Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Commitment, Hope, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rebuke, Scripture

LOOKING IN WRONG PLACES

HOSEA 5:13

“When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sore, Ephraim then went to Assyria and sent word to King Jareb. But he is unable to heal you, or to cure you of your sore.”

I lose things. It’s just something I deal with. I am really bad about losing pocket knives. I think I know where I put them, but when I go back to find, they are not there. I look in drawers, in pants pockets and in my truck. They just disappear. Not really. I know I have just misplaced them. I can continue to look in the wrong places with the same results – no knife.

Ephraim and Judah looked in the wrong places for help. They turned to pagan kings to rescue them and didn’t find what they were looking for. In fact, they found exactly what they didn’t want. These pagan kings offered persecution rather than help. They gave them exile instead of peace.

APPLICATION

We need to remember where our help comes from. We can pursue help in a multitude of places, but there is only one true and reliable source. We can look towards friends or family. We can go to counselors or pastors. These are all good choices, but they are not Jesus. Only He can guide us correctly every time. His advice is always perfect.

What kind of help are you looking for right now? Are you in need of some wisdom? Go to the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks through God’s Word. Now, I don’t mean to randomly open the Bible and just point your finger at a verse. Do a word search for the area you are seeking wisdom. See what God says about that topic. I promise you there is an answer in there.

I would encourage you to go to a close Christian brother or sister in Christ who holds the Word to a high level, someone who knows the Word and can help you find the answers you need there. Use an online Bible resource like Biblehub.com or Blue Letter Bible. Whatever you do, use His Word.

Lord, I will go to You when I am in need. I will turn to Your Word for wisdom. Thank You for always being there for me.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Hope, Protection, Scripture, Trouble

DOOR OF HOPE

HOSEA 2:15

“Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will respond there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt.”

From September 2019 through around April 2020, I went through a pretty grueling physical test. I have a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. The treatment of this disease required me to go through my second stem cell transplant, this time with six months of chemotherapy beforehand. It was hard. I kept my hope in the fact that I had been down this path before in 2010 and knew the treatment could work.

The Israelites had seen God work in the past. They knew what God had done bringing them out of Egypt. They knew their hope was not a false hope. One scholar defines the Hebrew word for hope as “patient, enduring longing.” I kind of like that. I can relate. That’s exactly what I had last year – patient, enduring longing.

APPLICATION

What are you longing for right now? On what are you basing your hope? If you are hoping in anything by God, you are bound to be disappointed. There is no sure thing out there, except Him. Everything and everyone else will let you down. I don’t care how much someone may love you, they can’t give you the hope God can through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I love the expression we have today in the verse that says “the valley of Achor. This valley was on the border of Judah. Achor actually means trouble or disturbance. God brings us through our valleys of trouble into hope. But we have to pass through it first. We can’t forget that if He leads us into a valley of trouble, He will lead us out. We just have to stay with Him.

I just got this picture in my head of an old western where the good guys have to ride through a desert canyon that is probably being watched by the bad guys. There is only one way through. They know trouble is ahead, but they have to ride anyway. Listen, God sent us Jesus to see us through those times. Stay close to Him. He will lead you to the door of hope.

I am so thankful that I know my hope lies in You. There is no one else I would yield my trust to.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Hope, Relationships, Scripture, Sin

RESTORATION

HOSEA 2:14

“Therefore, behold, I am going to persuade her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.”

It feels so good to be brought back into the fold. When you have lost favor with someone it hurts. You feel like there is nothing you can do to earn their trust again. In the world it’s hard. People don’t forgive that easily. Sometimes it may take years to restore a relationship. And it’s just not possible without forgiveness.

At this point in the book of Hosea, God is offering Gomer and Israel forgiveness. Listen to the words of this verse. They are tender words. God is going to “persuade” her. That word means to allure, to be wide open. He is going to “speak kindly to her.” What a change from the previous verses. God is a forgiving God.

APPLICATION

Have you wandered away from the Lord? Are you trying to find your way back? It only takes one step. The moment you make that first step, God is there. There’s a story in the New Testament called “The Prodigal Son.” Forget about the wayward son. Forget about the older brother. Look at the father in that story. The moment his son reappeared, the father ran to him and kissed him. That’s our God.

Now, what happens if you don’t return? You stay in that no man’s land. You are in despair. You are hopeless. God won’t beg you to come home, but He is always waiting. Just like He was with Israel. When they finally repented and came back, He spoke kindly to her.

Are you ready to return? I don’t want to be away from His presence one day. There is absolutely nothing like being in fellowship with the Father. There is nothing like His embrace. Come!

Lord, I praise You for the joy of my salvation. I know whenever I falter, You are there waiting for me to come back to You.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Faith, Following, God's Will, Hope, Obedience, Protection, Relationships, Scripture

YOU’RE NOT MINE

HOSEA 1:9

“And the LORD said, ‘Name him Lo-ammi, because you are not My people, and I am not your God.’”

