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THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

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NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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DO YOU BELIEVE?

1 JOHN 5:1

“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.”

I guess I have always believed in Jesus. I was raised in a church-going home. We were there every Sunday. I remember going to

Sunday School, church, revivals, etc. Church was a regular part of our family life. But you have to understand something. It was all head knowledge. All that church going gave me a false sense of salvation.

It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I truly believed. When the Holy Spirit drew me towards the Father through the Son, I surrendered my life to Him. My church-going belief became true belief in Christ. I joined the family John is describing in today’s verse. I finally fully believed that Jesus was the Christ. What a change! Knowledge about something does not equal belief in something.

APPLICATION

As your children grow, I am sure you have been telling them about God and Jesus. You may even have pictures of Jesus or other Christian decorations in your house. You talk about Jesus at Christmas and celebrate His birth. You have been filling their little skulls full of mush with knowledge about Jesus. But try as you might, you can’t flip a switch and give them saving knowledge. That is truly between them and God.

So, how do you ensure your child comes to faith? No one wants to think of the alternative, right? You have to remain consistent in your teaching. You have to take every opportunity to talk about what Jesus has done for you. When a prayer is answered, make sure you share that with them. They need to see Jesus working in your life. God may just use that to draw them to Himself. And, of course, pray every day for their salvation. God hears your prayers.

Can you effectively share your salvation experience with someone? Can you articulate the joy you have in Christ? You may need to practice doing that. The Lord will give you the words to say each and every time He gives you the opportunity to share. You have to trust Him. Tell the world about your saving knowledge of Jesus. He is the Christ. Celebrate it.

I praise You, O Lord, for sending Your Son, Jesus, to rescue me. He is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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THE ULTIMATE APPEASEMENT

1 JOHN 4:10

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Have you ever angered someone so badly that you had no clue how to make it right? I have. In the past, I have searched and searched how to seek forgiveness. Most of the time I have received that, but only after true remorse. I don’t want to ever intentionally harm someone. But it happens sometimes.

Aren’t you glad that God took the initiative to provide the means for forgiveness for us? We could have never satisfied His wrath. There is nothing we could do on our own. But…by the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus Christ provided the ultimate appeasement. He satisfied an angry God (His Father) for us. Wow!

APPLICATION

I bet your children know when you are angry at them. They can usually tell when dad or mom are about to blow. They may push it to the last straw, but most kids know when to stop pushing. But do they know how to make things right with you? What do you expect from them? Ask them that. Ask them if they know how to appease you. They will probably say Huh? Then explain.

You are seeking to train them how to seek forgiveness from the Father. Take them to today’s verse. Explain that word “propitiation.” They need to understand how important it is to our Christian faith. In fact, we would have no faith without it. Yet that word only appears twice in the Scripture. The other time is in 1 John 2.2. Christ died for them to satisfy the requirements of forgiveness God had established. Only Jesus could do it, and He did it for them.

Do you realize the depth of this? Christ died for you. He gave His life to satisfy the price of sin in your life. And all you have to do is claim that forgiveness. I pray you have, but if you haven’t, do it right now. Ask Jesus into your life to be your Savior and Lord. Confess your sins to Him. Acknowledge His death, burial and resurrection. Then welcome His Holy Spirit into your life. It’s that simple.

Lord, I praise You for sending Your Son to die for me to satisfy the price which I could never pay. I am eternally grateful.

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ILLUMINATED

1 JOHN 4:9

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”

How many of you have a nativity scene you set up outside? We had one growing up that I loved. It was life size and was lit up with spotlights. We even had an angel hanging on wire above the manger. It was so cool. I always loved it.

But my aunt and uncle had one that was lit from the inside. It had this awesome glow. Don’t get me wrong. I loved ours more. But their nativity had this awesome look because it was glowing instead of being lit from the outside. Hmmm, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

APPLICATION

The word “manifested” means to illuminate, to make known, to make plain in open view. Try this with your kids. Get some candles and light them. Cover them with different things like a box, a flowerpot and a glass. Let them tell you which candle can be seen. Of course, the only one is through the glass. The others are covered up.

