Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Cleansing, Comfort, Confession, Encouragement, Flesh, Gentleness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Joy, Life, Refreshing, Rejoicing, Salvation, Scripture

SPRING RAINS

HOSEA 6:3

“So let’s learn, let’s press on to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain waters the earth.”

When I was a little boy, I loved to play in the rain. Now, I don’t mean the rains that came during the Winter. Those are terrible. It’s cold. You can’t enjoy the rain because you’re freezing. But in the Spring those rains are awesome. Growing up in Southwest Georgia, here in the U.S., Spring is normally pretty warm. So, Spring rains are welcomed.

Hosea describes the Lord like that. He says, “He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain…” What does a Spring rain do? It refreshes the earth. It brings things back to life. Winter has caused everything to die back. But when those Spring rains begin, the new growth pops out. That’s what God does for us.

APPLICATION

Do you realize we can have the same effect on others? If we are living for Him, we can be like a refreshing Spring rain. The joy of Jesus should be all over us. People should see us and practically run to be near us. They should desire our presence. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Do you know someone you just love to be around because of their sweet spirit? That’s what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, too many of us are “Negative Nancy” or “Troublesome Tom.” We exude negativity, and people avoid us. Isn’t that a shame? I have to admit that I have slipped into that character from time to time. When I do, the Holy Spirit convicts me. I truly want others to be drawn to the Jesus in me. I really want them to want to be around me and not avoid me.

Would you join me today in being more like Jesus, more like that Spring rain? Would you let the Holy Spirit show out in your life? All it takes is us dying to ourselves. We have to give up our fleshly desires and pursue the Spirit. He is waiting to show Himself. Ah…I can feel the rain now.

I love the feel of You working in and through me. Help me get out of the way, so You can be seen in me.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Kindness, Passion, Relationships, Scripture

UNSEEN BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:8

“Yet she does not know that it was I myself who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

Many years ago, my wife and I lost a baby girl, Cathleen. She was born premature and only lived six hours. It was a tragic thing in our lives, but one God used mightily. That’s another story. The part I want to share today is that we never received bills from the doctor or hospital. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that someone had paid all the bills for us. We eventually found out who had done that. They had blessed us without our knowledge.

God had done the same for Israel. They had no idea how God had been blessing them for years. As Hosea says here – “and lavished on her…” When God gives, He gives way beyond our comprehension. He makes sure we have what we need, and often times more than we need. He truly blesses us.

APPLICATION

I want you to sit down and think about the past year. How has God blessed you? For me, He got me through another stem cell transplant. He provided for me through multiple individuals the funds to pay my medical bills. He got me through covid-19 when I still had a compromised immune system. I could go on and on. How about you?

We often do not stop and count the blessings. There is an old hymn that talks about that.  Count Your Blessings goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the lord has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

Let me encourage you to do that today. You will be blessed when you stop and see al that He has done for you.

Lord, You bless me when I don’t deserve it. You see my need and move to meet it even before I am aware of it myself.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Gentleness, Greetings, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

KISSY, KISSY

1 PETER 5:14

“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.”

Peter is NOT implying we need to kiss everybody. Nope, no way, nada. If you have never been around another culture group, many of them greet that way. They grab you and kiss you on the cheek, sometimes both cheeks. The first time it happened to me was when I became friends with a guy from El Salvador. I have to admit it kind of freaked me out, lol.

But Peter is talking about greeting other believers in love. He loves these people he is writing to and wants them to pass on his affection and love to everyone. Sincere affection is often expressed by a kiss without any romantic overtones. The word “love” here is the word for God’s love – agape.

APPLICATION

At your next family reunion, make it a point to greet everyone with a holy kiss (on the cheek). Kiss grandma and grandpa. Kiss Uncle Albert. Kiss everyone. You might just surprise some people. I bet they will all be talking when you leave. I bet your children will be asking you what you are doing. Tell them you are just following the Scriptures and read them this verse.

Now explain to them what Peter is really talking about and why. I wouldn’t encourage your children to go around and kiss everyone at church. You may be asked to find a new church. But we do need to teach our children to show true affection to others. We need to be accepting of them. We need to welcome them and make them feel loved.

Is there someone you need to reach out to today? Does someone need to feel loved? Maybe you aren’t the one to do it. But get someone to reach out. Your fellow believers need to know they are loved. You may be surprised how many aren’t told that regularly. Be the vessel God intends you to be.

