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ARE YOU LISTENING?

 

Psalm 130:2 “Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.”

HE HEARS

Have you ever been in a season of prayer when you felt your prayers were just bouncing off the ceiling?  You want to scream, “God, are you listening to me?”  But you don’t.  You plug along in your prayers.  Then one day – Eureka!  You almost feel the heavens open and feel the power of God break through.  What happened?  God happened!

God is ALWAYS listening.  He never stops listening.  He is always attentive to His children.  Sometimes, however, He needs us to just pray and wait, pray and wait, pray and wait.  Why?  To allow us to trust Him.  If God instantly satisfied every prayer we lifted to heaven, we would not learn to truly depend on Him.  We would expect Him to do whatever we ask.  And that is NOT how God works.

TEACHING MOMENT

The next time little Elrod or Gertrude asks you for the 150th time a question, use this verse.  Explain to them that you heard them the first time.  As a parent, you can’t always give them the answer they want.  “Mom, can I have cookies for breakfast?”  “Dad, can I shave the cat?”  You need to teach them to ask for the right things in the right way.

The problem so many parents have today is they cannot say “no” to their child.  It doesn’t matter how bizarre the request, the parents give in.  They don’t want to make Susie sad.  They don’t want to disappoint Leroy.  Give it up Mom and Dad!  That is NOT teaching your child truth.

Your child needs to be heard. That is without question.  But how you answer needs to be seasoned with God’s Word and His wisdom, not yours!

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REVENGE?

 

Genesis 34:7 “Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.”

TAKING UP FOR OTHERS

Now before you jump to conclusions (and that might be the only exercise you get today, lol) I am not going to ask you to share this story in context with your children.  This is one of those stories that is best explained in full when they are older.  With that said, let’s look at what really happened.

Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, had been assaulted by a local man where they lived, and her big brothers were not happy.  They decided to get revenge on this man and all who lived in the city.  They took up the offense of their sister instead of letting the Lord deal with it.  That’s the lesson to be learned today.

TEACHING MOMENT

I guarantee you that your children will be faced with this decision one day.  They will make friends who are hurt by someone else.  They will get pulled into a situation where they will be asked to “side” with their friend and “get back” at the other person.  You’ve seen it happen so many times in school.  Kids gang up on someone else to teach them a lesson.  Wrong!  God is not pleased with that.

Righteous anger is Biblical, but revenge is best left to the Lord.  There is nothing wrong with being upset over seeing someone mistreated.  There is nothing wrong with coming to their defense.  But plotting to get even with them is not the same.

If Jacob’s sons had been there when Dinah was being assaulted and defended their sister they would have acted correctly.  But scheming to kill and destroy a whole city was not pleasing to their father or to God.

Teach your children to be courageous and bold in the face of injustice.  But teach them also to let the Lord administer justice.  He is the Judge after all.

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TIME FOR CHURCH

 

Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”

SUNDAYS

Sunday mornings can be one of the most stressful days of the week.  We get up, sometimes too leisurely, scarf down breakfast, yell at the kids to hurry and get dressed, pile in the car, speed to church and…instantly our mask goes on and we sing “Kumbayah” all the way to the church door.  Does that sound familiar?

Or maybe you just roll over and go back to sleep because after all, Sunday is day of rest, right?  God even rested on the 7th day.  I deserve a day to myself.  Skipping church never sent anyone to hell.  Is that your normal Sunday?

TEACHING MOMENT

How we approach Sundays with our kids is so important.  I am not a legalist.  I do not think you MUST be in church every time the doors are open.  But I do believe you miss a potential blessing when you are not there.  The word “glad” in the verse today actually can mean “brighten up” or “cheer up.”  Is that how you approach Sundays?

I will admit there are some Sundays that even I, a Children’s Pastor, had rather stay home and relax.  But then I think about the people I will get to see at the door.  That brightens me up.  I think about the songs I will get to sing (and I love to sing) praising my Savior, and I cheer up.  I think of the Biblical truths that are in store for me, and I am glad.

So my question for you, mom and dad, is are you giving that attitude of gladness as you approach Sunday?  Are you preparing your children Saturday night for the next day?  Are you as excited about worship as you are about going to the beach or a ballgame?  Which has the most eternal value?  Which has the potential to change your child’s eternal destiny?  It sure isn’t the final seconds of the ballgame.

Cheer up!  Brighten up!  It’s Sunday!

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NEW NAME

 

Genesis 32:27-28 “27 So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28 He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’”

NAMES MEAN SOMETHING

People change their names today for various reasons.  Women normally take their husband’s last name when they get married.  Some want to make a statement to the world.  Others want to hide their identity.  Children take the last name of the family who adopts them.  But we see here that God changed Jacob’s name to send a message to everyone about how Jacob had prevailed.  One definition of this name is “Triumphant with God.”  I really like that.

