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KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE

MATTHEW 26:58

“But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.”

Peter wasn’t stupid. He saw what was happening. Jesus had just been arrested and was being led away, probably to be put to death. The Sanhedrin had tried before. Now they had him, thanks to Judas. How could he do that? After all Jesus had taught them, Judas had betrayed him. Peter was keeping his distance.

Before you judge Peter, ask yourself how many times you have shied away from standing up for Jesus. In our situation we were only avoiding potential harassment or embarrassment. We weren’t facing the possibility of arrest and death. How can we keep our distance after all He has done for us?

APPLICATION

Do your children face ridicule and scorn at school for standing up for Jesus? Have they ever come home in tears because some other kid made fun of them for being a Christian? If they have, you have the perfect chance to encourage them. Read them this whole story of Peter’s denial and his ultimate shame. Remind them of Jesus sacrifice for them. We must stand tall in the face of persecution.

This world does not like Christians. That’s just a fact. Your children are going to encounter persecution, however slight it may seem. Standing for truth invites opposition. But we need to draw close to Him during those times, not keep our distance. Distance only increases the chance we will deny Him. Drawing close allows us to experience His loving embrace. That’s the message for our kids.

Are you a distance keeper? Do you hide the fact that you are a believer? Stop that! Take a stand. Don’t you believe Jesus will defend you? Don’t you know that no matter how harsh the persecution, you still win. No one can ever take your salvation away from you. Nothing can ever separate you from the love of Christ. Stay in His footsteps. Don’t hide in the shadows.

Forgive me, Father, for the times I have kept my distance. I will trust You to defend me. I will stay close and feel Your embrace.

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ASLEEP

MATTHEW 26:36-41

“36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’ 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’”

As I write this, it is 12:40 a.m. I don’t sleep very much, normally 4-5 hours a night. Most nights I’m awake by 1:30 or 2:00. Tonight, it’s a little earlier. So, I can relate to Peter in this story. They had traveled that day and had just finished eating the Passover meal. Tired + stomach full = ZZZZZZ. It’s no wonder he and the others fell asleep.

Do you think he would have dozed off if he had known what was about to happen in a matter of hours? I don’t think so, but we are quick to condemn Peter for sleeping. “How could he do that to Jesus?” How many times have you “fallen asleep” spiritually on Jesus? How many times has He asked you to follow Him only to hear you snoring? Don’t be too critical.

APPLICATION

The next time you catch your son or daughter falling asleep take a picture. When they wake up (and are alert enough to listen) read them this story. Ask them why they fell asleep. Ask them why they think Peter fell asleep. Sleep is a good thing. We need it to stay strong. Jesus wasn’t condemning sleep. He knew what was coming.

Jesus wants us to be prepared for the evil one. Judas was on the way to betray Jesus in the garden. He had asked Peter, James and John to “keep watch with Me.” Explain to your child the importance of keeping watch. Satan is always on the alert for our weakest moments. Make sure you’re ready to face him with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Are you snoozing? Or are you alert and keeping watch? Satan doesn’t take any days off. I’m not telling you to not sleep physically. I am saying to not sleep spiritually. Stay in the Word. Stay in the spirit of prayer. Be discerning. Let the Spirit guide you in your words and deeds. Wake up, sleepy head.

Father, keep me alert to Your every command. Let me rest in You, knowing You are able to defend me. You are my peace.

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LEFT BEHIND

TITUS 1:5


“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you,” 

We have all heard stories about parents mistakenly leaving their children. Of course, one of the classic Christmas movies is “Home Alone” in which Kevin McAlister is left behind when his family leaves for vacation. It’s humorous on the screen. It’s not so funny in real life.

This is NOT what Paul is talking about. He left Titus in Crete for two reasons – to set things in order and to appoint elders. Paul had seen Titus’ worthiness during their travels together. He knew he could be trusted to carry out these duties. Crete was not an easy place to minister. Cretans were known to be pretty crude and hard to deal with. But Paul knew Titus could handle it.

APPLICATION

I pray you never leave your child behind accidentally. But I do pray that you can have enough confidence in them to do it intentionally. “Boy Carl, that’s confusing.” Let me explain. We want our children to become independent. We want them to show responsibility. What better way than to let them be tested for short periods of time, all the while under your guidance.

We have way too many “helicopter” parents. These are parents who literally hover over their children and do everything for them. That will never prepare your child for living on their own. Think of some tasks you can give your child to let them learn to be depended upon. They may fail, but they will fail safely.

Are you trustworthy to be left behind? Could Paul have left you behind to accomplish his instructions? We are not all leaders. That’s okay. But we all have our roles to play in carrying out God’s plan. Are you doing what the Lord has asked you to do? If not, start today.

I am thankful You see me as worthy of Your trust. I will do my best to accomplish Your will for me. I consider it an honor to serve You.

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MY STUFF

2 TIMOTHY 4:13

“When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.”

Paul was in prison, his last imprisonment, and like a lot of prisoners, was asking a friend to bring him a few things. From what I have read about his conditions, they weren’t too nice. He was basically in a hole in the ground, guarded around the clock. It was a damp, cold, uncomfortable cell. So, he wanted that cloak to stay warm.

But why the books and parchments? He wasn’t through writing and reading God’s Word. We don’t know what the books were, but I bet they were Greek fables. Paul didn’t have time to waste on mindless thoughts. His focus, even there, was presenting the Gospel. And the parchments? I suppose they were for more writing. Aren’t you glad Paul wrote his thirteen letters of the New Testament for us to read today?

