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I THINK I WILL GO THIS WAY

Jonah 1:1-3 “1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 2 ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.’ 3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.”

ESCAPE

Have you ever wanted to escape from the presence of the Lord or try to hide from His watchful eye?  I have.  There have been times that I just did not want to do what He wanted me to do.  One of the parents at the church I serve posted recently a conversation with their 3 year old, obviously about obedience.  His response was, “Ok mom. I don’t really want to obey cuz I just don’t want to.”  Lol.  I have felt that way myself.

But we can’t escape obedience forever.  God has a way of getting our attention, just like we have to get our children’s attention sometimes.  Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he hated them.  He knew God would save them, and he wanted no part of it.  So, he decided to go the opposite direction as far away and as fast as he could.  You know the rest of the story.

TEACHING MOMENT

You can really have fun with this story with your kids the next time they decide to disobey.  You can threaten to throw them in the ocean for a large fish to swallow.  Just kidding!  That would not be cool.

But your children need to understand this story isn’t just another fish story.  This really happened.  It’s in God’s Word, so it’s true.  And the point of the story is also true and can be believed.  Little Johnny or Susie need to know that God will not allow His children to remain in disobedience without consequences.  Believe me – obedience is much easier than dealing with the consequences.

So, what are you running from?  What has God told you to do or to stop doing?  Are you running in the opposite direction?  Do you need to stop right where you are and do a 180?  God will get your attention if you continue to run from Him.

Father, thank You that You love me enough to discipline me.  I don’t like it, but I need it.

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DO YOU KNOW HOW TO WALK?

Colossians 2:6-7 “6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”

STEP BY STEP

So many believers forget how to walk.  They truly think that once they ask Christ in their lives, they can just walk wherever and whenever they want.  Not so!  Paul tells us here how to walk.  You have to be firmly rooted, built up in Him, established in your faith, remembering your instruction and overflowing with gratitude.  No wonder so many Christians forget how to walk.

But it’s not that complicated.  We just have to let Jesus do the walking.  If we simply take His hand, He will lead us.  He will help us climb when the path gets steep.  He will steady us when we get weak.  He will whisper in our ear, “You can do this.”

TEACHING MOMENT

Have you ever had to encourage your child while you are on a walk or bike ride?  They start out gang busters.  You try to tell them to slow down, but they are so full of energy and excited.  Before long, they get winded and hot.  Those final few steps or laps are brutal.  You practically are dragging them to the end.  Right?

The next time this happens, refer to these verses.  Remind them that we have to live our Christian lives with discipline and patience.  We can’t run ahead and expect God to just bless us.  We have to stay with Him and allow Him to choose the right path for us.  We have to allow God to tell us when it’s time for a break and rest.  When we do those things, the path is much easier.

Are you tired?  Is your fuel gauge running on empty?  Are you so busy running ahead of God that you forgot He was even on your team?  Stop!  Take a break!  Ask God what it is He wants you to do.

Father, help us to let you lead.  Even when we think we know best, help us to trust You.

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DOING WHAT’S RIGHT

1 Samuel 31:11-12 “11 Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan,”

WHATEVER IT TAKES

This is, I must admit, a pretty somber story.  Saul and his three sons were killed in battle by the Philistines.  The Philistines, trying to humiliate the Israelites, fastened their bodies to a wall.  How awful!  How denigrating!  So, the men of Jabesh-gilead came and took them down.  They could have been killed by the Philistines for this, but they came anyway.

Now, why would they risk that?  Because Saul had rescued them from Nahash, king of the Amorites, years ago when Saul had just begun his reign as king.  They had not forgotten Saul’s courage and what he had done for them.  This was payback for the kindness shown them.  They had to do this.

TEACHING MOMENT

Kindness is something that is hard to teach our children. They learn this best by observing it.  So, Mom and Dad, be kind!  We are told in the Word to put on kindness.  I believe the Lord knows that it just does not come naturally to our flesh.  But it is expected.

Find some ways for your children to show kindness to others.  Take some cookies to the local fire station and thank the firemen for their service.  When you see a police officer in a restaurant while you are out eating, buy his or her meal.  Walk up to a soldier and thank him or her for their service to our country.  Take a meal to a shut-in at your church.  These are all ways to show kindness and gratitude to others.

Who has done something for you in the past for which you have not thanked them properly?  Do that today.  Pick up the phone and call them.  Send them a gift card.  Whatever you choose to do, just do it.  You might just make their day.

Father, thank you for sending people in my life who bless me.  Show me today how to bless them.

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GOD’S UNSEEN PROTECTION

1 Samuel 29:9 “But Achish replied to David, ‘I know that you are pleasing in my sight, like an angel of God; nevertheless the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He must not go up with us to the battle.’” 

HIS PLANS

David had been hiding from Saul in the land of the Philistines for a while, and now the epic battle was about to go down, the battle where Saul and his sons, including Jonathan, would be killed.  David was prepared, along with his men, to go along and fight.  However, the Philistines did not trust David to fight with them.  They were afraid he would switch sides in the middle of the battle and fight for Israel.  We will never know what would have happened because Achish sent him home.

But think about this.  If David and his men HAD fought against Israel in the battle where Saul and his sons were killed, he would have been seen by Israel as having taking part in that.  That could have marred his reign as king to begin with.  God knew that.  Perhaps God was sparing David from that association.  David didn’t see it at the time, but God was actually fighting for him.

