Abiding, Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Peace, Relationships, Scripture

THE WRONG SIDE

HOSEA 13:9 

“It is to your own destruction, Israel, that you are against Me, against your help.” 

There have been times in my life when I have chosen the wrong side of a fight. I became emotionally involved about something and didn’t think things through. The end result wasn’t good. I lost. It doesn’t matter what the issue was. The problem was I had not prayed about it first. I thought it was a matter that I needed to decide without consulting my Savior. I was wrong. 

Israel had chosen the wrong side. They had sided against God. They had pursued the other gods. They had decided to follow the pagan gods of the nations around them, the very nations God had told them to wipe out when they came into the Promised Land. Even after seeing all that God had done for their nation, they chose the wrong side. Now, their destruction was upon them. 

APPLICATION 

Whose side are you on? I pray you are on the Lord’s side. He has so much to offer. It may appear that siding with the Lord limits you. You may think walking with Him means you can’t “have fun” anymore. That is so far from the truth. Living for Jesus is the most fun you could have. He fills our lives with joy and peace. He surrounds us with a family that loves us and wants to see us succeed. What more could you want? 

I just returned from my brother’s funeral. As I sat in the service and listened to the speakers share about my brother, I was amazed. My brother and I lived about six hours apart. I knew he was involved in his church, but I had no idea just how much he served. I was blown away at their accolades of my brother. My brother chose the right side. He had chosen to serve Jesus. He is enjoying the victory now. 

It’s never too late to join the winning side. The other side, the devil’s side, will never win. His side is doomed for defeat. And the simple truth is if you are not on the Lord’s side, you are on the devil’s side. Join the right side today. Come to Jesus. Repent of your sins. Ask Him to come and live inside of you through His Holy Spirit. Experience the joy and peace He has to offer.  

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. 

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TENDER HANDS

HOSEA 11:11

“They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD.”

I can remember as a little boy finding baby birds that had fallen out of their nest. Some didn’t even have their eyes open yet. They were so defenseless. Usually, the mama would be flitting around trying to protect her little ones. I would pick them up so tenderly and, if I could, put them back in their nest. If the nest was too high in the tree, we would try to raise them in a box.

I had this picture in my mind when I read this verse today. God tenderly picked up Israel from Egypt and Assyria and placed them in their land again. They were shaken from their exile. They were dazed and confused, but God reached down with His tender hands and picked them up and loved them.

APPLICATION

Are you dazed and confused? Have you fallen out your nest? God’s tender hands are waiting to pick you up. You need to call out to Him. He doesn’t want to see you on the ground vulnerable to attack. He wants to protect you. But our tender God will not force His love on you. He will not come in uninvited.

Oh, but when you do call out, He is right there. And when you feel His tender hands (and believe me, you can), you just relax and realize that He has you. He will never let you go. He will carry you to your home. He will place you in a place of safety created by Him just for you. Do you want to experience that today?

I know I need His tender hands in my life daily. I love the feel of His hands on my life. I love it because I trust Him. His hands will never crush me. He will not squeeze me into submission. Don’t you love that? I do. Call out to Him today and feel His touch. You won’t ever forget it.

Lord, thank You for Your tender touch. Thank You for picking me up and taking me home.

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PEACE ALL AROUND

HOSEA 2:18

“On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground. And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.”

Have you ever been in a situation where everything is totally out of control? I mean, it is total chaos! You get one fire put out and another one springs up. You cannot get one moment of rest because of all the stuff you are having to deal with. Then…peace. The chaos ends. You can breathe. Isn’t that an awesome feeling?

The Lord is telling Israel that in today’s verse. Everything is going to calm down. Even the animals, birds and crawling things are going to cooperate. No more war. They can finally feel safe. Those must have been welcomed words from Hosea.

APPLICATION

Are you fighting a battle right now that seems impossible? Does it seem hopeless? Listen, brother and sister, there is hope. But you must come to Him. He can calm all the storms in your life. There aren’t any problems too big for Him. I’ve said it before, everything over our heads is under His feet. Never forget that.

