Accountability, Bible, Confession, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

SWALLOWED

HOSEA 8:8

“Israel has been swallowed up; they are now among the nations like a vessel in which no one delights.”

I love to fish, especially for largemouth bass. One of my favorite ways to catch them is with topwater lures like artificial frogs. When that frog is coming across the water early in the morning, I love to see that ole bass blow up on it. It is a thing of beauty for a bass fisherman. But you have to wait until they swallow the lure before you set the hook. When they do, you have a fight on your hands.

For some reason, that image came to my mind when I read today’s verse. “Israel has been swallowed up,” just like that frog. They thought they were free to do just as they wished. But God sent judgment upon them. Just like that bass that came out of nowhere to swallow that frog, judgment fell upon them and swallowed them up.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid being “swallowed up” is to walk humbly with our Father. Without the saving blood of Christ covering our sins, we are all going to be swallowed up for eternity. The wonderful thing about our salvation is it covers us for eternity. Do you realize that? It doesn’t have an expiration date. It takes us into and throughout eternity.

But how many people do you know who don’t have this coverage? They are susceptible any day to be swallowed up because of their sins. We have a responsibility to share that good news with others. We have been commissioned by Christ Himself to do that (Matthew 28:18-20). Do you have a list of people you want to share with? If not, take a moment and do that. Then let the Holy Spirit guide you into each conversation.

As beautiful as it is to watch that bass blow up on that frog and swallow it, it is horrible to watch judgment blow up on someone you know needed Jesus. I want everyone to know Jesus. I want them all to experience His saving grace. Hurry and share. Time is short. We never know how much time we have to be about His business.

Father, put someone in my path today with whom I can share the gospel. I want to see others come to know You.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Confession, Death, Demons, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Rescue, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Sin

SURROUNDED

HOSEA 7:2

“And they do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their deeds surround them; they are before My face.”

The story goes that one day the Lone Ranger caught himself surrounded by a band of angry Indians. He had no way of escape. He looked at his trusty Indian sidekick, Tanto, and said, “Well, Tanto, I guess this is the end for us.” Tanto calmly turned to the Lone Ranger and said, “What do you mean, pale-face?”

I know, I know, not too funny. But hear me out. Just like the Lone Ranger, the people of Israel suddenly found themselves surrounded by their wickedness. They had to be aware of their evil deeds but had become blinded to the dangers around them. All of a sudden, God’s judgment fell. There was no escape. Payment was due.

APPLICATION

Our sins will find us out. There is no escaping the consequences of rebellion. Everything we have ever done is known to God. But…thanks be to Him, He has provided a way of escape for us. He sent His precious Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross. He paid the price for our sin. His blood covers our unrighteousness. He gives us His righteousness when we turn to Him.

But if you have never done that, if you have never asked Christ to be your Savior, you are surrounded by encroaching sins. None of your sidekicks can save you. Your family can’t save you. The preacher can’t save you. Only Jesus can save you. Rest in that. Receive that free gift from the Father. He will rescue you.

I am so thankful I can walk in victory. Aren’t you? When Satan sends his little minions to surround me, I just have to look to the hills where God’s army has come to defend me. I fear no evil because my Father in heaven knows my name. He is my deliverer. He is my stronghold and place of safety. Amen? Amen!

O Lord, I praise You for rescuing me. I give You all the glory for the victories in my life.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Condemnation, Darkness, Death, Devil, Flesh, Guilt, Judgment, Lies, Satan, Scripture

FOOTPRINTS

HOSEA 6:8

“Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, tracked with bloody footprints.”

One thing my mom could not tolerate is for us to track in dirt on her clean floors. She would holler at us to take our shoes off before we got on the carpet. You see, for years our house was all tile. When she got carpet (and it was that thick shag carpet) we were told to keep it clean. No dirty footprints allowed.

Hosea is speaking to Gilead here. That is the area across the Jordan where the two and a half tribes claimed their possession. They are being accused of tracking the blood of innocent victims with their shoes. Wherever they went, their guilt followed them. Idolatry was in their steps.

APPLICATION

What are you guilty of? Or maybe I should ask it this way. What do you think you are guilty of? It all depends on which side of the cross you’re on. If you are an unbeliever, you are definitely guilty. Your sins cover you. You, too, walk with bloody footprints. No amount of scrubbing will remove it off your feet either. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.

If you are a believer, you may feel as if you are guilty. Listen – you’re not. Jesus shed His blood to cleanse you from all guilt.  I am not saying you’re innocent. We still sin in these fleshly bodies, but there is no room for Satan to try to convince you that you’re guilty. He is a liar. You are free from that guilt because you have accepted God’s Son as your Lord and Savior.

