Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Fellowship, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Refreshing, Scripture

REVIVED

HOSEA 14:7

Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.”

Growing up in farm country, I have seen the results of droughts and floods. The crops the farmers grow are dependent on rainfall. Large farms may invest in irrigation systems, but even they are dependent on regular rainfall. I have seen corn fields begin to wither only to be revived again when they get enough rain. The refreshing rains keep the crops alive and thriving.

Hosea is comparing Israel to such a scene. He is referring to their revival as a nation once they return to God. Grain and wine were important to that culture. In fact, they were pretty dependent on them. So, those who heard this could relate to what Hosea was saying. God was going to bring the nation back from despair and bless them.

APPLICATION

Our spirits need reviving every so often. It’s easy to get caught up in the pressures of this world and lose sight of the promises of God. Don’t let the world control you. You, as a child of God, have the strength and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. You can stand tall as the corn and produce grapes like the vine. God wants you to walk confidently in this world.

To do that, you must stay close to the source of nourishment. You can’t survive the deserts of life without the Word. It’s refreshing truths can sustain you. Meditating and memorizing His Word can give you just what you need when you face those challenging times. There is no substitute for it. Let it pour over you.

I can’t imagine going a day without getting my “dose” of God’s Word. I’m not talking about picking up a devotional and reading it. I mean digging into a verse or two of Scripture and applying it to my life. That’s why I write this blog. I need to do this. I wake up each day knowing I have the privilege to do this. It gives me life. Will you join me?

Thank You, Lord, for giving me the water of the Word. It refreshes my soul each day.

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AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

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FOOLISH THINKING

HOSEA 12:8

“And Ephraim said, ‘I have certainly become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no wrongdoing, which would be sin.’”

Have you ever gotten away with doing something wrong? You didn’t get caught, so you figured all was well. God didn’t zap you. When that happens, it is very easy to think that you are immune to punishment. Just call yourself “Teflon Joe.” Nothing sticks to you. We both know that is dangerous ground.

Ephraim was saying that about themselves. They were disobedient to God, but them seemingly were still being blessed. They exclaimed, “I have certainly become rich.” They had the midas touch. So, they assumed they were without sin. However, they soon realized that was not true. God’s punishments may be delayed, but they are not going to be withheld forever.

APPLICATION

You may be knee deep in sin right now. God has not disciplined you yet. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit within you is convicting you, but you may be tuning Him out. You figure you will deal with this sin later. You will confess later. You will get right with the Lord later. Listen to me – later is now. It’s time.

Just because the Lord does not immediately discipline us for our sins does not mean He is pleased with us. Sins have consequences. Some are immediate. Others may be delayed, but they all have consequences. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking God doesn’t care about your sins. He does. He sent His Son to die for them, all of them, past, present and future.

I desire to stay “confessed up.” I don’t want my sins, which are many, to come between me and my Lord. I need that direct line to the Lord open at all times and not full of the static of my unconfessed sins. Don’t you want that too?

Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and grace in my life. Show me my sins so that I can repent and have my fellowship restored.

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THE PARTY’S OVER

HOSEA 2:11

“I will also put an end to all her joy, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her festivals.”

I’ll never forget when I came to Christ. Before I did, I was kind of a party guy. I grew up in the 70’s when drugs were big. I got caught up in that scene and liked to party with my friends. But…when Christ came into my life, I gave up all of that. I didn’t want that anymore. My friends I had at the time thought I was crazy for giving up that party scene. I knew better. Still do today.

God also took away the “parties” from the Israelites but in a different way. He couldn’t tolerate their false worship anymore. By leading them into exile, they were not allowed to celebrate the festivals. They had the right “parties” but were abusing them. God desires our worship, but He won’t accept false worship.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. What are you worshipping? I worshipped partying in my young life. I discovered true worship in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Are you going through the motions of worship? Do you do the “church thing” expecting that to suffice for your spiritual life? It won’t. You’re not fooling God. He knows your heart.