I worked over thirty years in children’s homes ministries. Probably the saddest part of those years was when a biological mom or dad told their child they didn’t want them anymore. The hurt in the eyes of those children isn’t easy to forget. They felt thrown away and worthless. Our job at the children’s home was to love on them and bring them to Jesus. He would never leave them.

Through Hosea’s children, God was sending a message to Israel. This latest birth, a son, sent a harsh message to them. God said, “I am not your God.” Wow! After all the years of God directing them and protecting them, He had enough. He was done with their rebellion. He was no longer their Father. I wonder how the Israelites’ faces looked. Were they crushed like the children I dealt with? Or were they clueless of what they had done?

APPLICATION

As believers, we can never escape the presence of our God. He will never leave us. We have a covenant relationship with Him through Christ. We may choose to rebel and not walk as we should, but He will never leave us. Any separation between us and God is because we have moved, not Him.

Don’t you want to be closer to Him today? I do. I want to feel His embrace. I need to know He is there beside me each day. I do not want to face one second without Him. So, I spend time each day in His Word. I spend time each day talking to Him. I want to hear His voice. I want Him to hear mine. I can’t imagine hearing, “I am not your God.”

However, there are millions around us every day who don’t know our Savior. If they should die today, they would hear those words from God. How can we prevent that from happening? By taking the time to share with everyone around us. Tell others what He has done for you. Tell others of His love. Let them hear God say, “I love you. I am your God.”

Father in heaven, hear my cry today. I beg You for the lives of those around me. Send me to share with them the love You have for all.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christ's Return, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Heaven, Hope, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Rapture, Scripture, Witnessing

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

2 PETER 3:12

“looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” 

The world will never understand believers’ anticipation of the return of Christ. In fact, many scoff at us. They think our faith in His return is shallow-minded. To them, His return is a fable told for centuries.

But we know better, don’t we? Peter says we are to be “looking for and hastening” His return. The Greek word for “looking” is a bit more than just scanning the horizon. It is an eager anticipation, almost a giddy yearning. “Hastening” means to speed it on. How can we speed it on? By sharing the good news with everyone we meet.

APPLICATION

Don’t be afraid to talk about Jesus’ return with your kids. Some parents don’t want to “scare” their children with this news. But this is great news. For believers, it won’t be a scary event. We will be transformed so quickly and ushered into heaven, we won’t know what hit us. It will be pure joy.

I hear many young believers say they want to do such and such before He returns. They want to get married first. They want to have a baby first. They want to…. Listen, make sure your kids know that nothing compares to seeing Jesus. There is no earthly joy that compares.

Are you giddy for His return? Does the thought He could come any day get you excited? It should. As a believer, we should be looking and hastening that day. We should be actively preparing and seeking. We should be telling others about Him whenever we get the chance. Soon and very soon.

You promised You would return, Lord. We are eagerly waiting. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Evil, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Judgment, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

WATCH THAT WATER

2 PETER 3:6

“through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.” 

Peter, of course, is referring to the great flood which God sent upon the earth to destroy the wickedness which was prevailing. Only Noah and his family were spared. Noah warned them, but his warnings fell on deaf ears.

We see the same today. Wickedness is rampant. Evil seems to be winning. Rest assured – God is not blind to this. Judgment is coming. The wicked may think they are getting by. That’s not our concern. Our concern is to live godly lives and be an example of light and purity. Perhaps we will win some before it’s too late.

APPLICATION

Our children have been taught the story of the flood. They probably have toys of Noah’s ark, complete with all the animals. What a cute story, right? Wrong! It’s a clear picture of a holy God who will not tolerate sinful behavior. We can teach this story to children and not leave out the reason for the flood.

Ask your children to tell you the story about Noah’s ark. Let them tell it in their own way. Let them act it out. Let them draw pictures. As they are doing this fill in the blanks, if there are any. And make sure they know the morale to the story. God demands holy living, and He will deliver the righteous.

Are you in “the ark”? I pray you are living righteously. I pray you are safe in the arms of Jesus. If you aren’t and are living like those who perished in the flood waters, it’s not too late. Come to Him today. Allow Him to throw you that life vest. He’s waiting. Will you come?

Lord, I can’t imagine the world underwater physically, but I do see it underwater spiritually. Help me be used by You to lead others to safety.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Hope, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Power, Promises, Scripture

POWERFUL GOD

1 PETER 5:11

“To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

We read that word “dominion” and don’t stop to think what it really means. We all know God is God, right? We know He is all powerful, omnipotent. But what does “dominion” mean? The Greek word used here is kratos. It carries with it the idea of exerted power. It’s not just that He is strong. He shows it.

How does God show His power? He showed it at creation when He created the world and all that is in it. He showed His power when He parted the Red Sea to allow the Hebrew children to escape Pharoah. He showed it when Jesus turned water into wine. And He shows it in our lives every day by assuring our salvation.

