Accountability, Advice, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Denial, Following, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

LITTLE BY LITTLE

HOSEA 5:12

“Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.”

Have you ever had a part of your house rot? It happens a lot around gutters or downspouts. You don’t notice the rot at the beginning. It’s pretty much imperceptible. The rot is happening beneath the paint. Everything looks fine. But the longer that water penetrates the wood, the more rot happens. Eventually, you have to tear out a section and replace it. The damage has been done.

Hosea is using two examples to describe the Lord’s judgment on Ephraim and Judah which are similar. A moth’s damage to fabric begins very small. You don’t really notice. Then the holes appear, and the fabric is ruined. And then Hosea refers to rottenness, similar to what I described above. God had been trying to correct them both little by little, but they had not responded. Now, the final judgment is upon them.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy being judged. I don’t like punishment. I never have. Now, I know I need to be disciplined at times. I am not perfect. God has to correct me. He does that through the Holy Spirit. I am convicted of my sins which leads me to confession. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

But there are times when I just bow up my back and am determined to have my way. I am convinced I am right, and God is wrong. I know that’s stupid. I didn’t say I am the brightest bulb in the pack. And when I do that, God will allow me to wander. He is still urging me to return and will turn up the heat for me to do so. I have to make that choice to stop and return.

You see, unconfessed sin doesn’t get better with time. It gets worse. We get accustomed to the sin. We ignore the Holy Spirit’s urgings. We begin to get tone deaf to God’s voice. Then the rot sets in. Then the moth begins to feed. Stop it right now. Come to Him in repentance. Let Him restore you to your right place.

I come to You today, Lord, and seek Your forgiveness. I long for freshness in my walk with You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Commands, Denial, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

BROKEN

HOSEA 5:11

“Ephraim is oppressed, broken by judgment, because he was determined to follow man’s command.

We can do things in this life that can leave us broken. Wrong decisions can lead to horrible consequences. Some of those consequences are natural. Other consequences are imposed by man. For instance, if we break the law, we can be found guilty and have to go to jail. But all consequences go back to our decisions. Do we obey or not?

Ephraim made the decision to pursue their own desires. They followed man rather than God. As a result, they faced God’s judgment. They fell under the oppression of man. They had a choice to begin with. They could have obeyed Jehovah. But, like us, they chose what seemed pleasing to them. So, consequences followed.

APPLICATION

Do you enjoy the consequences of your sin? Now, if you say you do, you must be a little crazy. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that. It makes you wonder why we choose to follow after our own desires then. We know that doing that will almost always result in consequences. But we still do it.

Look at those words again in today’s verse. Oppressed, broken, judgment. Those aren’t words I want spoken over me. I prefer blessed, raised up, forgiven. Both lists of words are the result of choices. Choices, choices, choices. Why must we choose? Why doesn’t the Lord just make us do the right thing? Because He wants us to freely come to Him. He desires us to choose Him.

Well, today, I choose Jesus. I choose to follow Him. I want to please Him. That’s today. I know my flesh is strong. I know I must make this choice every day. I have to choose Him each and every day. And each time I do that, He smiles. Then He can bless me and raise me up. Those are consequences I can embrace.

I choose You, Lord. And in my choosing I realize it may not be easy to follow where You lead. But I go with You trusting You to see me through.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Denial, Forgiveness, Hypocrisy, Infidelity, Judgment, Lies, Satan, Scripture, Sin, Victors

WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE…

HOSEA 4:14

“I will not punish your daughters when they play the prostitute, or your brides when they commit adultery, because the men themselves slip away with the prostitutes and offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes; So, the people without understanding are ruined.”

You probably have heard the expression “What is good for the goose is good for the gander.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? But not always. If both parties are going to get punished, I would prefer to not be the gander, lol. I would hope that I could learn from others’ mistakes and avoid them.

That’s not what happened in Israel. In fact, God has given them up to their sins. The verse sounds like the women are being forgiven. No! God is allowing them to continue in their adultery. The men are doing the same. When God gives you up, that’s a bad thing. Don’t you think?

