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HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Calling, Courage, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Gospel, Judgment, Obedience, Passion, Scripture, Testimony

THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

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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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Advice, Advocate, Battles, Courage, Enemies, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Safety, Scripture, Soldiers, Victors

NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

BY INVITATION ONLY

2 JOHN 10

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”

I have, on occasion, received invitations to exclusive events. These events had limited seating and only certain people were invited to attend. Those decisions to limit the number of people may have been due to the venue size or the budget of the event. Whatever the reason, I always feel honored to be invited.

However, John is talking about something we should do to limit our audience. He is basically telling us to not invite anyone into our home who does not agree with God’s teachings. Wow! I thought we were supposed to reach out to the lost. We are. John is guarding us against false teachers. They should not be invited. Others should be so we can teach them the truth. We have to be so careful who we listen to, especially today.

APPLICATION

I pray your children invite their lost friends to your home. What better way for them to hear truth than to be welcomed into your home. Now, we should not let our children sit under anyone who teaches anything contrary to Scripture. But we should welcome any of their lost friends to hear the Gospel in our home. We want our children to be the influencer, not the influenced.

Does that make sense to you? I hope so. Don’t assume that every teacher or small group leader at church is teaching correctly either. Check them out. Make sure you have the right to sit in on a class or small group to find out. Any leader who doesn’t allow that is not open to accountability. Talk to your child’s Children’s Pastor or Student Pastor to find out who will be leading your child. It is, after all, your responsibility to disciple your child spiritually.

Have you opened yourself up to wrong teaching? Sometimes we do that without knowing. We hear about this great Bible Study available on dvd or online, so we dig into it. Always check out any study before you begin. Check out the author. Check out the publisher. And as you start the study, be aware of any inconsistencies with Scripture. As John says, “Do not give him a greeting.”

O Lord, keep my eyes open to falsehood. I want to honor You in all my relationships. Guard my heart.

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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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Advocate, Bible, Confidence, Courage, Direction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

CONFIDENCE

1 JOHN 4:17

“By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.”

I like being around confident people. Their confidence makes me more confident. I had a football coach in Junior High School who was like that. He was always positive and upbeat. He wasn’t the greatest coach, but his confidence was infectious. It made us better players. We played hard for him because he made us more confident.

The Greek word here for “confidence” means to be bold, to speak with resolve, to be remembered. That’s it! We have boldness. We live in such a way that we will be remembered. And John says we will be confident “in the day of judgment.” I know that I know that I know I am in Christ, so I do not fear judgment. My sins are forgiven.

APPLICATION

Don’t you want confident children? A father I meet with regularly was speaking about one of his young sons recently. He was concerned that he was “too whiny.” We talked about that. We both agreed that he needs more time with him than perhaps his other kids. He needs to build more confidence in him now at an early age so he won’t be whiny and complaining as a teen or young man.

The best way to build confidence in our kids, of course, is leading them to a saving knowledge of Christ. Even before they make that decision, we need to be pouring Jesus all over them. We need to reassure them of His love for them. We need to remind them over and over that He will fight for them. We want them to have that confidence in the day of judgment knowing that their sins have been washed away and they can stand boldly before the throne of God, not because of anything they have done, but because of Jesus.

What is your confidence in? I pray it is not in your own abilities or talents. Those can be lost so quickly. I pray it’s not in your position or career. That too can be snatched away. Is your confidence in Christ? He is the only sure thing. He is always there. He will always be with you, no matter what you face. He has to be your confidence.

I am confident in You, Lord. I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep me until that day.

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Advice, Affliction, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Enemies, Lies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, The World

WORLD TALK

1 JOHN 4:5

They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.”

I have had the privilege to travel some. The strange thing about traveling to other countries – they all have different accents and often different language. Of course, I don’t think I have an accent at all, lol. I have dear friends in Uganda and Kenya. We’ve known each other for years now, but when I am there, I have to change the way I talk, or they can’t understand me. They hear me, but they can’t understand what I am saying.

