Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Love, Scripture

LOVE YOUR BROTHER

OBADIAH 10

“Because of violence to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be eliminated forever.”

I just finished a weekend with about 170 men at a conference in the hills of Tennessee. It was awesome. The one thing that was apparent was the love the guys had for each other. That love crossed cultural and racial lines. Looking around the room while these men worshipped together has to look a lot like heaven.

Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother, had warred against his brother. God was not pleased with that. He had not shown love to him. Quite the contrary. When they battled, they were brutal. Their aggression toward their blood relatives was horrendous. God expects us to love our brothers.

APPLICATION

What does it mean to love your brother? It means accepting their faults and not judging them for everything. It means coming alongside them when they are down. It means coming to the rescue. It means bearing their burdens.

Who is your brother? God’s Word tells us. We have a family that is eternal. All those who are of the household of God, no matter where they live, are our brothers (and sisters). We don’t have the right to pick and choose whom we love in God’s family. We love them all.

Is there someone in the family that you need to show love to today? Give them a call. Send them a text. Let them know they are loved. I try to text at least one person a day and let them know they are loved. Try that for a week and see how you feel. You will be amazed.

Father God, thank You for loving me. Help me to love all Your children as You do.

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Abiding, Beauty, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Heaven, Inspirational, Light, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

STARS IN THE HEAVENS

AMOS 5:8

“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and changes deep darkness into morning, who also darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is His name.”

I have never studied the stars or the constellations. But there is just something about going out of town at night, finding a place with very little light and laying down to look at the stars. There are so many! I stumbled across an app for my phone recently called Skyview Lite. Now, I am not endorsing it, but it allows you to find the constellations and planets at night.

God doesn’t need an app or a telescope to find the stars and constellations. He made them. He placed each of them right where He wanted them. He is the one who set our planet in just the right spot from the sun and started its rotation. Amos says the LORD is His name. Indeed, it is.

APPLICATION

Do you realize that the Lord has placed you right where He wants also? I can look back at my years in ministry and see how He orchestrated our moves to prepare me for the next role. Just like Pleiades and Orion, we have all been placed in orbit and connected with others to form human constellations.

What do I mean by that? God placed us in our families. God placed us in our communities. God placed us in our churches. You may say, Carl, I chose where I am living and the church I am attending. Did you seek the Lord in those decisions? If you did and you followed His leading, then He placed you there.

I am thankful for where the Lord has placed me. Is it always perfect? Nope, and you know why? Because my flesh gets in the way. I truly believe if I follow the Lord, He will lead me exactly where He wants me to be, no matter what obstacles I may face. I want to be His bright star shining. Don’t you?

I praise You, Father, for Your wisdom in placing me where You want me to be. Just like the stars, I am to shine and point others to You.

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Abiding, Alone, Bible, Christ's Return, Consequences, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Healing, Home, Leading

NO HOMEPLACE

AMOS 1:15

“‘Their king will go into exile, he and his princes together,’ says the LORD.”

My family moved a lot during my ministry. In fact, my wife and children have moved five times. We know each move was directed by the Lord. The events leading up to our decision to move were not our own making. Only God could have done it. But all those moves can leave you feeling homeless. Thankfully, we have settled in Chattanooga, TN. That is our home. Now, God may move us again, but it will always be home for us.

Amos ends his prophecy against Ammon by prophesying the royal family’s exile. Do you know what that means? They would be taken out of their palaces, their homes, and placed in another country which the conquering army had defeated. Wherever they were placed, it wouldn’t be home. They will lose everything that is familiar.

APPLICATION

Have you lost your familiar place? Do you feel homeless? I want to remind you of something. If you are believer, you don’t belong here anyway. This world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and when it is time, He will take us home.

But while you are here, where do you belong? Wherever God has placed you. My wife and I tried to make everyplace we lived home. Some places were easier than others, but we really tried to make it home. Home is where your family is. Don’t be bitter or angry about where you are. Accept your placing as from God.

