Accountability, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Consequences, Devil, Enemies, Freedom, Judgment, Rescue, Satan, Scripture

CAPTIVE

AMOS 4:3

“‘You will go out through holes in the walls, one in front of the other, and you will be hurled to Harmon,’ declares the LORD.”

I have never been held captive. I can’t imagine what that feels like. I have read first person accounts of that and marveled at that person’s stamina and faith to survive. But to be torn from your home and carried off as a prisoner would certainly be horrible. God has promised, however, to see us through any trial.

Israel is facing captivity. The Lord is telling them here that they will be led out of their cities through the holes in the walls that were made by their captors. They will be lead like cattle, one in front of the other, to their place of captivity. They will go from luxury to slavery.

APPLICATION

If you are not a believer in Jesus, you are being held captive by your enemy, the devil. The sad thing is you may not even realize it. As long as you are not walking with Christ, you are walking with him. He may even treat you kindly here on earth because he knows he will have you for eternity.

But God rescues us from our captor through Jesus. Jesus conquered death and the grave for you. His blood paid the price for your freedom. You can be set free through Him. And the best part is that it is free. You just have to ask for it. If you haven’t done that today, will you?

I am thankful the chains of sin have been broken. We are no longer held down by Satan’s grip. The moment we said yes to Jesus, we were made free. The jail doors were opened. We now walk with the One who set us free. Remember – we walk from victory, not towards it. The battle has already been won. Praise Jesus!

Lord, You are the one who set me free from the power and penalty of sin in my life. Thank You for saving me.

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Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Destruction, Failures, Freedom, Healing, Obedience, Promises, Rescue, Scripture

A RUT

AMOS 2:13

“‘Behold, I am making a rut in the ground beneath you, just as a wagon makes a rut when filled with sheaves.’”

Do you know what a rut is? It’s a grave with both ends knocked out. I know, that’s not a very funny joke. I don’t write them. I just repeat them, lol. Seriously, not many people like to be in a rut. It implies you are stuck or traveling is hard. Ruts can break axles on vehicles. Bottom line – ruts aren’t fun.

The Lord tells the Israelites here in verse 13 that He is burdened by them. The weight of their sins is upon Him. He is weary of them. How sad that must have sounded to them. Their God, the One who delivered them, is weary of them. But now God is over it. He is tired of being tired of them. He is going to deal with them appropriately.

APPLICATION                                                              

Do you think our sins burden Jesus? If you are child of God, if you have given your life to Him, then all your sins are forgiven. We have the privilege to walk with Him in victory. Do you think He gets weary of our rebellion and disobedience? I am sure it disappoints Him. He knows we are human and fall short, but He has given us everything we need to live for Him.

Ask yourself if you are living to please the Father today. Or are you in a rut? Do you let the trials of life weigh you down. There’s a line in a hymn that I love. It says, “Burdens are lifted at Calvary.” Do you believe that? I sure do. I know my burdens are lifted by my Master. I want out of the ruts.

So, next time you feel you are in a rut, stop and examine what burdens you are holding on to. You don’t have to. He’s got this. And the beauty is once we give Him our burdens, they really are lifted. God can handle it. We can’t. Let Him have all your burdens (1 Peter 5:7).

I cast all my burdens on You, O Lord. I know You have the ability to take them and lighten my load.

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Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Calling, Confession, Following, Forgiveness, Freedom, God's Will, Prayer, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

REPAYMENT

HOSEA 12:2

“The LORD also has a case against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds.”

You’ve heard all about paybacks, haven’t you? It’s when someone has done you wrong, and you get them back later. I’ve known people who wait weeks or even months to do that. They want that payback to really hurt that person. They plan every detail so that person knows exactly what is happening. Sounds cruel. Well, it is.

God is not that way. He is not plotting against Judah. He is simply holding them accountable for their “deeds.” Sin has consequences. Judah knew that, but they chose to sin anyway. I am sure they cried and bellyached about God’s discipline. However, God had to deal with their sin.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you glad Jesus has already paid the price for you? If you have received Him as your Lord and Savior, the repayment is done. Jesus took care of that for you. I love Psalm 103:10. It says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Whew!