If God changed your name, what would it be?  “Constantly begging”?  How about “Scared of his shadow”?  Or maybe this one suits you, “Doubting Thomas”.  I would want mine to be “Faithful One” or “Highly Favored”.

TEACHING MOMENT

Most parents give their children names for a reason.  Some are family names and some just appeal to them.  Have your children ever asked why you named them what you did?  Why not use this story to talk about names?  What a great way to share this wonderful passage about Jacob’s name change to Israel and what that means.

Don’t you want your children to be “triumphant with God”?  What parent doesn’t want that?  We long to see them secure in their faith and trusting Him for all things.  We don’t want to see them turn their backs on Jesus or have lifelong doubts about who He is.  We need to point them to the Name above all names – Jesus.  After all, His name does mean Savior.

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A DECEIVED DECEIVER

 

Genesis 29:25 “So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, ‘What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?’”

LIAR, LIAR

It strikes me as funny that Jacob finally met his match.  His uncle Laban was just like him – a deceiver.  Jacob had deceived his brother Esau twice.  He “stole” his birthright over a bowl of soup and “stole” his blessing by pretending to be Esau by wearing goat skins and his brother’s clothes.  Now he flees from Esau under the pretense of finding a wife.

I know people like Jacob, don’t you?  They can justify anything they do.  It seems just fine to them to lie or cheat to get what they want.  They don’t intentionally try to hurt anyone, but they only care about themselves.  Is that you?

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children must learn to be truthful.  Deception is nothing more than lying.  Deceiving someone to get what you want is sin.  We need to call it that and treat it like that.  As parents, we must stop deception in its tracks.  If our children are deliberately trying to lie and deceive, we need to crack down hard on them.

Why am I sounding so harsh?  Because a deceptive heart will lead them to crushed relationships and a lifetime of hurt.  It will spill over into their marriage, their children, their careers and even in their spiritual life.  You have heard “honesty is the best policy.”  Well, that’s true.  Teach your children to tell the truth and to treat others with a truthful heart.  Then they will be blessed.

So, you must be the one to model this.  You must be truthful and honest.  Your children are watching you.  Stop telling those little “white lies.”  Stop fudging on the little things.

Be not only the truth detector but also the truth giver.

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WATER WARS

 

Genesis 26:18 “Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them.”

GOT TO HAVE IT

The story told here in Genesis 26 shows the importance of water in the lives of Isaac and his people.  We can’t live long without water – about three days.  Our bodies have to have it.  Our animals have to have it.  Our crops have to have it.  If it is not there we have to find it somewhere.

You really need to read verse 16 to the end of the chapter to get the full story, but the short version is Isaac kept digging wells until he found one that they could use without being hassled by the locals.

TEACHING MOMENT

So what truth can you share with your children about this passage?  The next time you pour them a glass of water or open a bottle of water, tell them this story.  People used to argue and fight over water.  We still see that today in some drought stricken areas of the world.  They fight over physical water.  How sad!  But water is necessary to live.

Now here is the principle – we also can’t live (eternally) without the Living Water – Jesus Christ.  And the beauty of this water?  We don’t have to fight for it.  We don’t have to dig a well to find it.  We don’t have to search and search hoping to find it.  All we have to do is bow before a Holy God and ask for it.  He gives it away.  And this water continues to flow in our lives and quenches our deepest thirsts.

Are you thirsty today?  Have you drunk lately from that well of Living Water?  He offers it fresh and clean each day.  Will you take the cup from the Savior today?  Ask Him to refresh you with His life-giving liquid.

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WATCHING AND WAITING

 

Acts 25:11 “’If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.’”

NOW!

This may seem like a strange verse to pick for a devotional thought.  What can you possibly get out of a verse like this?  Paul is sounding defiant and almost obnoxious in the face of Festus.  But I have to point you back to Acts 23:11 for you to understand why I picked this verse.

“But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, ‘Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.’”

Paul saw an opening as he stood before Festus to carry out the orders of Jesus which had been spoken to him earlier.  He was obviously just waiting for some sign this was about to happen.  He was ready to go to Rome.  Here was his chance.

TEACHING MOMENT

Do you look for opportunities each day to pour a new truth into the lives of your children?  Or are you so busy with the daily schedule that you fly right past the chance?  Do you realize at the end of your long, hard day that you missed it?  May I encourage you today to take the time to pause and pour?

You only have your children for a short while.  I know you don’t see that now, but you will. I wish I could go back and re-parent my son and daughter.  I would definitely do things differently.  But I can’t.  I have two great kids and now three beautiful grandchildren, but I can’t redo any parenting in my kids’ lives.

Don’t miss your chance to change your kid’s life for eternity.  Don’t miss that truth telling moment.  The Lord has told us (my paraphrase), “Take courage; if you missed that opening I gave you yesterday, I will give you another tomorrow. Don’t miss it.’”

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