Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, Following, God's Will, Harmony, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Prejudice, Scripture, Separation, Witnessing

UNPARTIAL

ACTS 10:34

“Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,’”

These words of Peter should be music to our ears. God does not show favorites. The phrase “show partiality” is one Greek word that is only used right here in this verse. It means to be a respecter of persons. Think about it. What if God only picked a few people to save because of their skin color or eye color. Unfortunately, that is what we do.

If we are to live like Christ, we must also show no partiality. They say the most segregated time of the week is Sunday mornings. Whites go to their churches. Blacks go to theirs. Hispanics go to theirs and so on. Why? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all worship together? Wouldn’t it be great if we were “color blind” on Sundays?

APPLICATION

Our children must be taught the no partiality thing early in life. In fact, we must teach them that God loves everyone – period. The world will begin to bombard them with prejudices early in life. This not only applies to skin color. It applies to any prejudice you can think of. The kid others make fun of is loved by God, so our children should too.

Let me encourage you, mom and dad, to nip this in the bud (to borrow a Barney Fife phrase). Don’t let prejudice remain in your household. God wants to use us, just like He used Peter, to reach people groups we might not normally be drawn to. You will be amazed at the response, if you will simply be obedient.

Do you battle showing partiality? Most of us do. It’s normal. It’s human. But we are called to live above that. I bet you could think of a dozen reasons God shouldn’t love you, but He does. He takes you just as you are and transforms you into something beautiful. Don’t you want to be a part of that in someone else’s life?

Father, show me my prejudices. I want to confess those to You as sin. And put those people in my life You want me to have relationships with, regardless of who they are.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Friends, Inspirational, Love, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Thanksgiving

THE LAST SUPPER

LUKE 22:8-13

“8 And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.’ 9 They said to Him, ‘Where do You want us to prepare it?’ 10 And He said to them, ‘When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. 11 And you shall say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’” 12 And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.’ 13 And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.”

I find it a little funny that Peter and John wanted more information before they left to do what Jesus asked. They knew many homes in Jerusalem would have made rooms available to travelers who had come to town to celebrate the Passover. But I bet they didn’t expect Jesus to give them such detail. And don’t you know they were amazed it was exactly as he told them?

My mama used to give me instructions about how to help with dinner, but she knew her kitchen. She knew where everything was. In fact, she could lay her hand on every pot, pan or utensil in seconds. Jesus knew the room and the house because He was God. He had created that man. He had created the materials to build that house.

APPLICATION

The next time you plan a meal get your kids involved. Give them assignments. Have some set the table. Have others get the drinks. If they are old enough, have them bring the food to the table. Once you are all seated, ask them how they would feel if this was their last meal together. Shocked! Surprised! Tearful.

Now read them this passage. Explain that when Peter and John planned this meal, they had no idea this would be their last meal with Jesus before He was crucified. Jesus let them know during the meal that things were about to change, but I’m not sure it hit home until hours later.

What if your last meal was your last meal? Would you treat those with whom you shared it differently? Don’t waste your moments. We never know when the Lord will call us home. Make sure you are making memories during those meals. You can’t redo them.

I am thankful for the times I have to spend with family. Let me cherish each meal and each gathering. Most of all, let those moments revolve around You.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Encouragement, Eternity, Family, Gifts, Heaven, Inspirational, Love, Parenting, Treasures

IT’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE

I PETER 1:4

“to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,”

Great news! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are an heir of the King! And that inheritance isn’t going anywhere. Peter makes a point to emphasize that in this verse. He, first of all, say it is “imperishable.” That Greek word means indestructible or immortal. Then he calls it “undefiled.” You could translate it as unstained. It’s perfect. Third, he says your inheritance “will not fade away.” That Greek word is only used here and means it won’t wither.

But then, after all these descriptions, he says, “reserved in heaven for you.” It’s being kept in the Fort Knox of Glory. No one or nothing can get to it. It’s promised and perpetual. No one can sneak in and destroy it or steal it. Why? Because He promised it and what He promises cannot change. Our inheritance in Christ is a sure thing.

APPLICATION

Do you have something right now you are planning on leaving as an inheritance to your children? It may be a piece of jewelry or maybe a house. It could be money. Guess what? That’s not a sure thing. Your life and their life could drastically change before that inheritance is claimed. And you have to die to leave that to them. You are probably not in a hurry to do that.

