Abiding, Alone, Bible, Comfort, Deceit, Devil, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Leading, Lies, Punishment, Righteousness, Satan, Scripture

WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, Hell, Obedience, Promises, Repentance, Scripture

OUTCASTS

HOSEA 9:3

“They will not remain in the LORD’S land, but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.

There have been a few times in my life when I felt like an outcast, like I wasn’t wanted. I can remember being chosen last at recess for a game. I wasn’t the fastest kid when I was little. I was on the heavy side. So, if there were teams being picked that involved running fast, I was usually one of the last chosen. I hated that feeling.

It’s not the same, but here in Hosea we see that Israel or Ephraim would be cast out of their land. The Lord was not going to allow them to remain there. They would be taken away. I can’t imagine how that must have felt. They would have to leave their homes and their lands and be taken to a strange land as slaves, as exiles. All because they had not obeyed the Lord.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen to me. Without Christ in our lives, we will all be outcasts. We will be cast into hell. We will face eternal punishment for not obeying the Lord. He will hold us accountable for all the sins we have committed. We will not escape His wrath.

But…if we turn to Him in repentance and bow our knee to Jesus, He is quick to adopt us into His family. We will never be cast out. We will inherit His promises. We are heirs of His kingdom. We are commanded to obey, and by doing so He draws us close. So, we have a choice – outcast or drawn close.

I know what I choose. I want to draw close. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you.” Spending time in the Word daily does that. Hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His precepts pulls me closer each day. I can just hear His still small voice. Can you hear Him?

I love to hear Your voice. I want to be drawn close to You. I praise You!

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Alone, Bible, Deception, Devil, Foolishness, Judgment, Loyalty, Obedience, Opponents, Satan, Scripture, Slaves

WILD DONKEYS

HOSEA 8:9

“For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey all alone; Ephraim has paid fees for lovers.”

We have all seen wildlife shows where lions or jackals attack a herd. Have you ever noticed which animal they go after? They attack the young, the weak and the ones who are isolated from the herd. Those animals are easy picking. They lack the protection of the herd.

Hosea compares Israel to a wild donkey that is all alone. They were carried off to Assyria and became a target. Being alone in a foreign land was scary enough but being alone was worse. Assyria carried them there and put them in cities as slaves. They were scattered. They were without their God. They were alone!

APPLICATION

Are you feeling alone? There is no need to feel that way. If you are a believer, you have a family of believers all around you. You need their fellowship and their support. You cannot walk safely on your own. Just like that lone wild donkey, you are a target for the enemy. Satan loves to find a lone believer. His schemes make us easy prey when we are alone.

I belong to a couple of men’s groups that I do life with. They are my allies. They encourage me in my daily walk with Christ and hold me accountable when I fall. They are my brothers. I would not want to even try to live without them. I can tell them anything and know they will hold it confidential.

Having fellow believers around you serves as protection. We can all be on the alert. We can all sound the alarm. When we see a fellow believer all alone, we need to reach out and surround them. They may not know how alone they are and how vulnerable they are. Don’t let them do this alone.

I am so glad I have a family of believers to walk with me, Lord. Help me reach out to those who need others.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Blasphemy, Deception, Devil, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

LEAVE HIM ALONE

HOSEA 4:17

“Ephraim is allied with idols; Leave him alone.”

Some people have made up their mind about God. They refuse to believe in the Son of God. Nothing you can say will change their mind. You have preached to them. You have shared your testimony, and still they refuse to believe that Jesus died for their sins. We should still pray for them, but there comes a point when the Lord may just tell you to leave them alone. That’s hard.

Ephraim had reached that point. Nothing Hosea was going to say was going to tear them away from their idols. Isn’t that sad? They knew the power of Jehovah. They had been told about all the things He had done on behalf of Israel, yet they had been blinded by the devil to believe the false idols of the land were more worthy of their worship. It doesn’t make any sense.

APPLICATION

But we are just as bad. Don’t look at Ephraim and claim to be better than them. We do the same thing. We put our trust in false idols just as much. We trust people over God. We trust money over God. We trust medicine over God. We trust a lot of things rather than putting our trust in the Almighty.

I am not saying those things aren’t important. We need people in our lives, but we can’t trust them as we can Jesus. We need money to live in this world, but I know a lot of people who trust their paychecks and bank accounts more than the provisions of the Lord. We need medicine to fight diseases, but doctors and medicine only treat the disease. It is God who heals.

So, before we get all high and mighty and say we don’t act like Ephraim, check out your idols. Do you have anything you trust more than the Lord? When push comes to shove and you are in a deep hole, who do you turn to? It had better be Jesus because He is the only one who will always be there. He is the only true God. Amen?

