Accountability, Advice, Bible, Condemnation, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Destruction, Direction, Encouragement, Infidelity, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Scripture

WHEN YOU REACH THE BOTTOM

HOSEA 4:18

“Their liquor is gone, they prostitute themselves continually; Their rulers dearly love shame.”

The church I serve has a homeless ministry in our city. I hear just about every week about an individual they are working with. Their stories are heartbreaking. Most of them are on the street due to a series of bad breaks or bad choices. Some of them, unfortunately, have made the choice to live on the street. They have fallen so low they cannot see themselves ever doing any better.

Hosea continues his words about those who have fallen away from God. He says, “their liquor is gone.” Their means to forget is now gone. They can’t numb themselves further. Hosea goes on to say, “they prostitute themselves continually.” Their self-respect is completely gone. Even their bodies mean nothing to them anymore. Finally, Hosea says they “love shame.” Wow! Now that’s low.

APPLICATION

Have you ever sunken that low? Have you ever felt there was no way out? I have had a couple of those moments in my life. My low points weren’t due to alcohol or prostitution, but my low was still low. I couldn’t see a way up. I was depressed. I felt alone. I thought my future was over.

But guess what? It wasn’t. I could not have imagined back then that I would be writing devotions and posting them so that literally thousands of individuals could read them annually. That blows my mind. God had a plan back then for me that I could not possibly understand. I just had to trust Him.

Are you feeling low today? Turn to Him. Let the Lord Jesus pick you up, dust you off and give you a new lease on life. He has never stopped believing in you. He has always had a plan for your life. Will you trust Him to show you? He will. And He will walk with you as you take those first steps.

Lord Jesus, I trust You. I want to live my life honoring and magnifying Your work in and through my life.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Judgment, Lies, Light, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture, Sin

STUMBLING

HOSEA 4:5

“So you will stumble by day, and the prophet also will stumble with you by night; And I will destroy your mother.”

Have you ever stumbled in the dark? Without a good light it is so easy. Since my chemotherapy I have developed pretty severe neuropathy in my feet. I can stumble so easily without shoes. I have to be very careful, whether I am walking in the dark or in the light. Stumbling is a real possibility.

Hosea is not referring to that kind of stumbling. He is talking about a spiritual stumbling. The Israelites had closed their eyes to God and were stumbling everywhere. Even the priests were stumbling. God warns them, through Hosea, that He was going to destroy their mother, referring to Jerusalem. That happened in the midst of their stumbling.

APPLICATION

How can you prevent spiritually stumbling? Just like physical stumbling, a good source of light can prevent most accidents. We have to keep the light of the Word shining brightly in our lives. That means we have to study it daily. You cannot get by with just an occasional quiet time. You need the equivalent of a million lumens shining on you daily.

The light of the Word exposes the darkness. It lets you see the approaching enemy. The beam of His Word points out the dangers lurking in your path, set by the devil, that could bring you down. But when you shine the light on the path, God directs each step you take.

I know I need a daily dose of God’s Word to keep me walking safely. It is amazing how clear your path becomes when you are seeing it through the lense of God’s Word. God’s Word always clarifies. Stop the stumbling.

Lord, keep my feet safe. Shine Your light on my path so I can avoid the devil’s snares.

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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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Advice, Advocate, Bible, Born, Calling, Commitment, Darkness, Doubts, Encouragement, Friends, Infidelity, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Darkness, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Satan, Scripture, Testimony

OF THE DEVIL

1 JOHN 3:8

“the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

How do you know for sure who is of the devil and who is of God? A lot of people have bad days and can do a bad thing or two. But what constitutes being of the devil? Well, John spells it out pretty clearly here. He says, “The one who practices sin is of the devil.” That’s pretty harsh, isn’t it? Or is it?

You see, the key is the word “practices.” It means a lifestyle of sin. It means someone who only thinks of doing evil. Their motive is always self. No one else really matters to them unless they are to be used to advance their own desires. Those kind of people are not fun to be around.

APPLICATION

Our role as parents is to bring up our children to honor and obey the Lord. That’s not easy. So many things battle us along the way. The devil doesn’t want us raising kids who can recognize him. Why? Because when our kids can recognize his works they learn to flee the other way. If we are teaching them to walk with Christ, there’s a real recognition of anything that looks different.

