Accountability, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

TROUBLE’S COMING

HOSEA 5:7

“They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, for they have given birth to illegitimate children. Now the new moon will devour them with their land.”

Sometimes we think we have gotten away with stuff. Can you think of things in your life that you have done that you have yet to suffer the consequence? I don’t mean really bad stuff. It could be anything that you know you shouldn’t have done. It could have been years ago. You have never confessed and now think God has forgotten about it. Guess again.

Israel has “dealt treacherously with the Lord.” They have dealt in deception. They have birthed children from their pagan worship and with pagan people. They think they have pulled the wool over God’s eyes. But now God tells them through Hosea that within a month judgment is coming. Wow! I guess God wasn’t fooled.

APPLICATION

What are you attempting to hide from God? Do you really think you can do that? Let me save you some time and some trouble. You can’t. God sees all and knows all. You can waste your time trying to hide stuff from Him, but He knows it all before it happens.

God desires that we disclose all to Him. He wants us to live holy lives before Him. That requires transparency. That requires open and vulnerable hearts. When we do that, our lives are so much more in tune with Him. We can walk in victory and not fear repercussions from the Lord.

I don’t like to walk around looking over my shoulder. I prefer to walk facing straight ahead, knowing the Lord has my back. I have nothing to hide from Him. He knows everything I have done. He knows my motive for doing it. He knows my every little thought and knows my actions before I do them. I will trust Him. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for knowing me. I trust You because You know what is best for me each and every day.

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Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Faith, Joy, Life, Resurrection, Scripture

HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deceit, Following, Judgment, Life, Obedience, Scripture

NO RETURN

HOSEA 5:4

“Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a  spirit of infidelity is within them, and they do not know the LORD.”

Once while traveling on an interstate highway, I took an off ramp only to discover a very disturbing sign halfway up the ramp. It read “No northbound return ramp this exit.” What! Why wasn’t that sign posted before I got off the highway? Now what was I supposed to do. This was in the days prior to GPS, so I had to stop at a gas station and ask someone for directions.

Too bad Israel couldn’t get some directions to get back to God. Too bad there wasn’t a gas station to stop in. Israel had lost its way. They had taken an off ramp with no return ramp, or so it seemed. Their poor choices and their infidelity had taken them way off course.

APPLICATION

Are you off course? Have you taken the wrong exit? The good news is there is a way back. His name is Jesus. He will personally guide you back on the right path, if you just stop. You see, our problem is usually that we keep moving. We keep driving in the wrong direction. We think we can figure out how to get back on the road, but we just keep driving, getting further and further away.

Take your foot off of your life accelerator and slow down. Ask the Lord which direction He is going in. That’s where you want to head. Follow Him. Better yet, give Him the driver’s seat. Why don’t you just slide over and let Him drive awhile? I guarantee you will be in safe hands. He will never get lost, and He won’t take you anywhere you are not prepared to handle.

I prefer to let the Lord lead. I have found through my six decades that He is a much better leader than I am. There are still occasions when I think I can drive better than Him, but it’s not long until I’m lost. But I have learned to stop and switch seats. And I’ve learned the sooner I do that, the better.

Lord, I am thankful that I can always trust Your directions. You keep me safe.

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Confession, Direction, Fellowship, Following, God's Will, Hypocrisy, Inspirational, Obedience, Punishment, Rejection, Scripture, Sin, Worship

THE PARTY’S OVER

HOSEA 2:11

“I will also put an end to all her joy, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her festivals.”

I’ll never forget when I came to Christ. Before I did, I was kind of a party guy. I grew up in the 70’s when drugs were big. I got caught up in that scene and liked to party with my friends. But…when Christ came into my life, I gave up all of that. I didn’t want that anymore. My friends I had at the time thought I was crazy for giving up that party scene. I knew better. Still do today.

God also took away the “parties” from the Israelites but in a different way. He couldn’t tolerate their false worship anymore. By leading them into exile, they were not allowed to celebrate the festivals. They had the right “parties” but were abusing them. God desires our worship, but He won’t accept false worship.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. What are you worshipping? I worshipped partying in my young life. I discovered true worship in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Are you going through the motions of worship? Do you do the “church thing” expecting that to suffice for your spiritual life? It won’t. You’re not fooling God. He knows your heart.

So, when are you going to seek Him in spirit and truth? Are any of these questions hitting home with you? Well, let me tell you a secret. They hit home with me, too. I have to constantly reflect on my worship. I want to make sure my worship is always pointed heavenward. I want my worship to be glorifying God. Anything else is just as bad as the Israelites.

Will you join me in true worship? Oh, how the Lord loves that. He loves to see His children honoring Him. He longs for our fellowship. Begin today. Stop what you are doing and spend some time worshipping Him. He is listening.

I worship You, O God. My heart is lifted before You today.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Baptism, Belief, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Rejoicing, Scripture

WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deception, Disciplemaking, Faith, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

WATCH OUT

1 JOHN 5:21

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

What do you value most in your life? What do you spend the most of your time doing? If your house was burning down, what would you grab first to rescue? I ask those questions of you and me because we make idols out of a lot of things. Idols can be anything. They are things in our life that we place above God.

Look what John says in today’s verse. By the way, this is the last verse of 1 John. He ends it by saying, “guard yourselves from idols.” That word “guard” really means to keep your eye on something. John is telling us to be careful what we put first place in our lives.

