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THE DAY IS COMING

Zephaniah 1:2 “‘I will completely remove all things from the face of the earth,’ declares the Lord.”

JUDGMENT

 Zephaniah had a terrible message to deliver to the people.  Judgment was upon them.  God was going to bring judgment upon the nation due to their lack of faith and disobedience.  Verse 2 is pretty harsh.  You would think if we heard such a message we would repent.  But probably not.

You see, we are no different than the Israelites of generations ago.  We say we believe, yet we live as if the world revolves around us.  We disregard God’s deliberate instructions to live holy, sanctified lives for the sake of His name.  We who are believers in Christ know the truth, but there are many who are walking in darkness and think they are in light.

TEACHING MOMENT

 We don’t teach this to our children to scare them into obedience.  That is not the way to get them to follow the Lord. We teach them that God is holy and just. We teach them that God cannot look upon sin and ignore it.  We teach them the only way to appease a holy God is to surrender to Christ and allow His shed blood to pay the price.

Then, and only then, when little Johnny or little Susie have given their lives to Christ, can they rest in the knowledge of the coming judgment on mankind. This may sound like a hard message today, but it is needed.  Don’t water down the Gospel.  Don’t make God into some kind of loving grandpa figure.  He loves, yes, but He also demands holy living.

Are you living a holy life before your children or grandchildren?  Are they drawn to Christ because of you?  We must live as a reflection of Christ.  Our purpose as believers is to be used as a vessel of Jesus to our families and a lost world.  Will you reflect today?

Let me shine, Father, as a beacon of hope to those who need Jesus. Let them ONLY see Jesus in me.  I want to be used of You to draw them to true peace.

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DID YOU SEE THAT?

Habakkuk 1:5 “‘”Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe if you were told.’”

 AMAZING!

 Have you ever seen anything so amazing that you did a double take?  I mean, you couldn’t believe your eyes.  There was no way what you saw actually happened. There have been a few things in my life that fall into that category.  To this day I can’t believe what I saw.

God is telling Habakkuk to look and see what He is doing around him.  Even though things look bad, He is at work.  But Habakkuk has to open his eyes and recognize God at work.  Isn’t that the case with us, too?  We complain and gripe about how bad things are and fail to recognize God’s fingerprints all over our situation.  He is constantly working in the lives of His children to make them more like Jesus.

TEACHING MOMENT

 Kids are easily tricked by what they see.  When they are young they can be made to believe just about anything. Pulling a quarter out of their ear blows them away.  Taking away their nose with your hand scares them.  Listen, while they are young teach them to look around for “God sightings.” Teach them to recognize those moments when the only explanation is God.

As our children have their eyes opened to the spiritual realm and learn to trust the Lord, their worldview becomes much clearer.  The world will try to make them think they are seeing the truth while leading them down the wrong path.  But as we teach them to verify all they see with the Word of God, they can be reassured if what they see is really the truth.

How about you?  Do you simply believe it because you see it?  The old saying is still true concerning the world – believe half of what you see and nothing you hear.  But when God shows or tells you something you can literally bet your life on it.  Turn to His Word today and let it direct your path.

Lord, on the days I think I see something that is true and right, help me to verify it through Your Word.  That means I have to be spending time in it.  Thank You for allowing me to have such a revealer of truth in my life.

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RESTORATION

Nahum 2:2 “For the Lord will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, even though devastators have devastated them and destroyed their vine branches.”

LIKE NEW

 Have you ever restored a piece of furniture? My grandmother had a 1908 Thomas Edison Diamond Disc Victrola which she left to my mom.  It stands about 4 feet tall with cabinets for the records and the speaker horn.  It has the handle on the side to wind it so it can play.  My mother gave that to me because I had restored it for her.  It was covered in a thick dark varnish that wouldn’t allow the original cherry veneer to show.  When I finished, it looked like new.

In today’s passage Nahum is describing the restoration of Judah after it has been destroyed.  He says God will restore the “splendor of Israel.”  Can you imagine how encouraging those words were for the people? They had lived through the devastation of the city.  They had seen friends and family murdered.  And now they are promised restoration.

TEACHING MOMENT

 Troubles come.  Isn’t that encouraging?  But the Lord has promised those who love Him that He will restore us.  Now, this is a truth we must teach our children.  We must teach them to trust God’s eternal plan. When all seems lost, God is there. When all seems hopeless, God is there. He promises that.

“But Carl, you don’t know what we are going through.”  Nope, sure don’t.  But neither do you know what I have gone through.  We teach our children to trust God by not only living it out ourselves, but also helping those around us who are going through hard times.  As God uses us to minister to others, we are fulfilling His plan for them.  Let your children be a part of that.

Whatever you are facing right now, trust God to restore you.  It may be a quick fix or it may be a long process.  During the testing, allow Him to open your eyes to the lessons He wants you to learn.  There is always something to be learned.

God, You are always mindful of my situations.  I know that. When I doubt that remind me with a gentle nudge.  Show me Your presence.

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WOE!

Micah 2:1 “Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands.”

DON’T DO IT!

 God hates evil!  Always has!  Always will! The world either doesn’t believe that or doesn’t care.  Just as in the days of Micah, those who are led by evil dream about doing evil and scheme about iniquity, even while they sleep.  They wake and do it.

We see it all around us today.  With the instant access of news around the globe we hear about atrocities being committed in every country.  Some are so heinous I would not even mention them here. I don’t have to.  You have seen them.  The world has changed in so many ways, but not in regard to evil.  It is still…well…evil!

