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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Baptism, Belief, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Following, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Rejoicing, Scripture

WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

Standard
Accountability, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Sin

ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Friends, Giving, God's Will, Joy, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting

SEE A NEED, MEET A NEED

1 JOHN 3:17

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

Have you ever been blessed by someone? Boy, I have. During this past year many of my friends have stepped up to meet some needs that my wife and I had during my extended illness. I didn’t ask for any them, but they were led of the Lord to step up and do what He said to do for us. We were blown away.

There are people all around us who are in need. Sometimes they hide it very well. We can’t see the need. But what do you do when you find out? Do you wait for them to come ask you for help? Let me encourage you to make the first step. So many are too proud to ask. They think it’s beneath them. It’s not. God wants us to come alongside each other.

APPLICATION

I love seeing children who give without even being told to do so. I have known children whom I literally had to tell to stop giving so much. They just didn’t care about stuff. They had rather see someone else’s needs met than their own. They were just bent that way. Others…well…not so much. You would have to peel the last cookie out of their hand, lol. 

Giving is a privilege and a blessing. Until your children experience the joy of giving to someone else, they will never really understand it. You have to help them to learn this joy. How about before they get anything new help them pick out a toy they can share with someone else? How about leading them to have a birthday party where all their gifts go to the Ronald McDonald house? There are all kinds of ways to teach them to give to others.

You may not be blessed with an abundance of goods, but I guarantee you have more than most. Look around and see how you can give to someone today. Perhaps you want to do it anonymously. That’s okay. It’s not about you. Jesus is the one who gets the glory, right. Just give.

Reveal to me, Lord, to whom I should be a blessing today. Help me meet the need of someone today.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, God's Will, Life, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

TO DIE FOR

1 JOHN 3:16

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

Who would you die for? Your first response is probably your children and your spouse. You would probably say your mom or dad. Maybe you would die for a sibling. But we typically save that kind of sacrifice for family. But is that what Jesus asks us to do? I think He calls us to go beyond that.

John says here we are to lay down our lives for the brethren. Who is that? Who is our brother or sister? Anyone who is in the family of God with us. I think of the people who stood up to defend their brothers and sisters in recent church shootings. They didn’t hesitate to stand between evil and their brothers and sisters. That’s true love – laying down their lives for others.

APPLICATION

Now, this isn’t something you teach your children in one sitting. How do you teach your children this kind of love for others? Well, you don’t. This kind of love only comes with maturity and growth in the Lord. Little children can’t comprehend this kind of sacrifice. As we grow and learn more about our true life in Christ, we realize that this life on earth is fleeting. The only true life is life in Him.

Allow your children to see you sacrifice for others daily. It doesn’t have to be a literally laying down your life. But you know what – sometimes that’s harder. Laying down your rights for the benefit of others can teach your children volumes. Sometimes allowing others to “have their way” may lay the groundwork for future conversations and opportunities to share about Jesus. As long as we don’t compromise on truth, it’s worth it.

Who will you die for? Anyone? Think about that today. Ask the Lord if there is someone you need to reach out to today. Is there someone who is in need of your sacrificial love. What are you willing to lie down for others? There are so many ways to sacrifice without it costing us our lives. Will you do it for Him?

I will lay down my life for others today, Lord. There is nothing I hold which is more valuable than the soul of another.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Protection, Scripture, Self-control, Testimony

WHAT A STORY

1 JOHN 3:12

“not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

Have you ever heard a story told over and over? My brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Barber, was a master storyteller. He just had a way of bringing you right into the story. He famously told his beaver dam story more times than I can count, but each time he told it, I was sucked right in. Some stories are just that memorable.

John is reminding us of a story we have all heard before. Cain killed his brother. Wow! He was jealous of his brother. And when he was confronted by God after he killed him, what did he say? Am I my brother’s keeper? Why yes, Cain, you are. That’s John’s point. We are all our brother’s keeper.

APPLICATION

If you have more than one child, don’t you teach your older children to keep an eye on the younger ones? I don’t mean they should be responsible for them. But they do have an obligation to watch over them, to help protect them. It’s just the right thing for siblings to do.

I will never forget defending my little sister on a school playground when I was in the second grade and she was in the first grade. The class bully had decided to pick on her during recess, and I was going to have none of that. After our confrontation (let’s leave it at that), he didn’t bother her again. Now, I am not advocating fighting. Please don’t hear me say that. But I am saying we have to teach our children to look after each other.

Is there a weaker brother who could use your support? Maybe someone is going through some marriage struggles right now and needs advice. Perhaps someone is struggling with a wayward child and you’ve got some experience in that area. Don’t turn your back. Ask the Lord to use you to lighten their load.

Use me, Lord, however you wish to come to the aid of those around me. I want to honor You.

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, Following, God's Will, Harmony, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Prejudice, Scripture, Separation, Witnessing

UNPARTIAL

ACTS 10:34

“Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,’”

These words of Peter should be music to our ears. God does not show favorites. The phrase “show partiality” is one Greek word that is only used right here in this verse. It means to be a respecter of persons. Think about it. What if God only picked a few people to save because of their skin color or eye color. Unfortunately, that is what we do.

If we are to live like Christ, we must also show no partiality. They say the most segregated time of the week is Sunday mornings. Whites go to their churches. Blacks go to theirs. Hispanics go to theirs and so on. Why? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all worship together? Wouldn’t it be great if we were “color blind” on Sundays?

APPLICATION

Our children must be taught the no partiality thing early in life. In fact, we must teach them that God loves everyone – period. The world will begin to bombard them with prejudices early in life. This not only applies to skin color. It applies to any prejudice you can think of. The kid others make fun of is loved by God, so our children should too.

Let me encourage you, mom and dad, to nip this in the bud (to borrow a Barney Fife phrase). Don’t let prejudice remain in your household. God wants to use us, just like He used Peter, to reach people groups we might not normally be drawn to. You will be amazed at the response, if you will simply be obedient.

Do you battle showing partiality? Most of us do. It’s normal. It’s human. But we are called to live above that. I bet you could think of a dozen reasons God shouldn’t love you, but He does. He takes you just as you are and transforms you into something beautiful. Don’t you want to be a part of that in someone else’s life?

Father, show me my prejudices. I want to confess those to You as sin. And put those people in my life You want me to have relationships with, regardless of who they are.

Standard