APPLICATION

This week, of all weeks, our children have their hopes set on getting things that they may not even need. Their eyes are bugged out for Christmas, and they truly believe that if they get that certain toy or gift, they will be happy. I’m not saying toys are idols. But we have a great opportunity to teach our children about what is truly important.

Buy them those special things this Christmas, but make sure you talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Talk about what makes Christmas special to them. Talk about family and faith. Talk about your priorities in life, what’s important to you and why. They need to hear it from you.

Jesus belongs on the top of your list – period. Anything else becomes an idol. Idols corrupt us. Idols distract us. Idols draw us away from the Lord. Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing else. That’s John’s message for us. Will you follow his advice? After all, it is from the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of who is first place in my life. I will not allow anything to come before You.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Direction, Disciplemaking, Faith, Gifts, Giving, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Knowledge, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Truth, Understanding

CRITICAL THINKING

1 JOHN 5:20

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Do you ever get to thinking about something so intensely that you lose track of time? I’ve done that. The topic becomes so interesting that I could spend hours researching every side angle or story. I look at both sides of the story. I delve into opposing views. And by doing so, I come away with a better understanding of the topic and how to apply it to my life.

That’s the word “understanding” used by John in this verse. And the word “given” is in the Perfect tense which means it happened in the past with lasting results. So, Jesus gave us understanding that will last. He has given us the gift of knowing Him who is true. That truth sets us free. We are in Him, and He is in us. Praise be to God.

APPLICATION

Sometimes the hardest thing to teach our children is why we teach our children. Did I lose you there? Listen. We are so busy teaching our children things that we often forget to teach them why we are teaching them. They need to understand that we are not just teaching them stuff to make us feel better. There is a purpose behind our teaching, right? Do you know that?

We teach them so they can teach others. It’s the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle of passing our knowledge on to the next generation. Without a clear understanding of what we are teaching and why we are teaching, that won’t happen. That’s why rules without reasoning don’t work. Even our children need to experience critical thinking.

Are you doing that? Are you critically thinking about your faith and why you live it? You need to know why you believe what you believe. You need to be able to apologetically defend the faith. I don’t mean you need to be able to argue your points. I mean you need to fully understand it so if you are asked why you believe, you can explain it. Better yet, let the Spirit inside of you do that. He can speak better than any of us. Amen?

Father God, thank You for giving me understanding of You and Your Word. Help me, when asked, to explain my faith to others. Let me be bold and daring when faced with opposing views. 

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Sin

ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

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Asking, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Hearing, Inspirational, Listening, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

DID YOU HEAR THAT?

1 JOHN 5:15 

And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

I turned sixty this year. It’s hard to believe that. And with age comes the sure signs that my body is wearing down. One of those signs is my hearing. I have lost a lot of my hearing in my left ear and some in my right. I have to ask people to repeat what they say sometimes. That can be kind of embarrassing and aggravating. But that’s just the way it is. 

Aren’t you glad God is not hard of hearing? He hears our every cry. He hears the very tear drops that hit the ground. He is the most attentive listener ever. You will never hear God say, “Huh? I didn’t catch that.” He doesn’t have to mute the television to hear you. He is always listening. 

APPLICATION 

On the other hand, we have our children, lol. How many times have you had to repeat yourself to your kids? A dozen? A hundred? It probably seems that way. Our kids get so distracted by what they are doing that they totally tune us out. I have known children who required you to get right in their face for them to hear you. 

As important as it is for them to hear you, it is even more important for them to hear God. That can be tricky to teach, can’t it? Hearing God’s voice means you must be willing to hear it. Being tuned into the spiritual realm takes discipline. They need to be in the Word and have an active prayer life. God can speak whenever He wants, but He normally speaks when we are listening and attentive. Help your children understand that. 

Are you listening to Him today? Maybe you don’t want to hear from God because you’re afraid what He might tell you. Some believers are like that. They want to pray but they don’t want to listen. Communication with the Lord is not a one way thing. As we speak, He is listening. He will respond to us if we are listening. Will you today? 

I am all ears today, Lord. Fill my heart and my mind with Your desires for my life. I want to hear Your voice. 

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Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Heaven, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Salvation, Scripture

HANDWRITTEN NOTES

1 JOHN 5:13 

 
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 

Handwritten notes and letters are becoming more and more uncommon. When is the last time you wrote, I mean actually wrote, a letter to someone? We text, email, tweet and post, but we seldom write. There’s just something personal about a handwritten note or card. It takes a little more time. I think people still appreciate that. 

John wrote us this letter. He didn’t write it just for his first century recipients. He wrote it for all “who believe in the name of the Son of God.” Is that you? Do you believe? If so, John says “you have eternal life.” Now, that’s a handwritten note worth receiving, isn’t it? 

APPLICATION 

Are your children learning to write? Teach them how to write a note or letter. Teach them to address an envelope and mail a letter. Help them write a letter to their grandparents or a favorite cousin or friend. I promise you when that person receives that letter, it will make their day.  

Teach your children to journal their thoughts and prayers. They are writing those thoughts to God. They are, in effect, writing a letter to God. Do you think God likes “reading” those letters? Of course, He does. God wants to hear from us in whatever mode we choose to communicate.  

Are you “writing” to God? Are you writing to encourage someone else? Why don’t you take a moment today and write a note or letter to someone whom you know needs to hear from God. God can use you. Will you let Him? It doesn’t take long to do this. Be a John today. Remind someone of their faith walk. You will be blessed. 

Father, thank You for Your handwritten letters from Your saints like John. Help me encourage others by my own notes and letters. 

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