Advice, Child Bearing, Child Raising, Commands, Conceit, Fear, God's Will, Honor, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Reputation, Scripture, Submission, Surrender, Testimony

NOT AN OPTION

1 PETER 2:17

“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

Peter gives us four commands in this short verse. And he pretty much covers everyone in these commands. Honor all people means to place value on someone according to how precious you consider them. He says to do the same toward the king. That’s convicting, isn’t it? How precious do you consider everyone? How precious do you hold your “king”, which for us would be our President or leaders? Hmmm!

Then Peter says to love the brotherhood which refers to all believers. Be honest, aren’t there some believers you don’t like? Peter doesn’t leave room for that. He uses the Greek word for love agapao which means always doing what the Lord prefers. Ouch! And finally, he says to fear God. Now, he doesn’t mean to be scared of God, but rather to be in awe of, to show reverence toward.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to honor, love and fear is no small task. Some of these they won’t get until they are older, but we must start when they are young. But all these are best taught by example. We have to model these behaviors. Therein lies the rub, eh? Children learn the easiest by observing us, we have to love, honor and fear.

Ask your children what they think it means to love, honor and fear. You just might learn something. Often their answers are convicting to we adults. They speak with such innocence (at least most of the time) that it drives the point home. You know Jesus often used children to illustrate faith. Don’t you think if He used them, we could learn something from them?

How are you loving, honoring and fearing? Well Carl, I’m doing pretty good with the fearing thing, but that loving thing is tough. I know it is, but all four of these are in the imperative which means they are commands, not suggestions. If you are aren’t doing so good on one or more of these, you need to ask the Lord to show you how. He will you know.

Honor, love and fear need to be more a part of my daily behaviors. I need to spend more time loving and less time judging. I need to depend on You for my ability to do these.

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GOOD SEED, BAD SEED

1 PETER 1:23

“for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”

When I was growing up, I worked for a few years at a Feed-N-Seed store. We sold all kinds of seed to the local farmers and to small garden folks. The important thing was to sell them good seed. There is nothing much worse than to spend money on seed, plant them and nothing happens. We had to make sure the seed was imperishable.

Peter is telling us here that we have been born again with seed that is imperishable. And what is that seed? He tells us. It is the living and enduring word of God. God’s Word will never perish. He will always produce fruit.

APPLICATION

How about teaching this verse to your kids in their own little garden? Make it fun. Get some various seeds from your local nursery. Get some pots and fill them with potting soil. Now, plant those seed, but save one. In that pot plant a jellybean. Explain that you have to wait a while for the seed to sprout.

Boy, when you see that first sprout your kids are going to be so excited. But wait! Is the jellybean pot sprouting? Of course not. Jellybeans don’t sprout. Explain to your children the difference. You have to have the right seed. Only the Lord has the right seed that can make us imperishable. We are destined for heaven.

Have you stopped to thank the Lord today for your salvation which you received through that imperishable word? He planned it all for you. He cared enough about your salvation that He made a perfect way.

Thank You, Lord, for the imperishable Word. Thank You that it is the source of my growth and knowledge.

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TOUGH LOVE

TITUS 1:13

“This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith,”

When I read this verse, I was trying to figure out what point to emphasize. I settled on the word “severely.” Why? Because so many times we rebuke others so cautiously they truly don’t understand the severity of their sin. We hear people all the time talking about God’s love. I even heard someone on tv say one time that the Gospel means God loves you. While that statement is true, that is not the Gospel.

Paul says to rebuke them severely. That means just what is says. Give it to them with both barrels. If you don’t, they could very well spend eternity in hell. I know you don’t want that. They may get upset with you. That’s okay. I had rather have a mad friend in heaven than an unoffended friend in hell. Point out their errors from God’s perspective. The rest is up to Him. He will “close the deal.”

APPLICATION

This applies to our children as well. There are time when a swift, severe rebuke is called for. I don’t need to spell out what that means. You know. Don’t let the crocodile tears or the puppy dog eyes sway you. If you truly love your children, you will administer quick and decisive discipline. If you don’t, you are asking for trouble. They will figure it out, and you are gone for.

Willful disobedience is my threshold. When a child willfully disobeys, I respond with the severe rebuke. They know better, yet they willfully disobey. You have to be aware of their actions though. You can’t go on word of mouth. When they see you being consistent and harsh, you will begin to see a different child.

Are you willing to be the “bad guy”? Are do you compromise so they will still like you? Only one of these choices has a happy ending. I believe you will find if you will start out as firm rebuker, you will have fewer and fewer opportunities to show it. People will know you mean what you say and say what you mean. They will respect your approach. Do what God’s word says and experience the freedom of firmness.

Father, I don’t like being too firm with others, especially my own children. But I know You have called me to confront others in sin. Give me boldness to approach them and win them to Jesus.

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AIN’T NOTHING YOU’VE DONE

2 TIMOTHY 1:9 

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 

We are all called as believers with a holy calling, but Paul makes it very plain here that it has nothing to do with what we have done. Nothing! It is totally dependent on His grace. What is funny is most people who come to Christ realize that, but then they almost immediately go about trying to keep their calling by their works. 

We don’t obey the Lord in serving our calling in order to maintain our calling. We obey the Lord by serving – period. Our calling is in tact and always will be. If we didn’t do anything to gain it, we can’t do anything to lose it. It’s that simple. Just serve because you love the Lord.  

APPLICATION 

Ask your child if they can ever stop being your child. They may say they will when they grow up. If they do, ask them does that mean you stop being their mom or dad. I am sure they will say that could never happen. Then ask them what they did to make you their mom or dad. You may get a puzzled look at this one but ask it anyway. 