TEACHING MOMENT

Why am I using this verse today?  Because I want to remind you that no matter how evil the world becomes, God is still on His throne.  No evil escapes His eye.  Your child may feel like God does not see the bad things they are going through.  Oh yes, He does.  He is well aware.  Then why? That’s a whole other discussion.

When your children question the presence of evil, take them to this verse.  Show them it has always been around.  And God has always and will always judge it.  That’s why it is so important for them to choose to do what is righteous and holy so as to not fall under the wrath of God.  And with Jesus as their Savior, they are assured just that – no wrath, only grace.

Do I dare even ask which you have chosen? Evil or Righteousness?  “Carl, I can’t believe you just asked that!”  Hey, we are all prone towards evil because of our sin nature.  Only with the grace of God working in and through us are we able to resist the clutches of the evil one.  Will you choose holy today or evil?

Righteous Judge, I know You have the right and the might to judge all that is evil in this world. You only allow evil to remain to allow us to freely choose You over it.  Help me today to choose to serve only You.

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PRAY ANYWHERE

Jonah 2:1 “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish,”

PRAY NOW

 Don’t wait until you are in the belly of a fish to pray.  That is probably good advice to follow, don’t you think?  I bet Jonah had no idea when he tried to flee from God’s presence by hopping on that boat that he would end up inside a fish for three days.  But even then, did you notice the first word of today’s verse?  Then!

Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights and THEN he prayed.  Are you kidding me?  I would have been praying the moment I hit the water BEFORE the fish swallowed me.  But some of us are stubborn.  We don’t want to ask God for help.  Or we don’t want to admit He is right and we are wrong.

TEACHING MOMENT

 Don’t teach your children to wait to pray. Teach them to pray all the time. Teach them to pray everywhere.  When you are going down the road and see a wreck, pray for the people in the wreck and the first responders.  When they are facing that algebra test, teach them to pray before they even start studying for it – not when they sit down to take it.

God’s Word does say to pray without ceasing. Now, you can’t stay on your knees 24/7, but you can stay in the attitude of pray.  Teach your children that.  Pray at the drop of a hat.  Be always ready to pray.  When someone asks you to pray for them in front of your children, do that immediately with your children, if possible.

Are you praying?  Are you praying only when you are “in a fish”?  Do you wait until trouble hits?  Pray at all times.  Pray to our Lord and thank Him for life.  Pray to our Lord and pour out your heart.  But above all, PRAY.

Father, I know you are listening.  I know You bend Your ear towards earth and hear the cry of Your children.  Teach me to pray more often and with more passion.

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POWERLESS

Amos 6:3 “Do you put off the day of calamity, and would you bring near the seat of violence?

ONLY GOD CAN

 Amos has spent the past five chapters prophesying against Israel and all the surrounding nations.  But still many thought it wouldn’t come true.  They thought their destiny was in their hands.  They truly believed they were okay and free from punishment.  But we do not control our destiny.  I don’t care what you may hear from certain preachers or speakers.

The “power of positive thinking” ideology will drag you down a path that makes you believe you can do anything you set your mind to.  As a believer, that should never be our mindset.  Our minds should ever be on Christ.  Our minds should always be focused on glorifying Him in all we do.  Our minds should be looking toward His future kingdom, not ours.

TEACHING MOMENT

 But what I just said flies in the face of every parent.  We want our little Susie and Johnny to be more than we are.  We want them to achieve greatness.  We boast of their achievements.  We are proud to push them to excel in all they do.  Am I right?

Perhaps the Lord has chosen your child to be a housewife.  Maybe he wants your son to swing a hammer and build things.  My point is God controls our future successes, as we yield to His perfect Will.  So, if you really want to see your child successful, teach them to yield, teach them to surrender, teach them to give their lives to Christ.

How do you see yourself right now?  Are you surrendered?  Are you willing to do whatever He wants you to do?  Let Him be the One who manages your future.  You can’t control the future.  You shouldn’t be trying.

Thank You, Lord, for shaping my future.  Help me today to surrender anew to Your perfect plan.  Whatever comes I trust You.

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CAN GOD USE YOU?

Amos 1:1a “The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa,” 

WILL YOU LET HIM?

 This may seem like a strange verse, or part of a verse, to use for a devotional thought.  But look at it again. “The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa,”  Who was Amos? A shepherd.  Where was he from?  Tekoa.  There was nothing special about Amos, but God chose him to be a prophet to deliver His message.

How many times have you thought or said, “I’m not able to be used by God.  I don’t have a Bible degree.  I am not spiritual enough.”  Hogwash! God can use anyone He wants, if they are willing to be used.  You have probably heard the saying, “God equips the willing.”  Are you?

TEACHING MOMENT

How about your children?  Are you willing to allow the Lord to take them and use them? “Well yes, Carl.  Sure I am.”  Really? What if God called them to go to Indonesia or into a prison ministry?  “Now I don’t want them to do anything dangerous.”  Exactly my point.  Listen, your kids are not yours.  They belong to Him.  Let Him use them however and wherever He chooses.

I know that’s a hard thing to do.  No one wants to see their children come into harm’s way.  But if they are in God’s Will, He will keep them right where He wants them for as long as He wants them there.  He took care of Amos.  He took care of Moses.  He took care of Gideon.  You get the picture.

So, the question today is are you willing to let God do whatever He wants in your life and in the lives of your family?  Do you surrender it all to Him?  Trust Him to use you in the way He wants.  There shall be showers of blessing.

Father, stepping out and abandoning my plans is hard.  But Lord, I want to be in Your Will.  Help me surrender fully all that I am and all that my family is to You.

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