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OOPS!  NOW WHAT?

 Esther 1:10a “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine,”

 STUPID DECISIONS

 Oh, the folly one gets into when wine or strong drink enters the picture.  King Ahasuerus lost his wife, Queen Vashti because he was drunk.  He made a stupid request, one that was very uncustomary at the time, of his queen that she refused.  So, he gets mad and issues a decree banning her from his presence and removing her crown.

“Oops!  Now what?”  Have you ever said that?  Boy, I have. I have said and done things hastily or without thinking that I wish I could have taken back.  But like toothpaste, once it’s out of the tube it is really hard to get it back in.

TEACHING MOMENT

 This lesson is NOT about drinking. It’s about making hasty decisions. Every decision we make has consequences. We must teach our children that fact. Decisions must be made, but not without thinking through the results.  Whether it’s spending money or deciding where to go to college, every decision will affect what we do next.

As your children get older the decisions they will have to make become bigger and bigger.  Who to marry?  Where to live?  What job to take?  That’s why is so important to let them make decisions now while they are young and can fall back on you when they make a wrong one.  Failure is a great teacher.

What decision have you made lately that you are regretting?  Did you seek the Lord before you made it?  If so, trust Him in the decision.  If not, confess that as sin and ask Him for a way out.  He may just extend mercy and grace to you.  Or He may let you learn a lesson.  Either way, you have to trust Him.

O Lord, You are worthy of my trust with every decision I have to make.  I feel sometimes that I don’t need to bother You with the little things, but I know that is not what You want.  Thanks for hearing and answering.

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MIXED EMOTIONS

 Nehemiah 3:13 “so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.”

STRANGE NOISES

 When you read this verse, you may think of a national championship ballgame.  One side is going to be shouting for joy at the end of the game.  The other will be probably be weeping because they lost.  Either way, great emotions are going to be seen.  The same thing was seen and heard when the foundation was laid for the new Temple.  Those who had seen the old one cried, but those who had not shouted for joy.

Isn’t that the way we are today?  When a new direction is presented at church or at school or at work, we either shout for joy or cry from despair.  There really is no way to make everyone happy.  However, the key thing to remember is – is this the Lord’s leading?  If it is, then we should all submit and rejoice.

TEACHING MOMENT

 The same thing goes for our families.  If you have more than one child there will come a time when a family decision will make one child happy and the other sad.  Even a small thing like where to go eat can cause mixed emotions. While one child is sitting at the restaurant all smiles, the other one sits with their arms crossed with a scowl on their face.  Life lesson! Submission!

As God directs us in our surrender to Him, we will be faced with opportunities that will either thrill us or scare us.  We will either be excited or sad.  Our children will watch how we respond to those less than desirable situations.  They will watch how we rejoice in the incredible situations.

When is the last time the Lord asked you to do something which you didn’t really want to do?  Did you shout for joy or cry?  God gave us emotions on purpose.  He doesn’t expect us to squelch them.  But He does expect us to surrender to His will and do it anyway.

Father, I thank You that You love me enough to challenge me.  You give me opportunities to serve You and others.  Sometimes those are enjoyable and sometimes they aren’t.  But I will serve You regardless.

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ALL JOBS ARE IMPORTANT

 Nehemiah 11:19 “Also the gatekeepers, Akkub, Talmon and their brethren who kept watch at the gates, were172.”

 NO MENIAL TASKS

 When you read Nehemiah 10-11 you see a list of people and responsibilities. These were the movers and shakers of the rebuilt Jerusalem.  These are the ones who would re-establish order and society in a place that had suffered so much neglect.

Then you read verse 19 of chapter 11.  Two names are mentioned – Akkub and Talmon.  They and their “brethren” had the job of gatekeepers.  They didn’t serve in the Temple.  They didn’t rule anyone.  They may have thought they had a less prestigious job.  But their jobs were critical to the safety and order of the city.  Gatekeepers were probably some of the toughest dudes around.

TEACHING MOMENT

Little Johnny and Susie will probably get selected for a task they think is too small for them.  It could happen at home or at school or even when they grow up and get a job.  As parents, we are to teach our children the importance of every role assigned.

Explain to them how important it is for us to have people who pick up our trash. We may think that job is beneath us, but just go a week without your household garbage being picked up and you will think that guy is the best thing you ever saw the next week.  We ALL have our jobs to do.  And this is so applicable to the kingdom of God, as well. There are no big “I’s” and little “you’s” in the kingdom.

Are you feeling sorry for yourself right now because of the straw you drew?  You feel you are above your present position. You think you are doing a job meant for someone else.  Well, you be faithful in the little things.  God is watching and will bless your loyalty and servant heart.

Thank You, Lord, for giving me each and every job you have ever given me. Some were better than others, but all helped shape me into who I am today.  Let me be an example to others as I serve where You have planted me.

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THAT’S DISCRIMINATION!

 Nehemiah 7:64-65 “64 These searched among their ancestral registration, but it could not be located; therefore, they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood. 65 The governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest arose with Urim and Thummim.”

GOD’S NOT MEAN

If you read these verses without knowing the reason you would think Nehemiah was being prejudiced or discriminatory.  In today’s society he would probably be sued by these individuals, and they would win a million dollars.  That’s now and not then.

