Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Condemnation, Destruction, Discipline, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Mercy, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

THE LION GOD

HOSEA 5:14

“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, yes I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be no one to rescue.”

I hunt in an area known to have bears and an occasional mountain lion. We even have coyotes and wolves. You may ask me why I hunt there then. Well, I go in the woods fully armed. I am carrying a pistol and either a rifle, shotgun or crossbow. I walk in with my head on a swivel. I don’t want to end up breakfast or dinner for one of these critters.

God describes Himself as a lion tearing apart Ephraim and Judah. That’s pretty vicious. It gives you an idea how angry He was at them. Their rebellion had gone too far. He could not sit idly by and watch them relish in their pagan activities. Judgment had to fall and fall it did.

APPLICATION

Do you want to be torn apart by an angry God? Of course, not. No one does. And no one has to. When we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, that judgment is appeased. God no longer seeks to devour us because of our wickedness. Because of the blood of Jesus, our sins are covered. Hallelujah!

Do you know someone who has not surrendered to the Lord? They are at risk! Their sins are not covered. God will hold them accountable for their sins. There is nothing they can do to escape His wrath – except… They must come to Jesus. Are you playing a part in showing them that? Perhaps the Lord has put you in their lives for just that reason.

Wouldn’t it be glorious to be a part of someone you know coming to Christ? There is no better joy than to lead someone to Him and watch them respond. Their excitement of salvation is contagious. You will catch it. You will be on cloud nine. You will seek out others to share with. So, what are you waiting for?

Lord, I want to see many avoid Your wrath. Will You give me the courage and boldness to be Your witness to a lost world?

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Confrontation, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Intimacy, Mercy, Protection, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance

QUARANTINED

HOSEA 3:3

“Then I said to her, ‘You shall live with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute, nor shall you have another man; so I will also be toward you.’”

Don’t you just hate that word “quarantine”? Over this past year chances are you have been quarantined due to the covid-19 virus. If you haven’t, you must have been living on a desert island all by yourself. It has been just about impossible to avoid at least one quarantine period due to infection or exposure. Frankly, I am a little tired of it. How about you?

Hosea brought Gomer back but basically quarantined her. She would not be given access to him or any other man. He provided for her and treated her kindly, but she had to remain quarantined for a period of time. Her past behavior required it. She needed a cleansing period before reentering her husband’s home.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you grateful that God doesn’t require us to go through a cleansing period after we sin? We come to Him just as we are and confess our failures. He forgives us and casts our sins away. It says in Psalm 103:12 that He removes them as far as the east is from the west. We are washed whiter than snow.

With that said, we are not free to sin and just confess it. Sin does have consequences. Deliberate sin even more. Let me ask you to take a look at your sin life. My what? you say. Your sin life. Look at the patterns of sin in your life. Is sin accidental or planned? God may just put you in quarantine to get some of that sin out of you. He will not let you just sin willy nilly and think it’s nothing. He does expect obedience from His children.

Just like Hosea still cared for Gomer, God cares for us despite our sin. But it does break His heart when we sin against Him. He wants to love us and care for us. If we are insistent on living how we want, we restrict how much love He is able to show us. Sin is deplorable to God. Don’t ever forget that. Come to Him today and confess whatever is on your heart.

Lord, I know you love me despite my failures. Help me walk in victory today and only come to You for forgiveness when I have tripped up and fallen into sin.

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Accountability, Advice, Affection, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

TAKE HER BACK

HOSEA 3:1

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

I have known several men who have reconciled with their wives after their wives had committed adultery. That is a hard pill to swallow. To take a woman back as your wife after she has cheated on you takes a lot. But each of these men were led by the Lord to do that. Some had children in the marriage. Others didn’t. But each decided to be obedient and bring their wife back to their marriage bed.

God told Hosea to do the same. He instructed Hosea to restore Gomer to his home as his wife after she had chosen willingly to be unfaithful. This was a symbolic move to show Israel the plan God had to restore them to Him following their exile in Babylon. After rejecting their false gods, they were seeking to return to Jehovah.

