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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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Denial, Following, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

LITTLE BY LITTLE

HOSEA 5:12

“Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.”

Have you ever had a part of your house rot? It happens a lot around gutters or downspouts. You don’t notice the rot at the beginning. It’s pretty much imperceptible. The rot is happening beneath the paint. Everything looks fine. But the longer that water penetrates the wood, the more rot happens. Eventually, you have to tear out a section and replace it. The damage has been done.

Hosea is using two examples to describe the Lord’s judgment on Ephraim and Judah which are similar. A moth’s damage to fabric begins very small. You don’t really notice. Then the holes appear, and the fabric is ruined. And then Hosea refers to rottenness, similar to what I described above. God had been trying to correct them both little by little, but they had not responded. Now, the final judgment is upon them.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy being judged. I don’t like punishment. I never have. Now, I know I need to be disciplined at times. I am not perfect. God has to correct me. He does that through the Holy Spirit. I am convicted of my sins which leads me to confession. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

But there are times when I just bow up my back and am determined to have my way. I am convinced I am right, and God is wrong. I know that’s stupid. I didn’t say I am the brightest bulb in the pack. And when I do that, God will allow me to wander. He is still urging me to return and will turn up the heat for me to do so. I have to make that choice to stop and return.

You see, unconfessed sin doesn’t get better with time. It gets worse. We get accustomed to the sin. We ignore the Holy Spirit’s urgings. We begin to get tone deaf to God’s voice. Then the rot sets in. Then the moth begins to feed. Stop it right now. Come to Him in repentance. Let Him restore you to your right place.

I come to You today, Lord, and seek Your forgiveness. I long for freshness in my walk with You.

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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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Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Deception, Fellowship, Greetings, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture

WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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Abiding, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confidence, Encouragement, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Truth

FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH

2 JOHN 2

“for the sake of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:”

In the first three verses of 2 John, John mentions truth four times. Any time you see a word repeated like that in Scripture it is important. Why do you think truth was so important to John? Don’t forget that he literally walked with Truth for three years. He was probably the closest of all the disciples to Jesus. John knew the Truth and wanted everyone else to know Him as well.

We can’t forget that the enemy is spewing everything but the truth. He will tell everything we want to hear and even mix in a little truth to make it sound good. But as believers, we have the truth abiding in us. We have a built-in truth detector. Don’t forget that.

APPLICATION

Children don’t tell the truth all the time, do they? Sometimes, for them, lying is easier. I know that is wrong, but that’s our sin nature. It is only when Christ becomes a part of their lives that they can begin to understand the importance of truth. It is our job as parents to reinforce that. How? By being truthful ourselves.

What does it mean to your kids to have truth in them? Ask them. Ask them how it feels. Be prepared for some strange answers, lol. But they need to know that the Holy Spirit who lives in them as a Christian will always speak truth to them and direct them in the right way. That means telling the truth and living the truth.

Aren’t you grateful that the truth is with us forever? That’s what John said at the end of today’s verse. Not only does the truth abide in us, but it is with us forever. What a promise. And don’t forget that if this is in the Word, it is truth.

Thanks, Lord, for the truth. I know I can rely on You to direct me in the truth.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deception, Disciplemaking, Faith, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

WATCH OUT

1 JOHN 5:21

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

What do you value most in your life? What do you spend the most of your time doing? If your house was burning down, what would you grab first to rescue? I ask those questions of you and me because we make idols out of a lot of things. Idols can be anything. They are things in our life that we place above God.

Look what John says in today’s verse. By the way, this is the last verse of 1 John. He ends it by saying, “guard yourselves from idols.” That word “guard” really means to keep your eye on something. John is telling us to be careful what we put first place in our lives.

APPLICATION

This week, of all weeks, our children have their hopes set on getting things that they may not even need. Their eyes are bugged out for Christmas, and they truly believe that if they get that certain toy or gift, they will be happy. I’m not saying toys are idols. But we have a great opportunity to teach our children about what is truly important.