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children will have experiences that are disappointing.  They may want a certain job or a certain boyfriend or girlfriend.  For some unknown reason, things just don’t go the way they wish.  Could it be that God is sparing them some pain or hurt?  When your child goes through that kind of situation, tell them this story of David’s unseen protection from God.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but isn’t it nice when we can see God’s protecting hands around us.  Trust that He is always looking after your best interest, as long as you are seeking Him.  David was seeking the Lord, even while in the land of the Philistines.  God knew that and was working in ways David could not see.

Will you trust the Lord to work in your life?  When you get that gentle nudge to do something that may seem ridiculous, but you know it will bring Him honor, just do it.  Allow Him to work through you in amazing ways.

Thank you Lord, that I don’t have to see You at work to know You are.  Today, help me to bow before Your sovereign hand.

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BAD NEWS

1 Samuel 28:17 “The Lord has done accordingly as He spoke through me; for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, to David. 

NOT WHAT HE WANTED TO HEAR

Saul was in trouble, again.  He was facing the Philistines and was scared.  Seemed a little like déjà vu.  However, this time there was no Samuel to run to.  Samuel had died, so what does Saul do?  He goes to a “conjurer,” someone who can talk to the dead.  Really?  What part of wrong do you not understand, Saul?

But Saul was desperate.  It’s okay to do a wrong thing if it’s for the right reason.  Right?  Wrong!  And sure enough, Samuel told Saul that all he had told him previously was coming true.  Saul was going to not only lose the kingdom, but he and his sons would lose their lives that very day and be with him.

TEACHING MOMENT

It is so important that we teach our children to always choose the right thing.  A wrong way is never right.  What’s wrong?  Anything that goes against the Word of God.  Your children will have lots of people tell them they can do something else.  They will be told that there are other options.  They will be told to not be so rigid and stiff with their morals.  Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!

The Word of God is true for every generation.  Its truths never change.  Its commandments still guide.  And if we choose to go another route, well, the Lord will bring us bad news.  Discipline will follow.  We will not like the consequences.  But it is the result of disobedience.

Which route are you on right now?  Are you following the Lord or some other guide?  “Carl, times have changed?  We have more choices today.”  Nope, not true.  Truth is still truth.  You must choose to obey.

I want to encourage you today to make sure that every choice you make is based on His Word.  Make sure every option you have before you is one that Jesus would choose.  If there is ANY doubt, don’t do it.  Wait on the Lord.

Lord, give me wisdom today to make the right choice.  Show me Your best path and I will follow!

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A FINAL GOODBYE

1 Samuel 26:25 “Then Saul said to David, ‘Blessed are you, my son David; you will both accomplish much and surely prevail.’ So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.”

FINAL WORDS

How many times have you heard of people speaking harshly to each other just before one of them dies?  The survivor almost always has regrets of their last encounter.  They wish they had a chance to correct their last words.  But…it’s done.

David and Saul did not know that this encounter would be their last.  Saul had been pursuing David for months trying to kill him.  Here, at last, is the final conversation between the two.  Saul finally relents to chasing David, after hearing David’s voice and seeing how he spared his life again.  They part with Saul’s final words of blessing.

TEACHING MOMENT

Children can get mad and say things they really don’t mean at the time.  Remember the movie “Home Alone”?  Kevin gets in trouble and says he wishes he didn’t have a family.  Poof!  The next morning they are all gone, or so he thought.

This passage today is right before David and Jonathan die in battle.  David did not know that was going to happen.  Neither did Saul.  But they left each other this final time with kind words, not angry.  Our children need to see that their words can carry a lot of guilt, if spoken in haste and anger.

Who have you hurt lately with unkind or hurtful words?  Do you need to make that right, before it’s too late?  Better yet, who has hurt you with unkind words?  Forgive them, and then let them know it.  Don’t let your feelings keep you from the peace that comes from forgiveness.

Pray for those who have hurt you.  It’s really hard to be mad at someone you are praying for.  The Lord will quicken your spirit towards forgiveness very quickly.

Choose your words carefully.  Think before saying what is on the tip of your tongue.  Words are like toothpaste.  Once they are out, it’s not easy to get them back.

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BETTER THAN COUNTING SHEEP

Psalm 63:6 “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,”

SWEET DREAMS

Do you have trouble going to sleep?  A lot of people do.  Some take sleep aids or have machines that make noise to help them drift off to sleep quickly.  But have you ever tried reciting Scripture?  To do that you have to memorize some passages, but I have found if I have trouble going to sleep that I can start quoting verses (in my head, of course) and can almost always go to sleep.

Why is that?  Because God’s Word brings peace of mind.  God’s Word allows you to rest in Him.  And if you are at peace with God, you normally can sleep pretty well.  You may still need to take your sleep aid or have that machine, but I can promise you that the Word of God will bring you rest.

TEACHING MOMENT

The next time little Johnny or Susie can’t go to sleep why not try that.  Read the Word to them.  Start helping them memorize some passages of Scripture so they can quote it to themselves.  If they wake up from a bad dream, take them to the Word.  David used it.  So can you.

There is no more important gift we can give our children than the gift of knowing God’s Word.  It will take them through their lives, strengthening them in hard times.  It can bring them comfort when they are hurting. It can give them wisdom when they are searching for answers.  Start now, if you haven’t already done so.

How about you?  Are you hiding God’s Word in your heart?  Are you meditating on God’s Word during the “night watch”?  What is bringing you comfort and peace?  Won’t you allow the Lord of Peace to give you that peace that passes all understanding?

Oh Lord, bring Your Word to my mind as I lay in my bed each night.  Let it fill my mind so that I can rest in You.

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