Ask your children who they want to follow – Jesus or the devil. Most, if not all, children will say Jesus. We expect that answer. But listen, mom and dad, your children will learn how to practice holy living best by watching you. There you go again, Carl. You are always forcing us to role model. Yep. They will never forget how you live out your faith. When you practice holiness, even when the alternative is easier, they will remember that.

So, what are you doing today? Are you practicing sin and aligning yourself with the devil or are you practicing holiness and aligning yourself with Jesus. One may seem easier, but there are dire consequences. Won’t you let Him live through you today?

O God, I am thankful that I can walk with You daily and live in holiness. I want no part of the devil.

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Antichrist, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christ's Return, Courage, Darkness, Encouragement, Fear, Inspirational, Parenting, Persecution, Scripture

THE LAST HOUR

1 JOHN 2:18

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”

Picture yourself at a ball game. Your team is behind and the clock is ticking. You have the ball and are driving towards the end zone (yes, this is a football analogy, lol). Just before the clock hits zero the ball is snapped to the quarterback who makes an incredible pass into the end zone for a game winning catch to his receiver. You cheer and yell. Your team has won.

We should be doing that very thing regarding the antichrist. We don’t know when he will appear, but it is no matter. We have already won. There is no way we can lose. We’ve already seen the end of the war. Jesus is victorious and there is nothing that the antichrist can do about it.

APPLICATION

Do or did your children play soccer or another sport? Ask them how hard they would have played a game if they knew they were going to win. Some kids may say they would slack off, but I bet most of them would say they would play even harder because they would know the outcome. The game would be much more fun because they already knew they would win.

Explain to them that’s how we should live our lives in Christ. There is no reason to worry about what the enemy does because there is no way he can defeat us. We have the trump card – Jesus. And the best thing about this is our enemy knows he can’t win. That means we are victorious. We just have to keep playing the game. We can’t stop in the middle of the game.

Don’t read today’s verse and start worrying about the antichrist. In fact, be excited about it. Why? Because that just means the Lord’s return is near. Isn’t that great? Keep living daily as if it could be the day of His return. Don’t cower in a corner.

Lord, I welcome Your return. I will not fear the arrival of the antichrist because I know he is toothless.

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Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Foolishness, Lies, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Satan, Scripture, Testimony

HATE BLINDS

1 JOHN 2:11

“But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

There is probably not a better verse for today than this one. So much hate. So much darkness. You see, hate blinds us to what is true. The devil loves that. He loves to keep us hating each other. When we hate, we literally can’t see straight. We only see what we want to see.

It was no different back in the day of John. The early church was not exempt from these feelings. Yes, that’s right. Even the early church, to whom John was writing, faced these same issues. Hate has been around since Satan’s fall from heaven. He hates God and anyone who loves Him. He will do anything to blind us with his hate.

APPLICATION

Ask your children what they hate. Notice I said “what” not “who.” I hate brussel sprouts. I hate spinach. We can hate things. That’s really okay. I hate abortion. I am sure God does too. I hate sin. We all should. It does nothing good in this world.

But get your kid’s list of “hates.” Ask them why they hate these things. They are going to hear this word a lot in their life, so they need to understand the strength of that word. They should, however, never use that word in conjunction with a person. No one deserves to be hated. God loves all.

Who do you hate? Don’t answer that. Your answer should be no one. If you do, confess that as sin right now. Ask the Lord to forgive you for that hate. Ask Him to forgive you of walking in darkness. Ask Him to forgive you for following the devil rather than Him. Do that now. He is listening.

Forgive me, Lord, for any feelings of hatred I harbor against others. I know that is sin and displeases You. I want to walk in the Light.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Lies, Modeling, Parenting, Satan, Testimony

DON’T TRIP

1 JOHN 2:10

“The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

One of my favorite Greek words is in this verse. It’s the Greek word for “stumbling.” I even like saying it. It’s skandalon. It’s pronounced just like it’s spelled – skan-dal-on. Go ahead, say it out loud. I know you want to.

So, what does that word really mean. Get this definition from HELPS Word Studies: “the trigger of a trap (the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim); (figuratively) an offense, putting a negative cause-and-effect relationship into motion.” It’s something that trips you up and causes you to be captured or trapped. If we love our brother and are abiding in the Light, there is no cause for that.

