Battles, Bible, Caregiver, Comfort, Destruction, Encouragement, Following, Judgment, Scripture

WIPED OUT

JOEL 2:3

“A fire consumes before them, and behind them a flame devours. The land is like the Garden of Eden before them, but a desolate wilderness behind them, and nothing at all escapes them.”

I have seen the ravages of storms. Years ago, hurricane Irma hit the gulf coast of Florida. It devastated Pensacola, FL. I drove there the following week from my home to assess the damage to a group home our ministry had there. It looked as if someone had taken a giant leaf blower and just cleared everything off the earth. Even the interstate bridges had been blown down. It was horrible.

Joel is continuing the imagery of the locust swarm in today’s verse. Before the locusts lay green fields. Behind them was nothing. Remember, Joel is painting a picture here of the coming judgment of Judah. They too would be left in a desolate wilderness. Their sins had invited God’s judgment. Repentance and their return to God was the only answer.

APPLICATION

You may feel you are living in a desolate wilderness right now. You may feel wiped out by life. I’ve got great news for you. Jesus can pick you up and give you new life. When you are at your lowest, He can reach down and lift you up. There is no hole too deep that He cannot reach. There is no desert too barren that He cannot cause new life to spring forth.

I am reminded of the verse in Hebrews chapter 2. Verse 16 tells us that Jesus did not come to help the angels, but to help the descendants of Abraham (that’s us). That word “help” in the Greek means to aggressively grab us and take us with him. Jesus will grab ahold of us and lead us where we should go. He will guide us, not just point the way.

I prefer a guide rather than someone who just gives directions. I feel safer. When I am wiped out and ready to through in the towel, Jesus is always there to lift me up. You would think I would turn to Him first and not get so wiped out. But I am stubborn sometimes. That always gets me into trouble. Will you join me today in asking the Lord to pick us up?

Father, I cannot make it one more step without You. I need You to guide me, to take me along with You.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Caregiver, Comfort, Encouragement, Fruit, God's Will, Intimacy, Loyalty, Protection, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender, Trust

OUR CARETAKER

HOSEA 14:8

Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant juniper; from Me comes your fruit.”

Isn’t it nice to have someone who looks after you? When I was growing up, my parents did that. Now, I liked that until I became a teenager. Then, not so much. Lol. I wanted my independence. I didn’t want anyone watching my every move. But my parents continued to do that, even when I went to college. They were always checking on me to make sure I was alright.

God says here, “It is I who answer and look after you.” Through all Ephraim’s rebellion, God was still look watching out for them. Even though there were consequences for their disobedience, God still loved them and wanted what was best for them. He says from Him comes their fruit. God was the source of their blessings.

APPLICATION

We need the Lord in our lives to give us purpose and power. It is only though His watchful gaze that we are able to do the things we do. Just like His care for Ephraim, He will care for us. But what does that mean? How does God care for us? Does He give us everything we want or desire?

The Lord puts His umbrella of protection over His children. That doesn’t mean we will never suffer. Just the opposite. We may be chosen by Him to suffer. Suffering is a privilege. God only allows suffering on those who can endure it. He will see you through it. His eye is on you constantly. If you believe that, then you know He cares for you.

I know through many situations in my life that the Lord is watching over me. I could name dozens of times in my life when the Lord showed His care for me. It is comforting. It is peaceful. And He does produce His fruit through me. All I have to do is let Him.

Father, thank You for watching over me. I want You to use me however You see fit.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Caregiver, Direction, Following, Obedience, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony

NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 2:10

“So now I will uncover her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hand.”

Have you ever been in a place where you were trapped and couldn’t get out? It’s not a very comfortable feeling. Many years ago, while I was in high school, I was in a serious car wreck. After the car finally stopped, after flipping on its top and slamming the top down on the front seat, I was trapped. I couldn’t get out my door. Fortunately, the driver of the car was able to crawl out his window and help us out. We needed to be rescued.

If God withdraws His rescue, you are truly in a bad place. God has placed Israel (and Gomer) in a place where no one can rescue them. He has placed them where only He could. It is during these times that we realize He is the only source. We can sit in this place of uncomfortableness, or we can turn to the only one who can rescue us.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid the need to be rescued is to not get in a place where it is necessary. How do you do that? By abiding in Him daily. There really is no other way. Most of the time when we are needing to be rescued, we have sought our own way. We have ignored the leading of the Lord. When we follow Him we are safe.

Now, we may face some hard times. God may lead us there. That’s okay. Because wherever He leads us, He will lead us through it. Don’t you believe that? I do. I have experienced that. I have had the privilege, yes, the privilege, to suffer for Him. But in every suffering circumstance, He has brought me through. He will do the same for you.

So, avoid those self-induced needs for rescue by remaining in Him. He will keep you close. And there is no better place to be. Read John 15:1-11 today. Take it to heart. Memorize it. Abide in Him.

Lord, I know You are there when I need to be rescued. Help me avoid those situations and remain close to You.