Buy them those special things this Christmas, but make sure you talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Talk about what makes Christmas special to them. Talk about family and faith. Talk about your priorities in life, what’s important to you and why. They need to hear it from you.

Jesus belongs on the top of your list – period. Anything else becomes an idol. Idols corrupt us. Idols distract us. Idols draw us away from the Lord. Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing else. That’s John’s message for us. Will you follow his advice? After all, it is from the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of who is first place in my life. I will not allow anything to come before You.

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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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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Sin

ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

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Accountability, Affection, Asking, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Death, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Exhortation, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Life, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

PRAYING FOR THE LOST

1 JOHN 5:16 

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 

Do you pray for others? For years I have had the privilege to pray for lots of people. Some are on my daily prayer list. Others are on my weekly or monthly list. They are no less important than than those on the daily list. It’s just those on that daily list have a more pressing need or they are immediate family. Either way, I am praying for lots of people each month. 

In today’s verse John is exhorting us to pray for those who need salvation. This verse has been hotly debated for decades. Many scholars disagree on its exact meaning. But for our purposes today I have settled on the interpretation that John is asking us to pray for those who need Jesus. We must do that. He does say in the last part of the verse that there are some who have committed that unpardonable sin of refusing the drawing of the Spirit. Those people are in God’s hands.  

APPLICATION 

Do your children have a prayer list each night? I remember growing up that I had to pray through my list each night. I always prayed for my parents and siblings (except when I was mad at them, lol). And I prayed for our dogs and other things. My point is, children need to learn to pray and pray specifically. Find out some requests of relatives they may be praying for and let your child know. That way when God answers their prayers, you can celebrate with them. 

Prepare your children also for God’s “No” answers. Sometimes He does that. He always knows what is best. We may not understand it, but we have to trust it. Our children need to learn that. They have to learn to accept God’s Will, whatever it may be. 

Are you praying for the salvation of others? Who is on your list today? If you don’t have a list, make one. Invite others in your family to join you in praying for those who need the Lord. Beg God for their eternal life. And do all you can as you communicate with them to lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ. That is putting feet to your prayers. Amen? 

Father, You are an amazing God. I do not understand how You can hear all our prayers at once and answer perfectly, but I trust You. Use me to reach others with the good news of Jesus. 

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Baptism, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Submission, Testimony, Witnessing

WITNESSES

1 JOHN 5:6

“This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

In the court of law, witnesses and evidence are required to convict you of something. Heresay and opinion aren’t enough. You need proof. Aren’t you glad of that? I have been accused of stuff in the past that I didn’t do. Some were serious. Someone wanted to get me in trouble, but thankfully, the truth came out and I was proven innocent.

John is laying out the evidence here about Jesus. Now, this verse has had many different opinions by many different scholars. But the majority of them agree that John is referring to Jesus’ baptism (water) and His death on the cross (blood) in this verse. His purity and submission testify to who He was and is. The Spirit also testifies in our hearts today the truth of these words.

APPLICATION

You need to take this verse apart to explain it to your children. Take them to Matthew 3:13-17 and talk about Jesus’ baptism. You can show them there Jesus submission to His Father in this act. You can also show how the Spirit testified about Jesus through the appearance of the dove. Pretty cool! Wouldn’t it be cool if a dove came down when they got baptized, lol?

And then take them to John 19 and read the crucifixion story to them. This may be hard on tender ears so be mindful of that. But our children need to know exactly what Jesus did for them. His shed blood wasn’t a finger prick. He died for them. He gave his life for them. His blood was dripping from His pierced hands and feet. His body was ripped and bleeding from the beating. His head was bleeding from the crown of thorns that was shoved on it.

Water and blood testified to who Jesus was and is. Let me ask you a question. What testifies to your faith in Christ? Have you accepted Him as Your Savior? Have you believed upon Him? His blood still covers sins. His baptism still serves as the example for us to follow. I pray that today you will take a fresh look at just who Jesus is. He wants you to live through Him.

O God, forgive me for taking Your life for granted. All You did for me is not forgotten. Thank You for Your submission in baptism and death.

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