APPLICATION

So, how do we deal with this verse? We need to confess our sins and live our lives honoring the Lord. We cannot live like the world and pretend there are no consequences. The Lord may not hold us accountable immediately, but every sin has consequences sooner or later.

Now, listen to me. As believers we should never chase sin. After salvation, sin chases us. We have to decide if we want to stop and let it catch us. But we need to remember that in Christ, we have power over sin. We are free in Jesus. Don’t believe the lies of the devil. He will try to convince you that you just can’t help it.

I choose today to live in victory. There is nothing more freeing than knowing that. When we surrender daily to the Lord and walk in the light of His Word, we have victory. Hallelujah! I refuse to be defeated. Jesus has defeated the devil. Don’t forget that.

I praise Your name, Jesus. Thank You for defeating the devil and putting him in his place. I walk today victorious.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Denial, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Listening, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Witnessing

LISTEN UP

1 JOHN 4:6

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

Let me ask you a question to which I already know the answer. Have your children ever not listened to you? How many times, Carl? Yeah, I know. Isn’t that frustrating? You plainly tell them something, and it goes in one ear and out the other. They are so distracted with their computer or phone, they never hear you. Oh, they say they are listening, but they aren’t.

I love that John puts us in the speaking part. He doesn’t say that these people (the non-listeners) aren’t listening to God. No! They aren’t listening to us. What does that mean? That means we must be the ones declaring the truths of God. We are the ones God uses to share with them. But they don’t listen. Both times “listen” is used here it is in the Present tense. That means it is ongoing. They just don’t listen.

APPLICATION

Test out my question I asked you at the beginning. Ask your child to do something. Catch them at a time when they are absorbed with something they are doing. Get their attention and ask them to do something. But here’s the catch – ask them only once and leave the room. Give them a time to complete what you asked them to do. Then sit back and see if they do it.

Your children need to listen, of course. But they really need to really listen. They need to listen with the intent to obey. That’s the meaning of “listen” in today’s verse. Why is that so important? Because God is going to ask them to do things for Him. He won’t beg them to do it. He will ask and then let them choose. What will they do? We pray they will hear and then respond. Prepare them for that.

Are you listening? Better yet, are you telling others about Jesus? Our job is to tell. We can’t force the listening. That’s their choice. I wish sometimes I could force some people to listen. But I can’t. All I can do is be faithful to do what the Lord has told me to do. Will you join me?

Open my mouth to tell the good news of the gospel to anyone who will listen. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege to be Your mouthpiece.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Confession, Deception, Denial, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Exhortation, Following, Judgment, Lies, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

DENIAL

1 JOHN 2:22

“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

Contrary to popular opinion, denial is not a river in Egypt. Sorry, I had to say that. Have you ever been in denial about something? I want to deny the fact that I’m getting older, but the facts speak for themselves. After two stem cell transplants in the past ten years, my body feels much older than my sixty years should feel. It’s just the facts. I can deny it all I want, but I just can’t do all that I used to do.

John attributes denying to lying. He must have encountered a lot of liars. The Greek word for “liar” is only used ten times in the New Testament. John uses it seven of those times. You know he had to run across a lot of people who denied the divinity of Christ. But he continued to preach and teach the message of Christ to those around him, eventually causing his exile on the island of Patmos.

APPLICATION

Have your kids ever gotten into an argument about something one of them claimed was true and the other one didn’t believe? Probably so, huh? They can go back and forth and back and forth. Is true! Is not! Is true! Is not! What an opportunity to teach this verse about denial.

Sit down with them and try to figure out what’s going on first. Explain to them that there is only one truth. It could be that they are both confused about the truth. It could just be that the one sibling doesn’t want the other sibling to be right. Whatever it is, use this opportunity to teach real truth. Explain to them that people have been arguing about stuff for a long time. But only one truth really matters – Jesus.

