Accountability, Battles, Bible, Calling, Courage, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Gospel, Judgment, Obedience, Passion, Scripture, Testimony

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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Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Modeling, Passion, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

MY BETROTHED

HOSEA 2:19

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion,”

Have you ever been betrothed? Here in the U.S. we would call it being engaged. When I asked my wife to marry me, we became engaged to be married. Ours was a short courtship. We only dated about two and half months before we were married. Hey, when you see a good thing… lol.

I love the image Hosea uses here. God betroths us to Him. That word literally means to pay the price and so gain the right of possession. When a dowry was given, the couple became betrothed. But look how He betrothed Israel (and us) – in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion. Wow! Now, that’s a betrothal.

APPLICATION

Do you feel betrothed? Are you living your life as the betrothed of God? Oh, you should be. Look at who you are betrothed to. The God of the universe. The Creator of all things. The Beginning and the End. Jehovah God. I could go on and on and on.

People get excited about celebrities. They dream about being married to one. But these are finite, fallible people who will let you down. Look at how many celebrity marriages fail. Our betrothal to Almighty God will never fail. We are His betrothed forever!

Doesn’t that excite you? It does me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him. When God betroths us, that means we are His bride from now throughout eternity. Don’t you want to know your betrothed better? I sure do.

Lord, thank You for making me Your betrothed. You did purchase me with a price – Your Son. Amen.

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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Passion, Protection, Relationships, Scripture

MY MAN

HOSEA 2:16

“‘And it will come about on that day,’” declares the LORD,

“‘That you will call Me my husband and no longer call Me my Baal.’”

I’ve been married for over thirty-five years now. I truly have to say that I love my wife more today than the day we got married. Why? Because I know her better. I just had this flashback of Sonny and Cher singing “I love you more today than yesterday.” Lol. I love it when my wife refers to me as her husband. I love that term. It’s intimate. It’s personal. I’m her man.

God is telling Israel (and Gomer) to call Him “my husband” or “my man.” He really is. That’s what the Hebrew word ish means. Why is He saying this? Because He didn’t want them using the word Baal which means lord. A husband was often called lord by his wife, but in this instance, God didn’t want any confusion on their part with Him and that pagan god named Baal. So just call Him my husband.

APPLICATION

Is God “your man”? I don’t mean that in any kind of derogatory way. I mean do you have an intimate, personal relationship with Him? My wife and I have been developing our relationship for over thirty-five years now, but we still have a long way to go. I will never fully know her because we are both limited by our humanness. God knows you fully and wants you to know Him.

How can you know God on a more intimate level? There is only one way. You have to spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. If you don’t spend time with someone, you will never know them. It’s just not possible. Will you commit to spend some more time with the Lord this week?

The beauty of spending time with the Lord is that it can happen anywhere. Unlike my wife, who has to be physically with me to spend time with me, God is accessible 24/7. He is everywhere. He is always listening. That blows my mind, but it’s true. Just reach out and see what happens. He’s there waiting to commune with you.

O God, creator of the universe, I am amazed that You want to spend time with me. I will stop today and listen to Your voice.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Kindness, Passion, Relationships, Scripture

UNSEEN BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:8

“Yet she does not know that it was I myself who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

Many years ago, my wife and I lost a baby girl, Cathleen. She was born premature and only lived six hours. It was a tragic thing in our lives, but one God used mightily. That’s another story. The part I want to share today is that we never received bills from the doctor or hospital. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that someone had paid all the bills for us. We eventually found out who had done that. They had blessed us without our knowledge.

God had done the same for Israel. They had no idea how God had been blessing them for years. As Hosea says here – “and lavished on her…” When God gives, He gives way beyond our comprehension. He makes sure we have what we need, and often times more than we need. He truly blesses us.

APPLICATION

I want you to sit down and think about the past year. How has God blessed you? For me, He got me through another stem cell transplant. He provided for me through multiple individuals the funds to pay my medical bills. He got me through covid-19 when I still had a compromised immune system. I could go on and on. How about you?

We often do not stop and count the blessings. There is an old hymn that talks about that.  Count Your Blessings goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the lord has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

Let me encourage you to do that today. You will be blessed when you stop and see al that He has done for you.