John is saying that those who are of the world talk different. They sound different. They speak a whole different language than us. Do you know why? Because of their world view. When we see things differently, we talk differently. I honestly cannot understand some people. Oh, I understand their words, but I do not understand what they are saying. It just doesn’t make sense.

APPLICATION

Our children are going to face this issue. Hopefully, you are teaching them to have a biblical world view. That is going to clash with others. It is just a matter of time. Adults and kids alike will challenge them. They may even face persecution in school because of their world view. That’s okay. Support them. If need be, defend them.

We have to teach our children to hold fast. The world speaks a different language. The world will not agree with your child’s language about the world and God. If our children can learn to defend their faith at an early age, they will be prepared for a lifetime.

Are you being challenged by your speech because of your world view? If you aren’t, maybe you aren’t making your view known. Why not? Are you afraid of persecution? Are you afraid for your job? Don’t you think the God of the universe is big enough to take care of you. God is the one who fights our battles. Trust Him. Will you do that?

Lord God, I confess sometimes I avoid speaking up for fear of ridicule or being shamed. Forgive me for not being more bold in Your name.

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GREATER IS HE

1 JOHN 4:4

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 

I grew up with cereal commercials. You may can remember the old Lucky Charm and Cocoa Krispies commercials. But my favorite was Frosted Flakes. Why? Because of Tony the Tiger. I just loved every time he would say, “They’re Greaaaaaaat!” I didn’t get to eat Frosted Flakes a lot, but I sure loved the commercial.

When I read this verse, I think of that. I won’t to scream out like Tony the tiger and say, “He’s Greaaaat!” Silly, I know. Look what John is telling us. That old antichrist may think he has power. He may think he is great, but he has nothing on Jesus. That’s who is in us. Through His Holy Spirit He dwells within us. He is greater than any other power. We literally have an indescribable power in us.

APPLICATION

Ask your children what they would do if they had unlimited power. They may say they would fly to the moon. Maybe they would say they would heal all the sick children in the world. Whatever they say, I bet they have an idea what they would do with that power.

Now, ask them what power a Christian has. This may puzzle them for a second. They may say the power to pray or believe. Read them today’s verse. Explain to them that we have the very power of God within them as believers. We can do amazing things if we will only yield to Him and allow His Spirit to work through us. We are only limited by our faith.

Do you believe that? Do you believe you have the very power of God within you? That’s what the Scripture says. I truly believe we are only as powerful as our faith. God can and wants to do amazing things through us. Will you allow Him to have complete control over you today? If you do, hold on. He may just put you in a place to be used as never before.

Lord, use me. Take my life and use it however You desire today. And I will give You all the glory.

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TEST THE SPIRITS

1 JOHN 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 

Don’t you hate when you have batteries lying around and you don’t know if they are good or not? I hate that. When you need a battery, you need a battery. Most of us don’t have battery tester at home. So, what do you do? You put that battery in the device to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you throw it away.

John tells us to test the spirits. In fact, the word “test” means to test to see if it’s good. It’s not so much testing to see if it’s bad. You see, if it’s good, it’s from God. If it’s not, well… As John says, “because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” There are many who will try to deceive us. But if we are mindful to test the spirits, according to God’s Word, He will show us who to believe.

APPLICATION

Take some of those batteries you have lying around the house and get your children to help you test them. Come on, go buy that tester. You know you need it. Teach them how to test the different sizes – AA, AAA, 9 volt. Now, it’s important to teach them how to know what a good test is.

A weak battery is as no good as a dead battery. Did you get that? Do you believe that? Of course, you do. A spirit that tests “okay” is as bad as a spirit that does not test good. Your kids need to know this. They need to understand that. And the tester they will use throughout their life is the Word of God. It will reveal what is truth and what is not.

Do you struggle knowing what is true, what is good? You don’t have to. Measure everything according to His Word. It will never let you down. You will know instantly whether that spirt, that preacher, that evangelist, that speaker is of God or not by how they measure up to the Word. Trust it.

O God, I am thankful I have the “tester” necessary to test the spirits. You have given me Your Word as the instrument of truth.

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