Abiding, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Inspirational, Scripture

BLESSINGS UPON BLESSINGS

JOEL 3:18

And on that day the mountains will drip with sweet wine, and the hills will flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah will flow with water; and a spring will go out from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.

I have been the recipient of blessings. In fact, I could say they have been blessings upon blessings. People have blessed me with gifts. I have a friend who gifted me a great pair of shoes because he was concerned about my neuropathy. He has seen me struggle and took it upon himself to do that. That was a blessing. I am truly a blessed man.

In today’s verse we see God’s blessings upon the land. The mountains drip wine. The hills flow with milk. The brooks will flow with water. All this imagery is sending Judah a message. Their God is blessing His children after the period of judgment and war. He is faithful to do that.

APPLICATION

Have you counted your blessings lately? You need to. I bet you could fill a box with records of your blessings. Take a minute or two today and thank God for how He has blessed you. Write those blessings down and put them on your frig to remind you of how He has done that. We need those reminders. We forget so quickly.

If you have children, ask them how they think the Lord has blessed your family. Children are so good at recognizing things that we adults take for granted. Get them to make a list. I bet their list will be different from yours. Compare your lists. Make a plan to do this with your children regularly. In fact, the next time you face a tough time, go look at your list. You may be amazed.

I know I am amazed each day how the Lord has blessed me. I don’t deserve anything, but He gives me everything I need. I am so ungrateful, but He is so faithful. I am unworthy, but He has made me worthy. He does the same for you. Will you recognize that today? Give Him praise!

Forgive me, Lord, for not being more grateful for all You have given me. I want to quickly recognize every blessing that comes my way.

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Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Goodness, Obedience

INDIAN GIVER

HOSEA 13:11

I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.”

Do you remember as a child what we called someone who gave you something and then took it back? We called them an “Indian giver.” That phrase was really offensive to someone (not to mention how offensive it is to Native Americans). To give someone a gift and then demand it back is not very nice.

God had given Israel a king. He gave them Saul after they demanded one. He wasn’t happy about that. Hosea even says He did it in anger. Then after their repeated disobedience, His wrath fell. He sent them into exile. He removed their king, never to return again.

APPLICATION

Let me clarify something. God is NOT an Indian giver. That is not His style. That’s not what He did to Israel. God wants to give good gifts to you. In fact, He is just waiting to bless you. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He wants to bless you. He always has your best in mind. Every gift He gives you is custom made just for you.

So, why aren’t you asking for His blessings? I don’t mean you can just name it and claim or blab it and grab it. No! The problem most of us have with asking for God’s blessings is we aren’t living worthy of those blessings. We pretend to live for Him or we are outright living in sin. How can we expect Him to bless us?

I want His blessings. Therefore, I choose to live in such a way that He is able to bless me. What does that mean? It means I live for Jesus each day by surrendering my will to His. Just like our earthly fathers love to bless their obedient children, God desires the same. I don’t obey in order to be blessed. I obey because I love Him. And when I do, He give His good gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for Your good gifts. Help me live in such a way that Your blessings flow.

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Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Following, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture

UNWELCOMED GIFTS

HOSEA 9:14

“Give to them, LORD—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dried-up breasts.”

Have you ever gotten a gift that you really didn’t like? Come on, now. We all have. It may have been a pair of socks from a relative at Christmas. It could be that really, gawdy tie you got at your office party. Whatever it may have been, you didn’t like it and didn’t want it. But now you have it. What do you do with that?

Israel got a gift in today’s verse that wasn’t welcomed. I won’t go into great detail. I don’t have to. God was going to cause them to be barren and not be able to have children. This was not a gift they wanted, but they couldn’t return it. In fact, they had earned this gift due to their rejection of God.

APPLICATION

If you could ask for any gift you wanted from the Lord, what would you ask for? Now, before you answer that, think long and hard about it. If you are a believer, you have already received the greatest gift – Jesus Christ. What else could you possibly want? He fulfills every desire you have. Am I right?

What is the worst the thing you could receive from the Lord? Suffering? Hardships? Trials? If you received those, would you want to return them? Once again, before you answer that, think about it. God only gives us what we need. If He allows all those
gifts to come into your life, He has a purpose. That purpose is to make you more like Him. Now that’s a gift.

They say it’s not about the gift. It’s more about the giving. Do you think that is true? God always has the perfect motive for His gifts. We can’t look at anything He gives us as bad. If we are walking with Him and trying to live a life that pleases Him, whatever gift we receive should be embraced.

Thank You, Lord, for the gifts You send my way. I may not always see them as a blessing, so open my eyes to Your intentions for my life.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Gifts, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Trust

LOST BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:9

“Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time and My new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax that I gave to cover her nakedness.”

I have this vision about heaven. Now, hear my clearly. This is my vision. I am NOT saying this is biblical. It’s just my thought. I have this vision of getting to heaven and seeing this huge box with my name on it. When I ask what’s in it, I’m told that it contains all the blessings that were meant for me that I never asked for. Wouldn’t that be awful?

