Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Fear, Following, Godliness, Holiness

TREMBLING

HOSEA 3:5

“Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.”

When I read this verse I had the image pop into my head of the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz. Do you remember the scene when they finally get to Oz and they are approaching the Great Oz for the first time? When Oz shouts at them, the lion begins to tremble and shake. Then he takes off running and dives through a glass window to escape Oz.

Now, I don’t think that is what Hosea meant in this verse. But he did mean that Israel would be trembling before a holy God. They would be bowing before Him. They probably would not even lift their eyes to look upon Him, for fear of being struck down. They will realize they are in the presence of holiness.

APPLICATION

Sometimes I think we have relegated our God to a buddy. We don’t stand trembling in awe of Him. We don’t appreciate His holiness. In fact, we are way too comfortable. The reverence He is due has been forgotten.

How do you approach God? I am not implying that you need to be scared of Him. No! He is our friend and the lover of our soul. That it true. But we all need to recognize His divinity and holiness. We all need to see Him as the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of our soul. His majesty is beyond description.

I come before Him each day in awe of the fact that He would even look upon me. I don’t deserve anything but hell, and He has given me His only Son to rescue me from that fiery destination. May I encourage you today to stop and reflect on His holiness? It might just amaze you.

Father God, I stand in awe. Actually, I bow in awe of You. You are holy and worthy of my praise.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Contentment, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Following, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

ON SECOND THOUGHT

HOSEA 2:7

“And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not reach them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, because it was better for me then than now!’”

We often have second thoughts about things. We buy a car that we wish we hadn’t. We quit a job hastily. We do things sometimes that we regret. We wish we could go back and do it again. I’ve done that. You probably have, too. Am I right?

In this real life analogy of Gomer and Hosea and God and Israel, we see this. The verse is pretty clear. In Israel’s case, they were always turning from God and then when judgment fell, they would cry out for deliverance. They wanted to come home. Isn’t that just like us today?

APPLICATION

Why do we do that? Why do we turn from what we know to be truth? It’s our flesh. It is strong. Left to its on device, it will lead us down a path of destruction. It will lead us right over the cliff. The only way to combat that fleshly pull and tug is to wrap ourselves in the Word. The sword of the Spirit can defend us.

Now, before you say that is too hard, let me remind you that you are not doing this alone. Several years ago, I embarked on a new way to combat my flesh. Memorizing and meditating on the Word is the key. I never realized the power of memorizing Scripture in this spiritual battle we are in. Those verses I have memorized and meditate on daily protect me from my own flesh.

Aren’t you tired of running and returning? Aren’t you sick of the consequences of your sins? You will never be sinless this side of eternity, but you can pursue a holy life. As you chase after righteousness and godliness, He discloses more and more of Himself to you.

Father, I want more of You so I can stop this lure of the flesh. I want to die to myself and live for You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Infidelity, Obedience, Scripture

INFIDELITY

HOSEA 1:2

When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife inclined to infidelity, and children of infidelity; for the land commits flagrant infidelity,  abandoning the LORD.” 

No one wants to talk about infidelity. It’s a dirty word. It’s a insulting word. But what exactly did the Lord mean by telling Hosea to take a wife that was “inclined to infidelity”? When God spoke through the prophets, He often asked them to do things to portray something that Israel had done. In this case, Israel had sought out other gods, thereby committing adultery with them. Israel, after all, was the bride of God.

What would you have done if the Lord had asked you to marry someone whom you knew was going to be unfaithful to you? You might have said, “Lord, are You sure about this? Are You sure You want me to marry her?” Remember, the Lord doesn’t make mistakes. He will never ask you to do something immoral or illegal.

APPLICATION

God wants us to be true to our spouses. He hates infidelity. There is never an excuse for it. I have actually heard people say the Lord told them to divorce their spouses because they had fallen out of love. Let me tell you something. That wasn’t God. That was their flesh talking. Infidelity is a sin – plain and simple.

Carl, you are being a little harsh, aren’t you? Well, the problem is we aren’t being harsh enough sometimes. So many of us are scared to call a sin a sin. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. So, we sit back and watch them die and go to hell. Ouch! If you are being unfaithful to your spouse, stop it, confess it and return to godly living.

Perhaps you are someone who would never be unfaithful to your spouse, but you have been unfaithful to God. You have put other things before Him. Your work, your play or even your family have been placed in that number one spot in your life. That is infidelity towards God. Repent of that now, as well. Ask the Lord to forgive you and return Him to His proper place in your life today.

Father, I want to keep You in the number one spot in my life. I vow to love and honor You above all.