I welcome Your affection and love today, Lord. Give me the opportunity today to show Your love to someone else.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Comfort, Encouragement, Gentleness, Greetings, Hugs, Kindness, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

GREETINGS

1 PETER 5:13

“She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.”

Who is “she” mentioned here by Peter? Most scholars agree that he is referring to a church or churches in the area of Babylon. And the Mark mentioned by Peter here is most probably John Mark who had accompanied Paul and Barnabus before he left them. This same Mark was picked up by Barnabus later. He also happens to be the author of the Gospel by his name.

But the point of this devotional today isn’t on that church or Mark. It’s on the word “greetings.” This word means to enfold in your arms. In other words, it means a hug. Now, I’m a hugger. I love to embrace with a hug. What better way to say “hi” to someone than with a big ole bear hug? Peter is sending a hug to the readers.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you hugged your child? I bet you did it today. If you haven’t, go do it now. Tell them Pastor Carl told you to. Most kids love hugs. Why? Because it’s intimate. It feels good. It’s warming. If you aren’t a hugger, ask yourself why you aren’t.

Don’t deprive your child of a good daddy or mommy hug every day. They need it. They need it especially when they have done something wrong. After you administer the discipline, hug them. This reassures them you love them, and all is forgiven. Hugs heal. I really believe that. Heal someone today.

Can I send you a virtual hug right now? ((( ))) Do you feel it? Guess what? God gives great hugs. He wants to embrace you and enfold you in His arms. You may not feel very embraceable right now, but that’s okay. God doesn’t care. He doesn’t dispense His hugs based on your value. Open your arms and feel His embrace right now.

Thank You, Father, for not withholding Your hugs from me. I need them daily. And I will pass them on to someone else.

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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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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Gentleness, Harmony, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Peace

CHASE THE RIGHT THINGS

1 PETER 3:11

“’HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.’”

Peter continues to quote from Psalm 34 in today’s verse, and it’s a good one. The Psalmist gives us four actions to follow: turn away from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue peace. Those are pretty good things to chase after, if you ask me. You see, you really can’t do good until you turn away from evil. You can’t do both at the same time.

And then he says to seek peace and pursue it. I just love the word “pursue.” In the Greek it means like a hunter chasing his prey. I’m a hunter, so I can relate to that definition. When you get on the trail of the game you are after, you diligently chase it. That’s how we are to pursue peace. I like that.

APPLICATION

Have you ever played tag with your kids? I am sure you have. Let me tell you, the older we get, the more they win. LOL. You know how it feels when you are chasing someone doggedly. You don’t give up. Play a game of tag with your kids, making some mental notes of who chased who.

Then read them this verse and explain the word “pursue” to them. Tell them how important it is to chase after peace. We should do all we can to make sure we are being peaceful with others. We don’t stop doing that, just like they didn’t stop chasing after the person they were trying to tag in the game.

Are you pursuing peace right now? We too often stop short of our goal in that area. We think the other person should bring the peace, not us. But this verse applies to all of us. We should all be pursuing it. We should all be peaceful in our actions and behaviors.

O Lord, I do desire peace. I know You are the Prince of Peace. Help me pursue You daily and live in Your peace.

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Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Encouragement, Following, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Surrender, Testimony

PRECIOUS IN GOD’S EYES

1 PETER 3:4

“but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.”

Have you ever wondered what God sees in us? He has created us in His image after all. Does He see Himself? Only if we are reflecting Him. Peter tells us that a gentle and quiet spirit is the key. But what does that mean?

The word “gentle” means exercising God’s strength under His control. And the word “quiet” means a divinely inspired inner calmness. Did you catch what’s included in both of those definitions? God! It’s His strength and His calmness. When we exhibit that gentle and quiet spirit, God can indeed see Himself in us.

APPLICATION

The only way to teach our children the importance of a gentle and quiet spirit is to exhibit it ourselves. If we are always yelling and screaming, they won’t see it. If we are pushy and demanding of others, they won’t see it. We have to die to ourselves and allow the Spirit of God live in and through us in order to show that kind of spirit.

As our children see us living that way, they will learn to surrender their little, selfish selves to the Master. They can experience the joy of a gentle and quiet spirit. They can be seen as precious in the sight of God. God loves them and wants them to live for Him. We must model it so they can learn.

Are you precious in His sight? You see what’s required. Are you willing to surrender to His will for your life? His divine strength and inner calmness is waiting for you. I don’t know about you, but I want to be seen as precious in His sight.

