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ONLY IF

1 Kings 6:11-13 “11 Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon saying, 12 ‘Concerning this house which you are building, if you will walk in My statutes and execute My ordinances and keep all My commandments by walking in them, then I will carry out My word with you which I spoke to David your father. 13 I will dwell among the sons of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.’”

 THEN I WILL

 God was pleased with Solomon for building His house, the temple.  He was being diligent about it.  He was making sure it was worthy of the God of Israel. So, God gave him a promise based on three things.  IF Solomon would do these three things, He would dwell there and never forsake them.

God expected Solomon to walk in God’s statutes, execute His ordinances and keep all His commandments.  God’s blessings on the people was tied directly to Solomon’s obedience.  And he started off great.  Then sin entered the camp. He began to ignore God, even to the point of building pagan temples for his wives.  The result?  God judged his people.

TEACING MOMENT

Our disobedience as parents can directly affect our children and family.  God will hold us accountable for our sin, but our sins can affect our children.  Therefore, we need to live in such a way that God will be pleased.  We should teach our children this biblical truth, too.  They need to know their actions have consequences, not just for themselves.

I am not saying God is just waiting to abandon us.  As believers, He will never do that.  But our children need to realize that God will not bless us if we are choosing to live in such a way that dishonors Him.  Too many people today think they can live any way they choose and then just holler for God when things get bad and He comes running.  Our children need to see that God does expect us to love and obey Him.

Are you living in obedience right now?  Are you walking in God’s statutes, executing His ordinances and keeping all His commandments?  Your salvation does not depend on works.  Hear me clearly.  However, our holy God expects us to live holy, sanctified lives that point to Him.

Father, I cannot live holy without Your Holy Spirit living it through me.  My flesh is strong.  But through yielding to You daily, I can live a life which draws others, including my family, to You.  Thank You, Lord.

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A WISE WOMAN

2 Samuel 20:16 “Then a wise woman called from the city, ‘Hear, hear! Please tell Joab, ‘Come here that I may speak with you.’” 

LISTEN UP

Joab was on a mission for King David to find and kill Sheba, a man who was leading a rebellion against him.  All this happened right after David’s own son, Absalom, had unsuccessfully staged a coup. David was going to have none of this, so he ordered Joab to track down this Sheba and execute him.  His search led him to the city of Abel.

Abel was known as a city where people went to seek wisdom.  We can assume then that meant there were seers there who imparted advice and guidance.  Thus, enters the “wise woman.”  Perhaps she was one of those seers. She doesn’t want to see her city destroyed, so she cuts a deal with Joab to deliver Sheba over to them, or at least his head.

TEACHING MOMENT

Okay, this is another devotional when you may be saying, “What in the world can I teach my child about this story.”  For me, this is the point.  God will sometimes place wise people in our path unexpectedly.  He will speak through them to deliver guidance just when we need it. We, however, must be willing to receive it.  We don’t know this woman’s name.  All we know is she was a wise woman.  But I bet everyone in that city knew her because of her wisdom.

Teach your children to listen to godly advice.  Any advice they receive from anyone should be filtered through God’s Word. If it conflicts with that, it is NOT godly advice.  But if it agrees, listen closely.  Teach them to be willing to change their course of action based on this wise counsel. Joab did, and he had the army to achieve his original plan.

Do you need wise counsel right now?  First, go to the Lord.  Ask Him to give it go you.  Secondly, look out for those the Lord may place in your path today.  He may just put someone right there who can guide you.  Finally, when you receive the advice, follow it.  Trust that the God of the ages is big enough to help solve your problems.

 Father, I am good at asking for advice but not so good at receiving it.  Show me what You would have me do today to please You.  Open my eyes to those You send with Your message.

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IDLE HANDS

2 Samuel 11:1 “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.”

STAY FOCUSED

David should have been at war leading his men. But he stayed behind, thus began a nightmarish decision. You know the story, don’t you?  If you don’t, read the rest of the chapter and even chapter 12.  David turns one bad decision into a series of bad decisions (adultery, lying, murder).