Aren’t you glad that guilt is gone? Jesus paid the debt. We could never pay the price demanded for our guilt and shame. But one tiny drop of that divine blood washed the slate clean. His action on that cross secured for you and me an eternity with Him. Hallelujah!

I am so thankful, Lord, that I am guilt free. I know I am not perfect, but You see me as righteous because of Jesus.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Joy, Life, Promises, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

ON THE THIRD DAY

HOSEA 6:2

“He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.”

We just celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago. I have always loved Easter. I loved the Easter baskets, hiding and finding the Easter eggs and I especially loved Easter lunch after church. Of course, the older I got the more I understood about Easter and the importance of the resurrection on the third day. We truly have something to celebrate.

I just love the words in today’s verse. I had forgotten these words were spoken here in Hosea. Hosea was prophesying about the Messiah here. Jesus was revived, and He was raised up on the third day. These Israelites were placing their hope in a resurrection from Jehovah God. We do the same.

APPLICATION

So, if you are a believer in Christ, you have hope in the resurrection Christ. His shed blood on Calvary covers our sins, but His resurrection gives us eternal life. There is nothing else into which we put our hope. There is nothing else that can give us eternity. We will be changed into a glorified body and live forever with our God.

Sadly, some people don’t believe in that. They think when we die, we just die. Our lives end. There is nothing beyond the grave. How depressing! The fact is our lives are just beginning at death. Death is just a portal into our eternal home. If we love Jesus and have given our lives to Him, then that home is heaven. If we have not done that, then that eternal home is hell. Either way, we have an eternal destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad I have secured my room in my mansion in the heaven. I will be happy with the closet in the mansion, honestly. Just to be in the presence of my God is good enough for me. How about you? Have you punched your ticket for heaven? Are you ready? Are you longing for your heavenly home?

O Father, I long for heaven. But while I am here, let me be about Your business.

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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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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Love, Scripture, Sowing

WHY WE SOW

HOSEA 2:23

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

In the past I enjoyed gardening. Have you ever thought about the process of sowing and reaping? We plant a certain seed in order to reap a certain crop. You don’t plant okra seed and expect to reap tomatoes. There is only one way that works. Plant the seed for the crops you want to enjoy later.

God says here in Hosea 2:23 that He is going to sow “her” for Himself in the land. He is going to sow Israel to reap Israel. Sowing requires something to die first before it sprouts. The seed has to die and give birth to new growth. There’s a waiting period.

APPLICATION

Therein lies the question. Are you willing to die to yourself in order to rise up as a new growth in Christ? Are you willing to lay aside all the stuff required to be sowed by God? You will never produce new growth or bring in a harvest if you don’t let yourself be buried by God. He has to sow you. But rest assured, what He sows, He waters, He nourishes. He doesn’t forget where He planted you.

Once when I was planting a row in my garden, I forgot to mark what I planted in that row. I had to wait until the plants began to sprout and grow to find out what it was. I kept watering and fertilizing the seed, though. I knew it was something I wanted. God doesn’t do that. He knows exactly where He planted you and He already has a purpose for your new life.

Seed have to get dirty in order to fulfill its purpose. Allow God to get you dirty. Let Him plant you and water you to bring you to a place of new growth. You will be amazed at the number of people who will benefit from your crops.

Bury me Lord so I can sprout. Let me produce new growth which will bring forth fruit.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Death, Disciplemaking, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture, Sin, Unrighteousness

WHAT IS SIN?

1 JOHN 5:17

“All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”

The Bible talks a lot about righteousness and unrighteousness. We Christians use these terms when we are talking about God. But have you ever stopped to think what these terms mean? What use is it to talk about something we can’t define?

Righteousness has to do with abiding by God’s standards, meeting His expectations. Unrighteousness, of course, means just the opposite. It means deviating from what God expects. This results in God’s disapproval of our choices. In short, it’s sin.

APPLICATION

Your children should know your expectations, right? They can’t follow rules they aren’t clear on. Now, for children we need to keep our rules and guidelines short and to the point. Complicated rules only confuse them. When we make our expectations clear and concise, they are more likely to obey.

We are laying the groundwork for them to obey God. When they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and accept Him as their Savior, His righteousness is bestowed on them. We teach them to pursue this and not the unrighteous deeds that are so prevalent. We hold them to His standards. We show the benefits of pursuing a godly lifestyle. This is a process that takes years. We model it for them and live our lives pursuing the very things we are teaching them.

Would you classify your lifestyle as one of righteousness or unrighteousness? I know, I know. We all say righteousness. We would never admit unrighteousness. But if we are not pursuing God’s standards in every area of our lives, it is so easy to drift into unrighteousness. If we sin in one area, it affects our entire life. Live righteously today. Pursue God wholly.