APPLICATION

You may have never had to reconcile with a wayward spouse. You may have never been that wayward spouse. My guess, though, is you have known someone who has. It’s all about forgiveness. There is no possible way to do this without the power of forgiveness. I am not talking about forgiveness powered by you. This takes a godly forgiveness.

When we think about what God has forgiven us, there is nothing that we should not be able to forgive. He has forgiven us of sins that would cause us to spend eternity in hell. There is nothing that has been done to us by anyone that can equal that. So, the question is will you forgive.

You may need to forgive someone today for something that you feel in unforgiveable. It’s not. With God, you can forgive anyone of anything. It won’t be easy. But it is possible because He can give you that power. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Will you?

Help me forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength today to give that forgiveness to anyone who needs it.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Direction, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Mercy, Pity, Scripture

NO PITY

HOSEA 1:6

“Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer take pity on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them.” 

Have you ever had a pity party? The only trouble with those is you are the only one who shows up. Feeling sorry for yourself is one thing, but when others show no pity on you, that’s really sad. You have reached the breaking point of compassion from others due to your actions or your behavior. Receiving no pity is tough.

But when the Lord shows no pity, you’re in trouble. The Hebrew word for “take pity” can mean “show mercy” or “show compassion.” Now, think about that. What could drive the Lord to this point? Consistent rebellion and turning away by the nation of Israel. They knew the right way to live. Still, they turned away toward other gods. So, the Lord sent them a second message through the naming of Hosea’s daughter, Lo-ruhamah.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you something. Are you quick to show pity? Do you hurt for others when they are down? The Lord wants us to be merciful and show compassion. But there comes a time when doing that is actually harmful. We can enable others to continue in their bad behaviors and lifestyle. We really have to seek the Lord to know when to do that.

Perhaps you’re the one seeking pity. Can you dig deep and ask the Lord why you are asking for that from Him or others. Is your situation self-imposed or is from the Lord? Perhaps He has you in this season for a purpose. He is trying to teach you how to trust Him. You don’t need pity. You need insight from His Word. You need to hear from Him. Listen.

Thank You, Lord, for being merciful to me, a sinner. I never want to hear those words from You – Lo-ruhamah.

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Bible, Blessing, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Gifts, Giving, Grace, Love, Mentoring, Mercy, Parenting, Peace, Scripture

A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS GIFT

2 JOHN 3

“Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

Don’t you love getting exactly what you wanted for Christmas? I  can remember going through the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalog when I was little and circling all the things I wanted for Christmas. Of course, I didn’t get all those things, but my parents always managed to get me at least one of those things on my list. I can still remember some of those toys. Where they are now, no one knows. Lol

It just seems fitting that on this day, Christmas Eve, as we prepare for Christmas that we land on this verse in 2 John. I mean what else could you hope for? Grace, mercy and peace are given to us from the Father and the Son. And they give it in truth and love. I can just see the package all wrapped with their names on it as the senders. Merry Christmas from God.

APPLICATION

How long is your child’s Christmas list? Some kid’s list seems to be a mile long. Others ask for just one thing. You may be able to get them everything they want, or you may struggle to by just one. Don’t let the present buying get you down or break you. Remember that Christmas is not about buying stuff and giving presents. Your kids need to understand that.

What would happen if you told your children all they were getting for Christmas is grace, mercy and peace? I bet they would be confused and probably throw a fit. Am I right? But if their sole focus is on getting presents, you need to refocus them on what really matters. There is nothing more precious than those three gifts.

Would you be happy with those gifts from the Father and Son? Well, their yours. You just have to claim them. Those three things will give you all you need to walk with Christ in victory. In every situation you face you can apply those three things. Is that true for other gifts you might receive? Hardly. Enjoy your gifts.

