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CURSED TO CLEAN

 

Isaiah 1:18 “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.’”

CLEAN AS A WHISTLE

Don’t you just love this verse? When we turn to the Lord and confess our sins, He promises to purify us. They changed from scarlet to white, from crimson to wool. What a picture! We don’t deserve it, but because of the shed blood of Christ, we have been made clean. That should encourage you today.

Have you ever finger painted with your children? If you haven’t, you should. There is just something about smearing paint on paper with your fingers. You may have seen an artist do this with his whole hands on canvas. That feeling is awesome! We feel the paint on our skin and see the colors come alive on the paper or canvas.

But when you finish, you are left with all those colors of paint on your fingers. You have to clean them off with soap and water. I use to love to watch those colors disappear down the sink as I washed my hands. They are mixed together briefly, then just vanished.

TEACHING MOMENT

How about getting with your kids and finger paint this week? Use red or black. Then talk about this verse as you are painting. As you clean up, describe how the Lord washes you clean too. And, just like the paint down the drain, the sin disappears. Scripture says the Lord remembers them no more. Wow!

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time forgetting my sins. I confess them, but still feel guilt. Let it go. Satan wants you to feel that way. The Lord doesn’t. Remorse is a good thing, but guilt is not. They are different. Remorse helps you not repeat it. Guilt just keeps you down. Remember, you are white like snow. You are like white wool. Cleaned, washed, forgiven!

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NO MEANS NO

 

2 Timothy 4:3-4 “3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

SUCH A SWEET MESSAGE

We are seeing these verses lived out today as in no other time. People do not want to be confronted with sin. Anything is permissible.   They say, “How dare you judge me!” And sadly, many preachers are giving them just what they want – no confrontation of sin. They don’t want to “offend” them with preaching truth.

TEACHING MOMENT

Tell me something. How would your kids turn out if you never corrected them? When little Leroy hauls off and hits his sister, your reply would be, “Oh, I am sure he was just playing.” When Leroy turns 13 and steals from the local electronics store, your comment might be, “I’m sure there is a misunderstanding.” Now Leroy is 20 and gets into a bar fight. Now you say, “That man must have said something bad.”

That may sound too simplistic, but the path to destruction is wide. We have to confront our children’s sins and do our best to put them on the narrow path of surrender to the Lord. We have to point out when they have sinned against a Holy God. We have to hold them accountable for their sins against others. Not to do so, for us is sin. Yep, I said it. Ouch!

Just as it is a sin for the preacher to “tickle the ears” rather than preach the Word, we sin when we do not do all we can to present the truth to our children. They have been given to us for a season. We are the stewards of a precious gift. If we squander that gift by allowing them to do whatever and whenever, we have sinned against our Father and disobeyed His clear instructions on how to bring up our children.

True, we can’t force them to believe. That is a matter between them and God. But we must be constantly setting before them the truths of the Word in way they cannot ignore. We must lovingly and gently guide them toward the Father, while at the same time, correcting the path they are taking.

Will you do that? Will you accept the role you have been given by God to raise your children to honor Him in all they do? Your children will be blessed and you will too.

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OUR BELOVED

 

Song of Solomon 5:9 “What is your beloved more than another beloved, O most beautiful among women? What is your beloved more than another beloved, that you thus adjure us?”

HOW GREAT IS YOUR BELOVED?

This verse is part of the discourse between the woman in the Song of Solomon and her handmaidens. She is asking them to go look for her bridegroom, her beloved. They ask a simple question. “Why is he so great?”

May I ask you a question? What would you tell someone if they asked that about your Lord? “Why is he so great?” I could tell you story after story of how I have seen Him work in my life. I could tell you how I have seen Him change lives. I could tell you the love I feel each time I bow before Him in prayer. But what would you say? Have you thought about that?

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children need to hear the stories of the works of God in our lives and in the lives of others. They need to be told about the wonderful works of grace we have experienced. Write these events down so you won’t forget. Give your children that legacy of faith that you have witnessed first hand. Show them how your Beloved has come to visit you in your darkest moments.

Then help them develop their own life story with Christ. When something happens in their life that only God could have done, record it for them. When they are grown they will appreciate it.

I will never forget one of our experiences with our son. He was still going through his immunizations and needed the Measles, Mumps and Rubella shot. The only problem was it was made from egg, and he was allergic. After a week of fasting and praying together my wife and I took him for the shots. Through a series of increased dosages with no reaction, they gave him the shot. No reaction. A few weeks later we decided to see if God had just healed him of that allergy, so we gave him a little egg (we had the Benadryl on standby). He reacted immediately.

Now you may blow that off as just coincidence. But we know that God protected him that day of the shot so he could receive it. Our Beloved cares for the smallest things in our lives. He is greater than all the rest. In fact, there is no other. He is the Only True God! Amen?

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WHERE ARE YOU RUNNING?