Israel suffered in that way time and time again. They repeatedly turned their back on God, and He withheld His blessings. He cannot bless disobedience. It goes against everything He is. But He stands ready to bless when we return to Him. Israel eventually did return and reaped the blessings.

APPLICATION

What blessings do you think you are missing? What disobedience in your life is thwarting God from pouring His blessings on you? Perhaps it’s withholding your tithes and offerings. Maybe it’s seeking other loyalties besides Him. Don’t you want to be blessed?

Let me ask you something. Do you really think anything you can gain in this world will outweigh God’s blessings? I don’t think so. There is nothing in this world that can compare. Everything we gain in this world is temporal. God’s blessings are eternal. Even the material gains He may send your way come with eternal lessons. Those blessings build our faith and trust in Him.

Today, ask yourself if you want to live life pursuing worldly things or the blessings of God. Just say yes to Him today. Ask Him what He would have you do today. He has a plan. But He won’t force you to do anything. It’s your choice. What will it be?

God, I want to please You. I want to honor You in all I do. I know You want to bless me, and I want to receive those blessings which draw me closer to You.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Gifts, Giving, Grace, Love, Mentoring, Mercy, Parenting, Peace, Scripture

A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT

2 JOHN 3

“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

Don’t you love getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas? I  can remember going through the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog when I was little and circling all the things I wanted for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t get all those things, but my parents always managed to get me at least one of those things on my list. I can still remember some of those toys. Where they are now, no one knows. Lol

It just seems fitting that on this day, Christmas Eve, as we prepare for Christmas that we land on this verse in 2 John. I mean what else could you hope for? Grace, mercy and peace are given to us from the Father and the Son. And they give it in truth and love. I can just see the package all wrapped with their names on it as the senders. Merry Christmas from God.

APPLICATION

How long is your child’s Christmas list? Some kid’s list seems to be a mile long. Others ask for just one thing. You may be able to get them everything they want, or you may struggle to by just one. Don’t let the present buying get you down or break you. Remember that Christmas is not about buying stuff and giving presents. Your kids need to understand that.

What would happen if you told your children all they were getting for Christmas is grace, mercy and peace? I bet they would be confused and probably throw a fit. Am I right? But if their sole focus is on getting presents, you need to refocus them on what really matters. There is nothing more precious than those three gifts.

Would you be happy with those gifts from the Father and Son? Well, their yours. You just have to claim them. Those three things will give you all you need to walk with Christ in victory. In every situation you face you can apply those three things. Is that true for other gifts you might receive? Hardly. Enjoy your gifts.

Father, I am so thankful for the grace, mercy and peace You have given me. The only gift I can give You is my life. It’s Yours.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Direction, Disciplemaking, Faith, Gifts, Giving, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Knowledge, Life, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Truth, Understanding

CRITICAL THINKING

1 JOHN 5:20

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Do you ever get to thinking about something so intensely that you lose track of time? I’ve done that. The topic becomes so interesting that I could spend hours researching every side angle or story. I look at both sides of the story. I delve into opposing views. And by doing so, I come away with a better understanding of the topic and how to apply it to my life.

That’s the word “understanding” used by John in this verse. And the word “given” is in the Perfect tense which means it happened in the past with lasting results. So, Jesus gave us understanding that will last. He has given us the gift of knowing Him who is true. That truth sets us free. We are in Him, and He is in us. Praise be to God.

APPLICATION

Sometimes the hardest thing to teach our children is why we teach our children. Did I lose you there? Listen. We are so busy teaching our children things that we often forget to teach them why we are teaching them. They need to understand that we are not just teaching them stuff to make us feel better. There is a purpose behind our teaching, right? Do you know that?

We teach them so they can teach others. It’s the 2 Timothy 2:2 principle of passing our knowledge on to the next generation. Without a clear understanding of what we are teaching and why we are teaching, that won’t happen. That’s why rules without reasoning don’t work. Even our children need to experience critical thinking.

Are you doing that? Are you critically thinking about your faith and why you live it? You need to know why you believe what you believe. You need to be able to apologetically defend the faith. I don’t mean you need to be able to argue your points. I mean you need to fully understand it so if you are asked why you believe, you can explain it. Better yet, let the Spirit inside of you do that. He can speak better than any of us. Amen?

Father God, thank You for giving me understanding of You and Your Word. Help me, when asked, to explain my faith to others. Let me be bold and daring when faced with opposing views. 

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Abiding, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Gifts, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture

ONE MORE TIME

1 JOHN 4:13

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”

How do you learn a new task? By repetition. You have to do it over and over and over before you can master it. That skill is gone today, for the most part. Today, people can simply google a video on how to do something. But most of those videos are by people who had to learn the old-fashion way. They learned by doing.

What has that got to do with today’s verse? Well, John is repeating himself. He said these words in today’s verse back in chapter 3 and verse 24. They are not quite verbatim, but they are close. John is repeating himself so we will learn. What’s the lesson? Proof of His abiding in us is the gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit living in us assures us of our relationship with the Father.

APPLICATION

If your children have asked Jesus to be their Savior and Lord, they probably have moments when they doubt their relationship with Him. Usually this occurs in their teen years. Problems arise, and they immediately start doubting God. They can’t see Him working in their lives. They question His presence. After all, they can’t touch Him. They can’t see Him.