What are you in denial about today? It could be a health issue. It might be your marriage is in trouble and you are burying your head in the sand refusing to acknowledge it. You may be denying the fact that you are not walking with Christ as you should. Stop the denial. Confess to Him all those things. He knows them anyway. Live in truth today.

I will choose to live in truth today. I will stop denying all those those I know to be true and live to honor You.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Deception, Denial, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Foundation, Inspirational, Lies, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

ARE YOU PERVERTED?

2 PETER 3:16

“as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” 

I bet that title got your attention, didn’t it? Well, I am not talking about sexual perversion. I am talking about spiritual perversion. The Greek word for “distort” means to twist or distort. It’s in the Present tense which means they are constantly doing it.

Who is doing it? Peter tells us – the untaught (ignorant) and unstable (unsteady). Why do we listen to such people? Their words go totally against Scripture. They take one verse and twist it to make it say what they want it to say. That is so easy to do. You have to take Scripture in context and as a whole.

APPLICATION

Try this with your kids. Get a picture and cover up everything except one small corner. Then ask them to tell you what the picture is. Unless they’ve seen that picture before, they won’t be able to guess. Slowly uncover more and more of the picture until they can correctly identify it.

Now, explain to them that is how it is with Scripture. If they take one verse out of context, they can make it say just about anything. But as they grow in their knowledge of Scripture, the full picture of God’s grace and mercy is revealed. It becomes clearer and clearer. Scripture always compliments Scripture.

Do you battle others who want to argue with you about what God’s Word means? Don’t! Let the Word speak for itself. But you can’t do that if you don’t have knowledge of the Word. Memorize it. Study it. Dig into it. Then and only then can you faithfully represent its truths.

Show me in Your Word daily Your truths. As David said, “I would perish without Your Law.” Thank You, Lord.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deception, Denial, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Lies, Mentoring, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

CLOSED EYES

2 PETER 3:5

“For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,” 

This is an interesting verse, especially the phrase “it escapes their notice.” Do you understand what Peter is saying? The Greek word here actually could be translated “I shut my eyes to it.” In other words, these people refuse to recognize the Word of God or His works in this world.

Have you run across people like that? I have more and more lately. They just don’t have any use for a God that doesn’t fit their lifestyle and beliefs. If the Word points out any sin in their life, they refuse to recognize it. Only their view of God matters. And most of the time, their view of God isn’t a true view of God at all.

APPLICATION

This is a warning verse for our kids. We teach them how God created the earth in six days. They are going to have that view of creation threatened. Depending on the kind of school they attend, it may occur early in their education. What do we do? We continue to teach them the Word. We explain why people believe the lies. We explain why their beliefs are wrong.

Don’t just say Because the Bible says so. We know that’s true, but our children need to be able to defend their beliefs. They need to know Genesis 1-3 aren’t just cute Bible stories they hear at church. It is the truth – period. It is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is something to be proud of. Celebrate it.

When you face people who challenge your faith, remember they have closed their eyes to the truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit their eyes can be opened. God will use you to help do that. You just need to speak the truth and let God do the rest. Remain faithful to the Word and see what He does.

Lord, I trust You to work through me to open blind eyes. I know they need to see the truth.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Denial, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Promises, Scripture, Testimony, Truth, Witnessing

WE’VE HEARD THAT BEFORE

2 PETER 3:4

“and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” 

These words in this verse are what Peter said those who were mocking and scoffing at the Gospel were saying. We are hearing those very same words today. In fact, those who oppose the Gospel have been saying those same words for centuries. That’s okay. Why? Because every day that passes means we are one day closer.

Can you feel the anticipation rising? I can. I believe we are in the last days. I know, I know. People have been saying that for years. But that’s what I believe. So, when people say these words of mocking to me, I just smile and pray for them. Listen, unless they believe in the authority of Scripture, there is nothing I can say to convince them otherwise. That’s the business of the Holy Spirit.