Lord, You are my only source. I worship You and You alone.

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Accountability, Advice, Alone, Bible, Courage, Devil, God's Will, Obedience, Protection, Satan, Scripture

GOD’S WALLS

HOSEA 2:6

“Therefore, behold, I will obstruct her way with thorns, and I will build a stone wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.”

Has God ever blocked you from doing something that you know was wrong? Without going into details (of course), I can think of a time or two when I was younger when my decision to pursue a course that was less than godly. At the time I was frustrated but looking back I can see God was protecting me.

In Hosea 2:6 the Lord is talking about one of two things. Scholars have varying opinions. Was He preventing Gomer (Israel) from pursing her sinful behavior or was He preventing Gomer from spreading her sinful behavior and influencing others to sin? Either way, God has put up walls.

APPLICATION

How does this apply to us? Aren’t you thankful for God’s walls of protection in your life? Think about it. He may be keeping you away from some wrong decisions in your life. He may be keeping evil away from you. Walls may seem constraining, but they are for your protection.

You see, the key is which side of the wall God is on. You want to be on the right side of the wall. And if you are on the side with God, walls are good. And you want them high. The devil may try to come over the walls, but God will knock him down every time. But you have to stay inside the walls. Don’t even peak over the wall.

We all need protection – from our own choices and from the evil one. Don’t moan and groan about the walls God puts in your path. Learn to see them as God’s love in action. He builds those walls with love because you are His child.

Lord, I thank You for walls. Your walls protect me. Help me see the walls as Your love in action.

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SPIRITUAL SHOES

1 JOHN 2:6

“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

Have you ever said I ought to get around to that or I ought to do that? What does “ought” mean? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself that? The Greek word here for “ought” actually came from a legal term. It means not just someone’s legal and economic obligations but also their moral obligations to something.

So, look at this verse again. If someone says he abides or remains in Christ, he is obligated to walk as He walked. “Ought” is also in the Present tense, which means he needs to be doing it constantly. Well, Carl, that sounds good, but it’s not possible. Sure it is, if you let Him do the walking. Let Him walk through you.

APPLICATION

Have your children gotten your shoes out and tried to walk in them? Well, here is a perfect way to illustrate this verse. Ask them to get a pair of your shoes and walk across the floor. Then ask them to run across the floor. Not so easy for them, is it. Even if your kids are a little older, the shoes just don’t fit.

Now, you put on the shoes and walk and run across the floor. Why is it easier for you? Because the shoes fit. Explain to them how we can only walk like Jesus if we are wearing the right size shoes spiritually. We have to wear His shoes. We have to walk like He walked. We can’t rely on our own spiritual shoes. They just don’t fit.

I bet you have tried to walk in your own spiritual shoes, haven’t you? I bet you have tried to live the Christian life based on your own strength and wisdom. How has that worked for you? Stumbled a bit? I bet. I sure do. I think I can run on my own and fall flat on my face. Just walk with Him. In fact, you “ought” to.

Lord, I know if I remain in You, You will help me walk. Hold my hand, hold me up as we walk this life together.

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Alone, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Fellowship, Following, Friends, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Joy, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

PUNCH AND COOKIES

1 JOHN 1:3

“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 

What is fellowship? Is it just punch and cookies? I sure hope not. The Greek word is koinonia, which means something that is shared in common. I have to admit I have eaten many a meal with people with whom I didn’t share a whole lot in common. That is not what John is referring to here.

We have fellowship with each other only because we also have fellowship (something in common) with the Father and His Son. That common bond brings us together. We don’t need punch and cookies to do that. I have had the joy of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ when nothing physical passed over my lips. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good potluck dinner as much as the next person. But that doesn’t make fellowship.

APPLICATION

Kids can naturally fellowship. They find common things with other boys and girls pretty quickly. Their fellowship may center around Legos or video games. It may be over American Girl dolls or a sports game. Our challenge, as parents, is to direct them to the lasting fellowship that is only possible through Jesus.

I promise you, those childhood “fellowships” are going to fade. The only eternal fellowship is a spiritual one, as John describes in the verse today. Point your child toward that fellowship. It will last forever.

With whom are you in fellowship? Do you have a group of believers with whom you share that common bond? I pray you do. We can’t do this alone. We need fellowship. This recent Covid 19 pandemic has reduced our opportunities for fellowship and people are suffering. We need each other. Will you make the effort this week to fellowship with someone?

How I desire the fellowship with other believers. I long for their spiritual “embrace.” Thank You for providing that common bond through Your Son, Jesus.