Take them to this verse. That nagging conviction they have in their mind about sin is the Holy Spirit. That reminder about godly principles is the Holy Spirit. This gift they received at salvation has not left them. It is still there. All they have to do is ask the Spirit to empower them. All they have to do is confess those things that have come in between them and the Lord. The Spirit will even speak to Him when they can’t put it into words. Remind them of their gift.

Do you need reminding today? The Spirit is put in your life as a believer as a seal of your salvation. He is that constant reminder that God is there. God abides in us! How amazing is that? Through His Holy Spirit, which is able to indwell every believer, He lives in us. Embrace that today. Thank God for His gift!

I am eternally thankful for Your gift of Your Spirit in my life. I know You have gifted Him to me to assure me of Your presence in my life every day.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Encouragement, Gifts, Giving, Hugs, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

DON’T JUST TALK ABOUT IT

1 JOHN 3:18

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

Have you ever promised to do something for someone and just never got around to doing it? We probably have all done that at some point. We have the best of intentions, but we get busy and forget about it. Or we just put it off because it doesn’t seem that important.

Well, it is. Our word means something, but only if we act on it. John is reminding us that our love is seen so much more by our deeds and actions. We can say we love someone, but until we show them our love by our actions, it doesn’t really hold a lot of truth. It can be the simplest sign, too. It just means so much more than words.

APPLICATION

This might be a time when we can learn from our kids. Kids show love easily. They are normally quick to run up and give a hug or kiss to express their love. They may make a special little gift for someone just because they want to. Little expressions of love from little ones mean so much. Why do we adults shy away from the simple ways?

And the biggest way we can show our love for others is by telling them about Jesus. Do you have friends whom you tell you love, but have never shared Jesus with? Do you really love them then? How can we say we love someone if we don’t share with them the most important thing in our lives? What better expression of our love?  Teach your kids to share their love of Jesus to others as well. That’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Tell someone today just how much Jesus loves them. Tell them how much you want to see them come to know Him as their Lord and Savior. Invite someone to church or to a small group. And if you have promised to do something for them in the name of Jesus, by all means, do it. Keep your word. Love in deed, my brother.

Father, let my love to others be more than just words. Let them see my love acted out to them in simple actions.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Gifts, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Patience, Salvation, Scripture

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

2 PETER 3:15

“and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,” 

Just how patient are you? I like to think I am very patient, but truth be known, I am probably not. And why aren’t I? Because I want my way. I want things done how I want them. I want… Well, you see where this is going. My flesh gets in the way.

Aren’t you glad Jesus isn’t like me? Before you yell You better believe it, ask yourself how you compare. Jesus is the patient or long-suffering one. This Greek word for patience is the same word used in Galatians 5:22. “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” You see, you can’t be patient without the Spirit controlling you.

APPLICATION

How do you teach your children patience? The best way is to model it for them. How patient are you with them? Ouch! Did that hit home? Sometimes we aren’t very patient with our little ones. Jesus is so long-suffering with us. Don’t forget that. How can you extend that to your kids?

Jesus was patient towards you in regards to your salvation. That’s what Peter said in today’s verse. He waited for you to respond. He didn’t hurry you or force you. Can you show that patience toward your child? That fruit of the Spirit is so important to show to others, especially your children.

How patient are you toward your work colleagues? How about your neighbor who infringes on your property? Hmmm. Well, Carl, you don’t understand. I don’t have to. Jesus does, and He can give you the power to be patient. In fact, He already has, if you are believer. That fruit is yours to exercise.

Lord, I long to be just like You, including being patient with others. I know I don’t have it within me to do that without the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Encouragement, Gifts, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Perseverance, Scripture, Self-control

BLIND MAN

2 PETER 1:9

“For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” 

Have you ever known a blind person? I have known a few and most of them have developed incredible skills to overcome their blindness. In fact, some of them count their blindness as a gift. Now, I can’t understand that. But they have become accustomed to not being able to see.

Peter warns us here that if we are not developing these God-given qualities in verses 5-7, we are spiritually blind. We are short-sighted. We can’t see down the road. And the sad thing is many people don’t even know it. They have focused so long on their sins and troubles that they can’t see what God has for them.

APPLICATION

Do you have some binoculars lying around? Perhaps your children have used a pair before. Get your kids outside in an open field or park with a pair. Set up a few objects (balls, frisbees, balloons) some distance away. Then ask your children if they can see the objects well with just their eyes.

Then bring out the binoculars. Help them focus them so they can see those faraway objects. Explain this verse is kind of talking about that in a spiritual way. When we gain self-control and perseverance and the other qualities mentioned in verses 5-7, we are better able to see the path the Lord has for us. It is the Lord who gives us the ability to see, just like those binoculars gave them the ability to see further.

Are you blind and short-sighted? Do you focus only on your immediate surroundings and problems? Let Jesus open your eyes to the journey He has for you. Read verses 5-7 again and see which qualities you need to work on to give your eyes the ability to see.

I once was blind, but now I see. Thanks for opening my eyes and increasing my sight.

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