Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commitment, Discipline, Faithfulness, Giving, Greed, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

Standard
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.

Standard
Belief, Bible, Blessing, Child Rearing, Compassion, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Giving, God's Will, Inspirational, Praise, Remembering

REMEMBER

HOSEA 12:9

“But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival.”

Oh, how quick we forget the Lord’s blessings. I have been guilty of that. In the past, I have prayed about a certain thing and received a blessing from the Lord. At the time, I was so full of praise and thankfulness, but as time passed, I forgot about that blessing. I began to take it for granted

Hosea is reminding Israel of their feast of tabernacles, the festival which commemorated their dwelling in tents during their wilderness years. They were reminded of God’s abundant provisions during all those years (water, manna, quail). As the decades had passed, the people had forgotten His blessings.

APPLICATION

Take out a sheet of paper and start listing all the blessings you have received from the Lord this past week. Think about the little things, not just the biggies. Hey, you woke up each day, right? You had food to eat. You had clothes to wear. Just start listing them.

Now think back further. Think about all the blessings He has bestowed on you since your salvation. When you start doing this, it is pretty amazing. How soon we forget. Maybe you could start writing down these blessings as they happen. At the end of each year you could sit down with your family and read through the list and praise Him.

I have known people who kept a blessing box. They would write down on a slip of paper each time they received some kind of blessing. They would put that slip of paper in a shoe box or something and then pull them all out and read them at the end of the year. If you have kids, get them involved in this. I bet when you reflect back, you will be amazed at just how blessed you are.

Father, You bless me in so many ways. I am sorry I am so ungrateful and forgetful. Forgive me.

Standard
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.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Giving, Inspirational, Life, Perseverance, Promises, Scripture

THE EARTH SINGS

HOSEA 2:22

“And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.”

I grew up in farm country in South Georgia. When I say “farm country” I mean that. My small hometown economy revolved around the farms that surrounded us. I loved seeing all those crops in the fields. It seemed to inspire life. Fields of corn, tomatoes, watermelons and etc. It did appear that the earth was singing.

Hosea 2:22 gives a similar picture. Grain, new wine and oil were about life during the time of Hosea. Everyone depended on the health of the harvest. When it was good, everyone celebrated. It was a festive time. When it was not, worry set in. They didn’t have the elaborate food economy we have today. It was literally hand to mouth.

APPLICATION

So, how does this apply to us today? We need to celebrate the life that the Lord has given us. Each day with Him brings new hope. We can face anything if we know He is with us. We do want the grain, new wine and oil, just like the Israelites. We may not call it that, but we live to celebrate new life.

What do you do, then, when things aren’t going so well? Do you pout and complain? Be honest – you probably do. But we shouldn’t. Even in the lean times, God is still on His throne. He is still with us. We can rest assured that He has not forgotten us and will once again bring in the harvest times.

What are you celebrating today? You can celebrate the fact that Jesus died for your sins. He hung on that cross to bear the sins of the whole world. He rose from that grave and ascended to His heavenly Father. He sits on His right hand interceding for you right now. Now, that’s worth celebrating.

Father, I praise You for giving me life. I praise You for promising life even on the darkest of days.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Testimony, Witnessing

YOU’VE DONE GOOD

3 JOHN 5

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;”

I have been an employee and an employer a long time. As an employee I love being told I am doing a good job. It’s nice to know others appreciate the work you do. As an employer and supervisor, I also know the importance of telling your employees they are appreciated. You can just see their faces beam when you tell them “Well done.”

John is telling Gaius the same thing. He is so proud of how Gaius is serving the brethren and not just those he knows well. He is even faithful serving strangers. The word “accomplish” here actually means “to work for.” Gaius was actively serving the brethren. He wasn’t just sending others. He was doing it himself.

APPLICATION

Have you helped your children serve others? There are all kinds of ways to show them how to directly serve someone. It’s one thing to put a few dollars in the offering plate on Sundays or to give toward a mission cause. But to put their hands into directly serving someone can cause a lifetime change.

How about taking them down to serve at the homeless shelter serving a meal? You can get them to go down the street and rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The point is getting their hands dirty, experiencing a hands-on service project. And make sure they see the response of those they are helping. And when you get home, talk about how they felt doing this. Tell them how proud you are of them. Then read them this verse.

When is the last time you got your hands dirty? Don’t you want others to say “well done” to you? We all want that, but don’t do it for that. Do it to please the Lord. Let Him be the one to tell you “well done.” And as you are serving others, pray for the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You may be serving another believer who just needs encouraging. You may be serving someone who needs Jesus as their Savior. Just be obedient, like Gaius.

Help me Lord serve others You place in my path. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty for You.

Standard
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.

Standard
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. 

Standard
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.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Friends, Giving, God's Will, Joy, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting

SEE A NEED, MEET A NEED

1 JOHN 3:17

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

Have you ever been blessed by someone? Boy, I have. During this past year many of my friends have stepped up to meet some needs that my wife and I had during my extended illness. I didn’t ask for any them, but they were led of the Lord to step up and do what He said to do for us. We were blown away.

There are people all around us who are in need. Sometimes they hide it very well. We can’t see the need. But what do you do when you find out? Do you wait for them to come ask you for help? Let me encourage you to make the first step. So many are too proud to ask. They think it’s beneath them. It’s not. God wants us to come alongside each other.

APPLICATION

I love seeing children who give without even being told to do so. I have known children whom I literally had to tell to stop giving so much. They just didn’t care about stuff. They had rather see someone else’s needs met than their own. They were just bent that way. Others…well…not so much. You would have to peel the last cookie out of their hand, lol. 

Giving is a privilege and a blessing. Until your children experience the joy of giving to someone else, they will never really understand it. You have to help them to learn this joy. How about before they get anything new help them pick out a toy they can share with someone else? How about leading them to have a birthday party where all their gifts go to the Ronald McDonald house? There are all kinds of ways to teach them to give to others.

You may not be blessed with an abundance of goods, but I guarantee you have more than most. Look around and see how you can give to someone today. Perhaps you want to do it anonymously. That’s okay. It’s not about you. Jesus is the one who gets the glory, right. Just give.

Reveal to me, Lord, to whom I should be a blessing today. Help me meet the need of someone today.

Standard