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Advice, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Friends, Giving, God's Will, Joy, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting

SEE A NEED, MEET A NEED

1 JOHN 3:17

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

Have you ever been blessed by someone? Boy, I have. During this past year many of my friends have stepped up to meet some needs that my wife and I had during my extended illness. I didn’t ask for any them, but they were led of the Lord to step up and do what He said to do for us. We were blown away.

There are people all around us who are in need. Sometimes they hide it very well. We can’t see the need. But what do you do when you find out? Do you wait for them to come ask you for help? Let me encourage you to make the first step. So many are too proud to ask. They think it’s beneath them. It’s not. God wants us to come alongside each other.

APPLICATION

I love seeing children who give without even being told to do so. I have known children whom I literally had to tell to stop giving so much. They just didn’t care about stuff. They had rather see someone else’s needs met than their own. They were just bent that way. Others…well…not so much. You would have to peel the last cookie out of their hand, lol. 

Giving is a privilege and a blessing. Until your children experience the joy of giving to someone else, they will never really understand it. You have to help them to learn this joy. How about before they get anything new help them pick out a toy they can share with someone else? How about leading them to have a birthday party where all their gifts go to the Ronald McDonald house? There are all kinds of ways to teach them to give to others.

You may not be blessed with an abundance of goods, but I guarantee you have more than most. Look around and see how you can give to someone today. Perhaps you want to do it anonymously. That’s okay. It’s not about you. Jesus is the one who gets the glory, right. Just give.

Reveal to me, Lord, to whom I should be a blessing today. Help me meet the need of someone today.

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WALKING AWAY

1 PETER 2:25

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Sheep get lost by walking away. They don’t run away. They simply stop watching their shepherd and wander away. Before they know it, the shepherd is nowhere in sight. Unless the shepherd comes and finds them, they will most likely stay lost.

We are the same way. We can become hopelessly lost unless we turn our eyes on the Shepherd. Only He can save us from a life spent in the wilderness, away from the watchful gaze of the “Guardian of your souls,” as Peter describe Him. He knows where the green pastures are and will lead us to them.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever gotten lost? They didn’t mean to, but they wandered away from you in a shopping mall or amusement park. Their eyes were fixed on something that intrigued them. Instead of watching you or holding your hand, they were pulled away by their own interests.

We need to remind our children that Satan has a way of luring us away from what we know to be safe and sound. Before we come to Christ, Satan doesn’t usually bother us much. He has us where he wants us. But once we come to Christ, he tries to entice us away from following Him. He can’t unsave us, but he can sure can distract us and make us feel unusable.

Have you strayed away from the safe and gentle embrace of the Shepherd? He desires for you to return to Him. He won’t force you, though. Your return is up to you. If that’s you, repent today and watch how quickly He picks you up. He longs for your embrace as well.

Father, forgive me for wandering. Fix my eyes on You so I can stay near to Your side. I want to spend my days close to You.

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Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, God's Will, Healing, Inspirational, Modeling, Parenting, Passion, Prayer

EYE WITNESS

LUKE 8:51

“When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother.”

Once again, we see Jesus choose Peter, James and John to witness something the other disciples didn’t. In this case, He wanted them to witness His healing powers. Everyone in the house told Him the little girl was dead. She probably was, but what is death to God?

Put yourself in Peter’s sandals. What would you have been thinking? Come on, Jesus. I know You have powers, but raising from the dead? This would not be the only time they would witness this, culminating with His own victory over death.

APPLICATION

I don’t expect you to show your children how to raise the dead. So, what is the message from this verse? Simple! God can do whatever He chooses to do whenever He chooses to do it. Your children need to know that. They need to know they can trust Him to work in their lives to protect and defend them.

But there is another message. Perhaps, the Lord will allow them to be an eyewitness to His workings in someone’s life. He may choose to use their prayers to heal someone. Now, hear me clearly. God heals, but He uses us to encourage and comfort. And those experiences build our faith.

Would you want to be an eyewitness? I would and I have been. I have seen people healed who should have died. In order to see those healings, you must believe. Believe God is good and desires only the best for each of His children. Let Him use you to comfort others. You may be surprised at what He allows you to see.

Father, use me as Your tool. If that means in healing, so be it. Just use me to accomplish Your desires.

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GOOD MEDICINE

1 TIMOTHY 5:23

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”

Don’t jump to the conclusion that Paul is saying to go out and buy some wine and start drinking. You’ve got to understand the culture of the day. It was common practice back then for young people (that was considered under 30) to not drink at all. It was actually frowned upon. Timothy was still a young man, although he was the leader of the church at Ephesus. Therefore, he probably abstained from any wine.

Undoubtedly, Timothy had some stomach issues which could be aided by the wine. They didn’t have Pepto Bismol or Tums back then. So, diluted wine was used to settle the stomach. Many times, the wine would be mixed with water (1 part wine, 2 parts water). Whatever you think about this verse, it is not a license to drink with liberality.