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IN THE FIRE

1 PETER 4:12

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” 

Have you ever been burned? I can recall a few instances where I touched a hot surface or got caught in some flames. One instance in particular involved starting a charcoal fire for our grill when I was growing up. My dad used to use mineral spirits to start the charcoal. So, I poured a healthy amount on the charcoal, let it soak in a bit and threw a match on it. The flame that shot up burned my eyebrows, eyelashes and the bangs of my hair. Wow!

Many times in our lives the “fiery ordeal” that hits us comes just as quickly. We can’t escape it. We are caught in the trial before we know it. But we must remember that each and every trial that comes our way has passed through the hands of God first. He has allowed it. Peter tells us to not be surprised by it. Rest in Him.

APPLICATION

The next time you surprise your child think about this verse. How startled were they? Did you scare them? Explain to them that life will surprise us sometimes with unexpected events. Things like deaths and illnesses can come out of nowhere. Part of growing up is learning how to accept these interruptions of life. And the best way to deal with them is with the grace of God.

We know that God will never desert His children. He will only lead us into places that He knows we can handle. Just like you, mom or dad, God would never take their hand and cast them into a fiery trial. He will walk with them and lead them through. Your children need to be reminded of that often.

Are you questioning God’s leadership in the trials of your life? I realize you may feel far from Him during those times, but He is near. He is there. Reach out to Him. He will stay right by your side during the hardest times. I know! I’ve been there.

Lord, I will trust You to douse the flames of the trials in my life. You are the only one I can depend on to carry me through.

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DON’T BE SHOCKED

ACTS 12:16

“But Peter continued knocking; and when they had opened the door, they saw him and were amazed.” 

This story tickles me. Back up and read verses 6 through 15. Peter is in jail and the church is praying fervently, according to verse 5. If they were praying fervently for Peter, why was Rhoda and then the rest of the church so shocked when Peter showed up on their doorstep knocking? In fact, they thought Rhoda was crazy.

And poor Peter, recently “escaped” from jail, is left at the door knocking. He told them to be quiet. After all, he is an escaped prisoner. Then he leaves them after telling them the whole story. Can you picture their faces? They were probably thinking, God does really answer prayers. Are you as shocked as they were when God answers your prayers?

APPLICATION

Read your children this whole story and ask them what they think the people were praying. Then ask them why they were surprised Peter showed up. Emphasize the fact that God answers prayers. We should never be surprised when God does. He is always working to answer our prayers. The key is He does this according to His timetable.

Do your children have any prayer request right now to lift to the Lord? Pray those with them. Write them down somewhere and date them. And when (not if) God answers them, go back and see how long it took. Sometimes God answers quickly, like in Peter’s case. Other times, He waits. But He will answer.

How is your prayer life right now? Are you trusting the Lord with your needs? He wants to work miracles in and through you. Go to Him today with the needs of your heart and watch God work. You may be amazed. Don’t be. Expect it.

I want to live my life shock free. I want to expect Your answers, not be surprised by them. Thank You Lord for hearing my heart.

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GOOD CONSCIENCE

1 PETER 3:16

“and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

What does it mean to “keep a good conscience”? Let’s break this down a bit. Actually, the Greek word translated as “keep” in this verse means to have or possess. The word “conscience” has the idea of the God-given capacity to know right from wrong. So, Peter is saying that no matter what others may say about us, as long as we know what we are doing is right, don’t worry about it. They are the ones who will be shamed.

Have you ever had someone put you down for something you have done? I have. I prayed about and had a perfect peace that what I was doing was God’s will. But because it went against or interfered in what someone else wanted, they ridiculed or at the very least questioned my intentions. All you can do at that point is trust the Lord and go on.

APPLICATION

Children face this all the time from their peers. It gets worse in the middle school and high school years. Whenever your child stands up for what God tells them, they are sure to be made fun of by others. It’s just the day in which we live. Living a life of integrity and purity is almost looked down on by those who choose to live another way.

As parents we hate to see them come home in tears or sullen. Our job is to encourage them with verses like this one today. Remind them that in the end those who have given them a hard time will be shamed. In the meantime, they are to continue to live for Jesus and trust Him to guard their hearts. Is it easy? By no means. But the end result is the key. He will reward the faithful.

How is your conscience? Are you remaining true to Him? Stay faithful, my friend. Allow the Lord to show you the big picture. Ask Him to give you a glimpse into the possibilities before you. He will as you surrender. He doesn’t want to keep secrets from you. He wants you in on His plans. Follow Him.

O God, I will trust You in the difficult circumstances. I will allow You to guard my heart as others attack. I will count it a privilege to suffer for You.

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