Things inherited can also lose their value. Your house can depreciate. That piece of jewelry can tarnish or be lost. What do you have that is really secure enough to pass on to your child? Your faith. Give them that. Make sure they have it BEFORE you die. There is no greater inheritance we can pass on to future generations than our love for Christ. This will last for eternity.

Are you hanging on to possessions just to pass them on? You might want to check with your children. They may have no desire for the things you hold precious. Ask them what they do value. I bet it won’t be stuff. I bet it will be time and love. Those things you can give freely. Make the investment in your inheritance to your children by preparing what God values most.

I am an heir of the King, and for that I am thankful. I know my future inheritance awaits me in Glory. But I also know I am already owner of all that’s Yours.

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FAMILY MAN

Matthew 8:14

“When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.”

Mark 1:29

“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.”

We often don’t think of Peter as a family man. But from these references about Peter from Matthew and Mark, we see a few things. First, in Matthew, we see he was a homeowner, and secondly, he was married. His mother-in-law was in his home. Either she lived there or because she was sick, they had taken her in. Whatever the reason, Peter was providing a home for his family.

In Mark, we read “the house of Simon and Andrew.” This home may have been a larger home with multiple families (Peter’s and Andrew’s) or Peter also provided a place for his brother to live. We do not read anywhere that Andrew was married. Perhaps Peter was the big brother, so Andrew lived there with Peter’s family. Peter was a family man.

APPLICATION

“Big deal, Carl. How does this inspire me?” Well, think about it. Peter had all this – a fishing business, a home, a family – and left it all to follow Jesus. What are you willing to lay aside to follow Him? Ask your children if they could leave everything behind to follow.

I will never forget during one of our ministry moves our son was unusually upset. It was the first move that he was conscious of the packing and preparing for the move. When his mom asked why he was so upset he told her he didn’t want to leave his toys. Once she explained they were all going with us, he was fine. His stuff meant something to him.

Could you leave it all behind? Is there some possession or person that could hold you back? Peter laid it all aside to follow the Master. He asks us today to do the same. Now, He may not do that, but if He did… We don’t know what happened to Peter’s family during those three years he followed Jesus. I am sure he continued to provide for them. Jesus would not have allowed his family to suffer for Peter’s obedience. That’s not how Jesus works.

Thank You, Lord, for not only caring for me, but also for my family. I trust You to provide for them as I seek to follow You. Let them see You as their true source.

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FAREWELL PARTIES

TITUS 3:13

“Diligently help Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way so that nothing is lacking for them.”

Paul is urging Titus to make sure Zenas (who is only mentioned here in the New Testament) and Apollos are sent on to Nicopolis from Crete well supplied for the journey. Here is a link to show you the distance they would have had to travel from Crete to arrive in Nicopolis https://www.biblestudy.org/maps/apostle-paul-fifth-missionary-journey-large-map.html.

Paul needed Zenas and Apollos there to help teach the Word to the believers. So, he wanted a send off that was worthy of their calling. The word “diligently” means eagerly, with passion. Whenever I leave my brothers and sisters in Uganda or Kenya to come home, they give me this kind of send-off. I am usually given a gift and tons and tons of hugs. Their love for me is without a doubt.

APPLICATION

I’ve got a fun way to say good-bye at your next family gathering. It’s called the jelly roll hug. As each person or family group leaves have them make a line and hold hands. Then everyone else grabs one end of that line as they make one long line. When everyone has linked hands, the person on the end of the line opposite the person or family leaving starts to make a big circle around them. The person of family leaving stands still as everyone starts circling them over and over again. With each pass the circle gets tighter and tighter until the end of the line has been reached. Then, on 3, everyone squeezes those in the center.

It’s a fun way to say good-bye and something your kids won’t forget. Send offs can be sad, so anyway we can make them more enjoyable is much appreciated. Whether you are the person leaving or the person doing the sending, emotions can be raw. Make it a joyful experience. And don’t forget to pray for whomever is leaving, asking God’s protection and blessing on their journey.

When is the last time you have gone on a journey and had a great send off? When is the last time you have sent someone off? Remember Paul’s words and do it diligently.

I am grateful for friends and family who send me off with love and compassion. I know when that happens I am bathed in prayer. I know I am in Your hands.

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MAKING PLANS

TITUS 3:12

“When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.”