My sins are many. If I counted up all my sins in just one year, it would stagger you. But I bet yours are the same. Then can you imagine if everyone’s sins were totaled? That number would be astronomical. But that’s what Jesus died for. His sacrifice took care of all those sins. We only have to come to Him and accept the free gift of salvation.

I am glad that on July 31, 1977 I did that. I have been far from perfect since then, but I know my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Do you know that for certain? You can. I pray today you will make sure of that. The freedom you can experience in knowing that is incredible. Come to Him today.

I am free because of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for saving me.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Deception, Destruction, Devil, Following, Freedom, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

TRUE ESCAPE

2 PETER 2:20

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”

We’ve all seen the suspense movie where the characters are being chased and finally escape. We all breathe a sigh of relief and then out of nowhere the villain reappears and catches them. They were so close. They had broken free. If only they had kept moving. We see it so clearly when it’s someone else, don’t we?

Peter is talking about that very thing here. People throw off the worldly lusts and desires and for a short time they live right. Now, this verse is NOT saying they are believers who have backslidden. A knowledge of Christ is not the same as knowing Christ as your Savior. Without that saving knowledge, what do they do? They return to the world, much like a meth addict quickly returns to the meth.

APPLICATION

How do you make application of this for yourself or your children? Have you and your children ever caught butterflies in a net? How do you catch them? Do you snatch them out the air or while they are on the flower? It is much easier to catch them while they are enjoying the flower nectar. Once they are entangled in the net, they can’t escape.

Explain to your kids that sin works the same way. The devil attracts us with stuff our flesh craves. Once we taste it, we keep going back for more. Before you know it, we are trapped. The more we go back, they more we are hooked. There is only one way out – Jesus.

Do you find yourself looking for an escape? He’s right in front of you. He’s waiting for you to stop struggling and allow Him to guide you to freedom. Let Him take your hand. Let Him take you in His arms. There is an escape. There is peace.

Oh Lord, I long for freedom from the desires of my flesh. Cleanse my thoughts today. Purify my mind so I can follow you.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Freedom, God's Will, Gospel, Mentoring, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation, Witnessing

GOD’S CHOICE

ACTS 15:7

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.

I am so grateful that the Lord chose me. Peter stands at the famous Council at Jerusalem to defend Paul and Barnabas’ mission to the Gentiles. Some were arguing that the Gentiles had to be circumcised to be true believers. Peter recalled his own defense of preaching to the Gentiles and their receiving the Gospel. I am thankful for his defense.

Just think. If the Council had agreed with the other side, we may be under so much law again. But we are free in Christ. We don’t need to add anything to the Gospel to be accepted by the Lord. Our salvation rests in the fact that we Admit we are sinners, Believe Jesus died for us and Confess our belief to God. A-B-C. It’s as simple as that.

APPLICATION

Don’t add to your children’s belief requirements. I have written about this too many times. Some parents want to be so sure about their child’s decision to follow Christ that they put off celebrating it. Just like the Gentiles who had no knowledge of God, our children come into this world clueless about the Father. It’s our teaching and training that gives them the knowledge. God, in His perfect time, draws them to Himself.

And when they admit, believe and confess, we should shout it from the highest roof top. We should begin right then the process of disciplemaking that will lead them to be a disciplemaker. Matthew 28:18-20 applies, not only to world missions, but also to our own family.

Aren’t you thankful God’s choice was to offer the Gospel to the Gentiles? I sure am. Are you doing your part to spread the Word? There are so many around us who need to hear it. Find someone today and tell them the good news.

I am so thankful for Your choice to share Jesus with me. I will do my part today to share Him with others.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Freedom, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture, Traditions

CLEAN OR UNCLEAN

ACTS 10:15

“Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’”

Acts 10:10-16 tells the story of Peter’s vision of the sheet lowered from heaven with all kinds of animals. He is told to kill and eat, but many of the animals were unclean according to the Mosaic Law. What was Peter to do? He replied he had never eaten anything unclean. I love God’s response in verse 15. God says He has made them clean, so eat.

The New Covenant had come through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Peter was just learning that. He knew things were different, but he didn’t realize how different. He was still learning. God used this vision to open Peter’s eyes to a new theology, one which included Gentiles as well as Jews. His journey was about to begin.

