Advice, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Condemnation, Destruction, Evil, Godliness, Grandchildren, Horror, Idols, Scripture

THE CHILDREN SUFFER

HOSEA 13:16

Samaria will pay the penalty for her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their children will be slaughtered, and their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

As a parent and grandparent, my utmost desire has always been to protect my children or grandchildren. It would bring me horror to think I ever did anything to bring harm to them. As a minister to children for over forty years, the same holds true for any children under my care. Let me suffer, but never the children.

Hosea ends this chapter with some pretty, horrible descriptions of the coming judgment against Israel. Samaria was the capital city of Israel. It had been the center of the idolatry and rebellion against God, so God’s wrath upon that city would be harsh. Hosea is predicting what the Assyrians were going to do when they came. It’s one thing to slaughter men in war, but to kill innocent children, even the unborn, was unthinkable.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, I would never do that or tolerate that! That’s good. I didn’t think you would. But are you protecting your children’s spirits? Are you guarding them from being influenced by evil? In our world today, we have to be so diligent to monitor and protect our children from this world. They can’t live in a bubble, but we can sure keep them safe in our homes.

Are you aware of what is on your child’s phone? Are you comfortable with the video games they are playing? How about their friends? Do you know them? Do you know their parents? We can’t just take our kids to church and think that gives them some kind of holy shield the rest of the week. That’s not how it works. You must guard their minds.

As an adult, I have to guard my mind. It is so easy to get off track when I am online. One little side post or ad can divert my eyes and before I know it, I can be chasing rabbits into a hole I can’t get out of. Scripture keeps my mind focused on Him and puts that shield over my eyes. Let Jesus keep your mind pure (1 Timothy 6:11).

Lord, help me protect the innocent as well as keep my own mind pure.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Evil, Foolishness, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Holiness, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

DRUNKENNESS

HOSEA 7:5

“On the day of our king, the officials became sick with the heat of wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers,”

I have known a few drunks in my lifetime. These individuals were so addicted to alcohol, they couldn’t function in everyday life. They couldn’t hold a job. They had lost their right to drive. They were in and out of jail for public intoxication. Their life was a mess, all because of their appetite for drink.

Hosea is talking about that in today’s verse. The officials and even the king drank to excess. They became sick they drank so much. And to make matters worse, they teamed up with the scoffers. Who are they? They were the individuals who scoffed or scorned at God. They mocked Him and encouraged others to do the same.

APPLICATION

How do we avoid this? Avoid drunkenness. This is not a blog to debate if Christians can drink or not. I’m not going down that road. But there is no reason for a believer to become drunk. We know where that leads. It leads to no good. When we are in that condition we can’t represent Christ, which is our calling.

We should also avoid associating with those who mock and ridicule the things of Christ. In most drinking situations Christ will not be glorified. Isn’t that our purpose? If we can’t do that where we are, something’s wrong. Our actions and attitude should always point to Him.

I haven’t always lived up to that. There have been times when I have failed. I have not represented Christ well. I have asked for forgiveness for that. I truly want to please Him in all I do. My goal is to do that every day. So, my prayer each day is to keep me focused on Him and sharing the good news of the gospel to whomever will listen.

Lord, keep my heart in tune with Yours. I want to walk in such a way that I never bring shame on Your name.

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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, Advice, Bible, Choices, Evil, Foolishness, Infidelity, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Scripture

WOW!

HOSEA 4:11

“Infidelity, wine, and new wine take away the understanding.”

Can you think of a time when you let your poor decisions lead you into a messy situation? I will have to admit that in my B.C. (Before Christ) days I made plenty of stupid decisions based on emotion or unrestrained passion. Emotions and passion are good things when they are leading us in the right direction – towards God. But when they are pointed in the wrong direction – well…

Hosea says is pretty clearly, doesn’t he? Infidelity and wine will lead us astray. The people of Israel had allowed their indulgences to replace their love for Jehovah God. Hosea even says it took away their understanding. Understanding of what? Of what was important. Of their understanding of God. Of His love.

APPLICATION

Is anything influencing your decisions right now away from the Lord? It may not be infidelity or wine, but it could be something else. What is it? Before you make a decision about anything do you seek the Lord’s direction? That’s the only safe way of making any decision.