I don’t know about you, but I like to plan things out. I don’t like loose ends. It also hard for me to plan to travel without making sure everything is covered at home. Paul, undoubtedly, had a similar concern. We see in today’s verse that he wanted Titus to come visit him at Nicopolis where he planned to spend the winter. But he didn’t want to leave the church there in Crete without a strong leader. So, he planned to send Artemas and Tychicus to there first.

We know nothing of Artemas except he must have been a trusted companion of Paul. Otherwise, he would not have given him such an assignment. One day, when I get to heaven, I look forward to meeting all these people who are just mentioned once in Scripture. I want to ask them about their relationship with Jesus and Paul. I am curious how they felt being named in Scripture. That’s not important, but I want to know.

APPLICATION

Let’s talk about that a second. We never know how our reputation is going to be remembered. Artemas had no idea Paul’s letter to Titus would become part of the New Testament. I am sure he also had not idea his name would be recorded in it. If he had known, do you think he would have acted differently? You see, we never know who is looking at us. His friendship with Paul and his obvious trustworthiness made him a perfect choice to help guide the Cretans in Titus’ absence.

What do you think the Lord is preparing your children to do? Do you realize that He chose you to be the mom or dad to help prepare them? They weren’t given to you out of chance. No! They are yours for a purpose. You have been given a great responsibility to help develop them into the man or woman God wants to use to further His kingdom. What an opportunity we have!

Are you squandering this opportunity? Are you taking advantage of the years you have? Don’t waste these moments. You will reap a reward for your selfless service. You will be blessed by your kids as they grow into God-fearing, selfless servants of Jesus. Remember, you are not raising children. You are raising child raisers. So, you are impacting generations to come. Let God use you today to prepare your child to be ready to be used by God, like Artemas was.

Oh Lord, I want to be used. Having my name known is not important, but I do want the generations to come to know that I was devoted to You. Help me point them towards You so they too can be used to further Your kingdom.

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MY INHERITANCE

TITUS 3:7

“so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

I saw a movie recently in which all the family were clamoring over the inheritance left by their father and grandfather. When it all went to someone else, they were furious. They had been planning how to spend all that money and now there was nothing for them. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t leave us out of His inheritance? He promised it, so we will receive it.

But just exactly what will we receive? We will receive eternal life. We will receive entrance into heaven. We will receive all the riches of heaven. We will receive crowns and rewards according to our faithfulness here. You see, the difference between our inheritance here on earth and our inheritance in heaven is that WE have to die to inherit our heavenly reward. And for the believer, there is no greater inheritance.

APPLICATION

Do your children know they will inherit your stuff? I am assuming that’s how your will is written. What? No will? Well, you need to get that written, if you haven’t. If you have that will, and your children are named as the recipients, at some point you need to go over it with them. They need to know who is getting what. Too many families end up fighting and fussing over mom’s and dad’s inheritance when they are gone.

But more importantly, you need to talk about their heavenly inheritance. When you bring out your will, talk about how the Lord has already established their inheritance for all His children. Unlike your will, which you could change, He will never remove you from what He has promised you in Christ. There is nothing you can do to be removed. It was His grace that justified you.

Are you waiting on some earthly inheritance? Are you making plans on how to spend that money? Don’t be so sure. Earthly treasures are fleeting. You can rest in your heavenly inheritance. It is a sure thing. God has promised it, and He never breaks a promise. Live today as God sees you. You are a child of the king. You are royalty. You are rich beyond description.

I know I am Your child, and along with every other believer I am an heir. Thank You for taking me into Your family. Thank You for making me Your child.

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A KIND GOD

TITUS 3:4

“But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,”

Have you ever thought much about kindness? Are you kind? Do you show kindness to others? The Greek word used here is the same one used as one of the fruits of the Spirit. One commentator says, “We have no term that quite carries this notion of kind and good.” The word refers to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing.

God showed His kindness by sending Jesus to us. Now, we can never top that, but we can show His kindness to others. The best way, of course, is by sharing this wonderful gift of salvation with others. That is the ultimate kindness. But we can also show kindness to others by asking the Lord what He would have us do for others. Showing kindness is outside of most of us. We are selfish beings. But the Spirit of God can produce that kindness if we will surrender to Him.