 

2 Timothy 2:22 “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

HOT PURSUITS

Have you ever heard the statement, “Before you are saved you chase sin, but after you are saved, sin chases you”? This verse basically says the same thing. Paul is telling Timothy to run from sin, all those youthful lusts. He doesn’t name them, but I am sure he and Timothy had the conversation before during those years Timothy traveled with him and was mentored by him.

But then Paul tells him what to chase. Righteousness, faith, love and peace are worthy goals to go after. And the more we chase those things, the less we want to chase the wrong things. These four pursuits will cause us to be more and more like Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our race.

TEACHING MOMENT

So, how do we as parents point our children into the correct lane in this race? Well, we have to get in the lane next to them. We have to show them how to pursue these things. We have to show them how to keep our eyes on the prize (the upward call of Christ). We have to help pace them because it is a long race. Then after they have learned from us we can revert to a place of cheering them on from the stands. They have to learn to run the race themselves. And when they fall, and they will, we need to be there to pick them up and point out, if necessary, how they fell.

Too many parents today keep picking up their fallen kids without pointing out the cause of the fall. These parents don’t want to make little Elrod feel any worse, so they just pick him up, bandage his knee and help him on the track again. There is always a cause for the fall. Some of those falls are accidental, but others….well, they choose those. Those are the ones we must point out and hold them accountable for.

How are you doing in your race today? Are you pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace? I promise Satan will try to get your eyes off the good things and back on the bad things. That’s just his way. But we have the power to stay on task if we let Jesus run the race through us. Let Him run!

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IN CONCLUSION

 

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “13 The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”

FINALLY

What does it mean when a preacher says, “In conclusion…”? Absolutely nothing. I have heard preachers preach their “final point” longer than the rest of the sermon. Lol. But seriously, sometimes we drag on and on and on with something until people just stop listening. Solomon seemed to know that. Not only does he wrap up this book, but he also summarizes all that he just said.

His conclusion about life: Fear God and keep His commandments. Think about that. Is it really that simple? Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds and soul. If you do that you will fear God and keep His commandments. Solomon was essentially quoting Jesus. Do you agree?

TEACHING MOMENT

Don’t you want your children to mind? Teaching our children to obey is also preparing them to obey the Lord. Submission to authority (fear and respect) is godly. Our children must learn that we have been placed in an authoritative role in their life for a purpose. We are teaching them obedience which is a trait that will follow them all through life.

I don’t mean we demand obedience without the teaching part. We love our children, but we must be consistent and true to God’s principles ourselves. Our children need to see us being obedient, especially when we don’t want to be. Submission is a characteristic that is caught more than taught. We could “beat” them into submission (I don’t mean physically), but they won’t learn to submit until they are willing to die to their self. Yes, little Gertrude has a self will. If you don’t believe me, just ask her.

Will you submit and fear the Lord today? Will you keep His commandents – all of them? Will you be the example of submission for your children? Will you teach them the great privilege of submission? In the end, it will all be judged, just like Solomon said.

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YOU HAVE TO READ THE WHOLE VERSE

 

2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”

OLD HYMNS

If you have any church experience you probably recognize the last half of that verse as a hymn you sang in church. “For I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” Daniel Whittle wrote this hymn back in 1883. Check out the full hymn with this link. http://www.hymnary.org/text/i_know_not_why_gods_wondrous_grace_to_me

But I am curious why he left out the first half of the verse in the hymn. If he was like me, he probably didn’t want to talk much about suffering. Who does? Paul knew suffering, but he tells Timothy here that he is NOT ashamed of it. Then he tells him why in the last half of the verse. Are you ashamed of the suffering the Lord allows you to go through? Don’t be. It is all for a purpose.

TEACHING MOMENT

But how in the world do we teach our children the value of suffering? I mean, who wants to see their children suffer? No one does. But when it comes, and it will, embrace it. What? I mean remember the last part of this verse. He is able to keep us! We can’t keep ourselves. Our children have to learn that, and the only way is to go through the suffering.

Are you suffering right now? What is the Lord allowing you to learn right now in the midst of your suffering? What are others, especially your children, learning by watching you go through sufferings? Now that is the real question, isn’t it? Do others see Jesus in you? Do others see you trusting Him faithfully. Your faith does not come of yourself. Faith comes from trusting HIS faithfulness. He will never leave you or forsake you. Remember that!

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LONE RANGERS

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “9 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

HI-O SILVER

I grew up watching that Western Hero, The Lone Ranger. But it was always curious to me – he wasn’t alone. He had Tonto, his Native American sidekick. Even the Lone Ranger wasn’t a lone ranger.

These verses in Ecclesiastes are so important for believers. We NEED each other. We need the Church. We need fellow believers to go through this journey together. I am often puzzled when I see unbelievers trying to “do life” without help. I can’t imagine going through life’s challenges without a network of friends and loved ones.