I know You are watching me and love me dearly. I desire Your gentle and quiet Spirit to live in and through me daily.

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WALKING AWAY

1 PETER 2:25

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Sheep get lost by walking away. They don’t run away. They simply stop watching their shepherd and wander away. Before they know it, the shepherd is nowhere in sight. Unless the shepherd comes and finds them, they will most likely stay lost.

We are the same way. We can become hopelessly lost unless we turn our eyes on the Shepherd. Only He can save us from a life spent in the wilderness, away from the watchful gaze of the “Guardian of your souls,” as Peter describe Him. He knows where the green pastures are and will lead us to them.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever gotten lost? They didn’t mean to, but they wandered away from you in a shopping mall or amusement park. Their eyes were fixed on something that intrigued them. Instead of watching you or holding your hand, they were pulled away by their own interests.

We need to remind our children that Satan has a way of luring us away from what we know to be safe and sound. Before we come to Christ, Satan doesn’t usually bother us much. He has us where he wants us. But once we come to Christ, he tries to entice us away from following Him. He can’t unsave us, but he can sure can distract us and make us feel unusable.

Have you strayed away from the safe and gentle embrace of the Shepherd? He desires for you to return to Him. He won’t force you, though. Your return is up to you. If that’s you, repent today and watch how quickly He picks you up. He longs for your embrace as well.

Father, forgive me for wandering. Fix my eyes on You so I can stay near to Your side. I want to spend my days close to You.

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NO PAYBACK

1 PETER 2:23

“and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;”

Most of us want payback when we’ve been done wrong. What do I mean by that? When someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. We take revenge seriously. I’ve known people who planned that revenge and waited months to get that person back. That kind of thinking is not of Christ.

Look what Peter wrote about our Lord in today’s verse. He said, “He did not revile in return.” That word “revile” means to spew hateful words. Can you even imagine Jesus doing that? He was always speaking the words of His Father. He had no intention of talking that way. But we lash out at others if they insult us or speak evil against us. That is not the way of Christ.

APPLICATION

Boy, this is definitely a lesson for our children. They definitely are going to face insults from others. What can we do, as parents, to steer them in the right direction? I can think of two things. The first is model the correct behavior. Little ears are always listening. When we encounter someone who is not kind to us, we need to be kind in return. I don’t mean to be a doormat, but I do mean to be like Jesus.

Secondly, we need to teach our children to pray for those individuals. That person may not know Christ, and our reaction to them could mean the difference in them coming to Him. Or that person could be a believer who is just having a hard time right now and is lashing out at anyone in their path. We should forgive as Jesus does. That teaches our children lifelong lessons.

Are you a reviler? Are you someone who lashes out at those who insult you? Take a lesson from Christ. Even during His trial and crucifixion, He forgave. He, unlike you, could have called ten thousand angels to defend Him, but He didn’t. His forgiving actions had one purpose – to draw men to Himself. Shouldn’t we be doing the same?

Forgive me, Lord, when I retaliate against those who harm me. I have no right to do so. Let my actions reflect You in all I do.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Gentleness, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture

TASTY

1 PETER 2:3

“if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

I don’t know about you, but I know when something tastes good. Now, I will admit that people’s tastes vary greatly. For instance, my wife puts sugar on grits. God forbid. Being a southern boy, only salt and maybe some red-eye gravy, but never sugar. Yuk!

Peter is talking about tasting the kindness of the Lord. The Greek word chrestos describes what God defines is kind – and therefore also eternally useful! One scholar said we have no adjective in English that conveys this blend of being kind and good at the same time. This word describes the yoke in Matthew 11:30 when Jesus says it is easy.

APPLICATION

How do you explain this to your children? I only know one way – by living it. You have to show them through your actions what God’s kindness looks like. Once you have tasted it, you want to live it. Once you have experienced it, you want to give it to others, especially your family.

Why are we the harshest to our families? Why do we withhold the kindness of Christ? Maybe we think they can handle it. Perhaps we think it’s safe to let our hair down because they aren’t going anywhere. But does that make it right? No. Let me challenge you today to show kindness to your loved ones first. Watch what happens.

Do you need to ask someone to forgive you today? Have you tasted the kindness of the Lord and swallowed it whole without any thought of sharing? Spread it around. Be kind and good. It’s interesting that chrestos (kind, good) sounds like Christos (Christ). Just be Jesus.

I will strive today to be more kind to those around me. I want to spread the taste of Your kindness with others.

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