Accountability, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Gentleness, Inspirational, Looking, Scripture

MY FATHER’S EYES

AMOS 9:4

“And though they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword and it will kill them, and I will set My eyes against them for harm and not for good.”

When my children were growing up, they were very different. My son, the eldest, was typically more compliant. He was the one at whom you could just give a look (you know what I mean) and he would straighten up. He didn’t want to that look. My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t respond too well to that look. She didn’t ignore it, but she didn’t quite respond as quickly as our son.

The Israelites ignored the fact that God’s eyes see all. When you read that phrase “I will set my eyes against them for harm and not for good” you may get the impression that God is some kind of cosmic zapper, just waiting for you to mess up. No! God’s eyes are on us all. He just won’t tolerate the wicked, especially those who pretend to be His. He will deal with them.

APPLICATION

Amy Grant had a song in 1979 that really launched her Christian music career. It was her first number one song. It was called “My Father’s Eyes.” That was 43 years ago. Wow! I was still a teenager. Check it out at Amy Grant – Father’s Eyes (Lyric Video) – YouTube (pardon the YouTube commercial).

Part of the lyrics say:

        Eyes full of compassion

        Seeing every pain

        Knowing what you’re going through

        And feeling it the same.

The Father will not leave you hopeless. His eyes are upon you. If you are truly seeking Him, He is there. His eyes are indeed full of compassion, and He does see all your pain. Look fully into the eyes of Jesus today and allow His gaze to wash over you.

Lord, I thank You that Your eyes are always looking at me. You see all.

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Gentleness, Intimacy, Obedience, Relationships

WALKING WITH GOD

Amos 3:3

“Do two people walk together unless they have agreed to meet?”

I was sixteen years old when I started my walk with Christ. I had been in church all my life, but I had never surrendered my life to Him. I did all the church stuff, including singing in the choir and going on church trips. But I did not know Jesus until I gave my whole self to Him and saw myself as a sinner. My walk began July 31, 1977 and has not stopped since then. There have been some bumps in the road, but He has been faithful.

Amos begins a series of parables in verse 3 today. Each one has a message for Israel. This first one speaks of walking with someone. Israel had not been walking with God for quite some time. The parable says that both have to agree. That was the problem. Israel didn’t agree. God was ready to walk with them, but they had shunned Him and disobeyed Him. God could not walk with them like that.

APPLICATION

How’s your walk? Are you running away from God or ahead of Him? Either is bad. Maybe you are refusing to move and are stuck in some sin. I don’t know about you, but when I walk with my wife I like to hold her hand. We don’t do that much right now because of my feet. But walking hand in hand is special to me. God wants to walk with you that way. He desires that closeness.

Are you holding His hand as you walk with Him? Do you want that intimacy? I do. I want to walk with Him feeling His hand in mine. Now, I know that is not physically possible, but it is spiritually. Holding hands requires closeness. Get close to Him. Read His Word. Pray to Him. Spend time with Him. You won’t regret it. His walks are exhilarating.

I mentioned my walk has had some bumps. But God never let go of my hand. He kept picking me up and dusting me off. He put me back on the right path. My walk with Christ has improved over the years. It’s still not perfect. I still stumble. But I have learned to hold tight to my Master’s hand. I trust Him completely. I pray you can as well. Hold tight.

O Jesus, thank You for holding my hand. Thank You for being right beside me all the time.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Compassion, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Stubbornness

GOD’S WIND

HOSEA 13:15

Though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, the wind of the LORD coming up from the wilderness; and his fountain will become dry and his spring will dry up; it will plunder his treasury of every precious article.”

I love to fish. I used to own a fishing boat and would go out on our local lake to fish. Sometimes when you are out on the water the weather changes. I can remember one day when I was out with some friends when that happened. The sky started to get dark, so I checked my weather app. Sure enough, a storm was coming. I could see the water getting rougher from the approaching winds. I had to get off the water for my safety.

The wind of the Lord came up from the wilderness, says Hosea. God’s judgment on Israel was coming. They were going to feel the wrath of God soon. But Israel continued to ignore the signs. They continued in their sins and rebellion until the wind hit them. Stubbornness and pride will always bring you down.

APPLICATION

When you see a storm coming, don’t you take cover? I can remember preparing for approaching hurricanes when I lived in Florida. We boarded up windows and brought in outdoor furniture. We would have been foolish to do anything else. But so many of us ignore the approaching wind of the Lord. We think it certainly won’t hit us. God is too loving to punish us, right?

Wrong! I have said it multiple times – God cannot and will not allow unrepentant sin to go unpunished. Without Christ His wind will catch us all. But once we come to Christ and confess our sins, His wind will simply fill our sails and carry us along on our journey. It’s the same wind but with a different purpose. Isn’t that amazing?

I choose to have my sails filled with the gentle breath of the Lord’s wind. I want Him to guide me in my daily walk with Christ. I trust Him to blow as gentle or as strong as necessary to do that. And wherever He leads, I will go.

Wherever He leads, I’ll go, Wherever He leads, I’ll go. I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads, I’ll go.

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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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