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking, “How will you apply this verse, Carl?” Well, think about it. How much time and energy are you wasting right now? Paul didn’t spurn one moment. He was laser focused even in his last days to present the Gospel. Are you and your children doing the same? We may not be in a prison cell, but we are in the last days. Yep, I believe that. I believe every day could be our last, so bring me my cloak and books and parchments.

Explain to your children that we have a responsibility to take every opportunity we have to share the Word of God with the lost. Do they have lost friends? Make sure your children know how to share with them. Do they have a teacher who needs to hear about the Lord? Perhaps you can go with them to share. That would be cool – tag teaming with your child.

Just don’t waste these moments. Take full advantage of every day the Lord allows you to be here on planet earth. He has placed you here and brought you to salvation for one purpose. He wants to use you to spread His message of salvation to a lost and dying world. Will you do that? What do you need? A cloak? Some books? Some parchments? Ask and it will given.

O Lord My God, I know You will give me exactly what I need to accomplish Your mission. Give me the gumption and desire to fulfill all You have for me. I want to see many come to You.

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SORRY, DON’T KNOW YOU

2 TIMOTHY 2:12 

If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 

I have become more honest as I get older. Now, I am not saying I used to lie, but I wouldn’t quite be honest sometimes. Like when someone comes up to you, calls you by name and begins this long conversation, but you have no idea who this person is. In the past I would say, “Hey bud, how are you doing?” Now I say, “Hey, I’ve forgotten your name. Forgive me.” 

Jesus knows our name, whether we accept Him or not. But He promises us reigning power or powerlessnes, based on our response to Him. Paul tells us here that if we will endure with Christ, we will reign with Him. If we turn our backs and run, He will also deny us before the Father. 

APPLICATION 

Children like to be recognized. They love hearing their name called when they see you. What they don’t like is to be ignored. Try it for a day with your kids. Go through your normal routine, but each time a child calls your name, ignore them. (If they have an emergency make an exception). 

At the end of the day explain what you did and why. Read today’s verse. Ask them how they think the Lord feels when we do that. When we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. And I really want to meet the Father, don’t you? Make a point to call your child by his/her name. Their name means something, and your child should know it.  

Are you being called to serve specifically in this area – the area of name calling? It’s a gift. It is so good to see the look on the other person (adult or child) when they hear their name. God loves you and has you surrounded by His love this evening. 

I know right now You are calling out my name before the Father. One day, I will see You face to face. One day, I will meet the Father. 

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DEAD WOMAN WALKING

1 TIMOTHY 5:6

But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.”

Have you heard the expression “Dead Man Walking”? It implies someone who is alive but living and acting as if he is dead. He has a careless disregard for life. Death is just all over him and is ready to snatch him away. Well, today’s verse says the same thing about this widow, the one who chooses “wanton pleasure.”

Now, what is wanton pleasure and how do we help the widows we know not live like that? “Wanton pleasure” means to live extravagantly or luxuriously. It’s the widow who has no regard for the cost of things. She spends money like it grows on trees. Paul is not saying it’s bad to have money. He is saying it is sin to live with that mindset. 

APPLICATION

Teach your children the value of money now. If you begin early, they will understand when you say, “Honey, we just can’t afford that right now.” Some parents don’t want to ever tell their little Johnny or Susie no, so they give them anything they want. That will lead them to live like the widow in today’s verse.

Instead, help them earn some money through extra chores or small jobs around your house. When they are old enough help them get a job in the neighborhood mowing grass or babysitting. As they get older, they will be ready for that first part-time job in the community. However you do it, teach them that money is simply a tool God has given us to live. It’s not what we live for.

How do you see wealth? Did you know that money is mentioned over 2,000 times in the Scriptures? It must be important for the Lord to spend so much time talking about it. He wants us to understand why He blesses us with the resources to live. Take some time and do a word study on money. You may just learn something. I know I did.

I know all I have belongs to You. Thank You, Lord, for blessing me with the means to care for my family. Help me be more generous with the resources You have given me.

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FORSAKEN BUT FAITHFUL

1 TIMOTHY 5:5

Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” 

That may seem like a strange title for a blog, but that is exactly what this widow was. To be “left alone” literally means forsaken. But despite that, she continues in her faith. She prays specifically for needs and prays generally for others. She knows her only source of help and comfort comes from above.

Do you know a prayer warrior like that? I do. In fact, I know several. Their solace is in spending time with the Lord, studying His Word and talking to Him. They know He will never leave them or forsake them. They may be “alone” in this world, but they are never alone spiritually.

APPLICATION

Children need to learn this peace early. They need to know that our God and Father will never leave them, if they are one His children. They may think they are alone and the world is against them. But He never leaves their side. Drive that truth into Him. They need to hear that over and over again.

Do you ever have to leave your child to go on trips? I am sure that is hard on them and you. When you come home there are kisses and hugs, right? Just think of this – God is always with us giving us those kinds of hugs and kisses. Now, I don’t mean physical hugs and kisses. But His presence is just as soothing and intimate.

Do you feel His presence in your prayer life? Do you spend the time you need to each day to commune with your holy God. He is waiting to talk to you. He won’t barge in on you. He waits for you to come to Him, but He’s always ready. Isn’t that unbelievable?  

Father, thank You for always being there for me. I praise You for your steadfast love and compassion and the way You show it each and every day to me.

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