Lord, You bless me when I don’t deserve it. You see my need and move to meet it even before I am aware of it myself.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Passion, Scripture, Surrender

MAXIMUM POTENTIAL

1 PETER 4:8

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

Love, love, love! If we would all just love more, the world would be a better place. You have probably heard that at least once in your life. And Peter agrees, but there are a couple of qualifiers. One is it has to be God’s love. Both times in this verse the word agape is used. That’s God’s kind of love. We can’t produce that. It has to come through Him.

Secondly, Peter says to be “fervent in your love for one another.” The Greek word for “fervent” means to its maximumpotential, without slack because it is fully extended to its necessary outcome. That word is only used right here in this verse. Can you love to your maximum potential?

APPLICATION

The only way for your kids to learn to love fervently is for you to model that for them. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? But so much of parenting is role modeling. Remember, Peter isn’t telling us to fervently love our families. That is easy (well, it’s easy most of the time, lol). He is telling us to fervently love all our Christian brothers and sisters.

Now that’s a challenge. Your children will watch how you love them. They will listen how you talk about them. They will see if you are loving to your maximum potential. When they see us loving the unlovable with the love of God, then they will begin to understand this verse.

Who is causing you to struggle with this right now? Love them more. That doesn’t mean you have to condone what they do. It doesn’t mean you have to trust them. But it does mean to allow the Lord to love them through you. Be obedient to what the Lord has called you to do.

Lord, I will attempt to love fervently. I know it won’t be easy, but I will do it because You expect it and because You can empower me to do it.

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Advice, Affection, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Passion

LIVING FOR WHAT

1 PETER 4:2

“so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”

We have a choice to make. Do we live to please ourselves or God? Peter states that here in today’s verse. This thought is a continuation of the previous verse which ends with “has ceased from sin.” It is impossible to please God and sin at the same time. You just can’t do it.

So, if you want to “live the rest of the time” doing the will of God, you will abandon “the lusts of men.” The Greek word for “lusts” really means passionate desire. The word can be used in a negative or positive way, depending on the context. Here it is used negatively. But don’t you think we need a passionate desire for God?

APPLICATION

What are your child’s passions? Soccer, Legos, American girl? We need to strive to give our children that passion for Jesus. I don’t mean they have to quote the Bible constantly or preach on a street corner. I mean they desire passionately to please their Heavenly Father.

The only way to do that is to immerse them in His Word and pray over them. They will choose their own way. We can’t stop that. But as we intercede for them in these ways, God is watching. He will draw them to Himself powerfully. I truly believe that. He will honor our efforts to raise our children loving Him.

Are you passionate about anything? Are you passionate about the right things? Our passions can vary. However, our priorities shouldn’t. Make knowing Jesus your top priority and your passions will follow. Get passionate for Jesus.

I love You, Lord. Make me more passionate for You. Put in me the desire to seek You first.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deception, Direction, Encouragement, Faith, Healing, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Passion, Scripture

MISPLACED FAITH

ACTS 5:14-16

“14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.”

Peter’s reputation as a miracle worker and healer had spread. People were clamoring to get to him to be healed of their diseases or impairments. However, the crowds were so big they couldn’t get close enough. So, they resorted to lying in the streets where Peter might pass with the hope that his shadow might fall on them and heal them.

I must quickly say that there is no evidence this happened. We have no record of anyone being healed by his shadow. Nevertheless, the people believed it could. Strong faith in the wrong thing does not make things right. You may believe passionately in something, only to find out you were passionately wrong.

APPLICATION

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to redirect your child when you know they are headed in the wrong direction. Your child may have some strong beliefs about some things in our culture. It’s happening more and more. While we want them to hold strongly to their beliefs, we also want those beliefs to be biblically based.

The only way you can redirect them is to go to Scripture. If a belief is not backed up by the Word of God, it’s not a true belief. Now listen to me. Satan loves to disguise his lies with a little truth. This can be so confusing to a young believer. That’s why you, Mom and Dad, must be grounded in the Word and able to show them in Scripture what God says.

