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IT MAKES SENSE TO ME!

 

Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Judges 19-21 is one of the most interesting stories in the Old Testament to me. The actions of the all the characters (the Levite, the concubine, the men of Gibeah, the army) really don’t make sense. Their actions do not line up with scripture.

But the last verse of chapter 21, which is quoted above, sums it up. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. If that is your philosophy for life then you are your own master, and it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about you, even God.

Moms and Dads, teach your children that good and evil exist in this world. No matter where they go or what they do, God’s Word will remain constant. It will continue to point them in the right direction and help them discern between what is good and what is evil. The world will tell them differently. Right in one place may be wrong somewhere else and vice versa. But good and evil are always good and evil according to God’s Word.

The participants in the events of Judges 19-21 decided upon themselves what made sense. They did things according to what they thought best. Many lives were lost in this story. I counted over 65,000. Our actions, when governed by our own ideas, can be costly. However, when we allow the Lord to lead we can trust the outcome. He always knows best.

Are you trusting God for the direction in your life or are you deciding your own path? Have you asked the Lord for the wisdom you need to teach your children or are you relying on a worldly philosophy? There really is only one right way. That’s the Lord’s way.

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REJECTED

 

Luke 10:16 “’The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.’”

If there is one thing our children need to learn is how to handle rejection. No one likes being rejected. Our feelings get hurt. We wonder why that “someone” doesn’t like us. Not only that, but sometimes that person rejecting us will get others to join with them to ostracize us. It just doesn’t feel good.

So how can we help our children who experience this hurt? Look at the verse. If our children are truly trying to live like Jesus they can expect rejection. But it’s not so much themselves that are being rejected. It’s the Lord Himself. The kind of rejection I am talking about here is rejection from people who do not want to do the right thing. Being around you or your children simply illuminates their wrong decisions or lifestyle. They don’t want that because it makes them feel uncomfortable. We can expect nothing but rejection from them.

The lesson for this passage is simple. Just love them! Even when they turn their backs on you, love them. Even when they hurl insults, love them. You don’t have to keep company with them, but you do have to love them. Why? Because God does.

Perhaps one simple forgiving act by you or your child will draw them back to the Light. Just keep being Jesus to them. He has the power and will work through you to love them.

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BEAUTIFUL NAME, WONDERFUL NAME

 

Judges 13:17-18 “17 Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, ‘What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?’ 18 But the angel of the LORD said to him, ‘Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?’”

Philip Bliss wrote a hymn in 1874 entitled “Wonderful Words of Life.” The chorus reads, “Beautiful words, wonderful words, Wonderful words of life.” I couldn’t help but think of this hymn when I read these verses. The Angel of the Lord (Jesus in the OT) appears to Manoah and his wife and when asked his name says “it is wonderful.”

Truly the name of Jesus is wonderful. His name is above all names. His name carries with it the reminder that His birth, life, death and resurrection changed human history. Even the calendar is based on his life.

When you picked out a name for your child, did you research its meaning? I bet you did. My first name, Carl, means strong and manly. That fits me exactly. Haha. Seriously, that name was my maternal grandfather’s name. I am proud to carry it even though I never knew him. Do your children know why they were named what they were named? They should know that.

But more importantly, we want our children to carry the name of Jesus wherever they go. They should be known as a Christ follower. When people think of them they should think of Jesus. How can you as Mom and Dad help them to do that? By carrying the name of Jesus yourself. You need to be known that way. People should see the “Wonderful Name” emblazoned on our forehead (you know what I mean).

Look at the words of the last verse of that hymn: “Sweetly echo the Gospel call, Wonderful words of life; Offer pardon and peace to all, Wonderful words of life; Jesus, only Savior, Sanctify us forever.” Amen!

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SEEING IS BELIEVING?

 

Luke 9:7-9 “ 7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead, 8 and by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen again. 9 Herod said, ‘I myself had John beheaded; but who is this man about whom I hear such things?’ And he kept trying to see Him.”

Herod just never figured it out, did he? He heard all about Jesus, but he could not accept the fact that He might be the Messiah. You see, Herod knew an earthly Messiah meant an end to his rule. And he sure didn’t want that. Besides he didn’t want anyone meddling in his affairs (he had married his brother’s wife which was forbidden).