Does that mean any decision? I’m not talking about what kind of jelly to put on your toast. But I am talking about other seemingly mundane ones. Don’t you think the Lord cares about the little stuff? Of course, he does. We can’t afford to let anything influence our decisions that could possibly lead us away from our own understanding of our loving God.

Why not start each day asking the Lord for direction? Ask Him to guard your eyes and ears. Ask Him to protect your every step. He is listening and waiting to hear your plea. He will show you exactly what to do in His time. Do you believe Him? Then do it.

I don’t want to make a decision without Your guidance, Lord. Protect me from making any decision that leads me away from You.

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Advocate, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fear, God's Will, Godliness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Prayer, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Trust, Victors

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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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Destruction, Double-minded, Evil, Hatred, Holy Spirit, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Self-control, Testimony

HATE = MURDER

1 JOHN 3:15

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Have you ever hated someone so much you wanted to kill them? I am sure you quickly say No! Not many of us would ever let that thought cross our mind. But have you thought of ways to “payback” someone for something they have done to you? Come on, be honest. It’s not a far stretch from one to the other, in the eyes of the world. Hate is hate and only leads to wrong choices.

John is not saying everyone who hates is actually going to kill someone. But he is saying that spirit of hate harbored in your heart comes from the source. There’s no room for hatred in the life of a believer. Did Jesus hate? Of course, not. And if we are to emulate our Master, we must lie down anything that is contrary to Him.

APPLICATION

Your children are going to come in one day from school or play and say, “I hate…” You had better jump on that one. You need to find out what is going on and why. We cannot have our children hating others. We know people say and do things that hurt their feelings, but hatred can be no response.

So, what do we teach them during these times. To love. That’s it. We teach them to pray for those who have harmed them. We teach them to try to figure out why they have done or said those things. Sin has a reason. We know that. As you lead them to pray for those individuals, pray for those who have harmed you as well.

Children watch us forgive. They learn forgiveness best by forgiving. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. When we remember that it is the Lord who forgives through us, it is a lot easier. Allow Him to just love them as only He can. Make sure they know it is because of His love for them that you forgive. They may reject that. That’s okay. Their acceptance is not your responsibility. Your forgiveness is.

I will harbor no hatred in my heart toward others. I will love as You do, Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Advice, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Devil, Evil, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Satan, Scripture

THE SECRET TO OVERCOMING

1 JOHN 2:14

“I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

Look at this verse. What do you think the secret is to overcoming the evil one? Look closely. See it? “and the word of God abides in you.” John even said in his gospel, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Unless the Word of God is reigning supreme in our lives, we have no hope of overcoming anyone, much less the evil one.

So, how do you make sure the Word is abiding in you? Are you having your quiet time? Are you spending time daily in His Word to help guide you? You see, you can’t rely on your own strength to overcome the evil one. The devil is much smarter than you. He can outwit you and scheme against you. But with God’s Word go guide, he is no match.

APPLICATION

Your children need to know this truth. They may think they can handle it by themselves. This comes even more a danger when they get older. Teens get independent and don’t realize how deceitful the enemy is. Parents have to be diligent in teaching their older children the necessity of relying on the Word of God.

Are you teaching your children this? The bottom line is this. We can’t do it on our own. We have to be armed with the sword of the Lord. Your kids may think the Bible is outdated. We have to change that view by daily showing the applicability of it in our own lives.

Are you doing that? Are you using the Word to guide you? Do your children see you applying the Word to your daily decisions? Do they get tired of hearing you say, We need to see what God’s Word says about this? I hope they are. Don’t stop.

Lord, I will trust Your Word. I know it has the wisdom to guide me daily.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Evil, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

WATCH THAT WATER

2 PETER 3:6

“through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” 

Peter, of course, is referring to the great flood which God sent upon the earth to destroy the wickedness which was prevailing. Only Noah and his family were spared. Noah warned them, but his warnings fell on deaf ears.

We see the same today. Wickedness is rampant. Evil seems to be winning. Rest assured – God is not blind to this. Judgment is coming. The wicked may think they are getting by. That’s not our concern. Our concern is to live godly lives and be an example of light and purity. Perhaps we will win some before it’s too late.