So, when are you going to seek Him in spirit and truth? Are any of these questions hitting home with you? Well, let me tell you a secret. They hit home with me, too. I have to constantly reflect on my worship. I want to make sure my worship is always pointed heavenward. I want my worship to be glorifying God. Anything else is just as bad as the Israelites.

Will you join me in true worship? Oh, how the Lord loves that. He loves to see His children honoring Him. He longs for our fellowship. Begin today. Stop what you are doing and spend some time worshipping Him. He is listening.

I worship You, O God. My heart is lifted before You today.

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MOUTH TO MOUTH

3 JOHN 14

but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.”

Now, when you read the title for today’s blog you may think I am going to talk about kissing. Nope! I didn’t have that in mind at all. I am just translating the last phrase of the verse literally. John could have said “we will speak mouth to mouth.” I agree “face to face” sounds better, lol.  In this day we are in right now, though, we are missing that. The masks we are having to wear block that, don’t they?

I wonder what John needed to tell Gaius. We don’t know. But if you will read the entire letter of 3 John, you can pretty well guess. John would have words of encouragement for him. He would have probably hugged him, kissed him on each cheek and sat down for a great meal together. They would have fellowshipped for hours. Hmmm, I wonder if that phrase “mouth to mouth” hinted at a potluck dinner, lol.

APPLICATION

During these days of covid-19 don’t let your children forget what you look like behind these masks. That may sound funny to say, but I have been concerned about our younger children especially spending this past year staring at people with masks on. Facial expressions are important. Just think about how you communicate with small children using them. I am not advocating being unsafe or spreading the virus. I am just saying let your kids see your face.

Explain to your children the importance of face-to-face communication. Explain to them the importance of being able to see someone’s face to communicate. You don’t know behind a mask if someone is smiling or frowning. You don’t know if they are sticking their tongue out at you or not. There’s a reason John wanted that face to face or mouth to mouth visit with Gaius.

Who do you want to go see “mouth to mouth”? I hope there is someone on your list. When you see them, talk about Jesus. Take off that mask safely and express yourself. Let them see your smile. Communicate fully. Love them with your face. That sounded kind of weird, didn’t it, but I think you get my drift.

Thank You, Lord, for meeting me face to face. I long one day to see You in heaven and behold Your glorious face and see Your smile.

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WORDS

3 JOHN 13

“I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink;”

How many times have you written an email or text and decided it was best to not send it? Boy, I have. In some of those occasions I found out my information had been wrong and if I had sent that message it would have made matters worse. Other times a face-to-face conversation was better so the other party could feel my emotions. That’s hard to express in words.

John had much to say to Gaius and some things just couldn’t be expressed in the written word. Perhaps there were some things that he just didn’t want written. They were more heart words. John loved Gaius and wanted to express them personally. I can just picture John putting down the quill and ink (or whatever he was writing with) and saying a prayer for Gaius.

APPLICATION

Don’t let your children become so comfortable with texts and other social media that they forget how to talk to others. This is not usually a problem until they get into those tween and teen years, but it can start earlier. FaceTime and Zoom have helped us connect with our faces more. It’s real time, too, so we can see each other as we talk. I am not advocating for this, but it works if you can’t get together personally.

Let me ask you a question that you can pose to your children. Do you think Jesus would have chosen zoom over a face-to-face conversation? I don’t think so. I truly believe He would have wanted to sit around that campfire and talk. I believe He would have wanted to put His arm around your shoulder and walk with you. That’s how I want to talk to others.

May I encourage you to reach out to at least one person this week in this way? I know it’s hard in this covid world we are in right now. But I bet there is someone with whom you can get with and talk. We need personal touch. Do it in the name of Jesus. Let His love flow through you. Put down the phone or tablet and talk face to face with someone.

Lord, I am so glad You are a personal God who desires to talk with me. Lead me to someone today who just needs to spend time with a believer.

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WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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YOU DO OR YOU DON’T

1 JOHN 2:23

“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

Have you ever thought you had something but couldn’t find it? I mean, you were sure you had it. You can see where you put it, but you just can’t lay your hands on it. Believe me, after several cycles of chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants, my memory ain’t what it used to be, lol. I misplace things all the time. Just ask my wife.

