Bible, Blessing, Born, Child Bearing, Commands, Double-minded, Godliness, Holiness, Joy, Life, Obedience, Promises, Sanctification, Scripture, Testimony

NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

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Bible, Blessing, Bondslaves, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Harvest, Joy, Labor, Obedience, Reward, Scripture

HARVEST TIME

HOSEA 6:11

Also, Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people.

I grew up in a rural community. My hometown was surrounded by farms. One great part of that childhood was my grandmother’s garden. She lived out in the country and always had a huge garden. All of us children knew that when the vegetables were ready for picking, we would be right there with our mom and grandmother.

God is promising to restore Judah, and with that, He would restore the harvest. Crops would be gathered. Seed could be saved for another year. A bountiful harvest gave hope for the coming winter and even into the following spring. Harvest time gave joy to the people. God’s harvest time is even more joyful.

APPLICATION

One day God will reach down and reap the harvest of His people. We don’t know when that will come. He may do that right in the middle of our harvest season or in the dead of winter. We are His bounty. He wants to gather us home. But only He knows when the full crop will be ready.

While we are waiting, we have a job. We should be sowing and tending the seed He has given us to share. We are His bondservants with a specified job. We are to spread the Gospel, thus increasing the yield at the harvest. What an awesome responsibility. He will be well pleased at our efforts, if we are obedient and faithful.

I like gardening. I like sowing the seed of the Gospel even more. There is nothing more exciting than to see a seed you have sown take root and sprout. Then you see it come to maturity and reproduce 20, 60 or 100 fold. Wow! What a joy! Will you join me in the harvest?

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.

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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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ON THE THIRD DAY

HOSEA 6:2

“He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.”

We just celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago. I have always loved Easter. I loved the Easter baskets, hiding and finding the Easter eggs and I especially loved Easter lunch after church. Of course, the older I got the more I understood about Easter and the importance of the resurrection on the third day. We truly have something to celebrate.

I just love the words in today’s verse. I had forgotten these words were spoken here in Hosea. Hosea was prophesying about the Messiah here. Jesus was revived, and He was raised up on the third day. These Israelites were placing their hope in a resurrection from Jehovah God. We do the same.

APPLICATION

So, if you are a believer in Christ, you have hope in the resurrection Christ. His shed blood on Calvary covers our sins, but His resurrection gives us eternal life. There is nothing else into which we put our hope. There is nothing else that can give us eternity. We will be changed into a glorified body and live forever with our God.

Sadly, some people don’t believe in that. They think when we die, we just die. Our lives end. There is nothing beyond the grave. How depressing! The fact is our lives are just beginning at death. Death is just a portal into our eternal home. If we love Jesus and have given our lives to Him, then that home is heaven. If we have not done that, then that eternal home is hell. Either way, we have an eternal destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad I have secured my room in my mansion in the heaven. I will be happy with the closet in the mansion, honestly. Just to be in the presence of my God is good enough for me. How about you? Have you punched your ticket for heaven? Are you ready? Are you longing for your heavenly home?

O Father, I long for heaven. But while I am here, let me be about Your business.

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HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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CAN’T WAIT TO SEE YOU

2 JOHN 12

“Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.”

In this day of texts and emails, we communicate a lot. I remember back when the only way to communicate in writing was by a letter or postcard. But there is still nothing like seeing someone face to face. Words just can’t express our feelings. Even using FaceTime or Zoom isn’t the same. You can’t reach out and touch the person.

John is obviously having those same feelings. He may have had plenty of paper and ink, but he wanted to see his dear friend. He had so much more to tell her and her family. I wonder what that was. I wonder if he had the chance to see her. We won’t know the answer to that question until eternity. I guarantee you one thing. They have eternity to catch up, lol.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, how do you apply this verse to me today? Well, who do you need to catch up with? Who have you not seen in a long time? It’s the new year. Perhaps there is someone who has been on your heart for the past few months whom you have just neglected to go see. Do it. Give them a call and say you are coming to see them because you have so much to tell them.

Have you ever watched people at a family reunion? Usually, these are times when family who haven’t been around each other much gather to spend some much desired time. And what do they talk about? Everything under the sun! Let me encourage you to share what the Lord has done and is doing in your life. Let others know how you have been blessed. That is certainly something worth sharing.

I am certain that John was not anxious to talk about the weather. He had lessons from the Lord to share. He wanted to impart truth. Why? He tells us in the last phrase of the verse. “so that your joy may be made full.” Some scholars say the word “your” should be translated “our.” Even better. How about doing that today. Make yours and someone else’s joy full.

I long for others to hear the truth of the Gospel and what You are doing in my life. Give me the opportunity today to share with someone else and make our joy full.

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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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IN THE FLESH

1 JOHN 4:2

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;” 

One of the joys of being a Children’s Pastor is going to the hospital when a baby is born. I love seeing that newborn for the first time. The whole process of conception, pregnancy and delivery amazes me. Looking at those little fingers and toes just blows my mind. I understand the biology behind the whole thing, but it is still a miracle.

Jesus came that way. We all know the story. He was born as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. We can probably all tell the  story by heart, right? So, John tells us here in today’s verse that knowing that and confessing that shows that the Spirit of God dwells in you. You may be saying Well, everyone believes that. Not really. There are many who deny the birth of Christ, especially the virgin birth.

APPLICATION

Why don’t you lead your kids in some Christmas carols? I know it’s only November, but it’s never too soon to do that. I love “Away in a Manger” and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” Don’t you? Let your kids pick out a few, but keep them about Jesus. There will be plenty of time for the silly Christmas songs later.

Now, that you have done that, talk about the songs. Ask them why we celebrate Jesus coming in the flesh. Get them to thinking. How else could Jesus have come? He could have just appeared with the angels in the sky over Bethlehem. Why was it important for Him to come as a baby in the flesh? He had to be the God-Man, perfect and divine, to die for our sins on the cross. He had to shed His blood for us. That’s why His fleshly birth was important.

Do you celebrate Christmas correctly? Do you recognize the importance of His humanness? Don’t skip to the ministry years and His death. It all began in Bethlehem. Aren’t you glad? God loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son. Don’t ever forget that. Thank the Lord today for His birth. Praise Him for coming in such a humble way.

I praise You, Lord, for humbling Yourself and taking the form of man. Thank You for yielding Your Spirit to take on the form of flesh for us.

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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.

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