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Advocate, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fear, God's Will, Godliness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Prayer, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Trust, Victors

THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Cleansing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Holiness, Mentoring, Parenting, Purity, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

WHAT HOPE?

1 JOHN 3:3

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Well, last night I went to bed with my team, the Atlanta Braves, leading in the fifth inning in game seven of the National League Championship. I tried to stay up but was just too tired. I went to bed with a hope they would hold on to win and go to the World Series. Guess what? That didn’t happen. The Dodgers came back to win, sending Atlanta home.

If you read this verse by itself, you have to ask yourself, “What hope?” That hope is not my hope in the Braves (thank goodness). You need to go back and read verses 1 and 2 of chapter 3. That hope is solely in Christ. John tells us if our hope is in Him then we should live in such a way to honor Him. We should purify ourselves by putting anything out of lives that dishonors Him.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love bath time with the kids? Really? You don’t? It can be a challenge, especially when they get a little older. Little boys love to play outside and do not necessarily like to wash that outside off once they come in. The smells of where they have been and what they have been doing are all over them.

The next time you are discussing bath time with the kiddos, read them this verse. I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. Explain to them that just as the physical world can affect how we smell, the spiritual world can affect how we live. We have to keep ourselves cleaned up spiritually through confession and righteous living to remove the stench of sin. You may not can smell that sin, but you can sure see the results of it in your life.

How pure are you today? Jesus wants you to walk before Him purified and reflecting Him. He is not honored by our wallowing in sin and professing to be a believer. He, in fact, demands pure living. Will you confess whatever it is you need to confess today? Let Him cleanse you and help you walk in purity.

Thank You for Your cleansing power in my life. Thank You for convicting me of the impurities I carry along with me. I want to walk representing You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Righteousness, Scripture, Self-control, Surrender

THE PROOF’S IN THE PUDDING

1 JOHN 2:29

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

What do I mean by that title? It comes from a very old proverb. I’ve read that the original version is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It means you have to try out the food in order to know whether it is good. I agree with that. Something may look good, but how does it taste. Have you ever experienced that?

John knew that not everyone who said they were a Christian really were. They had to show it. They had to live righteously. That’s what he means when he says, “practices righteousness.” The Greek word for “practices” means to do, to live it. And when you do that, you show you are born again.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just hate it when you ask your children to do a chore, they promise they will do it, and then they don’t? When they say they will, you expect it, right? The next time they let their chores slide after promising to do them, take them to this verse. Let me explain.

God has expectations of us when we become His child, just like you do of your child. He expects righteous living. If we say we are His, we need to live like it. Remind your children that part of living righteously before God is obeying their parents. After all, you have to do the same thing. You have to obey your Father.

How are you living righteously? Do you find it difficult? You don’t need to struggle. Let Jesus live through you. He IS righteousness. Righteousness is not something you do. It’s who you are in Christ. He has made you righteous. Live like it.

I am righteous because of You, O Lord. Thank You for living through me.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christ's Return, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Exhortation, Godliness, Holiness, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting

HOLY LIVING

2 PETER 3:11

“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” 

Forget about the end of the world. That’s what Peter is saying in the first part of this verse. He had just been writing about the destruction of the heavens and the earth with intense heat and fire. Then he says, “Since…” We know this is going to happen. What do we do?  Well, he goes on to tell us.

He actually asks us a question. “What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” What does that mean? How can we live in holy conduct and godliness? Both of these deal with our outward behavior based on our inner beliefs. Living what you believe. Putting feet to your faith. Letting your actions speak louder than your words. You get the picture?

APPLICATION

Children usually learn best by participating in their learning. Heck, most people do. But children need some “hands on” learning for it to sink in. When we read them a verse like this one, we need to help them experience what it means to live in holy conduct and godliness. How can you help them put their faith into practice?

How about taking your kids down to the local soup kitchen to serve meals to the homeless? That’s quite an eye opener for a lot of kids. Getting them involved helping a senior adult around the house doing some basic household chores. That teaches them. And, of course, spending time studying the Word and praying for the lost. All of these are part of that.

How are you living? Are you a Christian in name only? Maybe you are saved and are excited about Christ’s return. That’s great. But how are you living in the meantime? We all can improve in our holy conduct and godliness. Will you join me?

Father, I have so far to go. I feel I don’t measure up most days to Your standards. Thank You, Lord, for leading me along the path of holy living.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Godliness, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Submission, Surrender, Testimony, Witnessing

DON’T BE AN EXAMPLE

2 PETER 2:6

“and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;” 

Peter gives us another example in this list of examples in verses 4-10, and this time it’s a bad one. By that I mean, we don’t want to follow the example of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you don’t remember that story, you can read about it in Genesis 18 and 19. They were ungodly cities deserving of destruction.

