it around to all we meet. You can show your kids this by the way you treat others in your home and in the public.

But Carl, you don’t know what I’m dealing with right now. I don’t have any joy in my life. Remember, I said this is not a joy you produce. It comes from Christ through you to others. You have to surrender to Him. When you do that, the joy flows. It flows to overflowing. It becomes your lifestyle. Be full of joy!

Joyful, joyful we adore Thee. Lord, fill me to overflowing with Your joy. I want to spill out on others.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Eternity, Faithfulness, Heaven, Mentoring, Parenting, Rejoicing, Suffering, Teaching, Witnessing

CROWNED

I PETER 5:4

“And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

Did you know the Bible mentions five crowns believers may receive from the Lord? Here is a link that shows all five.

https://images.app.goo.gl/uHNGkAp8QQz2j6Ny5. They are the crown of life (Revelation 2:20), the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19), the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), the incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25) and the crown of glory (here in 1 Peter 5:4).

This last one, which we see in today’s verse, is given to those who feed the flock. Peter is writing to the elders, encouraging them feed the flock. This is a special task recognized by the Lord and deserving of a special crown. Not everyone who goes to heaven will receive that crown, and that’s okay because we will all lay any crowns we receive at His feet anyway. Right?

APPLICATION

Now you may wonder how in the world this verse applies to our kids. We should teach our children about these five crowns. Who knows, perhaps your child will be one who feeds the flock. Your child may be used by God to teach the Word to others. Your child may be a soul winner, thus earning the crown of rejoicing.

The point is this – God sees what we are doing down here. We aren’t overlooked. He knows exactly what we are doing and why. He is so pleased when we are obedient out of love for Him. He wants to bless us and reward us. That’s the message to our kids. Please the Lord.

Perhaps the Lord has chosen you to receive the crown of life for suffering for His sake. What an honor. Not everyone is chosen for that. Are you concerned with pleasing Him? I sure hope so. I pray your motivation isn’t just to receive something from Him. Our motivation, your motivation should always be out of love for what He has done for you.

Father, I am grateful for my salvation. I know one day I will receive crowns, but they all belong to You. You alone are deserving of praise.

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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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