APPLICATION

This is one of those no-brainer verses. Of course, you are not going to teach your children to drink wine. That would be absurd. What you can do, however, is to teach then personal responsibility. That way, when they are older, they can make their own choice about this. The important thing to remember is their testimony is only as reputable as their conduct and behavior.

We don’t need wine to settle our stomach. We have medications now to do that. You can justify anything, but should you? There are some things that you are going to have to weigh against the entirety of God’s Word. Then you can make your decision. This is one of those things. So, teach your child well with this one.

This topic of drinking is so controversial in the church today. Don’t make this the hill you die on. Don’t judge others too quickly. Ask for wisdom and love each other. Paul was writing this letter to his child in the faith, Timothy, to encourage him to “take a little wine” to help his stomach. It was about his love for Timothy, not about the wine.

Father, thank You that You give us the wisdom to do as You lead us. Help me follow You as You direct. I want to please You, not man.

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Affection, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Love, Mentoring, Mercy, Ministry, Modeling, Obedience, Qualifications, Service, Widows, Works

WORTHY OF HONOR

1 TIMOTHY 5:10

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.” 

Just look at the list of this widow’s character traits making her worthy of honor by the church. She has a good reputation. She is a child raiser. She is hospitable, service oriented, full of mercy and devoted. Wow! That’s some woman!

But shouldn’t we all be like that? I mean, look at the list again. Which one of those traits don’t belong in your life? The bottom line is she puts others before herself. Therein lies the rub. We don’t want to do that. We want to see ourselves first. We want to meet our needs first. It’s always me, me, me!

APPLICATION

Well, this is a no brainer. As parents, we are constantly teaching our little Gertrudes and Elords how to not be selfish. We teach children to share because they are naturally selfish. We teach them to watch out for their little brother or sister because they are not concerned with that. 

But once again, this is better caught than taught. We must model these behaviors. When they see us showing mercy to someone, they learn from that. When they observe us serving someone else, they watch how it’s done. We are living out the traits they need to embrace. So, be very careful what you do and say. Little eyes and ears are watching and listening.

How are you in regard to these traits? Are you hospitable? Do you show mercy or wrath? We may not be a widow who needs to be put on the church list, but we still need to live out these same godly traits. And what is amazing is that when we do these things, we are the ones who are blessed. Be a blessing!

I do enjoy blessing others, Lord. Help me see their need even before it is apparent. Let me be Your hands and feet to them.

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SIGN THEM UP

1 TIMOTHY 5:9

“A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man,” 

I’m a list maker. I didn’t used to be. After my bout with chemo several years ago I lost some of my short-term memory skills. So, now I have to make lists or poof – that thought vanishes. You are probably asking yourself, “Carl, what does your short-term memory loss have to do with today’s verse?” I’m glad you asked.

Widows and widowers are quickly forgotten. When their spouse dies, we all run to their home to console and love on them. However, after a few weeks, we forget about them. We get back into our routine and forget their routine has been forever altered. 

APPLICATION

Why don’t you get your family to “adopt” a widow or widower? Of course, you may have one in your own family to care for, but if you don’t, I am sure your church has a list of them who need someone to come alongside them. What a great way to teach your little Susie how to love others.

It’s the little things that are needed by them. Things a widow’s husband would have done around the house go undone. Even little things like changing that light bulb in the ceiling light are huge for them. For the widower, it might be missing those homecooked meals by his wife. Let your children help you as you minister to one of these on the list.

Who do you know right now who could use that kind of TLC? Give them a call and tell them you want to take them out to dinner this weekend. Drop by with your tool box and ask if they need anything done around the house. Ask them first. They will probably welcome the visit.

Father, forgive me when I overlook those who have such simple needs. I want You to use me to help them with these daily tasks. I know they are precious in Your sight.

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JUST ONE WIFE

1 TIMOTHY 3:12

“Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.”

Most of us could not imagine a husband having more than one wife. But in some parts of the world, that is not an unusual custom. That undoubtedly was an issue where Timothy was or Paul would not have mentioned it here and back in verse 2 of this chapter. Paul would not have wasted words on this if it wasn’t an issue.

So, what does Paul say about this – that a deacon should only have one wife? He is specific – he said ONE. But why? So he could concentrate more on things of the Lord. If a man has multiple wives, he would not be able to focus on his responsibilities as a deacon. That’s all Paul is really trying to say.

APPLICATION

Now, I am not telling you to talk to your children about only having one husband or wife. That would be silly. So, how do you apply this verse to them? Let me ask you a question. Do you believe every verse of the Bible has meaning for everyone? Of course, it does. 

I believe our focus should be on teaching our children to not allow distractions to pull them away from their service to Christ. Whatever that might be should be removed or avoided. As believers, we cannot allow anything to tear us away from serving our Lord. Even the choice of a mate needs to be highly considered.

Are you single focused? Do you allow anything or anyone to distract you from serving Jesus? I can’t imagine having more than one wife. I would be torn who to love the most. I would be so concerned about them that I would be useless for my Master. Don’t you do that.

Thank You, Father, for working in and through me. Help me stay focused on You and eliminate things that pull me away. Staying focused is key.

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