God had delegated one tribe to serve as priests – the Levites.  It was imperative that only these serve in that capacity, and that they serve exactly how God prescribed.  Until these people could prove their lineage they could not be allowed to serve in the Temple.  The reason Israel and Judah had been sent into exile in the first place was their disobedience to God’s order.  Nehemiah wasn’t going to repeat that.

TEACHING MOMENT

Our children must learn that there are certain guidelines which God sets, and they must follow, if they want to be obedient to Him.  Today everything is gray.  There is no black and white.  The “line in the sand” keeps getting moved.  The world will tell them “right” is relative.  No!  It’s not.

As we parent our children they are going to feel we are being unfair when we enforce our rules and God’s Word.  That’s okay. Structure and order is important. Disorder is not of the Lord.  Now, the Lord isn’t OCD, but He does have lines drawn to keep us safe.  Listen to Him.

Are you standing on the edge of the line right now pushing the limits?  Are you seeing just how far you can go without falling? Back up.  Take another look at the order of God’s Word and thank Him for it. All His commands are for your protection.

O Heavenly Father, I know sometimes I complain about having to follow Your rules.  But I want to thank You today for keeping me in line.  Thank You for giving us all order in our lives.

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THAT SOUNDS KIND OF ARROGANT

 Nehemiah 5:19 “Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.”

 YOU GOTTA KNOW HIS HEART

 If you just pulled this verse out of context you would think Nehemiah was being proud and beating his own chest.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. He had sacrificed and refused any payment to come and get Jerusalem rebuilt.  His heart was heavy for those he was serving.  He didn’t ask anyone to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself.

Sometimes God places us in positions of leadership to simply lead by example.  Often the people we are leading are hard-headed and stubborn.  Many times they are ungrateful.  Some are even resentful.  I am sure Nehemiah encountered all of the above.  But he just kept serving his God.

TEACHING MOMENT

One of our jobs as parents is to prepare our children to lead.  Boys need to be taught to lead so they can lead their homes when they grow up.  They may lead a company.  They may even lead a nation.  Our little girls will need to learn to lead also.  God may place them in a position of prestige and power. Learning to lead humbly and with a servant’s heart is key.

We don’t know how God is going to use our children.  I bet Nehemiah’s mother and father never imagined their son, the cupbearer, would be governor of Judah.  We raise them, prepare them and turn them over to the Lord.

Where has God placed you right now to lead?  Who are you leading?  Why are you leading?  We all lead someone, in one way or the other.  Make your leadership count.  Lead Godward.

Lord, thank You for giving me the opportunity to lead others.  Keep my heart broken and my spirit dependent on You.  Let me model Jesus’ attitude of leading to everyone I lead.

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LENGTH DOES NOT MATTER

Nehemiah 2:4 “Then the king said to me, ‘What would you request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven.”

BREVITY OF PRAYER

 When I read this verse the first thing that popped into my head was – this was a short prayer.  I am sure when the king asked Nehemiah this question he didn’t get down on his knees and pray for 30 minutes before answering.

Short prayers are fine.  Why? They are fine when they are part of a lifestyle of praying.  Nehemiah had already been praying for a moment like this.  I bet his prayer went something like this.  “Lord, give me the words to say right now.”  Short and sweet! He would trust the Lord to do as he had asked because he asked to glorify Him.

TEACHING MOMENT

Sometimes our children will pray through this long list of things at night.  I know some children who will start all over if they get something out of order in their nightly prayers.  There is nothing wrong with long prayers just as there is nothing wrong with short prayers.  They just have to be real prayers.

Our prayers should be always prayed according to His will.  They should always be prayed in faith.  They should focus more on others than ourselves, even though God wants to hear our requests for ourselves too.  Just pray with your children.  Let them hear you pray.

When is the last time you have “shot up” a short prayer in a moment of desperation? How about a quickie prayer on the run? Dedicate yourself to prayer.  Let it course through your life like a flowing river.

O Lord, there is nothing quite as sweet as time with You.  Help me to be more obedient in my prayer life.  Let me be a model of prayer to others.

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BELIEVE WHAT YOU PRAY

 Ezra 8:22 “For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, ‘The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.’”

 ACT UPON YOUR PRAYERS

 Ezra gathered all those returning to Jerusalem to pray and fast and to ask for safety as they traveled. Why?  As the verse says he had refused to ask for an armed escort from the king.  Ezra believed if you say you believe something, you should act like it.

He, obviously, could have asked for and received that escort.  But Ezra was not only acting on his faith.  He was leading the others to act upon theirs.  Never forget that others are watching you live out your faith.  They are watching to see if you truly believe the Bible you claim to believe.

TEACHING MOMENT

Oh, how true this is for your kids. Their faith is built when they are young by watching you.  When you pray for the Lord to intervene in a situation, live like it.  When you believe God for something, talk like you believe it.  If you pray and then go on and do the opposite or continue to worry and fret, that teaches the wrong lesson.

As our children grow we have the opportunity to watch them trust God.  They will undoubtedly come back to you for advice.  Take them to the Word.  It is the only source for the truth.  Help them believe.  Yes, that is what I said.  Help them trust.  Pray with them that God will give them those “trust moments” when only He can do what they have asked.

Of course, it is paramount that we ask according to His will.  Have you prayed that way?  Or are you praying for your list of desires without any thought of how this glorifies Him? Surrender your will for His and watch Him show up and do incredible things in and through you.

Lord, You are the One I trust with my life.  You are the Only One who can lead me in the dark valleys.  Help me trust You more fully each day.

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