Abiding, Advocate, Angels, Battles, Bible, Demons, Devil, Fighting, Holy Spirit, Opponents, Satan, Scripture

WORTHLESS DEFENSES

HOSEA 10:14

An uproar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were slaughtered with their children.”

If you have read very many of my blogs, you know I love to hunt. The area I hunt here in Tennessee has black bears. Now they aren’t known to be very dangerous, as long as you stay away from a mama bear and her cubs. But I always want to be prepared in case I run into one. I know if a bear really wants to hurt me, he will. I am no match for a bear. My best defenses fall short.

Hosea was reminding Israel of the Assyrian conquest of Beth-arbel. Any defenses they may have mustered on their own couldn’t hold them off. I am reminded, however, of the ONE angel that killed 185,000 Assyrians another time. Our defenses are worthless, but God has the power and resources to conquer all our enemies, if we will trust Him.

APPLICATION

Enemies come from all angles and directions. Satan scouts us out to find our weak spots and will send his demons to target those areas. Men, are you prone to look at pictures you shouldn’t? Be assured Satan will give you lots of opportunities. Ladies, do you gossip too much? Old Satan loves to whisper in your ear the latest juicy news to spread. Only by surrendering to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis will you overcome these temptations. Only God’s defenses are strong enough for victory.

I am just too old to try to fight these battles on my own. I know I need Jesus every day, or I will be whipped. I bet you are the same. Aren’t you tired of battling on your own? Step back and let the Lord fight for you. He will, you know. And when the victory is won, He gets all the glory.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever! Thank You for the victory I have in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Flesh, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture

WARNING! WARNING!

HOSEA 8:1

Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the LORD, because they have violated My covenant and rebelled against My Law.”

Picture yourself on the wall of a city. Your job is to watch for any approaching enemies. You have a trumpet to blow to warn the city if danger is sighted. So, when do you blow that trumpet? Do you wait until the enemy is at the gate or do you sound the alarm as soon as you spot them?

Here in Hosea the enemy has come. There is no time for the trumpet to be sounded. Judgment has fallen. God is holding them accountable for their breach of the covenant. They have rebelled against His Law. So, God is using their enemies to judge them.

APPLICATION

We must sound the alarm. In our society today we are surrounded by encroaching enemies. But we remain silent. We don’t warn our brothers and sisters about the danger that is all around us. We may run for cover ourselves, but we leave the rest to fend for themselves.

Who are these enemies? Anyone or anything that goes against God’s Word and His commands for our lives. Anyone or anything that speaks against Jesus is an enemy of the cross. Satan will use all these to try to tear us down. He is on the attack – always. We cannot let up for a second. We must be on guard. We must keep the trumpet in our hands ready to blow.

I am looking. Are you? I’m on the wall. Are you? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t think for a second he’s got your best interest in mind. He has one goal – to destroy you and other believers. Stand firm and strong.

I will blow the trumpet, Lord. I will sound the alarm. I will stand with You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Deception, Fighting, Flesh, Perfection, Safety, Scripture

BENT SIGHTS

HOSEA 7:16

They turn, but not upward, they are like a loose bow; their officials will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.”

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know I love to hunt. I normally hunt with a gun, but during archery season, I hunt with a crossbow. I have spent time zeroing in that crossbow. I set up a target at different distances and practice shooting to make sure I can hit what I am shooting at when the time comes. There’s nothing much more frustrating than to have a great weapon and not have it sighted so you can shoot well.

Hosea compares Israel to such a weapon – a loose bow. A loose bow will not shoot the arrow correctly. It will miss its target. It won’t hit what you aim at because the bow is deceiving you. Not only is that frustrating, but it’s also dangerous. If you are facing an enemy, you want to be able to stop them with that bow. If you can’t shoot straight, you’re in trouble.

APPLICATION

Are you a straight shooter? Is your heart aimed toward God? If we aren’t consistent in our quiet times and our prayer lives, we will begin to get off mark. We will begin to target the wrong things. Our aim will be off. Before you know it, we are totally off course. We are pursuing the wrong things. God is no longer in our view. How did that happen?

You see, our sights can be just slightly off and cause us to miss God. It doesn’t take much. Just a little distraction can cause it. Our minds start to drift. We put off our quiet times. We neglect for a few days our time with the Lord. Whamo! We are off. We have to set our sights afresh each day. We have to make sure Satan hasn’t moved in and “tweaked” our sights to make us miss. Be sure your aim is right.

I heard about a golfer this week who had an awful putting experience in his last tournament. Before he played in his next tournament, he was complaining about it. Someone asked him about his putter. It was only then that he noticed his putter was bent. There was no way he could have putted straight with it. Check out your tools and make sure you are aiming correctly.

Father, You are the only true way to measure whether I am shooting straight or not. I depend on You to be my guide.