When they think about it, they may get stumped. But you may have a smart child who says, “When I was born!” That is absolutely right, but even that act was not possible without them being conceived by you. All they did was grow in the womb and come out because you had started the process. The only way they became your child was through your act. In the same way, we become God’s child by His act of birthing us into His kingdom. 

Are you busy trying to earn your place in heaven? Are you worried about losing your spot? Stop it! God reserved your place at the moment of salvation. There is not a thing in the world you can do to cancel that reservation. It’s yours! So, start living here like you want to live there – praising Jesus and telling the world. That’s your calling. 

I want to follow You, Lord. Help me to get my eyes off here and on to now. Let me see those around me with Your holy eyes. 

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HIGH BAR

1 TIMOTHY 3:2

“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” 

I am sure you have heard the expression “set a high bar.” It comes from the sporting event of the high bar in which the athlete competes by running and jumping over a parallel bar until he/she cannot jump over it without knocking it off the rack. It is supposed to be challenging.

The office of overseer (Elder) has a high bar. Not everyone can rise to this level. Not everyone is supposed to. It is not for the faint of heart. It is challenging. But just like the athlete who clears the bar to set his personal best record, the man who God leads to be an Elder will be overjoyed at the privilege. Pray for your church leaders (Elders and deacons).

APPLICATION

Parents, sometimes we set the bar too low for our children. We let little Johnny or Susie get away with stuff because they are just so darn cute, right? Sometimes we step in and “rescue” them from failure because we don’t want them to feel bad. Don’t do that. Keep the bar high. Make it reachable but challenging. When we don’t push our children to achieve, we are hampering their growth.

How hard should you push them? Ask the Lord. He will tell you. Their goals should be reachable but high. Setting low standards does nothing to encourage growth in our children. High goals can encourage our children to step out on faith, trusting their Lord to guide and provide.

Are you the “play it safe” kind of person? Or are you willing to reach for the stars? Ask the Lord what you should do. He wants us to be the best at what He asks us to do. He wants us to excel and lead others to excel. Will you do that today? Set your goals so that you have to push yourself. You will feel that same rush the jumper does when they clear that bar.

I will trust You, Lord, to lift me to higher standards in my walk with You. I want others to raise their bar also, so help me lead the way. Then, O God, I will give You the praise.

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THAT’S A STRETCH

1 TIMOTHY 3:1

“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” 

Have you ever tried to reach something that was just out of your reach? You wish you had Gumby arms. You lean and lean and reposition, but you just can’t grab it. Well, the Greek word here for “aspire” carries that meaning.  It means “to stretch oneself out in order to touch or grasp something.”

What is really interesting, though, about this word is it is always in the middle voice (hope I didn’t just lose you). That means you have to choose to do it. No one is going to do it for you, nor will it be done to you. In this verse it means only the person mentioned can attempt to grasp the office of overseer. They have to choose to follow the Lord’s leading in that area.

APPLICATION

This will be a fun verse to act out with your children. Get one of their toys and place it just out of their reach. Make sure they can’t do anything to grab it. And then ask them to try to get it. After a few seconds of frustration, have them close their eyes. While their eyes are closed, move it just close enough that you know they can get to it. Then ask them to try again. When they reach out this time, they will be able to grab that toy.

Now, explain to them what you did. You desired for them to get their toy, so you adjusted the distance just enough to allow them to get to it. God is that way with some things in our lives. He places them just out of our reach so we have to stretch ourselves to obtain them. If God spoon fed us everything, we could not grow. By stretching ourselves, we learn to trust Him further. He will not force us to stretch, though. That’s our choice.

What will you do? “Sorry God, I can’t reach that. Could you get that for me?” Nope, that won’t do. If you will reach out and attempt to grab those things He has for you, God will move in to make sure you get them. Aspiring to serve in a leadership role isn’t for everyone but aspiring to serve is. Will you stretch yourself today?

I will reach out for the unreachable today. I will stretch myself because I know You want me to do that, Lord. Help me grasp what You have for me.

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CHILD BEARING

1 TIMOTHY 2:15

“But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

I have to admit something. I don’t fully understand every verse of the Bible (big surprise, right?). And today’s verse is one of those. There are as many interpretations of this verse as there are commentators. I don’t have the time or space in this devotional to argue every one of them. So, I am going to give it my best shot with the warning to check it out yourself.

The word “women” is not in the original. This verse is actually referring back to Eve in verse 14, but has reference to all women in the last part. Paul seems to be attempting to back off the harsh words of the previous verses. Women were the vessel the Lord used to bring forth the Messiah. Women have the incredible responsibility of child bearing and rearing. And that is done through self-restraint as they practice faith, love and sanctity.

APPLICATION

Okay, here is the challenge. How do you apply this verse to your children?  Well, Paul is NOT saying that your little Gertrude’s sole role is child bearing. Children don’t “complete” a woman anymore than marrying does. They are not saved by giving birth to children. But, if the Lord allows them the privilege of children, He has a duty for them. They are to practice faith, love and sanctity with self-restraint.

What is self-restraint? It actually means soundness of mind, sanity, self-control, or sobriety. The word was used previously in 1 Timothy 2:9 where it was translated “self-control.” So perhaps the lesson is not about child bearing at all. It’s more about learning to exercise self-restraint. That can only be done through the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Are you showing self-restraint? In your walk with Christ, are you continuing in faith, love and sanctity with self-restraint? This admonition applies to all believers, not just the female ones. Men need self-restraint just as much as women, maybe more. Allow the Holy Spirit to control you so you can show the world how a believer lives.

Lord, I am thankful I don’t have to fully understand every verse of Scripture. I know as I am able to grasp its truths You will reveal the hidden treasures to me. Thank You.

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