Turn to Him now and say, “Lord, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I need help. Will you help me through this storm I’m in?” What do you think He is going to say to that? He will come to you. Now, you may not like the way He works in that situation, but if you will trust Him, He will see you through.

Sometimes, peace comes only by navigating through a storm. Let Jesus do that for you. He knows where all the safe ports are. He wants to give you rest. I don’t know about you, but I want that in my life. I’ve had enough storms lately, lol. I am ready for some still waters.

Lord, I give you the helm. Guide me into the still waters of Your peace.

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CONFRONTATION

3 JOHN 10

“For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

A lot of people do not like confrontation. They will do anything to stay away from it. Others dive right in before knowing all the facts and can make matters worse. Of course, the best approach is to gather all the facts before confronting someone to make sure what you have heard is true. Your purpose for confronting is to correct a wrong and set things straight.

John had gathered his facts. He had been informed about Diotrephes’ actions against him, others and the church. With the apostolic authority he possessed, he planned to confront Diotrephes. Why? Did John just want to get him back? I don’t believe so. I believe John wanted to restore a brother. We don’t know what happened between John and Diotrephes. I guess we will find out in heaven if this was settled biblically.

APPLICATION

Children have to be taught how to settle disputes according to Scripture. That does not come naturally. Our flesh almost always wins out. How do we teach them this life skill? I can think of two ways. Let’s make that three ways. Prayer, God’s Word and modeling the behavior.

You are probably saying Okay Carl, I like the first two, but I am so tired of you telling me to model behavior. I understand, but it does no good to teach them to pray for others and search God’s Word for direction if we aren’t living that out before them. We have to show them what it looks like to confront in love. We have to be their example to follow during difficult times. That’s parenting.

Is there someone in your life whom you need to confront in love? Perhaps there is a family member who professes Christ but is not living like it. Confront them. Maybe a co-worker consistently takes the name of the Lord in vain. Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you and will guide you. He will give you the words to say at just the right time. Follow His lead.

It is not easy to confront others, Lord. Give me the courage to speak truth in love.

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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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MULTIPLICATION

2 PETER 1:2

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;” 

I will never forget Mrs. McCracken. She was my fourth grade homeroom teacher and also my math teacher. That was the year we had to learn our multiplication tables. Remember those? We had to recite them correctly or stay inside during recess and work on them. I still remember those multiplication tables, so I guess it worked.

But we don’t get to know God by quoting multiplication tables, do we? I love the Greek word for “knowledge” here. It is epignosis. The second half of that word, gnosis, means knowledge, but the epi on the front intensifies it. It has the idea of contact knowledge or first-hand knowledge. That’s how grace and peace is multiplied – by getting to know God first-hand.

APPLICATION

Ask your children how they get to know somebody. They may say by talking to them on the phone. Wrong! They may say by facetiming. Wrong again. We get to know someone by spending time with them face to face. Not on some screen.

They need to know that they get to know God by spending time with Him. By reading His Word and spending time in prayer they get to know the God of the universe. By setting aside time each day to be alone with Him, the grace and peace multiplies. They get the answers to life’s questions. They learn to grow as a believer. But they have to get first-hand knowledge.

How is your time with Him? Do you need more grace and peace in your life? Then there is only one way to get it. You need to know Him more fully. Spend time. Spend some energy getting to know Him. Trust Him to pour Himself into you as you open up more and more to Him.

Lord, I want to know You more. I need more grace and peace and am relying on You to multiply it in my life.

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CHASE THE RIGHT THINGS

1 PETER 3:11

“’HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.’”

Peter continues to quote from Psalm 34 in today’s verse, and it’s a good one. The Psalmist gives us four actions to follow: turn away from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue peace. Those are pretty good things to chase after, if you ask me. You see, you really can’t do good until you turn away from evil. You can’t do both at the same time.

And then he says to seek peace and pursue it. I just love the word “pursue.” In the Greek it means like a hunter chasing his prey. I’m a hunter, so I can relate to that definition. When you get on the trail of the game you are after, you diligently chase it. That’s how we are to pursue peace. I like that.

