Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Praise, Punishment, Sanctification, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

PUNISHMENT OR PRAISE

1 PETER 2:14

“or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”

I don’t know about you, but I had much rather be praised than punished. It just feels better, doesn’t it? Working with people as I have for over 40 years in ministry, I have tried to practice the sandwich principle. If I had to discipline a staff member or a child, I always tried to begin and end with some kind of praise and put the hard part in the middle. That wasn’t always possible, but I tried to.

Peter is continuing the command he began in verse 13 (there weren’t verses numbered in his letter, by the way). If you do what’s right, you are subject to praise. If you insist on doing evil, well…punishment is your reward. Your choice. What do you choose today?

APPLICATION

Children especially need praise. I used to tell my staff at the children’s homes, say yes if you can. Some of us automatically say no to children’s request. Let me encourage you today to say yes, unless there is a very good reason to say no. You may be surprised at your child’s response to you in other areas.

Praise your children or grandchildren for making their bed. Praise them for taking out the trash. Praise them for being kind to their sister or brother. And when you must punish or discipline, make sure you pay special attention to praise before and after. Let the last words out of your mouth be praise.

Are you a “praiser” or a “punisher”? Some of us relish the latter. We think it gives us power. Real power comes from the Lord. He had much rather praise you than punish you. He isn’t waiting to zap you every time you fail (and we fail a lot). Jesus was a praiser. He saw the potential in people and tried to draw that out. He took Peter, a crude, uneducated fisherman, and turned him into the leader of The Way. He can change you too.

O Father, I am thankful I can praise people rather than punish them. You give me that power. Let my words encourage rather than discourage those I meet.

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CURIOUS ANGELS

1 PETER 1:12

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.”

Did you catch that last phrase? “things into which angels long to look.” What does that mean? What are angels longing to look on? Do you understand that they are amazed at our salvation? God’s pardon of our sins blows them away. Why? Because they know the holiness of God. They have seen His majesty for centuries. How could such a holy God forgive such wicked sinners?

Why aren’t we as blown away? Why aren’t we amazed? We come to God for our salvation and almost immediately begin to take it for granted. We forget how wicked we were and how much He forgave. We should look on with the same longing as the angels and give thanks every day for His grace.

APPLICATION

What have your children taken for granted? Their clothes? Their toys? The food on the table? Have you ever reminded them how blessed they are? I bet you have. The next time your child takes a blessing for granted, read them this verse.

This is when you confess your guilt of taking things for granted from God. When they hear you confess, perhaps they will be convicted themselves. Now, you are not the Holy Spirit. He will do the convicting.

Aren’t you thankful today for the grace He has shown you time and time again? Thank Him today. Live for Him today. Give Him the praise He deserves for the salvation He so freely bestows on you. Lead your children to do the same. Angels are watching and scratching their heads. Show them what it looks like to live for Jesus.

Lord, I am amazed! Your gift of salvation is beyond anything I deserve. Thank You for saving me.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Parenting, Praise, Salvation, Surrender

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?

MATTHEW 16:16-19

“16 Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 17 And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.’” 

Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi could be seen as a pivotal point in the life of Peter. Here he is, a fisherman. But he is realizing this man he is following is more than just a rabbi. He makes this declaration and Jesus commends him. He, in a sense, empowers him right there to lead the church that is to come.

Do you understand that the moment you declare Jesus as Christ, He empowers you to lead also? Once you are His child, He comes to live in you through the Holy Spirit and wants to use you to expand His kingdom on earth. Jesus could save everyone immediately, but He still chooses us to do His work. Just like Peter, we have to answer that question, “Who do you say that I am?”

APPLICATION

Kids love knock knock jokes, don’t they? They can come up with some silly ones. We laugh and go along with them. Jesus doesn’t use these, however, to reveal Himself. He doesn’t play games with identifying Himself. He wants to disclose Himself fully to each of us. I believe He wants to do that as early as possible in a child’s life. He doesn’t expect them to fully understand everything about Him before accepting Him as Lord.

Many parents want to make sure their child is totally clear and knowledgeable before making their decision public and getting baptized. Do you think Peter fully understood Jesus when he made that confession? Hardly. He still had much to learn. Yet Christ confirmed his belief at the level it was then.

Who do you say Jesus is? Do you fully understand who He is? No one does. We won’t know Him fully until eternity, but we have the opportunity to learn more each day we surrender. As we do that, Jesus shows us more. Oh, the joy of learning more.

Praise You, Lord, for revealing Yourself to me. Help me grasp who You are. And then let me share with others.

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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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YOU GOTTA LOVE

TITUS 2:4

“so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,”

Oh, what a beautiful word we have today in this verse. And like many words the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use, the Greek word for “encourage” is only used right here in Titus 2:4. This word gives the picture of passing on to someone else what the Lord reveals is true balance. It has to do with discovering and living out His will.

Now, look at what that is in this verse. She is to encourage them to love their husbands and their children. And if this verb’s definition holds, they are to love each in a balanced way. Why do I bring that up? Because too many women put their children way before their husbands. It has to be balanced, ladies. Your love for your husbands must not fall below your love for your children. You are a team, and it must be balanced.

APPLICATION

“Well, my husband knows I love him.” Really, how many times have you put your child before your husband in the past week? Now, hear me out. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty. There are times you have to put the child first and hubby has to come along and help. But oftentimes the child’s schedule dictates the marital relationship.

How about you two scheduling some time just for you. It doesn’t have to be a date outside the home. It could just be 10 minutes to talk. And, depending on the age of your children, let them know this is daddy-mommy time. I promise they will learn to respect it and appreciate it. It shows them you have a commitment to each other which makes them feel secure.

I don’t want to leave you dads out today, though. This can happen on your side as well. You can’t spend all your free time with Johnny on the ballfield and neglect your wife’s needed time with you. Balance is the key. Make sure she WANTS to spend time with you. And then blow her socks off with an unexpected gift or praise.

Father, thank You for giving us children to love and spouses to partner together. Help me to love my wife only as You can through me. The love of Christ is all I want to share.

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MY SUPPLIER

1 TIMOTHY 6:17

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

God is our only real and trusted source for everything. I love the way Paul wrote this to Timothy. He says God is the one “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” The word “supplies” does not mean that God just gives us stuff. No! It means He gives or offers in a up close and personal way.

And the Lord gives it for us “to enjoy.” Wow! We are actually supposed to enjoy what He blesses us with. Do you enjoy God’s blessings? Do you feel guilty for what He has given you? Don’t! We are supposed to appreciate and enjoy them. Do you see this clearly? God wants us to be blessed and enjoy everything He carefully and personally gives us.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love giving your children things? The next time you have the occasion to bless your children with a special gift (birthday, Christmas, special achievement), read them this verse. Talk about how you picked out this gift especially for them. Since you know them so well, you knew they would love this gift. You knew they would enjoy this gift.

Ask them how they would have felt if you had given them something that they didn’t like. What if you had given your son, who loves baseball, a hockey stick? What if you had given your daughter, who loves to cook, a set of barbells? Just like you know their desires, God knows them as well. He provides richly all things for them to enjoy. Don’t let them forget that.

Are you aware of just how much the Lord enjoys blessing you? Remember, each gift He gives has been hand-picked by Him especially for you. He knows the perfect gift for you. He knows just exactly what will meet your needs. Accept it and enjoy it.

You are the supplier of all my needs, Lord. I praise You that You know my deepest desires and needs. I will continually thank You.

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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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