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, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Friends, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Service

TURNCOATS

HOSEA 7:15

Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me.”

Betrayal hurts, doesn’t it? If you live long enough, sooner or later, someone will betray you. It could be a friend you thought you could depend on. It might be a spouse who betrays your marital vows. However it happens, it hurts. When you put time and energy into a relationship only to have it squashed by a turncoat, it takes a while to get over that.

Ephraim had turned against God. Hosea says here in verse 15 that God had trained and strengthened them. Remember – God had chosen these people. He had made them a great nation. He had protected them from their enemies. He had enriched their boundaries. And yet, they turned. Not only that, Hosea says they “devise evil” against God. Wow!

APPLICATION

I want to ask you a hard question. Have you ever devised evil against anyone? Have you turned against them and tried to make them hurt? Not me, Carl. I am more spiritual than that. Right! Listen, we may not literally plot to do evil, but we have all had bad feelings toward someone and maybe even rejoiced when they fell on hard times.

As believers, our goal should be to lead others to Jesus at all times. That doesn’t give us the right to have any evil thoughts. When we have feelings, other than godly ones, towards someone, that flies in the face of God. How do you think He feels about that person? He desires them to come to Him. He may be wanting to use you to draw them, and you are refusing. You are fighting against Him. That, in a sense, is devising evil against God.

I want to be on the Lord’s side. Don’t you? I want to serve Him by serving others. I want Him to use me to bring His lost sheep home. May I never be found in conflict with God’s plan for the lost. Serving Him is a joy and pleasure. Won’t you join me?

I desire to remain loyal to You, Lord. I want to be on Your front lines serving Your kingdom.

Standard
Advice, Advocate, Bible, Born, Calling, Commitment, Darkness, Doubts, Encouragement, Friends, Infidelity, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

Standard
Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Friends, Greetings, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture

NEED A HUG?

3 JOHN 15

“Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.”

I’m a hugger. One of the hardest things about dealing with the covid-19 virus is not being able to hug people. There is just something about getting or giving a hug to someone, especially someone you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s more than just a hello. If you’re a hugger, I don’t have to explain.

The word “greet” used in today’s verse means to “enfold in one’s arms.” I bet John couldn’t wait to give Gaius a hug. Of course, that is just speculation. However, John knew to greet each other was more than just to say “hi.” I think we can learn from that, can’t we?

APPLICATION

One great skill to teach your children is how to greet someone. We all know our children go through shy periods. That can be cute, but they can’t remain like that, can they? My dad taught me to look someone right in the eye, stick out my hand and give a firm handshake. Greeting someone warmly and politely goes a long way.

Greeting someone in Christ’s name is even more important. How do we teach our kids that? By simply showing love and a smile. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it is if we teach them to let Jesus greet them. What? Yea! Teach your children to see everyone in the same way He does. That way they will greet them in love.

Who do you know that needs a hug? Why don’t you give them a “greeting”? Embrace them in your arms. Wrap your arms around them (if they’ll let you). In this time we are in people need a good greeting. Do it today.

I am so thankful You greeted me, Lord. You took me in Your warm embrace and welcomed me into Your family.

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Fellowship, Friends, Greetings, Hugs, Listening, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture

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.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

ANOTHER BROTHER

3 JOHN 12

“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

Do you have people in your life you can trust? I mean people whom you can tell anything and know they will hold that in confidence. We all need those kinds of people in our circle. I don’t care how grounded you are in the Word, there are times when we just need to talk about stuff. I have a couple of guys like that. They could be my Demetrius.

John mentions Demetrius and really brags on him. Now understand something. John could only brag on him because he was proven. John says he had a good testimony. Actually, John says he “has received” a good testimony. That verb is in the Perfect tense which means it happened with lasting results. Demetrius’ testimony was proven. And it was based on “the truth itself.” John really believed in him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to build reputations like that. Those don’t come quickly and can be lost so easily. We can help our children build those kinds of testimonies by holding them accountable and teaching them the truth. Their word needs to be trustworthy. Their actions need to be honorable. When we continue to point them to the Word, they learn to incorporate that into their lives.

When our children mess up, and they will, we point them back to the Word. We make sure they apologize and make things right if necessary. We model this behavior in front of them when we have wronged someone. We show them examples from Scripture of individuals who messed up but made things right with God.

Are you a Demetrius to someone? Do you have a Demetrius in your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Demetrius (at least this Demetrius) is only mentioned right here in the New Testament. But his name was important enough for John to put in this letter to Gaius. His name has been read through the centuries by millions of believers probably without a second thought. Think about him today and thank God for his testimony to John, Gaius and others.

Father, help me be a Demetrius to others. Let my testimony point to Jesus in all I do.

Standard
Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Scripture

LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

3 JOHN 2

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

How many Trekies do I have out there? If you ever watched the original Star Trek series, you are probably familiar with Spock’s typical farewell. He would hold up his right hand, form a V with his fingers by holding apart his second and third fingers and then say these words Live long and prosper. I do that often with friends just as a joke. If you’re not a Trekie, you don’t get it.

John wasn’t holding up his fingers and quoting Spock, lol. He was praying for Gaius to prosper. And he wasn’t asking for a one-time prospering. The verbs “may prosper” and “prospers” are both in the Present tense which conveys continuous action. John was praying that Gaius would prosper and prosper and prosper. The word “prosper” implies real success.

