Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, Inspirational, Ministry, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Service, Surrender, Witnessing

THE FIRST

MATTHEW 10:2-4

“2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him.”

Of all the apostles, Simon, “who is called Peter,” is listed first. You could suppose that was because he was the very first one called by Jesus. But I think it was more than that. He was the only one whom Jesus changed his name. He was making a point. Simon would now be called Peter. He called him a rock, specifically a pebble that could be thrown.

Some scholars argue this referred to his future role as leader of the church. Jesus appointed Peter to be resolute and firm, compared to his original rashness and hot-headedness. Whatever the reason, Peter is the first of the disciples. Jesus chose him first. Jesus changed his name. Jesus used him fully. Jesus saw in Peter what he couldn’t see himself.

APPLICATION

Children often pick teams when they play games. I remember being chosen for teams during recess play times. No one wants to be chosen last. If you were picked first, it usually implied the one picking saw you as a good player and one who could help win the game. You had skills or at least the ability to make the team stronger.

Your child will probably face that situation and may come home dejected from being the last one chosen. Take them to this verse. “But Carl, won’t that make them feel worse?” Just wait! Listen, Jesus chooses ALL of us. We ALL have something to provide the team. Jesus sees in us what we can’t see ourselves. He sees what He will do to make us whole and complete. We just have to say “yes” and allow Him to use us.

Will you say “yes” today? Will you allow Jesus to make you part of His team of ministers spreading the gospel to a lost world? Peter was a fisherman. He was uneducated. He was brash and crude. But Jesus transformed him into the leader of the early church which shook the world. Jesus did in and through Peter what Peter could have never done on his own.

Father, take me and use me however You choose. Knock off my rough edges. Make me into an instrument of Your choosing.

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Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Following, Love, Ministry, Obedience, Parenting

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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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Heaven, Inspirational, Mentoring, Ministry, Opponents, Parenting, Testimony

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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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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I’VE GOT FAITH IN YOU

TITUS 1:3

“but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,”

You can’t tell from the English translation, but “was entrusted” is the Greek word from which we get the word “faith.” It’s the verb form. It’s also a passive verb which means someone else has the faith in or has entrusted Paul with this proclamation. Who is that?

The same God who entrusts us with the Gospel entrusted Paul with the Gospel. He gave Paul a specific task – to preach His message to the Gentiles. Paul spent his whole ministry doing that. He was unashamedly bold in his approach. He risked it all because the Lord had faith in him.

APPLICATION

I pray you let your children know how much you believe in them. They need to hear you say that, not just think it. You may not have a task as big as Paul’s to give to your children, but they need to know that mom and dad believe in them. How do you do that? There are a number of ways, but here are a few.

  1. Give them small tasks to complete
  2. Encourage them to try out for that part in the play they want
  3. Be at their performances
  4. Let them hear as you tell others how proud you are of them.

You can determine the growth or the downfall of your child’s spiritual by the way you show your faith in them. How are you doing with that? I want you to think of at least one way today you can portray your faith in your child. They may not be in a good place right now. That’s not important. Let them know. Entrust them. Show faith in them. See what happens.

Lord, You have faith in me and I am thankful. Help me do the same for others. As underserving I am of Your faith in me, I will serve You.

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Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, Love, Ministry, Parenting, Witnessing

WHO?

2 TIMOTHY 4:21

“Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.”

In this next to last verse of 2 Timothy, Paul mentions four individuals who we know nothing about. You might just read this verse and move right on. Who cares about Eubulus, Pudens, Linus and Claudia? Paul did. And he thought enough about them to mention them to Timothy who also must have known them by name. Otherwise they would not have been mentioned.

Some people are name droppers. They like to mention they know or have met “so and so.” Usually that person they mention is well known or famous. It would be like me saying when he was alive, “Yesterday Billy and I were just talking.” Of course, I am referring to Billy Graham. Listen, everyone is important. Treat them that way.

APPLICATION

I want you to make a list of all the friends that your children have. Sit down with them and do that. Then make up a scale of one to five and have them score them according to how much they like them. One will be the least liked and five will be their BFF. This may take a while so be patient.

When they get done tell them to tear it up. They may argue a bit but insist. Now, read the verse to them. Explain that these four individuals fell somewhere on that one to five scale, but they probably weren’t fives because in all of Paul’s letters they aren’t mentioned anywhere else. But here, in Paul’s very last letter, they are the last people he mentioned. Friends are friends. They are all important.

How many friends do you have? I have over two thousand on Facebook. Some I have met through other friends. Some are mere acquaintances. Do you know why I made them my friends on Facebook? So I can expose them to the Gospel and encourage them. Will you make the effort today to reach out to one of your “lesser” friends and encourage them? God placed them in your life for a reason. Don’t forget that.

I am grateful for each friend You have allowed to cross my path. Help me encourage them today through Your Word. Let me be the friend they need today.

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SAY “HOWDY”

2 TIMOTHY 4:19

“Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.”