Help me, Lord, to flee from all unrighteousness. I want to pursue You. Your righteousness is all I need.    

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Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Exhortation, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

PRAYING FOR THE LOST

1 JOHN 5:16 

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 

Do you pray for others? For years I have had the privilege to pray for lots of people. Some are on my daily prayer list. Others are on my weekly or monthly list. They are no less important than than those on the daily list. It’s just those on that daily list have a more pressing need or they are immediate family. Either way, I am praying for lots of people each month. 

In today’s verse John is exhorting us to pray for those who need salvation. This verse has been hotly debated for decades. Many scholars disagree on its exact meaning. But for our purposes today I have settled on the interpretation that John is asking us to pray for those who need Jesus. We must do that. He does say in the last part of the verse that there are some who have committed that unpardonable sin of refusing the drawing of the Spirit. Those people are in God’s hands.  

APPLICATION 

Do your children have a prayer list each night? I remember growing up that I had to pray through my list each night. I always prayed for my parents and siblings (except when I was mad at them, lol). And I prayed for our dogs and other things. My point is, children need to learn to pray and pray specifically. Find out some requests of relatives they may be praying for and let your child know. That way when God answers their prayers, you can celebrate with them. 

Prepare your children also for God’s “No” answers. Sometimes He does that. He always knows what is best. We may not understand it, but we have to trust it. Our children need to learn that. They have to learn to accept God’s Will, whatever it may be. 

Are you praying for the salvation of others? Who is on your list today? If you don’t have a list, make one. Invite others in your family to join you in praying for those who need the Lord. Beg God for their eternal life. And do all you can as you communicate with them to lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ. That is putting feet to your prayers. Amen? 

Father, You are an amazing God. I do not understand how You can hear all our prayers at once and answer perfectly, but I trust You. Use me to reach others with the good news of Jesus. 

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Heaven, Inspirational, Life, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

CHANGING SEATS

1 JOHN 3:14

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.”

Have you ever asked to change seats on a plane so you could have the window seat? I used to like to sit by the window so I could look out. Over the years that interest faded. I just want to sit somewhere now where I can rest or read and not be bothered by others getting up and crawling across my lap. Lol

But sometimes a change of scenery is good. We’ve been given that in Christ. Our previous view was death. We were doomed to an eternal damnation with no way to get out on our own. But then Christ came and shed His blood for us. That changed everything. We now have life, and it shows in our love for each other.

APPLICATION

I often am told by parents that they can tell when their young child has committed themselves to Christ. Their heart gets tender. They start asking for forgiveness for wrongs done. Their very nature has changed. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? We should look different on the outside. People should be able to tell we have life now.

Once you see your child striving to live like Jesus, you can waste no time discipling them. They are going to need your guidance in how to study the Word and how to pray. You can’t leave this up to chance. No matter how young or old your child is when they come to that saving knowledge of Jesus, they are going to need you to walk with them.

Aren’t you glad you no longer walk in death? You now can walk in newness of life every day. Jesus walks with you as you learn to love others as He does. He can teach you the joys that come in life. The fear of death is gone. You only have glory to look forward to one day. Hallelujah!

I do walk in life! You are the reason, Lord. Help me introduce others as well.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Fear, Heaven, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

GOING HOME

2 PETER 1:14

“knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.” 

The Lord speaks to my wife from time to time very clearly and tells her things that are going to come to pass. I’ve often joked that if my wife tells me I am going to die, I am going to go ahead and crawl in the grave. LOL. That’s not being morbid. I just know she hears from the Lord. Peter had heard from the Lord that his days were short on this earth. He was at peace with this.

We know that Peter was crucified upside down. He requested that because he felt he didn’t deserve to die in the same manner as His Lord. But he was ready to go. He knew where he was going. He had given his life to Christ and had spent the remainder of his life serving the Lord.

APPLICATION

Death is not something we discuss with our children very often. That usually doesn’t happen unless a friend or family member passes away. But death shouldn’t be a taboo topic in our households. For believers, death is just a portal to glory. We may not like the idea of dying, but death is not to be feared.

I truly believe the more we talk about death with our children when the proper times arise, the better it is for them. Death, for believers, is not final. It’s actually a beginning. They need to know that. Death brings us face to face with the One whom we love – Jesus. Why should that be scary? It’s not.

Do you fear death? Don’t! Rest in the knowledge that Christ has you securely in His arms. He paid the ultimate price for us on the cross so that death would not have a grip on us. We pass from this life to the next with expectancy. When we close our eyes in death, the next face we see will be Jesus. Hallelujah!

Death, where is your sting? Death, where is your victory? Thank You, Lord, for removing the threat of death from me when I gave my life to You.

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