God has a master plan for our lives. I will never understand it this side of glory. But I trust His wisdom. I know He will never place me anywhere that is not meant to make me more like Him. The people I meet there and the experiences I have are heaven-made. God has allowed each and every interaction for a reason. The journey is exciting. Embrace it.

Father, I trust that You know what is best for me. I will go along for the journey.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Consequences, Family, Judgment, Scripture

SIBLING RIVALRY

AMOS 1:11

“This is what the LORD says: ‘For three offenses of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and stifled his compassion; his anger also tore continually, and he maintained his fury forever.’”

I had an older brother named Tim. He passed away this past July 27th. I miss him. I often think about our growing up years. Let me tell you – we definitely had sibling rivalry. We wrestled all the time. My mom would threaten us with a spanking if we didn’t stop. Even though we fought a lot, we loved each other. That’s what siblings do, right?

Edom was the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Remember, Jacob was the father of Israel who is the target of Amos’ prophecy. God always protected that relationship, even though it was strained. He never allowed Israel to invade and take Edom’s land. But after Edom turned on their “family” God had had enough. Judgment is sometimes delayed, but never forgotten.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Do you have a sibling with whom you have fought and argued with? Did you leave that in childhood or has it carried over into your lives as adults? What boundaries have you set in your relationship? Rivalries lead to heartbreak. Rivalries lead to hurt feelings. Rivalries are not healthy.

So, what do we do with them? We lay them down. We pray for peace and then pursue it. Sometimes that means saying those challenging words – I’m sorry. Yep! Those words are hard to get past our front teeth, aren’t they? But once we say them, we realize they are not terminal. Try it.

I learned a lot from my older brother. Little brothers watch their older brothers to learn how to play well with others. Little brothers learn how to do a lot of stuff just by watching their older brothers. I am thankful for my older brother. He loved well. He played hard. And he loved his Lord. See you soon, Tim.

Father, thank You for putting our siblings in our lives. We may not appreciate them when we are young, but you allow us time to see how much they mean to us.

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Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Enemies, Family, Friends

OPPORTUNITY SEEKERS

JOEL 3:4

“Moreover, what are you to Me, Tyre, Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you repaying Me with retribution? But if you are showing Me retribution, swiftly and speedily I will return your retribution on your head!

Some people are opportunity seekers. I don’t mean that in a good way. They are the people who kick you when you’re down. They don’t have the ability to knock you down, but while you are down there, they take the opportunity to pile on you. They join in the insults. They spread the rumors. They just look for the chance to join in with a stronger group to accomplish their hatred.

The Lord is chastising the Philistines because of their relentless hatred and attacks on Judea. While Judea was being judged by God, Philistia attacked. They have been an enemy of the entirety of Israel since Joshua led the nation into the promised land. There’s a reason God told them to wipe out all the pagans in the land. But here they are, centuries later, still harassing the people.

APPLICATION

How does this relate to us? There are probably people in your life who are relentless with their attacks. They just look for the chance to pounce on you when you’re down. I believe the Lord would have us distance ourselves from such people. Anyone who tries to tear you down is not good for you. They do nothing to build you up in Christ. It is not helpful or healthy to maintain such relationships with the hope of it changing.

Instead, we need to surround ourselves with people who share our common worldview. We need people who love our Lord as much if not more than we do. These kind of people will build you up. These kind of people will love you when you’re down. These kind of people will “have your back” when you are facing hard times. Seek these friends out because they are more than friends. They are part of the same family of God.

I have a few friends like that. They are friends that I would not hesitate to call in a time of need. We may not talk every day, but when we do it’s sincere. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A person of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Find those “sticky” friends.

Father, protect me from those who would want to do me harm and surround me with those “sticky” friends who only want to build me up.

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Accountability, Advice, Affection, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

TAKE HER BACK

HOSEA 3:1

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

I have known several men who have reconciled with their wives after their wives had committed adultery. That is a hard pill to swallow. To take a woman back as your wife after she has cheated on you takes a lot. But each of these men were led by the Lord to do that. Some had children in the marriage. Others didn’t. But each decided to be obedient and bring their wife back to their marriage bed.