Have you ever made one bad decision that led to a series of other bad decisions?  Sometimes our failure to be where God intended us to be can cost us. We choose to do something our way, rather than God’s way, and it ends up bad.  We are just as sinful and disobedient as David was here.  So, don’t act all high and mighty.

TEACHING MOMENT

Parents, keep your children focused. Keep them busy with God.  I don’t mean just busy stuff.  I mean keep them looking at God.  Keep them listening to God.  When our children get “lazy” with their quiet times and prayer life, their minds can wander to areas that are not pleasing to the Lord.

As parents, we need to be checking with our kids daily about their walk with Christ.  You don’t have to have a Sunday School lesson every day with them, but you can definitely share what the Lord has taught you that day.  Then ask them what the Lord spoke to them. Keep their eyes looking up.

Are you on the rooftop looking at things you shouldn’t be looking at?  Are you trying to find a way out of mess you’ve gotten yourself into?  Stop digging yourself into a deeper hole.  Put the shovel down and look up.  Listen to the Lord and do what He says.  He always knows the way out.

Father, keep my eyes off of things that don’t bring honor to You.  Keep me focused on serving You and doing Your business. I know I can’t keep myself holy without Your indwelling Spirit.

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BATTLE PLANS

2 Samuel 5:25 “Then David did so, just as the Lord had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.”

 NOT ALWAYS THE SAME

In this chapter, David is attacked twice by the Philistines once they heard he had been made king. Both times David goes to the Lord for instructions on how to attack the Philistines.  But he doesn’t get the same instructions.  God gave him a battle plan the second time that was different than the first time.

You may be saying, “Big deal, Carl.”  Well, I believe it is.  I see two main points.  The first one is David went to the Lord BOTH times for directions.  He wanted to do it God’s way.  We can learn from that.  Secondly, David didn’t assume God would want him to repeat the first instructions. God changed the plan.  He still does that.

TEACHING MOMENT

Don’t you give your children different tasks to do?  Do you ever change the way you instruct your children? Of course, you do. God does the same thing.  We can’t assume God is going to stick with the same plan over and over again. Each situation is unique.  Our children need to see that.  They need to go to the Father EACH time they face a challenge for new directions. What worked the first time may not work the second time. God knows that.

So, how do you know what to do?  You pray. You stay in the Word and seek God’s face for direction.  Teach your children that when they truly want to know God’s direction for their life, He will graciously unfold it for them.  But they must wait on Him.  Don’t rush ahead.  Wait.

What are you doing right now that the Lord told you to do?  Are you facing a challenge and need direction?  Go to Him.  He may surprise you with a better way.  If you trust God with your eternity, can’t you trust Him with your today?

Precious Lord, show me the way You would have me deal with my issue today.  You always know the perfect solution.  Help me to ask and then trust.

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THE MIND OF CHRIST

1 Corinthians 2:16b “But we have the mind of Christ.”

THINK LIKE HIM

Just think about it.  We have the mind of Christ.  Once we ask Christ into our life, the Holy Spirit indwells us.  And with the Holy Spirit comes the mind of Christ. How is that possible?  Because the Holy Spirit and Christ are one with the Father.  So, not only do you have the mind of Christ, but you also have the mind of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

If that is true (and it is) how should we be thinking?  What would Christ be thinking about?  Certainly not paying that bill or buying a new boat.  Not to presume, but Christ’s mind was always on pleasing the Father. Doing His Will was all that mattered. Shouldn’t that be all we think about also?

TEACHING MOMENT

The next time you sit down to dinner with your kids tell them you want them to NOT think about something.  Tell them, “Kids, I do not want you to think about ice cream.” What do you think their little brains start thinking about?  Ice Cream. We can focus our brains on things so quickly.