Talk about the verse. God’s love is illuminated through us when we accept His Son as our Savior. John even partially quotes John 3:16, which he wrote. John knew Jesus personally. He knew He had been sent by His Father to indwell us. Our kids need to understand that. Jesus was sent to save us from ourselves, from our sins, from the world, from Satan. And when He lives in us, His light will shine. Our job is to get out of the way and let it shine.

Are you shining for Him? Are you letting His light illuminate your life? He wants you to shine for Him by loving others. Why? Because He sent His Son for us. If Jesus lives in you, you have the light of the world in you. Isn’t that amazing? Why wouldn’t you let the light shine through your love for others?

Lord, I praise You for illuminating me. You have given me the ability to love others. Help me do that daily.

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WHAT IS PROPITIATION?

1 JOHN 2:2

“and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

Most people will read today’s verse and never have a clue what “propitiation” means. They just read it and consider it one of those church words and go on. No! Stop right there! Don’t go any further until you understand this word well enough to tell someone else what it means. It’s an important word, one we all need to understand.

The Greek word for “propitiation” is only used twice in the N.T., both times in 1 John (2.2 and 4.10). Read this definition: an offering to appease (satisfy) an angry, offended party. Wow! That’s what Jesus did. He offered Himself, He shed His blood to satisfy His Father’s wrath. God was offended by our sin and demanded a sacrifice. Jesus did that.

APPLICATION

Ask your child if they are willing to take the blame for their sibling’s misconduct. Yeah right! I don’t know any child who would willingly do that. If their brother or sister broke a rule in your house that demanded discipline, would they take their punishment. Chances are their sibling is going to suffer, lol.

Now explain to them that is what Jesus did for them. They, being a sinner from birth, have broken God’s law, His requirements. They may have lied or cheated. They may have disobeyed you. But they have done something to incur God’s wrath. Without Jesus stepping in with His blood, they would be doomed to an eternal hell. Sound rough? Yes, it is. But it is the truth. Praise be to God that Jesus stepped in.

Are you grateful for this propitiation? Are you able now to explain it to someone? It’s not just a churchy word. It’s our hope. It’s our promise. It gives us life eternal with our Heavenly Father.

O God, I thank You for sending Your Son to pay the price You demanded for my salvation. I am free because of Him.

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CLOSED EYES

2 PETER 3:5

“For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water,” 

This is an interesting verse, especially the phrase “it escapes their notice.” Do you understand what Peter is saying? The Greek word here actually could be translated “I shut my eyes to it.” In other words, these people refuse to recognize the Word of God or His works in this world.

Have you run across people like that? I have more and more lately. They just don’t have any use for a God that doesn’t fit their lifestyle and beliefs. If the Word points out any sin in their life, they refuse to recognize it. Only their view of God matters. And most of the time, their view of God isn’t a true view of God at all.

APPLICATION

This is a warning verse for our kids. We teach them how God created the earth in six days. They are going to have that view of creation threatened. Depending on the kind of school they attend, it may occur early in their education. What do we do? We continue to teach them the Word. We explain why people believe the lies. We explain why their beliefs are wrong.

Don’t just say Because the Bible says so. We know that’s true, but our children need to be able to defend their beliefs. They need to know Genesis 1-3 aren’t just cute Bible stories they hear at church. It is the truth – period. It is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is something to be proud of. Celebrate it.

When you face people who challenge your faith, remember they have closed their eyes to the truth. Through the power of the Holy Spirit their eyes can be opened. God will use you to help do that. You just need to speak the truth and let God do the rest. Remain faithful to the Word and see what He does.

Lord, I trust You to work through me to open blind eyes. I know they need to see the truth.

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WE’VE HEARD THAT BEFORE

2 PETER 3:4

“and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.’” 

These words in this verse are what Peter said those who were mocking and scoffing at the Gospel were saying. We are hearing those very same words today. In fact, those who oppose the Gospel have been saying those same words for centuries. That’s okay. Why? Because every day that passes means we are one day closer.