APPLICATION

How do you teach your children to be kind? By being kind yourself. Look around your church or neighborhood for someone to whom you as a family can show kindness. Get your children involved in planning out what you can do to show kindness to that person or family. Make sure your children understand that you are doing this to show them Jesus’ kindness. And, of course, make sure when you carry out this act of kindness that you share the Gospel.

How about helping your children prepare some Ziploc bags of items to hand out to people on the street corners? My city has people all over town who stand on those corners with signs asking for help. Prepare some bags with items they can use like a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, soap, snack food, etc. And don’t forget a good Gospel tract. Pray over each bag, and let your children hand them out.

Kindness is not hard if we let the Spirit lead. But kindness is impossible if we allow our flesh to get in the way. Will you allow the Lord to use you? There is probably no better compliment than to be known as a kind person. Be kind! Do it because of the kindness He has shown to you.

I will be kind today to those around me, beginning with my family. Sometimes they are the hardest to be kind to. Forgive me, Father, for not showing Your kindness to others.

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WE’RE HIS

TITUS 2:14

“who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

As believers, we know we belong to the Lord. You are told that from the moment of salvation. But you need to take a look at today’s verse to truly understand what that means. Paul breaks it down so perfectly and completely. First, we are His because He paid the price for us. He gave Himself to redeem us. Why was that necessary? Because of our lawless deeds. He wiped them away by the shedding of His blood. That was the purchase price.

Then He purifies us because He will not and cannot allow sinful creatures to abide in His presence. He personally selects each of us. He knows us all by name. We are specially chosen. We belong in His collection. Isn’t that precious? Just like a collector who loves to take out his collection of stamps and admire them, Jesus loves to marvel at His collection of saints. We are each special to Him.

APPLICATION

Do your children collect anything? Maybe “collect” is the wrong word. My son used to have a huge collection of Matchbox and Hot Wheel cars. He loved to play with those. He would get them out and line them up on the floor and play for hours. Each one had their special job in his imagination. But he loved them all.

We want our children to know just how special they are to Jesus. He has a special plan for their life, but it is part of the big plan. Their life is part of His master plan for His kingdom. He wants to use each of us to fulfill it. Can He fulfill it without us? Of course. But His perfect plan involves every believer doing their part. Point your children towards that – the bigger picture. You never know how He may choose to use them.

Are you being used by Jesus? What would He have you do today? Many of us are too busy to allow Him to redirect us. We have our days and weeks mapped out. Any “interference” from Him just gets in the way. Stop that now. Allow Him to take your calendar to the shredder if necessary. Yield to His plan today and enjoy the journey.

My day is Yours, Lord. Put me where You want me and use me however You see fit. I’m Yours.

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THE LIGHT FROM HEAVEN

TITUS 2:11

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”   

It never ceases to amaze me how God can orchestrate the smallest of details. I began looking at the Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy and Titus) back on January 1st. Today is Christmas day and lo, and behold, look at the verse that comes up today – the verse in Titus that speaks of Christ coming to us. The birth of His Son which brought us salvation.

And this verse contains a Greek word that carries that story. The Greek word for “appeared” has the image of a light appearing from heaven. It means to shine. What does the Christmas story mention? A star appeared in the sky to guide the wise men. The very light of heaven appeared on earth. Why a light? To shine in the darkness. Merry Christmas!

APPLICATION

Today read the Christmas story to your family. Take a moment before all the hustle and bustle of food and presents to reflect on the reason we celebrate. I know so many people who are gathering today to celebrate Christmas who aren’t even believers. I wonder why they do it. The holiday isn’t a holy day to them. We have reason to celebrate, whether or not we have presents or food. It’s about Him.

So, take a moment. Slow down. The presents will wait. Thank the Lord for His perfect gift. Thank the Lord for His grace which appeared and brought salvation to all men. Thank the Lord for each of your family who knows Him as their personal Lord and Savior. And pray for those who have not made that decision yet. Why don’t you agree as a family to do all you can in 2020 to bring them into God’s family?

Christmas is a special time of the year, not because of the trees, mistletoe and garland. Christmas is special because it is the time to recognize what God has done. Jesus’ birth changed history. Jesus’ birth changed the calendar. But most importantly, Jesus’ birth changed the hearts of every believer. We have that light in us which appeared over two thousand years ago in manger in Bethlehem. Praise Him.

I am eternally grateful for the birth of Your Son which gave me a new birth in You. Help me shine that light on others. Let it beam across the darkness and reflect Your love.

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