God told Hosea to do the same. He instructed Hosea to restore Gomer to his home as his wife after she had chosen willingly to be unfaithful. This was a symbolic move to show Israel the plan God had to restore them to Him following their exile in Babylon. After rejecting their false gods, they were seeking to return to Jehovah.

APPLICATION

You may have never had to reconcile with a wayward spouse. You may have never been that wayward spouse. My guess, though, is you have known someone who has. It’s all about forgiveness. There is no possible way to do this without the power of forgiveness. I am not talking about forgiveness powered by you. This takes a godly forgiveness.

When we think about what God has forgiven us, there is nothing that we should not be able to forgive. He has forgiven us of sins that would cause us to spend eternity in hell. There is nothing that has been done to us by anyone that can equal that. So, the question is will you forgive.

You may need to forgive someone today for something that you feel in unforgiveable. It’s not. With God, you can forgive anyone of anything. It won’t be easy. But it is possible because He can give you that power. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Will you?

Help me forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength today to give that forgiveness to anyone who needs it.

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Advocate, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Family, Following, Hugs, Inspirational, Patience, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture

WELCOME HOME

HOSEA 2:1

“Say to your brothers, ‘Ammi,’ and to your sisters, ‘Ruhamah.’”

Several years ago our daughter spent several months in Bomet, Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. We had the opportunity to FaceTime with her, when the internet worked, but that was still not the same as being with her in the same room. As her parents, we longed to hold her and love on her. When the day came for her to arrive back home in the U.S., we were ecstatic. We made the trip to the airport and waited anxiously for her to appear in the international flights waiting area. We almost choked her hugging her so tight.

God is doing the same for His people in this verse. They had not been His people, and now He calls them His people (Ammi). They had been shown no mercy, and now He is showing them compassion (Ruhamah). He is essentially embracing them and welcoming them back home. That’s what He promises to all His lost children. He wants us home. He wants to hug us tightly.

APPLICATION

Have you been welcomed home? I hope so. At salvation, we move from lostness to a place of security. We whom have seen no mercy can now experience the love of a merciful God. If you haven’t experienced this, I pray today you will turn to Him and allow Him to pour over you.

Perhaps you have strayed from His embrace. You have allowed the worries of this world to encompass you. You are drowning in despair. Stop where you are and turn back towards the Father. He is waiting to call you His child once again. He is longing to embrace you and show you mercy. What are you waiting for?

Too many of us struggle needlessly when the Father is right there. We allow the world to blind us to the reality of His love. Don’t be foolish like the Israelites. Don’t wander in exile. Come home to Him today. Welcome home.

I long to be at home with You, O Lord. In Your arms is where I belong.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Family, Greetings, Love

WE ALL SAY HI

2 JOHN 13

“The children of your chosen sister greet you.”

What a strange way to end a letter. It just kind of seems John had a last minute thought as he finished the letter and threw this in. But I am reminded that every, single word of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, I have to ask myself what John was saying here.

Many believe this sister mentioned here may have actually been the recipient’s sister. We don’t know for sure. But if that’s the case, John could have written “your nephews and nieces say hi.” Perhaps John was staying with this family when he wrote to their sister and aunt. I can just see them looking over his shoulder as he penned these words and saying at the last minute Tell our aunt hi for us.

APPLICATION

How do you apply this verse to you and your children? Love your family. Express your love to them in as many ways as you can. Embrace family members. Don’t become isolated to just your immediate family. Reach out to family members who need to hear about Jesus. Lead your children to pray for those cousins, aunts and uncles who are lost and in need of a Savior.

And extend that family to fellow believers. For many believers, their church family is closer to them than their biological family. Teach your children to rely on their fellow believers. Spend time with others who believe like you do. Pray for your Pastor and church leaders. We need each other in this battle we are waging each day against the forces of darkness.

Who is your family? You probably have both biological and spiritual, right? Be a good family member. Don’t harbor grudges or ill feelings. Let those go. Love each other. Be like Jesus and love them. And, by the way, take a moment and drop someone a note just to say you are praying for them. It will make their day.

Lord, I thank You for my family, both my biological and church families. You have blessed me far beyond what I deserve.

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