APPLICATION

I bet your children think some foods are unclean, lol. Foods like brussels sprouts or broccoli turn some children’s noses up. They had rather have ice cream and cookies, right? The next time this happens at dinner time, read them this story about Peter’s vision. Explain to them that Peter had a wrong idea about these foods.

Now, of course, the lesson here is not about the food. The lesson here is about sharing the Good News with everyone. It’s not just for our friends. It’s for the homeless person on the street corner. It’s for the prisoner serving a life sentence for murder. It’s for everyone! Period! Our job is to spread what God has declared as good to the world.

Are you faithful to share the Gospel with those around you? Maybe you aren’t living in such a way that your testimony is believable. You have a responsibility to be God’s missionary to those you come into contact with daily. He wants to use you to reach them for Christ. Will you do that? Will you share what He’s done in and through you to someone today?

Lord, what you have declared clean I will no longer call unholy. I want to be used by you to take the Gospel to those who are shunned by the world. Give me opportunities to do that today.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Freedom, Grace, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Rescue, Righteousness, Salvation, Scripture

NOT BEING

1 PETER 2:24

“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

There is an interesting word in this verse. The phrase “we might die” is the Greek word apoginomai. It literally can be translated “from being.” Ginomai means to become, to begin.

This word apoginomai is only used right here in this verse. So, what is Peter trying to tell us about sin?

Christ’s death on the cross and the stripes and wounds He bore rescued us from the penalty of sin. We don’t have to be sinful anymore. We have been moved away from death and into life. We are to live righteously because of His sacrifice on the cross. Hallelujah!

APPLICATION

Children can come up with all sort of excuses for doing wrong. It’s their sibling’s fault. They just couldn’t help themselves. They didn’t know that was wrong. And the truth is, before Christ comes into their life, they don’t know any better. They are sinful creatures.

But if your children have accepted Christ as their Savior, there is no excuse for sin. We must point them towards living righteously. Read them this verse. Show them what Christ has done for us. He bore our sins. He took our punishment upon Himself. Ask your children if anyone has ever taken their punishment for them. Ask them how that would make them feel.

Do you realize, I mean really realize, what Christ has done for you? He has freed you to live righteously. The pain and suffering of sin has been paid for. You are debt free. How would you live if you were debt free financially? You are debt free spiritually, not because of anything you have done, but because of what Christ has done for you. Live like it today.

I am free to live righteously today. I praise You, Lord, for paying the price for my freedom. I will live today to honor You.

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Advice, Bible, Bondslaves, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evil, Faithfulness, Following, Freedom, Inspirational, Love, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony

DON’T COVER UP

1 PETER 2:16

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.”

Peter gives us some very good advice in this verse and uses a word that is only used right here – the word covering. It actually means a covering, a cloak, a veil. What is Peter saying here? He is telling us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to not pretend to be one thing while saying we are something else.

In other words, live truthful. Remember, we, as Christians, are bondslaves of God. We have willingly indentured ourselves to our Lord. We have committed ourselves to serving Him. If we are in service to Him, there is no room for doing evil. There is no room for cloaking evil in our lives.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever tried to cover up a wrong done? Most children will do that at one time or another. Perhaps they made a mistake or accidently broke something. That is not what I am talking about. I talking about deliberately choosing wrong and then trying to hide it. Read them this verse. You can’t get much plainer than this verse.

I remember when I was growing up, I did this on several occasions. I didn’t want to get spanked (and boy, could my dad spank). I would hide my wrongdoings. Some my parents never found out about. But guess what? God still knew. I became more aware of that after I came to Christ. I always knew it, but it wasn’t until I became a bondslave did it really sink in. The same is true for your kids.

Are you cloaking your sin? Are you hiding your wrongdoings now? God is aware. You can’t cloak your sins from Him. Confess those now and bow in obedience to His sovereign will. A bondslave loves his master and is loved by His master. A bondslave lives to please the master. Is that you?

Forgive me, Lord, for trying to hide my disobedience. Forgive me for not bowing before You each day as Your bondslave. Today I will bow and obey.

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