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LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Advocate, Anxiety, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Encouragement, Fighting, Mentoring, Parenting, Persecution, Satan, Scripture, Surrender

GUARD YOURSELF

1 JOHN 3:7

“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;”

When I was in Jr. High and High school, I played football (American football). I always loved the game. But there was one drill I didn’t care too much for. It was called “Bull in the Woods.” Let me explain it. One person would be put in the center of a ring of other players who were numbered off. The coach would then call a number and the player with that number would run toward the guy in the center and hit him. So, your job in the middle was turn and face that player and take on the hit.

The problem began when the coach would call multiple numbers, especially if they were from opposite sides of the circle. It became impossible to face every attack. They would eventually wear you down. That’s exactly what Satan does. He keeps coming at you from all directions. John is saying in today’s verse to be watchful for those attacks. Remember Jesus has your back.

APPLICATION

You can play this out with your kids. Try this twist on it. Get some pool noodles or something soft and get around one of your children. Blindfold them so they can’t see you. Give them a pool noodle to defend themselves and give everyone else one as well.  Then let the fun begin. Now, keep it safe. No head shots and no jabbing with the noodle. If someone starts hitting too hard, stop the game.

Explain to them after everyone has had a turn how Satan does the same to us. Unless we keep our eyes on Jesus and our minds focused on His Word, we are just as defenseless as they were in the game. Ask them how it felt not seeing where the next “strike” might come from. It can be scary. But praise be to God, we have no reason to fear. Jesus is the one who guards and protects us. We just have to surrender.

Are you tired of swinging your pool noodle at an invisible foe? Stop swinging and start living under Jesus. Let Him be the one who defends you. He is more than capable. We think we can handle it, but we can’t. Satan is too crafty. He can outfox any of us by ourself. But he is no match for Jesus.

Lord, I trust You in my battles. I will stand with You and trust You to defend me.

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Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, Victors

DESTROYED

2 PETER 2:12

“But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,”

When I was a boy, I used to build models. You know, model cars, trucks, boats, etc. I especially like the boats. Do you know why? Because I would build them and then destroy them. Yep, that sounds kind of dumb now, but we thought it was fun. Me and my neighbor buddy would go down to the local pond with our models, some duct tape or glue and firecrackers or M-80’s. We would light the fuses, push those models out in the lake and watch them explode. It was awesome.

My point? These “unreasoning animals” referred to by Peter are intentionally destroying themselves and others by their behaviors and teachings. They are not accidentally doing this. It is done with malice and evil. They do not understand what they are up against and will eventually be held accountable by a holy God.

APPLICATION

How do we protect our children and others from these evil influences? There is really only one way. I have said it hundreds of time and will continue to say it. We have to ground them in the Word of God. Nothing else will thwart the challenges of those who seek to destroy us. It is sharper than any two-edged sword.

Daily devotions, prayer time and application of truths learned are key. Make sure you are not just reading a passage (even though that’s good) and going about your day. Reading the Bible without applying the Bible doesn’t prepare you for these people. Make the Bible real to you. See how it affects your life each day. He gave it to us for a reason.

Are you prepared today to face whatever the Lord allows in your life? If an enemy of the cross comes across your path today, how will you respond? Spend time in prayer now to get ready for the battles that lie ahead. They are on the way. But with the Lord on your side, the outcome is sure. We are victorious.

Father, for those who battle against truth I pray. I pray they will see the error of their ways before it is too late. Help me today to face the challenges You allow with integrity and boldness.

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A ROARING LION

1 PETER 5:8

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Have you ever seen and heard a roaring lion? I don’t mean one on television. I mean in real life. I saw a lion in Uganda once on a safari, but it wasn’t roaring. It was lying in the shade sleeping. It didn’t seem very scary. In fact, it looked very calm and peaceful. But believe me, I wasn’t about to jump out of that jeep and go over and scratch its belly. I knew what it was capable of.

Peter is warning about the dangers of the devil. We can’t let our guard down. He says to be sober and alert. The devil can lull us into thinking there is no danger and then he attacks. Just like a lion, he stalks his prey. He doesn’t present himself as he really is. He disguises himself and slips in for the kill. Don’t let him devour you or those around you.

APPLICATION

The last thing I want you to do is scare your children about the devil. However, they do need to know he is real and not some imaginary figure. We don’t want him to be talked about in the same company as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They must know the devil has one goal – to take as many souls to hell with him as possible. He knows he has already lost the war, but he wants to cause as many casualties as possible along the way.

How do you protect your child from this? By pouring the Word of God into them from birth. We raise our children to love and honor their God. And when they come to Christ and accept Him as their Savior, they are secure from the grasp of the devil. Then we must continue to disciple and mentor them to walk in the light and avoid those dark recesses where Satan dwells.

Living sober and alert may sound draining, but it’s not. The key is to stay in the Word. The moment we start living for ourselves and we put down the Word, we open ourselves up to attacks. The Word is called the sword for a reason. Use it to protect yourself and others from that nasty roaring lion.