Now tell them to think about God or Jesus. Ask them what comes to mind.  Just let them explain how they see God. Get them to talk about Jesus.  It is just as easy to think godly things as it is worldly things (not that I think ice cream is worldly.  I believe it is heavenly, lol).  The point is to teach our kids that they can actually control what they think about.

What are you thinking about right now? Heavenly or worldly things?  I pray you will train your brain to be in sync with Christ’s mind.  Let Him have control of your thought patterns.  If that happens, He will also control your tongue, eyes, legs and arms.  Give your full attention to pleasing Him.

Father, Your mind is beyond comprehension.  I am promised the mind of Christ.  Help me to “tap into” His way of thinking every day, all day.

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QUICK TEMPERS

1 Samuel 11:12-13 “12 Then the people said to Samuel, ‘Who is he that said, “Shall Saul reign over us?” Bring the men, that we may put them to death.’ 13 But Saul said, ‘Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished deliverance in Israel.’”

 NEED COOL HEADS

It is amazing how quick some people get all riled up. One minute they are fine and the next they are ready to fight.  Israel had just had a great victory and the people wanted to punish anyone who had spoken against their new king.  Fortunately, Saul was even tempered (at this point in his life) and refused to allow them to carry out their plans.

Have you ever lost your temper?  Maybe you overreacted to something.  “Not me, Carl.  I would never do that.”  Yeah, right! We have all “lost it” at least once. Our emotions can get the best of us. We get offended or we take up someone else’s offense.  And before we know it, we are in a fight with someone.  Take a breath, like Saul did here.

TEACHING MOMENT

 Do I even need to say it?  This is a crucial teaching for your little Johnny or Susie.  When we learn to control our tempers at an early age, it helps us avoid a lot of chaos. It keeps us focused on Him and not us.

Try this little experiment.  Get a pot and put some water in it.  Then place it on the stove and bring it to a boil.  Let it keep boiling until it starts to boil over.  Your kids need to see this.  Depending on what kind of stove top you have, you may have quite the scene.  Our tempers are like that.  Boiling water (our emotions) are good when kept under control.  But when they are left to boil and boil, pretty soon we have a mess.

I pray you have control over your emotions. Don’t let them control you. God gifted us with all kinds of emotions which can be used for good or bad.  You have to choose how you want to use them.

O Lord, You gave me my passions.  You gave me my emotions.  Help me control them and use them for Your glory!

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HIDING FROM GOD

1 Samuel 10:22b “So the Lord said, ‘Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage.’” 

 BAGGAGE HANDLER

Some people will go to great lengths to hide from God.  They know God is talking to them.  They know He is seeking them, but they just hide.  Or at least they attempt to.  I love this part of the story of the calling of Saul as the first king. There had never been a king of Israel. Saul wasn’t sure about this whole king thing, so he hid in the baggage.

But who found him?  God. God said, “He’s hiding in the Samsonite.”  Not really! Lol.  But Saul, this tall, good looking, young man, whom Samuel had anointed as king, was hiding from God.  He was afraid of what was asked of him.

TEACHING MOMENT

This is a great lesson for kids.  Read them the whole chapter and talk about what they might have done if it was them. Maybe they would not have gone home. How would they have reacted when all the things came true that Samuel told Saul would happen on the way home? Ask them if they have ever hidden from someone?

Explain to them how important it is to obey God.  When He calls them to do something, it is best to yield to Him and just do it. God wants obedient children (just like you do), but He won’t force obedience.  Also explain that through obedience comes blessings.  All kids want blessings.

Which baggage pile are you hiding in?  Has the Lord called you to do something?  Are you putting it off or ignoring it?   Stop hiding.  Do exactly what He asks of you.  I promise you won’t be disappointed at the outcome.  Trust Him to see you through.

I am not worthy to be used by You, Lord.  I thank You that You see me as worthy.  Help me to respond quickly and obediently each time You call.

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