APPLICATION

I bet you want your children to prosper. Am I right? Of course, you do. All parents want to see their children do well. They want them to succeed in life. But I want you to look back at the verse for second. Look at the last part of the verse. John wants Gaius’ soul to prosper as well. It’s not just about succeeding in life. We should be praying that our children prosper spiritually.

How do they do that? Well, it’s not possible to prosper spiritually unless you spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. That’s your role as a parent – to teach them to how to read and study God’s Word and how to pray. By doing that, you are laying the groundwork for them to prosper spiritually. You are preparing them for success in their faith. You do want them to “live long and prosper” don’t you?

Are you doing that? Are you more concerned about prospering financially than spiritually? How much is enough for you? So many believers get bogged down in achieving material wealth that they neglect their spiritual health. Prospering with God is not about things. It’s about faith. It’s about walking with Him daily. It’s about sharing the good news with others. So, are you prospering? Really?

Lord God, help me to prosper according to You. I want to be seen as a spiritually wealthy man.

Standard
Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Elders, Encouragement, Friends, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Truth

YOUR NAME IS KNOWN

3 JOHN 1

“The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.”

I have a lot of friends. I say that, not to brag, but to make a point. A lot of people know me by my name. If my name is mentioned to them, they can say they know me. If they see my name in the paper, they would recognize it. In other words, a lot of people truly know me. I am glad for that and try to make a good impression.

I bet you Gaius never thought that his name would be known by people in 2021. We really don’t know who this Gaius was. There are three men named Gaius mentioned in the Scriptures (Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4 and Romans 16:23/1 Corinthians 1:15). It could possibly be the Gaius mentioned in Acts 20:4. Who he was isn’t as important as that he was. He was a kind Christian friend of John. That we know.

APPLICATION

Ask your child how they want to be known. Do they want others to remember them? For what should they be known? Our kids might want to be known for their athletic prowess. Perhaps they want to be known for their good grades. Most everyone wants to be known by others for something. No one wants to be forgettable.

However, we should be teaching our children to be known for their loyalty and commitment to Christ. In this day and age, that will really stand out. Even in Christian circles that will stand out. If our children are known for standing for Christ, people will remember their name. After all, we don’t want them to be known for who they are. Jesus will give them a whole new idea behind being known. Let Jesus show them the correct way to be known.

Are you concerned about being known? Gaius wasn’t. He was only doing what Christ told him. He was being a true friend to John. We see that in today’s verse. John loved him. That speaks volumes. Will you allow the Lord to use you today to be a true friend to someone? You never know who may remember you.

Father, I pray for opportunities to come alongside others for the cause of Christ. Let me be a Gaius to a John today.

Standard
Affection, Bible, Encouragement, Friends, Greetings, Joy, Relationships, Scripture

CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU

2 JOHN 12

“Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.”

In this day of texts and emails, we communicate a lot. I remember back when the only way to communicate in writing was by a letter or postcard. But there is still nothing like seeing someone face to face. Words just can’t express our feelings. Even using FaceTime or Zoom isn’t the same. You can’t reach out and touch the person.

John is obviously having those same feelings. He may have had plenty of paper and ink, but he wanted to see his dear friend. He had so much more to tell her and her family. I wonder what that was. I wonder if he had the chance to see her. We won’t know the answer to that question until eternity. I guarantee you one thing. They have eternity to catch up, lol.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, how do you apply this verse to me today? Well, who do you need to catch up with? Who have you not seen in a long time? It’s the new year. Perhaps there is someone who has been on your heart for the past few months whom you have just neglected to go see. Do it. Give them a call and say you are coming to see them because you have so much to tell them.

Have you ever watched people at a family reunion? Usually, these are times when family who haven’t been around each other much gather to spend some much desired time. And what do they talk about? Everything under the sun! Let me encourage you to share what the Lord has done and is doing in your life. Let others know how you have been blessed. That is certainly something worth sharing.

I am certain that John was not anxious to talk about the weather. He had lessons from the Lord to share. He wanted to impart truth. Why? He tells us in the last phrase of the verse. “so that your joy may be made full.” Some scholars say the word “your” should be translated “our.” Even better. How about doing that today. Make yours and someone else’s joy full.

I long for others to hear the truth of the Gospel and what You are doing in my life. Give me the opportunity today to share with someone else and make our joy full.

Standard
Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Trust, Truth

WHO IS THIS LADY?

2 JOHN 1

“The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,”

There are a lot of speculations about who this lady is John is writing this letter to. No one really knows, but it is pretty much agreed that this was someone John knew well. He calls her “chosen lady” and someone “whom I love in truth.” You don’t talk about someone like that unless you know them well and care for them.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a letter addressed to you like that? I wonder what she had done for John to care so much. Let me ask you a question. Can someone write these words about you? Truth seems to be an important word in this relationship. Are you truthful? Are you trustworthy? Good questions, huh?

APPLICATION

Why don’t you get your children to write a letter to someone they really care about? Help them choose some descriptive words for the person they are writing. And I bet the person they write would like a picture that shows their relationship. Getting a letter like that would be special.

Now, just like John, the words need to be truthful. You don’t want them to just say nice things to say nice things. Whomever they are writing will appreciate knowing those words are true. And I bet when they get that letter they will write back or call your child to thank them. What a lesson that will be for your child!

Truth! It’s what our relationship with Christ is all about. It’s also what builds our relationships with others. I have heard said that trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Well, that trust is founded upon truth. Live that way.

I want to be known as a trustworthy person, Lord. Let me reflect Your truth so it will flow out of me.

Standard