I thank You for giving me the Word to defend against the schemes of the devil. I will watch carefully as I advance the kingdom, knowing he will do all he can to distract and attack.

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Advice, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Fighting, Forgiveness, Gentleness, Harmony, Modeling, Parenting, Testimony

EXPLAIN YOURSELF

ACTS 11:2-4

“2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, 3 saying, ‘You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.’ 4 But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence,” 

Disagreements happen. Even among believers, disagreements can occur. If we aren’t careful, those disagreements can erupt into fights and then grudges. Before you know it, friendships are shattered, and things are said that cause hurt feelings. I have seen churches split over small disagreements.

Peter was facing a pivotal moment. He needed to explain what had happened in Joppa with the Gentiles. Jews weren’t supposed to associate with Gentiles, and he was accused of eating with them. You need to read the rest of the story (Acts 11:5 and following) to see how he explained himself. He simply told them what God had done. It wasn’t Peter’s plan. It had been God’s.

APPLICATION

Your children are going to have disagreements and misunderstandings with their friends. How do you, as a parent, help them navigate these troubled waters? Once again, how you handle these situations yourself will teach them. How do you handle disagreements with your spouse? How about with other family members? They are watching you. Are you in the wrong? Have you done something to offend someone? Make it right.

And if you are doing the right thing and are falsely accused, how do you handle the situation? Do you get defensive? Show your children how to deal with this. Allow God to come to your defense. Be like Peter and calmly state what happened or what you did. Peter couldn’t be held responsible for how his accusers received his explanation. He just needed to tell his story and trust the Lord.

Do you trust the Lord with your relationships? He wants you to have healthy relationships, not ones that are strained and troubled. You simply need to do what He asks of you and leave the results up to Him. Try that today and see what He does in and through you.

O Lord, I trust you with my eternity so surely I can trust You with my relationships. Guard my tongue from unkind words. Let my spirit be knit with Your Spirit every moment.

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WE ARE AT WAR

1 PETER 2:11

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.” 

I never served in the military. I came close after completing seminary. I looked into going into the Air Force as a Chaplain. That didn’t happen though, so I missed out on serving our country in uniform. I applaud all those who have served and are serving in every branch.

But I have been in a battle my entire life. It’s the one Peter refers to here in today’s verse. He calls us aliens and strangers because this world is not our home. We are just passing through. And as we pass through it, we are battling the flesh. Only through submission to Christ can we defeat these “fleshly lusts” which seek to pull us down.

APPLICATION

Your children may have a better idea of war since they have never known a day when our country, the United States of

America, was not at war. We’ve been fighting somewhere since 2001. Talk about that with your children. Ask them what they understand about this war we are fighting.

But then talk about today’s verse. Ask them if they realize they are in a daily battle. They are soldiers fighting against the lure of the flesh. Now, you may have to explain that to them. Things like lying, cheating, being mean to their siblings or disobeying you are all good examples of “fleshly lusts.”

How are you fighting? Are you armed with the sword of truth? You cannot fight this battle alone. You do not have the strength or wisdom. Only the power of the cross can defend you and guide you. Let Jesus be your Commander in Chief and lead you into battle today.

Lord, You are my Commander in Chief. I will follow You. Help me defeat the lusts of my flesh by surrendering to You daily.

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DON’T GO THERE

TITUS 3:9

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

I know you’ve played tag, right. Every child has played some kind of tag game. Well, this is one tag game you don’t want to play. Paul tells us to “avoid” these things. Controversies, genealogies (really, he is talking about arguing about your pedigree), strife and disputes are all things we need to avoid. He just told us in verse 8 to be careful. You can’t be involved with these things and be careful.

Some people just like to fuss and argue. They are always looking for a fight. If we are to walk with Christ and be an effective witness, we can’t spend our time with those sorts of people. That may mean letting some relationships go. What? Yep! Some people are determined to bring you down. You should continue to pray for them, but don’t spend your time arguing and fussing with them. It will never end.

APPLICATION

This is an especially important lesson to teach our kids. They will be bombarded with people all their lives who want to drag them into endless arguments. The sooner they learn to avoid these “foolish controversies” the better. The hard part is when that person is a friend. But true friends don’t fuss and argue with us all the time, right?

That’s why your children need to have friends who share the same worldview. When you share God’s view of this world, there is normally fewer opportunities to disagree. I am not saying that will never happen, but there will less times. Why? Because you both see through God’s eyes. You both are surrendered to His will. You both are seeking to please Him. The petty things just don’t matter.

Are you an arguer? Do you seek out fights and quarrels? I know a lot of Baptist who are, lol. We need to spend our time concentrating on serving our Master instead of trying to make ourselves master. We have a God who is worth serving. Why don’t you and I both try to more diligent today in doing just that?

I confess I want my way too much. Forgive me for being argumentative and quarrelsome. I want to please You, Lord.

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