Father, I am so thankful for the grace, mercy and peace You have given me. The only gift I can give You is my life. It’s Yours.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Mercy, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture, Testimony

IN THE FAMILY

1 PETER 2:10

“for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”

This verse in 1 Peter seems to be a reference to three verses in Hosea (1:9, 10; 2:23). Even though Hosea was writing to a Jewish audience and Peter to a Gentile one, the thought behind the verses seem to be related. Peter is telling the Gentiles that although they were once outside of the family of God and His mercy, they are now fully in the family and a recipient of His mercy.

If you have ever been on the outside looking in, you know how great the feeling is when you are finally allowed access. I remember one time waiting in line at our local movie theater. The doors were locked, and no one was allowed entry until it was time. The wait was agonizing for a little boy. But when the doors opened, I felt ten feet tall walking in with my popcorn and coke.

APPLICATION

Try this little exercise with your kids. Prepare some special snacks and treats and put them on the table. Tell your children they can only enjoy these treats if they can answer some questions you have for them. After the groans subside, ask them some easy questions that any child could answer.

Receiving the benefits of salvation depends on accepting Christ as Savior. Anyone can do that. But only those who do can be called His people and receive His mercy. The benefits are tied to the relationship. There is no other way to receive them.

Are you a part of His people? Have you received His mercy? If you have, you know the joy of being in the family of God. Won’t you tell someone else today? Share the joy. Don’t keep it to yourself.

I am thankful that I am part of Your people and that I have received Your mercy. I am not worthy, but You have considered me worthy. I praise You.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Creation, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mercy, Obedience, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation, Surrender, Testimony

BORN AGAIN

TITUS 3:5

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,”

You’ve heard this expression, I’m sure. You are born again at salvation. Well, in today’s verse we have that expression defined in the word “regeneration.” The Greek word literally means birthed again. It’s only used twice in the New Testament. It’s used here and also in Matthew 19:28 where it refers to the rebirth of physical creation when Christ returns to begin His millennial reign.

But not only are you reborn, you are also renewed. This word means to have a whole new development, a renewal which is through God’s power. You see, this is all done by God. You didn’t rebirth yourself nor renew yourself. God saved you. That’s a fact. And if He does something, you can take it to the bank. It’s done. It’s complete. It’s forever.

APPLICATION

Explaining this to your children can be challenging, depending on their age. Do you have any videos of their birth? Drag them out. Show them the video and celebrate their birth. Then ask them this question. “Did you do anything to help in your birth?” Of course, the correct answer is “no.” All they did was surrender to the process. They were depending on mom pushing them out and the doctor delivering them.

The same is true for their spiritual birth. For that to happen they have to surrender to the One who is drawing them out of darkness. When they do, He delivers them into the light of His love. They are totally dependent upon the Lord to bring them into this new life.

Let me ask you this. If you are born again, are you living like it? Are you walking in your renewal? So many of us come to Christ and then try to keep one foot back in the old life. Regeneration and renewal imply a fresh start, a clean slate. The old has passed away. There is no room in the regenerated, renewed life for the old ways. Accept the change. Embrace your new life.

Lord, I will walk in newness today. I will lay aside all the past ways and embrace all You have for me in my new life. Thank You for my rebirth in Christ.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Elders, Encouragement, Love, Mercy, Ministry, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture

GOOD MEDICINE

1 TIMOTHY 5:23

“No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”

Don’t jump to the conclusion that Paul is saying to go out and buy some wine and start drinking. You’ve got to understand the culture of the day. It was common practice back then for young people (that was considered under 30) to not drink at all. It was actually frowned upon. Timothy was still a young man, although he was the leader of the church at Ephesus. Therefore, he probably abstained from any wine.

Undoubtedly, Timothy had some stomach issues which could be aided by the wine. They didn’t have Pepto Bismol or Tums back then. So, diluted wine was used to settle the stomach. Many times, the wine would be mixed with water (1 part wine, 2 parts water). Whatever you think about this verse, it is not a license to drink with liberality.