Have you taken a good look at your beliefs? Why do you believe what you do? We all need to do a self-check every so often. It is so easy to bring in traditions or church practices and consider them doctrine. Let me encourage you today to reevaluate your beliefs. Check them out with the Word before you start betting your life on them.

Your Word is clear to me, Lord. I will put my trust in what You teach me there and check out other teachings that are put before me.

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YOU ARE A PROCLAIMER

1 PETER 2:9

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may;” proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Many have memorized this verse. Most of us remember the first part but forget the second. Let’s take a look at that. Peter tells us we are chosen for a purpose. We are chosen to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

We tend to get stuck on the first part of the verse which makes us so special. But since we are chosen, since we are a royal priesthood and holy nation and since we are God’s own possession, He expects us to tell others. We are proclaimers of the good news of Christ.

APPLICATION

How hard would it be for your children if you asked them to keep a secret about something incredible? Suppose you have planned a fabulous vacation and you told your kids all about it but swore them to secrecy. Their little tongues would be chewed raw biting their tongues to keep from telling someone.

We should have the same excitement about what Christ has done for us. We should be busting at the seams wanting to tell everyone. But we relish in the chosen part without looking at the responsibility part. He saved us to use us to spread the good news.

Have you told someone lately how incredible Jesus is to you? Have you told them what He has done for you? Don’t miss an opportunity. Don’t simply rely on your position in Christ. Now, I don’t mean you HAVE to do anything to guarantee your salvation. What I mean is you should have a burden to share every chance you get.

Thank You for choosing me and claiming me as Your own possession. I belong to You. Help me spread the Word.

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EYE WITNESS

LUKE 8:51

“When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother.”

Once again, we see Jesus choose Peter, James and John to witness something the other disciples didn’t. In this case, He wanted them to witness His healing powers. Everyone in the house told Him the little girl was dead. She probably was, but what is death to God?

Put yourself in Peter’s sandals. What would you have been thinking? Come on, Jesus. I know You have powers, but raising from the dead? This would not be the only time they would witness this, culminating with His own victory over death.

APPLICATION

I don’t expect you to show your children how to raise the dead. So, what is the message from this verse? Simple! God can do whatever He chooses to do whenever He chooses to do it. Your children need to know that. They need to know they can trust Him to work in their lives to protect and defend them.

But there is another message. Perhaps, the Lord will allow them to be an eyewitness to His workings in someone’s life. He may choose to use their prayers to heal someone. Now, hear me clearly. God heals, but He uses us to encourage and comfort. And those experiences build our faith.

Would you want to be an eyewitness? I would and I have been. I have seen people healed who should have died. In order to see those healings, you must believe. Believe God is good and desires only the best for each of His children. Let Him use you to comfort others. You may be surprised at what He allows you to see.

Father, use me as Your tool. If that means in healing, so be it. Just use me to accomplish Your desires.

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FERVENT LOVE

1 PETER 1:22

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,”

Have you ever loved someone so much that it hurt? The Greek word for fervent comes across like that. It’s only used twice in the New Testament. The other time is in Acts 12:5 when Peter was in jail and the church was fervently praying for his release.

Peter had experienced that kind of love and now he is telling us to love each other that way.

Now, I realize there are some people who are hard to love. I bet you can name a few. But that doesn’t excuse us from loving them. Do you know why? Because we aren’t doing this from our own love. No!!! This is the fervent love of Christ. We are just the vessel He uses to express His love.

APPLICATION

Ask your children what they think fervent means. Once they are done explain the word to them. Now, ask them to show you how they would express fervent love. Depending on the kid, this could be interesting. Most kids, however, don’t have a problem loving. We adults tend to shy away from fervent love.

I love standing at the door to the church I serve on Sunday mornings. Some of the kids will begin running down the sidewalk leading into the church the moment they see me. I’ve been out for several weeks with serious medical issue. I will probably get mowed down on my first Sunday back. I can’t wait. lol

Fervent love is proceeded by “purified your souls.” That’s important. Fervent love comes out of a pure heart. There is nothing hidden in that fervent love. It comes straight from above. Fervent love is an encouraging love. Go out today and fervently love someone. I’ll bet they will be surprised.

I fervently love You, Lord. Help me love others with as much passion. Love through me today.

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