Seven of the saddest words in Scripture are “And he kept trying to see Him.” Even when he did finally see Jesus, he didn’t recognize Him for Who He was. Seeing is NOT believing.

Do your children believe everything they see? Today with the internet and the limitless possibilities of computer imaging, they may see something and believe it is true. I mean it’s right in front of them. It has to be real, right? We have to teach our children that seeing something does not make it true. The devil will try to deceive us. And he will definitely use the internet and computers. It’s just too easy for him now with these tools.

Our children must learn that our faith is not dependent on sight. Our faith is solely dependent on believing the Word of God. We may live to see Jesus return, but seeing Him then will not get us to heaven. We have to have seen Him before as our Savior and Lord. And if that is the case, we will see Him everyday in those around us.

Open your eyes today! See Him! And once you see Him, live for Him. In fact, let Him be your eyes today. I promise if you do, the world will look a lot better. You will see limitless opportunities to serve Him. Seeing is NOT believing, but Believing IS Seeing!

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WAITING ON THE GREEN LIGHT

 

Judges 8:27 “Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.”

After successfully defeating the Midianites and leading the nation Gideon made a terrible mistake. He forgot the Second Commandment. You know that one, don’t you? Don’t make any graven images. Now, I don’t know Gideon’s motive behind making the ephod, but I really don’t think he meant it to be worshipped. Perhaps he just wanted a reminder of the great victory over the Midianites. Perhaps he just wanted the people to see it and remember the mighty act of God in that battle.

Whatever his motive, it backfired. The people began to worship it. The passage says it “became a snare to Gideon and his household.” So somewhere between defeating the Midianites and death, Gideon messed up.

Your children may do something with good intentions that is NOT what the Lord intended. Pursuing a career that provides well may seem harmless unless it is not what the Lord would have them do. We, as Mom and Dad, are the ones to direct them in their early years toward seeking the Lord’s Will in everything. Sometimes that means waiting and waiting and waiting.

I don’t know about you, but I hate to wait. I hate waiting at red lights, restaurants or…on God. But I have to wait. I have no choice. Our children have to learn to wait. After all, life is a lot of red lights with very few blinking green lights. God will tell us to go when we He is ready. Don’t let your kids jump the red lights in life. That can lead to disaster.

The next time you are with your kids at a red light, instead of getting anxious about the wait, how about asking your child to pray. Pray for the person in the car next to you or the business or house you just passed. You never know what may happen.

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STOP ROCKING THE BOAT

 

Luke 8:22-25 “22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side of the lake.’ So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?’”

Don’t you just love the fact that it was Jesus’ idea to go across the lake? And being God, He knew a storm would come. So why in the world would He put the lives of the disciples in danger? Simple answer – they weren’t in danger because they were with the Master. Jesus wasn’t worried about the wind and waves. Shoot , if the boat had sunk He could have just walked to shore and taken all the disciples with Him.   He chose, however, to let the winds and waves come, and He asked them, “Where is your faith?”

When was the last storm that you went through? Did your children know about it? Were they aware of the wind and waves lashing against the bow of your family’s boat? Were they (and you) afraid of sinking? What did you say to them? What did you hear the Lord saying to you?

Just like the disciples the Lord will sometimes lead us into or allow us to enter storms. But just like in this passage He is in control. He has the ability to calm the storm. Your children need to see your faith in the midst of the storm. God may allow a storm just for that purpose. As we teach our children to trust the Lord in the storm our own faith grows.

So, be still my child. Stop rocking the boat. Let Jesus calm you or the storm. Either way, He’s got this.

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WHO ME?

 

Judges 6:12 “The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.’”

I love this story of Gideon. Here he is, beating out the grains of wheat in a wine press. He is literally hiding from the Midianites, and the Angel of the Lord (I believe this is Jesus) appeared to him and said, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.” Gideon probably looked over his shoulder like, “Who is He talking to? Certainly not me! I’m no valiant warrior.”

That’s exactly why the Lord picked Gideon. He didn’t see himself as worthy. He was a humble man who was from a lowly family in the tribe of Manasseh. He had no prestige or position. But God saw something in Gideon that He could use. He was obedient. God said “Go” and he went. He had some questions and even asked God to confirm some things. Obviously, that was okay with God because He did it (see verses 36-40).