APPLICATION

Our children have been taught the story of the flood. They probably have toys of Noah’s ark, complete with all the animals. What a cute story, right? Wrong! It’s a clear picture of a holy God who will not tolerate sinful behavior. We can teach this story to children and not leave out the reason for the flood.

Ask your children to tell you the story about Noah’s ark. Let them tell it in their own way. Let them act it out. Let them draw pictures. As they are doing this fill in the blanks, if there are any. And make sure they know the morale to the story. God demands holy living, and He will deliver the righteous.

Are you in “the ark”? I pray you are living righteously. I pray you are safe in the arms of Jesus. If you aren’t and are living like those who perished in the flood waters, it’s not too late. Come to Him today. Allow Him to throw you that life vest. He’s waiting. Will you come?

Lord, I can’t imagine the world underwater physically, but I do see it underwater spiritually. Help me be used by You to lead others to safety.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Evil, Following, Gossip, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Perseverance, Scripture

MOCKERS WILL COME

2 PETER 3:3

“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” 

Peter makes it plain. Mockers will come. To get technical, the verb used here in the Greek is future indicative. That means that it is a fact that they will come at some point. There is no doubt. We have seen that for decades and are seeing it today everywhere. If you believe the Word of God is THE truth, you are made fun of and ridiculed.

The word “mockers” or “mocking” comes from the word which means to play as a child. So, these mockers are actually acting like children. Just because they don’t like what the Word says, they make fun of it, just like a child will do to another child. So, keep that in mind when you encounter one of these mockers. Their childish words mean nothing.

APPLICATION

Oh, what a verse for kids, especially since we just discussed the meaning of that word “mockers.” The next time you hear your children or their friends mocking each other, pull them aside and read them this verse and explain the meaning. I didn’t mention the last phrase of the verse, but it can come into play here when you discuss it with your kids.

Mockers mock because they want to pursue their own “lusts.” They want what they want when they want it. All that matters are their own desires. Basically, they just want their own way, and if anyone gets in their way, they are going to run them over. They did it back then and are still doing it today.

Have you been mocked lately? No? Well, maybe you haven’t been living much different than the world. Ouch, that’s harsh isn’t it? I’m not trying to be mean. But if the world doesn’t see us as different, why not? We should stand out like a sore thumb in our world today. And when they ask why, we should be ready to tell them why we are different. Be willing to be mocked today. Remember, those words are just childish words. We have the real Words of life.

Thank You, Lord, for Your Word. Thank You for giving me the courage to stand up against those who would ridicule and mock You.

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Advice, Affliction, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Greed, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Satan, Scripture, Shame

DON’T BE BAITED

2 PETER 2:14

“having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;”

Anyone who knows me knows I love to fish and hunt. Heck, I just love the outdoors. If you want to catch fish, you have to know what they are eating. Their menu changes with the seasons and conditions of the water. Use the wrong bait, and you won’t catch much. Use the right bait, and you have a better chance of catching fish that day.

The Greek word translated as “enticing” is exactly that word – bait. It’s only used three times in the New Testament. It’s used twice here in 2 Peter (2:14 and 2:18) and in James 1:14. All three times it used in a negative context. Bait hides the hook. Bait lures us into traps. But catch what Peter says. They entice “unstable souls.” This literally means people who don’t have a staff to lean on. They are ungrounded, unsteady, not dependable.

APPLICATION

So, how do we protect ourselves against being baited? How do we protect our kids? We get grounded in the Word. When we are in the Word daily and seeking God’s face, we can easily recognize those baited hooks. We can see the traps that are being laid for us. We have to be alert at all times, though, because the devil can get very creative.

What does that mean? The devil won’t come at you or your children the same way every time. He knows we can “wise up” and see him coming. So, he will disguise his traps. They may even look okay. Ask yourself and teach your kids to ask themselves one question. Will this action I am about to take bring glory to God. If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” run as fast as you can. Back up and take a hard look. Don’t be baited.

Have you fallen for the bait and now you sit there with a hook in your mouth? You may feel shame and regret. Listen! Turn to Jesus. He is the ultimate hook remover. He can forgive you and set you back on the right path. You may have a scar from that hook mark, but it will serve to remind you, not of your sin, but of the forgiving power of Jesus. Amen?

Forgive me, Father, for falling victim to Satan’s lures. Keep my eyes on You. I know You will never lead me toward defeat.

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