You know, the scary part is there wasn’t much going on in those cities that isn’t going on in our world today. Why is God sparing our cities? Judgment could fall at anytime, and what are we doing about it? What kind of example are we being for the world? Can the world distinguish us apart from the unbelievers?

APPLICATION

Many, if not most, of us with children will tell the older sibling to be an example to their younger sibling. That’s really kind of unfair and burdensome for a child. We need to simply point them to Jesus. If they follow Him, they will be a good example for their sibling. Better yet, if we are living for Jesus, they will follow us.

Being an example is hard sometimes, especially if we are trying to accomplish it on our own. I know I am a poor example of Christ if I try to love people on my own. I won’t last one hour in a crowd without losing it. But when I surrender to Christ, He can live in and through me, showing my children and others how to live.

What kind of example are you? Are you an example of Christ or an example of Sodom and Gomorrah? Pointing others to Jesus is our goal. We simply want others to see Jesus in us so we can share with them all He has done in our lives. It really is that simple. Will you be His example today?

Use me, Lord, to exemplify You today. Hide me and show Yourself.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Godliness, Inspirational, Knowledge, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Perseverance, Scripture

GET INTO IT

2 PETER 1:5

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,” 

There’s a Greek word that is really missing in the English translation of this verse (at least in the NASB). It’s only used right here in the whole New Testament. It’s the Greek word  pareispheró, and it means real personal involvement or energy. The Lord is telling us through Peter that we have to be involved in our spiritual growth. It doesn’t just happen.

Now, I am not inferring we need to be “works” minded. However, we need to be focused on our faith. Peter begins in this verse and continues in verse 6 to list several areas that will help us grow as believers. You need to exhibit moral excellence which only comes through God. Through that you gain knowledge of God, a personal experience of Him. Those two are listed first. Do you have those in your life?

APPLICATION

Your child’s faith in the beginning is normally a reflection of yours. They mimic your spiritual walk. They do what you do. However, they can’t stay there. Usually, around the middle school years, they begin to develop their own spiritual understanding of God. Along with that comes doubts. That’s normal. Our job is to help them work through that and keep pointing them to Christ.

We can’t grow them spiritually. What? Yep, that’s what I said. We can only provide the spiritually rich environment for growth. It’s the same as growing a garden. We can’t make the seed grow, but we can prepare the soil and add in the nutrients needed. We can water the seed when it’s dry. But only the seed can germinate itself. Make sure your children are involved in their own spiritual growth process.

Too many believers want to be spoon fed when it comes to growing spiritually. Often times, the Lord chooses trials and hard times to grow us. We complain and bicker and fail to see these as opportunities to develop moral excellence and knowledge of God. Get involved in your spiritual development. Seek out ways to grow and become more like Him.

Thank You, Lord, for growing me. I want to be more like You each day. Help me see each challenge as an opportunity for growth.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Godliness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Perseverance, Scripture, Suffering, Surrender

TRUST YOUR CREATOR

1 PETER 4:19

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

This verse is one I have memorized as part of a men’s study called Every Man A Warrior. Dads, you should check it out, if you haven’t. Memorization of Scripture isn’t just about the memorizing part. It’s about putting into practice the verses you have memorized.

Take this verse for instance. The Greek word for “shall entrust” means to set close beside, to commit to in a very up-close-and-personal way. Wow! Can you do that? Can you commit to a very close relationship? It’s in those times of suffering that you have to draw close.

APPLICATION

Your kids need to draw close. They need to know the Lord is near, especially when times are difficult. Look back at the verse. Peter goes on to say, “in doing what is right.” No matter what is going on, we must continue to do the right thing. That is a great lesson for your children. Choosing to do what is right is difficult sometimes. But it is always God’s choice.

So how do you teach your children to draw near to God and do the right thing? Yep, you guessed it. You have to model it for them. They need to see you trusting the Lord in difficult times. They need to watch you choosing to do the right thing when retaliation or vengeance would be your choice.

So, I will ask you again. Can you commit to a close relationship with Jesus? Will you trust Him to see you through those times? Better yet, will you choose to do the right thing? Tough questions with an easy answer. Just say “yes.” Say yes to Jesus, and He will see you through your most challenging days.

I will draw close to You and do the right thing. I will trust You, Lord, when I face times of trouble, knowing You are there.

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