What do you think the Lord is going to ask your son or daughter to do for Him? Will they be the next Gideon standing up for their nation? Will they be called upon to lead? Will they be asked to surrender their safety and security to reach a lost world? We do not know the calling the Lord has for our children, but we do know He has called us to prepare them. Gideon knew the history of his people. He knew of God’s power and strength. Do your children? Have you told them how He has worked in your life? Have you shared your confidence in the Lord with them?

As I teach each Sunday morning in our church’s Children’s Church, I know I am standing before future missionaries, doctors, lawyers, teachers and homemakers. I want to instill in them the confidence to trust the Lord and to do whatever He asks, no matter how crazy it sounds. You know the rest of the story of Gideon. God told him to send home most of his army. He didn’t need them. All God needs is our availability. He can do the rest.

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BOY, THAT SMELLS GOOD

 

Luke 7:50 “And He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”

Can you imagine the smell that was in the room? If you have ever spilled some cologne or perfume you know how it fills the room with the aroma. The people, no matter where they were sitting or standing, eventually got a whiff of that perfume. AND whenever Jesus left the room and walked past them, they could smell it. Sweet smell!

But the beautiful thing about that smell is not the scent, but the memory. They had heard Jesus tell her that her sins were forgiven and that her faith had saved her. I dare to say that everyone, even Simon who questioned the action, had a flashback to this event the next time they smelled that perfume.

Moms and Dads, don’t you just love the smell of your children after they get out of the bath and are wrapped in that towel, still warm from the bath waters? My wife loved to smell our babies. There is still something about a newborn’s smell that is so fresh.

The next time you give your boy or girl a bath tell them this story and compare it to the freshness we have in Christ through our salvation. We are washed clean, pure and spotless! We have a fresh new scent that simply reeks of Jesus! What a great smell.

Unfortunately, we let sin back in and that fresh scent is soon forgotten. Go back to the cleansing waters of Christ. Let him cleanse you once again and let the aroma of Christ linger in the air as you pass others.

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DO YOU REMEMBER?

 

Joshua 24:26-27 “26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 Joshua said to all the people, ‘Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.’”

 

Joshua has just finished talking to the people about all that God has done for them. He is giving them a charge to be faithful to Him, and the people vow to do just that. So to remind them, Joshua sets up this big ole rock at Shechem. He wants something physical which they can refer to and remember the vow they made to follow Jehovah.

 

Have you ever given anyone something to remember you by? Do you buy souvenirs when you are on vacation so you can remember the feelings and good times you had? Your children need those “souvenirs” of childhood. What can you put in their hands to remind them that they belong to your family? Why don’t you and your kids think of something that represents your family and make something they can keep?

 

More importantly, what can you and your children come up with to remind you all of the Lord? A Christian heritage is so important for later in life. Maybe you have a family verse. Maybe when you presented them before the church (you may call it Baby Dedication) to vow that you would bring them up to honor the Lord, you chose a verse for them. Why not get that verse put on a plaque and put it in their room? Refer to it when they are old enough to understand. When they leave home, it goes with them. It can be “something to remember you by.”

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I GOTTA LOVE WHO?

 

Luke 6:27 “’But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,’”

Luke 6:20-38 is Luke’s version of The Beatitudes. Let me encourage you to read the entire passage. But for simplicity’s sake, I decided to just list verse 27 of this passage. If we can teach our children to love their enemies, well, then they can handle just about anything. Right?

Do you have any enemies? I mean, do you have people in your life who truly hate you? Enemies want to destroy you. They want to see you hurt and bleeding. They would prefer you not exist. Pretty harsh!

I don’t think I have any real enemies in my life right now. Even people who may not like me don’t wish me physical harm. That was not always the case. I remember there was one boy in my school who was always trying to “one up” me. We competed aggressively for prestige and position. (This was in my days before Christ). We had more than one fight trying to be the bigger man.

I wonder what could have happened if I had known the Lord then and shown him love rather than anger. If I had done good to him rather than harm, he and I both may have been better at the very thing we were trying to achieve.

Our children need to see you love those who “hate” you. Maybe you have a neighbor who is hard to get along with. Bake them some cookies or mow their lawn. Show your children that we can love anyone – if we let Jesus do the loving. Why? Because He loves them. He died for them. The least we can do is show them His love.

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