APPLICATION

Visuals are so much better for kids. How about building a trap? It’s not hard. Get a box (cardboard works), a stick about a foot long and some string. You know where I am going with this? Get some bait like a carrot (if you want to catch a rabbit, lol). Tie one end of the string to the carrot and the other end to the stick. Use the stick to prop up the box. Then all you have to do is wait. If there’s a rabbit in the area, you might get lucky.

Now, the point is not to actually catch a rabbit. The goal is to show them how it works. The rabbit doesn’t know that carrot is a trigger for a trap. They just go in that box expecting a treat and wham-o, they’re trapped (or at least that is what is supposed to happen).

The same applies to us. We don’t see the trap until it’s sprung. The devil has a way of doing that. He is cunning and deceitful. He will promise us just about anything. And once we take the bait, wham-o. If we are believers, he can’t “unsave” us, but he can sure keep us down with his lies and traps. Don’t fall for it. Stay in the light!

I will walk in the light because that is where You are. That is the way to be sure of my steps. I will let You guide me.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Confession, Darkness, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Harmony, Hypocrisy, Light, Mentoring, Parenting, Surrender

ARE YOU A HATER?

1 JOHN 2:9

“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.”

People can say anything. They can claim to love others but just watch how they treat them. The word “hate” seems to imply a horrible action. But did you know the Greek word here can actually mean to love less. Now wait a minute, Carl. That seems a little harsh. Oh really? Do you think Jesus loves them less than you? He loves them all.

John tells us that if we hate, we are still in the darkness. We are walking in the darkness. We are stumbling. What happens when you stumble in the darkness? You hurt yourself. You could break your toe or leg or worse. It’s the same when we hate. We hurt ourselves.

APPLICATION

If your child hasn’t said it yet, they will. They will come home saying they hate someone for something they have done. I am sure you correct them for that. Try sharing this verse with them. Let them see what God says about hate. Ask them if they want to be in the darkness. I bet they don’t.

There are going to be people we don’t like in life. That’s just the truth. So, what do we do? We pray for those individuals. We ask the Lord to give us His love for them. Is that easy? No! It’s impossible by ourselves. But with Christ in us, we can do anything, including loving those we do not like.

Are you tired of stubbing your toe in the darkness because you refuse to stop hating? Come to the light. Stay in the light. Let Jesus direct your path, especially when others are trying to block it. Love them anyway. Jesus does.

Oh Father, I fall so short in this area. I can always justify my hate, but Your Word convicts me. Thank You.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Commands, Courage, Darkness, Encouragement, Following, Light, Mentoring, Parenting, Promises, Scripture

I SEE A LIGHT

1 JOHN 2:8

“On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

If you have read many of my devotional blogs, then you know I like to hunt. In fact, today is opening day for archery season for white-tail deer. As you read this today, I am sitting in my blind in the woods waiting to harvest a deer. Now, before you judge me for being a hunter, just keep reading. Hunting is not the topic of this blog.

When I have been in the woods in the past in the early morning hours before daylight, it has been of extreme importance to have a good light. I always carry a backup light just in case the one I am using goes out as I am walking. There’s not much more of a helpless feeling than to be walking in the woods and lose your source of light. Ah hah! Here’s my point. If we are walking with Christ, we can never lose our light. Why? Because He is the source, which is eternal.

APPLICATION

Kids, for the most part, love using flashlights in the dark. It just gives a new sensation that we can’t experience in the daytime. Get some flashlights and put different strength batteries in them. (You will need to test these before you do this with your kids.) Get in a dark room and turn on these different flashlights one at a time, beginning with the weakest batteries. The room seems pretty lit up, even with the weakest batteries. But, as you go from the weakest to the strongest, they will see the difference.

Ask them which flashlight they would want to take with them into a dark room. Of course, they are going to pick the brightest one. Ask them why. We want the brightest light possible to keep us from stumbling. The same is true in our spiritual walk. We need the brightest light, which is Jesus. We can’t walk alone. We are destined to fall.

Are you trying to navigate the dark passages of life by yourself? Take up the light that is available to you right now. Let Jesus light your path. Let Him show you the right steps to take. Aren’t you tired of falling down? As John says, “the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.”

ThankYou, Lord, for lighting my path. Thank You for being my one and only dependable source of light.

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