Can you feel the anticipation rising? I can. I believe we are in the last days. I know, I know. People have been saying that for years. But that’s what I believe. So, when people say these words of mocking to me, I just smile and pray for them. Listen, unless they believe in the authority of Scripture, there is nothing I can say to convince them otherwise. That’s the business of the Holy Spirit.

APPLICATION

I am not quite sure how to apply this to our children, except for us to be the role models in this. As they see or hear us confronting such individuals, they will learn to defend the Gospel. When we come into contact with our modern-day scoffers our job is to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us in the conversation. He will, if we will let Him.

Our children learn best as they watch us. So, don’t lose your cool and get into a heated argument with a scoffer. That does not represent Christ. What would He do? Love them and pray for them. Jesus had the power to force everyone to believe in Him, but He didn’t. He actually sacrificed His life for them. What can we sacrifice to bring scoffers to Him?

Are you bad about getting into arguments with unbelievers? Or do you simply sneak away and refuse to discuss your faith with them? God is not asking you to charge hell with a water pistol. No! He does, however, ask us to stand firm and be courageous. Will you today?

Lord, give me opportunities today to defend my faith and belief that the days are short until Your return. Help me be a bold and courageous witness for You.

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WORDS OF WISDOM

2 PETER 3:2

“that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”

Do you remember any of your parents’ “words of wisdom”? You know, words like “Look both ways before you cross the road” and “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Of course, you can remember those. You probably have a bunch of others you can recall and have probably repeated to your children.

Peter isn’t referring to those kinds of words. He is referring to prophecies about Christ and His commands to us. In fact, the Greek word for “remember” means to actively remember. In other words, don’t forget them, keep reciting, keep remembering.

APPLICATION

Ask your children if they recall some of your “words of wisdom.” You may get a little tickled at their remembrance of your guidelines. Give them some slack but clarify your words. You will get a tickle later on when you hear those words come out of their mouths when they have children.

Most importantly, take them to the real words of wisdom. Make sure they are learning from His Word each and every day. Challenge your whole family to memorize the Word. Memorization allows you to “actively remember” those words of wisdom. Wherever you go, you will have those words with you.

Are you actively remembering the words of the prophets and Jesus? I pray you are. There is no other way to successfully navigate the world we are in today. The world’s wisdom will lead you in all the wrong directions. But God’s Word will always lead you in the RIGHT direction. Words of wisdom – listen carefully.

I am so thankful for Your words of wisdom, Lord. I cherish them each day. Help me spread to others Your words.

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NOT OUR JOB

2 PETER 2:11

“whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.”

Why do we think we have the right to judge others? That’s God’s job. Peter states so here. Even the angels don’t point their fingers (or wings, lol) at the wicked in judgment. They know God is holy and just. They know He will judge all mankind at some point. It is not their concern.

Why can’t we learn from the angels? We judge others because it makes us feel better. It puts us above them, or so we think. Judging others is not our responsibility. That does not mean we shouldn’t confront a brother or sister about sin. That’s love. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t share the Gospel with the lost. That’s not judging. That’s love.

APPLICATION

Children can be very judgmental. It starts early. When your child comes home putting down another child for the way they look or act. It starts by your child thinking they are better than the boy down the street. You have to stop that thinking quickly.

How do you do that? Every time a judgmental attitude is exhibited, stop and lead your child in prayer for that other child. Explain to them how Jesus loves them just as much as He loves your child. Talk about ways your child could be more like Jesus to them. It’s really hard to judge someone you are praying for, isn’t it?

Are you guilty of judging others? Do you see yourself better than the world around you? Listen, dear brother and sister, the only thing that makes you any better is Jesus. Therefore, only He has the right to judge anyone. Let Him handle that. You need to focus on loving, not judging. And watch what happens. It may just surprise you.

Forgive me, Father, for my judgmental attitude. Show me how to love others like You do. Use me as Your vessel.

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