APPLICATION

Have you ever played tag with your kids? I am sure you have. Let me tell you, the older we get, the more they win. LOL. You know how it feels when you are chasing someone doggedly. You don’t give up. Play a game of tag with your kids, making some mental notes of who chased who.

Then read them this verse and explain the word “pursue” to them. Tell them how important it is to chase after peace. We should do all we can to make sure we are being peaceful with others. We don’t stop doing that, just like they didn’t stop chasing after the person they were trying to tag in the game.

Are you pursuing peace right now? We too often stop short of our goal in that area. We think the other person should bring the peace, not us. But this verse applies to all of us. We should all be pursuing it. We should all be peaceful in our actions and behaviors.

O Lord, I do desire peace. I know You are the Prince of Peace. Help me pursue You daily and live in Your peace.

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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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PROVEN PRECIOUS

I PETER 1:7

“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 

Our faith is precious, more precious than gold. And Peter reminds us how gold is proven to be precious. It is tested by fire. The same is true about our faith. It, too, will go through testing.

One scholar wrote,
“Christians should be willing to pass through trials: (a) They will purify their religion, just as the fire will remove dross from gold.

(b) They will make it shine more brightly, just as gold does when it comes out of the furnace. (c) They will disclose more fully its value. (d) They will furnish an evidence that we shall be saved; for that religion which will bear the tests that God applies to it in the present life, will bear the test of the final trial.”

APPLICATION

So, how do you apply this verse? By living through those testings. As you encounter hard times, you have the God given opportunity to trust Him to prove your faith. Your children are watching. As you talk to them about how you are trusting the Lord in the process, they are listening.

You may not think these moments will be remembered by them. After all, they are young. But, oh, they will remember. God will make sure of that. Trusting moments stick. Faith producing moments make impacts, especially on young lives. And when God brings you through, and He will, celebrate that with your children.

Are you in a trial right now? Is your faith being put through the fire? Thank the Lord that He is purifying it. Thank Him that You know it is more precious than gold. Gold will not last forever. Even it is eventually destroyed. But not our faith. With each “firing” it becomes stronger. Believe that!

I praise You for the fires! I may not enjoy the process, but I am thankful for the outcome. Purify me, Lord!

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NICE GUY

TITUS 3:2

to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”

Are you a nice person? I mean, do you portray these traits Paul lists in today’s verse? These are admirable traits, but I guarantee you they are not possible for long without Christ being the center of your life. Christ showed us all of these while He was here on earth. If He can live them out, we can too. We just have to allow Him to live them through us.

“To malign” means to speak evil against someone. That’s not our calling. “To be peaceable” literally means not to fight. For some of us that’s hard. “Gentle” means to be forbearing or reasonable toward others. That can be tested at times, can’t it? And “showing every consideration” has the idea that you can show restraint.

APPLICATION

Aren’t those four traits worth instilling in your children? How many times have you had to stop your children from doing the exact opposite? Instead of not speaking evil, they are constantly tattling or trying to get their sister or brother in trouble. Flesh does not have to be taught how to be fleshly. It comes natural. Our job as Christian parents is to consistently hold that flesh accountable. We must take every opportunity to point them towards the attributes of Christ.

Will your children embrace these traits? Only if they first know Christ. Trying to “force” these behaviors on your child before they know Him may get them to follow a rule, but it won’t change their heart. Only Jesus can do that. So, is it hopeless? Of course not! But know that the heart change is not your responsibility. Your job is to keep pointing them to Jesus. Jesus is big enough to handle the rest.

Which of these four traits gives you the most trouble? Probably, for me, it’s being gentle. I often have unreasonable expectations of others and am not very forbearing. I expect too much or I want them to comply to my wishes. That’s not being Jesus. The only way I can live this out is to surrender my desires to His. I have to see the other person through His eyes. Then I can show the gentleness of Christ.

I desire to live out these traits towards others, Lord. I know that I may be the only Jesus they ever see. Help me be that to them today.

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