APPLICATION

This is one of those no-brainer verses. Of course, you are not going to teach your children to drink wine. That would be absurd. What you can do, however, is to teach then personal responsibility. That way, when they are older, they can make their own choice about this. The important thing to remember is their testimony is only as reputable as their conduct and behavior.

We don’t need wine to settle our stomach. We have medications now to do that. You can justify anything, but should you? There are some things that you are going to have to weigh against the entirety of God’s Word. Then you can make your decision. This is one of those things. So, teach your child well with this one.

This topic of drinking is so controversial in the church today. Don’t make this the hill you die on. Don’t judge others too quickly. Ask for wisdom and love each other. Paul was writing this letter to his child in the faith, Timothy, to encourage him to “take a little wine” to help his stomach. It was about his love for Timothy, not about the wine.

Father, thank You that You give us the wisdom to do as You lead us. Help me follow You as You direct. I want to please You, not man.

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Affection, Bible, Caregiver, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Christianity, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Family, Love, Mentoring, Mercy, Ministry, Modeling, Obedience, Qualifications, Service, Widows, Works

WORTHY OF HONOR

1 TIMOTHY 5:10

having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.” 

Just look at the list of this widow’s character traits making her worthy of honor by the church. She has a good reputation. She is a child raiser. She is hospitable, service oriented, full of mercy and devoted. Wow! That’s some woman!

But shouldn’t we all be like that? I mean, look at the list again. Which one of those traits don’t belong in your life? The bottom line is she puts others before herself. Therein lies the rub. We don’t want to do that. We want to see ourselves first. We want to meet our needs first. It’s always me, me, me!

APPLICATION

Well, this is a no brainer. As parents, we are constantly teaching our little Gertrudes and Elords how to not be selfish. We teach children to share because they are naturally selfish. We teach them to watch out for their little brother or sister because they are not concerned with that. 

But once again, this is better caught than taught. We must model these behaviors. When they see us showing mercy to someone, they learn from that. When they observe us serving someone else, they watch how it’s done. We are living out the traits they need to embrace. So, be very careful what you do and say. Little eyes and ears are watching and listening.

How are you in regard to these traits? Are you hospitable? Do you show mercy or wrath? We may not be a widow who needs to be put on the church list, but we still need to live out these same godly traits. And what is amazing is that when we do these things, we are the ones who are blessed. Be a blessing!

I do enjoy blessing others, Lord. Help me see their need even before it is apparent. Let me be Your hands and feet to them.

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CAREGIVER

1 TIMOTHY 3:5

“(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),”

Paul continues his qualifications for an elder in today’s verse with an explanation of the previous verse. This verse tells us why it is important for a man to manage his household properly. If he can’t, he sure can’t “take care” of the church. Now, just wait until you hear about the Greek word for “take care.” It is so cool.

This Greek word is only used three times in the New Testament. It is used here and two times in Luke 10:34-35. Here is the cool part – that is the story of the good Samaritan. Do you remember that story? He took care of the Jewish man beaten by robbers and left for dead. He even paid the inn keeper to take care of him once he left. That is how an elder is supposed to take care of the church, and he can’t do that if his own house is not in order.

APPLICATION

Okay, you know where I am going with this, don’t you? You have to jump back to the Good Samaritan story to explain this word and verse to little Elrod and Gertrude. They will get that. You can even act out the story with you. You can show them how to “take care” of someone. They will love it.

Then, once they have a good picture of this, take them back to today’s verse and explain how a good leader in the church does the same thing for those in the church. He helps bind their spiritual wounds and enlists others to help.

Are you a caregiver? Do you even care how your church family is doing? So many of us just go to church and go home. We don’t get involved in each other’s lives. But we need to. We need to care for those who hurting. We need to care for those who are going through some kind of trial. Will you care today?

You are the greatest caregiver, Lord. Help me see what You are doing and just get involved in it. I want to please You in all I do.

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