APPLICATION

Dads, I bet your children used to think you were all powerful. They were awed at your biceps, right? Seriously though, most children see their parents as strong and powerful when they are small. They look up to you and admire your strength. But as they get older, they realize your strength is not any greater than anyone else’s.

That’s why we have to point them to the all powerful One. They need to know that God is the only one who has the strength to see them through their hardest times. And God is not afraid to  show His strength. He is always ready to exert His strength for His children. But He does it on His timetable. Peter says in this verse today, “forever and ever.” That means for infinity.

Do you need to see the Lord exert His strength today? Are you hurting and in need of a Savior? Let His dominion show out in your life. Surrender to Him. Stop trying to do it in your strength. You can’t do it on your own. The world may say you can, but you can’t. You need Jesus to empower You so He can work in and through you.

I will allow Your strength to work through me today. I can’t wait to see what You will do. Thank You, Lord, for always being there.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Following, Hope, Inspirational, Mentoring, Miracles, Parenting, Testimony

DISAPPEARING ACT

ACTS 12:18

“Now when day came, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter.”

Where did he go? He was chained between us. Did you let him go? Can’t you just hear the soldiers the next morning? Peter had disappeared from the jail. No one could explain where he went. God had done a miracle, and they had missed it. Now, before you jump to conclusions, we probably would have missed it too.

How many miracles do you think you have missed in your life? They are all around us. These soldiers ended up being executed  for not keeping Peter in jail. Missing the miracle of Peter’s release from jail cost them their lives. I don’t think our missed miracles will cost us our lives, but we will miss a blessing.

APPLICATION

Play a disappearing game with your kids. Get everyone in a room one night. Prearrange to have someone in the family “disappear” on cue. Turn off all the lights and allow that person to slip out. Turn on the lights to reveal the missing person. Ask what happened to them. Your kids will be making up all sorts of explanations.

Ask your accomplice to return. Unlike Peter, they do come back to the scene. Read this story of Peter’s disappearance from the jail and ask your children to think how those soldiers felt. Puzzled, confused, scared. As believers, we have no reason to feel any of these. God can and will do miracles all around us. We just have to believe and be watchful. He will reveal Himself.

Do you believe in miracles? Do you think God still performs miracles? I sure do. We don’t build our faith on them, but it is great knowing a God of miracles. God might just use you in His next miracle, like He used Peter.

I am looking for You to do a miracle, Lord. I know You are still a God of miracles and can use me. Thank You, Father, for showing me Your power.

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Advice, Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Forgiveness, Hope, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Peace, Resurrection, Scripture

FOOT RACE

LUKE 24:12

“But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.”

I think it’s funny that here in Luke it says, “But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. In John 20, we read that John went with him and outran him. Lol. No one wants to admit they got beat in a foot race.

But this story isn’t about who won the foot race. It’s about the destination of the foot race. Where were they running? Why were they running? They had just been told that Jesus’ tomb was empty. They couldn’t wait to check it out themselves.

APPLICATION

Okay, it’s foot race time. Gather your children and go outside for the race. Set the finish line out of their sight and explain that there will be a surprise when they get there. Watch how fast they line up to race. Surprises are exciting. Surprises get us every time.

When they all get there give them a special treat. If you can find them, get them one of those Resurrection Eggs. Kids love them. Read them this story and ask them how they think Peter felt when he got to the tomb and found it empty. Surprised? Shocked? Excited? Sad?

How would you have felt if you had been Peter? Your last experience with Jesus was shame. Now you have just been told He’s alive and wants to see you. How would you have been feeling? Embarrassed or excited? It’s no different today. He wants to see you. Even when you mess up, He forgives you and longs to be with you.

Lord, I long to be in Your presence. I look forward to Your embrace. Forgive me for all those times I have fallen short of Your calling.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Faith, Hope, Parenting, Salvation

SECURE

1 PETER 1:21

“who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

The same God who raised Jesus from the dead gives you your faith and hope. The God of the universe cares enough about you to bestow what is necessary – faith and hope. Through our faith we learn to trust God. Our hope is built on the assurance of God’s past works. We can trust Him because He has shown us through generations.

Let me ask you a question. Why do you believe? What experience moved you from unbelief to belief? We all have a moment we can look back to and say that was the point of surrender. Do you realize the God of the universe cares enough about you to draw you to Himself? He loves you.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse to discuss faith and hope with your children. Ask them what faith is. There’s an acrostic for faith which says “Forsaking All I Trust Him.” That might help your child understand it. We for forsake or give up everything when we come to Christ. He is all that matters.

And hope is defined as an expectation of what is sure. You see when we hope in God it’s a sure thing. It’s not the same as hoping for a toy or bike. Hoping in God according to His will is a sure thing. It may be quick or slow. But place your hope in Him.

Is your faith and hope in God? If not, why not? Why would you place that in any other person or thing? Today, yield it all to Him. He is waiting to answer you. He wants to prove His faithfulness. Let Him.

My faith and hope is in You, Lord. I trust You to work in my life to make me more like Christ. I love You.

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