APPLICATION

I am not quite sure how to apply this to our children, except for us to be the role models in this. As they see or hear us confronting such individuals, they will learn to defend the Gospel. When we come into contact with our modern-day scoffers our job is to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in the conversation. He will, if we will let Him.

Our children learn best as they watch us. So, don’t lose your cool and get into a heated argument with a scoffer. That does not represent Christ. What would He do? Love them and pray for them. Jesus had the power to force everyone to believe in Him, but He didn’t. He actually sacrificed His life for them. What can we sacrifice to bring scoffers to Him?

Are you bad about getting into arguments with unbelievers? Or do you simply sneak away and refuse to discuss your faith with them? God is not asking you to charge hell with a water pistol. No! He does, however, ask us to stand firm and be courageous. Will you today?

Lord, give me opportunities today to defend my faith and belief that the days are short until Your return. Help me be a bold and courageous witness for You.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Death, Denial, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Sin, Suffering, Testimony, Trust

DEAD COW

1 PETER 4:1

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,”

How do you face the problems of today? Do you go out and battle the enemy on your own? How crazy is that? No! Peter tells us here to arm ourselves with the same purpose as Christ. What does that mean? Christ died to His own will and constantly sought the will of His Father. He literally armed Himself by dying to His self.

We can do the same, and the result is we cease from sin. Really, Carl? We won’t sin anymore? Listen closely. We will battle the desire to sin until we are in Glory. However, when we die to ourselves and seek the Lord’s will, we also die to the desire to sin. Dead men can’t sin! It’s all about surrender.

APPLICATION

At Kids’ Camp we play a game a lot called “Dead Cow.” Any adult at any time can yell “Dead Cow” and everyone has to drop to the ground on their back and stick their arms and legs in the air. Kids love it. Try this with your family. When things are getting crazy around the house and no one is listening, yell “Dead Cow.” Now you have to give the instructions first or they will think you are crazy.

Dead Cows can’t do anything. They can’t eat. They can’t moo. They can’t make milk. Nothing! That’s the point. Explain to your children that when they die to their own selfish desires and surrender to God, they die to those fleshly things. Yes, our sin nature is still there. That’s why we have to die every second of every day.

Have you died lately? If you are having trouble with a co-worker, check out your death meter. Perhaps you and your spouse are fighting. Yell “Dead Cow.” Not really, I’m just kidding. But go to the Lord in complete abandonment and die to yourself. Death really does bring forth life – new life in Christ.

O Lord, I die to myself today. I surrender my will to Yours. I want to walk today in newness of life.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Denial, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Grace, Inspirational, Love, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Repentance

DO YOU LOVE ME?

JOHN 21:15-17

“15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.’ 16 He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’”

Do you get the feeling from this passage that Jesus is trying to get a point across to Peter? Most scholars agree that is was no coincidence that Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter had denied Jesus three times just days earlier. I believe these three questions were on purpose.

But what you can’t see from the English is that Jesus uses a different word for love in the first two questions than Peter. He uses the Greek word agapao which is God’s kind of love. Peter replies with phileo which is a friendship kind of love. It was as if Jesus was asking him how deep was his love for Him – love like God loves or just as a friend.

APPLICATION

Ask your children how much they love you. They may stretch out their little arms and say This much! Don’t you just love that? My daughter, Casey, and I have this little thing we do when she tells me she loves me. I always reply I love you more. In fact, she gave me a key chain that says that on it. She knows I love her.

The question for us to really ask our kids is if they love Jesus. And I don’t mean just as a friend. Have they accepted Him as Lord and Savior and do they love Him with that agape love, a love that can only come from God? You see, His love accepts us just as we are and is totally unconditional. That’s real love!

How about you? How do you love Jesus? He has to be more than a friend. Friends come and go. Jesus is eternal. He deserves a deeper, richer love. If Jesus appeared to you today, as He did to Peter on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and asked you Do you love Me, what would you say? I pray you would say I agapao You. Love Him today.

Father, I do love You. You have done so much for me for which I could never repay You. You are worthy of all praise, glory and love.

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