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children must learn the importance of community. Most kids grow up with friends, but when they finish school, the friendships drift apart. They go to different colleges or move away for a job. Phone calls and texts suffice for a while, but gradually they get less frequent until they finally stop. Making new friends in a new town can be hard. Before you know it they don’t have that group of friends to call on when needed.

Help your kids develop those lifelong friends. They need them. Help them stay in touch with those godly classmates, if possible. Pray for God to surround them with a “family” when they move away. Pray they will reach out for like-minded individuals.

Life is hard, but it is impossible without others in your life whom you can call when you are in need. And believe me, you will be in need at some point. Let the Lord show you who to link arms with as you travel this earthly journey with Christ. He will guide you to those He wants you to get to know.

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GENTLENESS IS NOT FOR SISSIES

 

I Timothy 6:11 “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

DO I HAVE TO BE?

You know, when I read this verse I am good with all these things Paul lists here – except the last one – gentleness. Now I know that is one of the fruits of the Spirit. But come on – gentleness – really?

In this day it seems to me that if you are gentle, you get run over. People take advantage of you. You get pushed around. You can be snookered. I could continue but you get the drift.

But…..as I look at the others character traits he tells me to pursue I quickly realize that all of them build on the last. If I pursue righteousness, I will gain godliness. If I am godly in character, I will have the faith I need. If I have faithful, love is produced in me through the Holy Spirit. If I love all, I can persevere through anything. And if I know I can persevere, I can have that gentle quiet spirit because I rest in God.

TEACHING MOMENT

How about you? How are you teaching gentleness to your children? That is not easy. Once again, you have to model it. You have to point it out to them when you see others demonstrating gentleness. Boys, especially, have to be taught that being gentle is NOT being weak. Jesus Himself said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” If Jesus, the Son of God, called Himself gentle we should embrace that characteristic.

I am getting on a plane tomorrow. Pray that I will be gentle as I go through the hassles of air travel. I want to be the gentle one on the plane. I want to be observed as gentle, but more than that, I want to be gentle in spirit so that it comes from the inside. Since Jesus lives through me, that shouldn’t be a problem if I will just get out of the way.

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WHAT TIME IS IT?

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- 2 A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. 3 A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. 4 A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. 5 A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. 6 A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. 8 A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

WHAT’S YOUR TIME?

This is a longer passage than normal for today. I usually just pick one or two verses, but you really cannot separate these verses from each other. Solomon gives us a great thought here. Just what time are you in right now? Read the passage again. Reflect on where you are right now in your walk with Christ.

As we watch our children go through the “times” of their lives we want to intervene. We want to spare them the hard times, don’t we? But the Lord says here that we will go through these times. It is just part of life. See verse 1 again. “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-“ Everything! Every event!

TEACHING MOMENT

So how do we prepare our children for these events? We teach them to trust Him. Whatever we face, God’s got this. We have just got to show them how to trust by trusting ourselves. We have to “allow” our children to face these times in their lives. We have to “let them go” and let God handle it. By showing trust, they learn trust.

So, I’ll ask you again. What “time” are you in right now? Are you trusting Him in it? If not, why? If so, what is He teaching you? Learn to obey and you will learn by obeying. Hmmmm. I might just write that one down.

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SPIRITUAL EXERCISE

 

I Timothy 4:7-8 “7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

LIFT, LIFT, LIFT

I have mentioned before that I go to the gym just about every day. Why? Because I am getting older and have to work harder to keep my old body in some kind of shape. I keep telling myself, “Round is a shape.” Lol.

But this verse reminds me that all the bodily exercise I do (the word “discipline” in these verses is where we get our word for gymnasium) means nothing eternally. I should instead be doing spiritual exercises to build godliness. Physical muscles fail. Spiritual muscles are eternal. And just like building physical muscles takes weight and resistance, spiritual muscles are built through adversity.

TEACHING MOMENT

So, Mom and Dad, consider yourself trainers for your children. Just like you might hire a trainer to help you get in shape physically, God has put you in charge of your child’s spiritual training. It is up to you to give the environment and opportunities for your child to build those spiritual muscles. That means you can’t intervene at every challenge thrown at them. That “resistance” and “weight” they are encountering will help them build spiritual strength. You need to show them how to “lift” it properly by relying on the Lord, but you can’t lift it for them.

Speaking of lifting – what are you lifting right now? What is the weight that has you struggling? Are you trying to handle it all by yourself? Are you struggling to maintain proper form as you lift? Why not let the Lord be your spotter? You know what a spotter is, don’t you? That is the person at the gym who is right beside you when you are lifting a heavy weight. They not only keep you safe, in case the weight is too much for you, but they also encourage you as you lift. God is a great spotter and is always reliable. He won’t get distracted as you carry that weight. In fact, He will never leave your side. And in the end, you are stronger for it.

Be strong, my friend.

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