John isn’t talking about misplacing something. He’s saying you either have the Father or not. That all depends on your surrender to Jesus. It doesn’t matter what you think you have. Joining church doesn’t mean anything. Attending a hundred bible studies won’t save you. Only confessing Jesus as your Lord and Savior puts you in a relationship with the Father.

APPLICATION

Your children understand relationships. From their earliest days you started building that relationship with them. When you held them and fed them, you were bonding. They never had to confess you were their mom or dad. They were born into that relationship. Nothing will ever change that fact. Sure, there will be challenges to that relationship, but family is family.

However, they need to understand that your faith is not their faith. They don’t get to heaven on your shirt tails. They have to come to a saving knowledge of Christ on their own. You can’t do it for them. You can’t pray them into heaven (although you need to be praying for that). Teach them this truth. And when they do hear His voice calling their name, teach them to respond and confess Jesus as Lord.

Have you confessed Jesus as Lord? I pray you have. You may think you know God without doing that, but you have no idea. You may know about God, but you will never know the Father until you know the Son. The Father wants to show you more of Himself every day.

Father, I am so grateful that I know You. I am Your child because of Your Son. Thank You for sending Him to rescue me.

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IF-THEN

1 JOHN 1:7

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 

Using the “If-Then” method of child-rearing is a good way of teaching them. If your child does his chores, then he can receive his allowance. If she cleans her room as promised, then you will take her to get ice cream. Now, you may not agree with rewarding children for doing their chores, but it is one method.

John is telling us here in today’s verse that we will receive a reward if we do a certain thing (If-Then). If we walk in the light, then we will have fellowship and Jesus’ blood cleanses us. We can’t expect to have either of those if we walk in darkness. Only by walking in the light are they possible.

APPLICATION

I’ve kind of already hinted at the application for your kids. Try one of those “If-Then” situations with your child. Then take them to this verse. You see, your own “If-Then” training is preparing them for their own “If-Then” decisions with the Lord. They are going to face a lot of those moments in life.

They will face crucial decisions with peers. If I do this, then this could happen. If I do this, how will it glorify God? If-then, if-then, if-then. All through life they will have to make those decisions. They need to understand your training of them now is preparing them for later.

How about you? Do you desire fellowship and forgiveness? Then it’s simple – walk in the light. That means to come to Christ and accept Him as your Savior. You can’t walk in light if you’re lost. You may think you’re in the light, but you aren’t. You are in the darkness. Come to the light.

I desire to stay in the light, Father. I desire fellowship with You and others. I know I am forgiven through the blood of Your Son.

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PUNCH AND COOKIES

1 JOHN 1:3

“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 

What is fellowship? Is it just punch and cookies? I sure hope not. The Greek word is koinonia, which means something that is shared in common. I have to admit I have eaten many a meal with people with whom I didn’t share a whole lot in common. That is not what John is referring to here.

We have fellowship with each other only because we also have fellowship (something in common) with the Father and His Son. That common bond brings us together. We don’t need punch and cookies to do that. I have had the joy of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ when nothing physical passed over my lips. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good potluck dinner as much as the next person. But that doesn’t make fellowship.

APPLICATION

Kids can naturally fellowship. They find common things with other boys and girls pretty quickly. Their fellowship may center around Legos or video games. It may be over American Girl dolls or a sports game. Our challenge, as parents, is to direct them to the lasting fellowship that is only possible through Jesus.

I promise you, those childhood “fellowships” are going to fade. The only eternal fellowship is a spiritual one, as John describes in the verse today. Point your child toward that fellowship. It will last forever.

With whom are you in fellowship? Do you have a group of believers with whom you share that common bond? I pray you do. We can’t do this alone. We need fellowship. This recent Covid 19 pandemic has reduced our opportunities for fellowship and people are suffering. We need each other. Will you make the effort this week to fellowship with someone?

How I desire the fellowship with other believers. I long for their spiritual “embrace.” Thank You for providing that common bond through Your Son, Jesus.

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