Have you ever told someone to say “hi” for you to an old friend? That’s all Paul is doing here. Do you remember Prisca (Priscilla) and Aquilla from Acts? They were the fellow tent makers whom Paul took up with during one of his journeys. And Onesiphorus was an old friend from Ephesus whom had been very kind and compassionate to Paul while he was in Rome in prison.

Friends are important, especially those with whom we have ministered. That ministry binds us. We have the same purpose, motive and drive. What is it? To present the Gospel to a lost world. I wonder how many people these friends saw come to Christ together.

APPLICATION

Friends with a purpose – that is important for us to teach our children. Now, I don’t mean to imply that there is anything wrong with having playdates or friends over to play ball. That would be silly. But we parents need to encourage our children to have friends who share the same worldview.

If their friends don’t see the world as we see the world (lost and dying and in need of a Savior), they will probably discourage your son or daughter in their faith. I don’t mean they will say, “Don’t be a Christian.” But they may say, “You don’t have to do that.” Our children need friends who share their faith, purpose and drive, just like us.

Do your friends? Or are you still living your old lifestyle? We need to engage our old friends for Christ. We need to present the Gospel to them. Otherwise, we were never friends, right. If you can’t share the most loving thing with the people you love, you never loved them to begin with. Now, go love.

Thank You, Lord, for friends who love You and me. I am committed to loving others to You. Surround me with those whom share Your view of this world.

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THE LORD WILL REPAY

2 TIMOTHY 4:14

“Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”

It’s pretty obvious that Alexander didn’t care for Paul. We aren’t exactly sure who he was, but there are a few speculations. He may have been one of the metal workers thrust forth by the Jews to denounce Paul in Ephesus. Demetrius had begun this protest, but a man named Alexander was trying speak about how Paul’s mission work was hurting the sale of idols of the great temple of Artemis, which was their livelihood.

This name appears later in Acts at Paul’s trial. This time he is there publicly to speak against Paul. Animosity, hatred, pure evil. Paul knew it, but what did he tell Timothy? Turn the other cheek. Do not engage this man. God will handle him. As powerful and as loud as Alexander may appear, God is bigger and louder (if necessary).

APPLICATION

Do you think your children are going to face an Alexander? You had better believe it. If your children are attempting to live for Jesus, there will be people who will feel threatened. You may not know why they feel threatened, but they will. It may go to their own insecurities. It could be from their wrecked childhood. But for some reason, they have it out for your son or daughter. So, what do you tell them to do? The exact same thing Paul told Timothy – let God have it.

Do you now what all “Alexanders” need? Jesus! They need His forgiveness. They need His love. They need His mercy. And all of that comes through us. God still uses His people to deliver the gospel. Teach your children to be that deliverer of hope to “Alexanders.” And when they rise up in hatred, love them more.

Who do you need to approach in love today whom has set out to tear you down? We all have someone who just doesn’t like us. We may not know why, but God does. Ask Him. You may share a past with that person that could bring them to Christ. But whatever you do, don’t retaliate. That’s the Lord’s job, and He can handle it much better than you.

Father, I lay down my plans to get even right now. It is hard not to want to get back at those who have harmed me. But at Your command, I will obey.

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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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WHATEVER YOU NEED

2 TIMOTHY 4:12

“But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.”

Have you ever had a friend who said, “Whatever you need”? And they mean it. You could call on them for anything, and they would be there. Tychicus was that type of friend. He is mentioned by name five times in the New Testament, once in Acts 20:4 and four other times in Paul’s letters (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 2:7; today’s verse and Titus 3:12).

He was a faithful and beloved friend of Paul who is believed to have delivered the letters of Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon. He may have delivered 2 Corinthians. He was sent by Paul to Crete and Ephesians. Why am I telling you all this about Tychicus? Because we need faithful friends, and we need to be that type of faithful friend.

APPLICATION

Our children are going to have so many friends in their lifetime, but only a few like Tychicus. And the best way for them to have those kinds of friends is to be that type of friend. To be that kind of friend you have to have a motivation beyond your friendship. Tychicus wasn’t serving Paul. He was serving Jesus. So, how can your children serve Jesus by serving their friends? That makes them a Tychicus, not just doing nice things for them.

Of course, they will also learn to be like Tychicus by watching how you and your friends interact. As they observe your selfless love for others, they will begin to understand what that means. When you give up your time and resources to meet your friends’ needs, they will ask you questions. These are the times you can explain selfless love and commitment. What great teaching moments.

How are you doing with being a Tychicus today? Have you thanked your friends who are being Tychicus to you? I know I have several people in my life who I need to thank more for that. You may not think of Tychicus as being a major player in the New Testament, but Paul obviously trusted and loved him. One day we will meet him in eternity and get to hear the rest of the story. Will you serve the Lord that selflessly today?

Lord, it is not important that I am known for what I do for You or others. Help me to serve just to please You. Let me be a faithful friend to those who need me.

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