Advice, Advocate, Bible, Born, Calling, Commitment, Darkness, Doubts, Encouragement, Friends, Infidelity, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

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NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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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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LIVE LONG AND PROSPER

3 JOHN 2

“Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.”

How many Trekies do I have out there? If you ever watched the original Star Trek series, you are probably familiar with Spock’s typical farewell. He would hold up his right hand, form a V with his fingers by holding apart his second and third fingers and then say these words Live long and prosper. I do that often with friends just as a joke. If you’re not a Trekie, you don’t get it.

John wasn’t holding up his fingers and quoting Spock, lol. He was praying for Gaius to prosper. And he wasn’t asking for a one-time prospering. The verbs “may prosper” and “prospers” are both in the Present tense which conveys continuous action. John was praying that Gaius would prosper and prosper and prosper. The word “prosper” implies real success.

APPLICATION

I bet you want your children to prosper. Am I right? Of course, you do. All parents want to see their children do well. They want them to succeed in life. But I want you to look back at the verse for second. Look at the last part of the verse. John wants Gaius’ soul to prosper as well. It’s not just about succeeding in life. We should be praying that our children prosper spiritually.

How do they do that? Well, it’s not possible to prosper spiritually unless you spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. That’s your role as a parent – to teach them to how to read and study God’s Word and how to pray. By doing that, you are laying the groundwork for them to prosper spiritually. You are preparing them for success in their faith. You do want them to “live long and prosper” don’t you?

Are you doing that? Are you more concerned about prospering financially than spiritually? How much is enough for you? So many believers get bogged down in achieving material wealth that they neglect their spiritual health. Prospering with God is not about things. It’s about faith. It’s about walking with Him daily. It’s about sharing the good news with others. So, are you prospering? Really?

Lord God, help me to prosper according to You. I want to be seen as a spiritually wealthy man.

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WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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PRAYING FOR THE LOST

1 JOHN 5:16 

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. 

Do you pray for others? For years I have had the privilege to pray for lots of people. Some are on my daily prayer list. Others are on my weekly or monthly list. They are no less important than than those on the daily list. It’s just those on that daily list have a more pressing need or they are immediate family. Either way, I am praying for lots of people each month. 

In today’s verse John is exhorting us to pray for those who need salvation. This verse has been hotly debated for decades. Many scholars disagree on its exact meaning. But for our purposes today I have settled on the interpretation that John is asking us to pray for those who need Jesus. We must do that. He does say in the last part of the verse that there are some who have committed that unpardonable sin of refusing the drawing of the Spirit. Those people are in God’s hands.  

APPLICATION 

Do your children have a prayer list each night? I remember growing up that I had to pray through my list each night. I always prayed for my parents and siblings (except when I was mad at them, lol). And I prayed for our dogs and other things. My point is, children need to learn to pray and pray specifically. Find out some requests of relatives they may be praying for and let your child know. That way when God answers their prayers, you can celebrate with them. 

Prepare your children also for God’s “No” answers. Sometimes He does that. He always knows what is best. We may not understand it, but we have to trust it. Our children need to learn that. They have to learn to accept God’s Will, whatever it may be. 

Are you praying for the salvation of others? Who is on your list today? If you don’t have a list, make one. Invite others in your family to join you in praying for those who need the Lord. Beg God for their eternal life. And do all you can as you communicate with them to lead them to a saving knowledge of Christ. That is putting feet to your prayers. Amen? 

Father, You are an amazing God. I do not understand how You can hear all our prayers at once and answer perfectly, but I trust You. Use me to reach others with the good news of Jesus. 

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ASK WITH CONFIDENCE

1 JOHN 5:14 

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 

I remember a few times in my life when I asked for a raise. Have you ever done that? It can be a scary thing, can’t it? You’re not sure how your boss is going to take it. He may get mad or irritated by you for asking. Or he may grant your request. I have found that if you ask with confidence and boldness, you are more than likely going to get some kind of raise. 

I love that John uses the word “confidence” here in reference to prayer. That is the same word that the writer of Hebrews uses in Hebrews 4:16 referring to how we approach the throne of God in prayer. We do it with boldness because of whose we are in Christ. John tells us something similar in John 14:6. “Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete.” Ask! 

APPLICATION 

Most children don’t have a problem asking for things, do they? They may bug you and bug you about something until you finally give in and get it for them. I am not talking about that. We need to teach our children how to ask with boldness, with confidence. That word “confidence” means to speak out with resolve, with sureness. That’s how we want our children to ask, not timidly and fearful. 

But what do they need to ask for? Simple. John tells us. “Anything according to His will.” If we teach our children to ask the Lord to bless them according to His will, the Lord is quick to answer. He wants His will done in our lives. He wants to see us walking with Him. He is pleased when we ask for His will to be done. Teach your children that way of asking. 

Maybe you are stuck in the old pattern of asking what pleases yourself. You are wondering why God won’t answer your prayers. Well, that’s simple, too. God is trying to direct you towards His will. He could answer your prayers the way you ask, but you would not like the results. God knows best. Ask with confidence but ask according to His will. Then watch what happens. It will amaze you. 

I come before You to ask You to give me the wisdom to walk in Your light. I want to live in such a way that others are drawn to You.  

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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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GREATER IS HE

1 JOHN 4:4

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 

I grew up with cereal commercials. You may can remember the old Lucky Charm and Cocoa Krispies commercials. But my favorite was Frosted Flakes. Why? Because of Tony the Tiger. I just loved every time he would say, “They’re Greaaaaaaat!” I didn’t get to eat Frosted Flakes a lot, but I sure loved the commercial.

When I read this verse, I think of that. I won’t to scream out like Tony the tiger and say, “He’s Greaaaat!” Silly, I know. Look what John is telling us. That old antichrist may think he has power. He may think he is great, but he has nothing on Jesus. That’s who is in us. Through His Holy Spirit He dwells within us. He is greater than any other power. We literally have an indescribable power in us.

APPLICATION

Ask your children what they would do if they had unlimited power. They may say they would fly to the moon. Maybe they would say they would heal all the sick children in the world. Whatever they say, I bet they have an idea what they would do with that power.

Now, ask them what power a Christian has. This may puzzle them for a second. They may say the power to pray or believe. Read them today’s verse. Explain to them that we have the very power of God within them as believers. We can do amazing things if we will only yield to Him and allow His Spirit to work through us. We are only limited by our faith.

Do you believe that? Do you believe you have the very power of God within you? That’s what the Scripture says. I truly believe we are only as powerful as our faith. God can and wants to do amazing things through us. Will you allow Him to have complete control over you today? If you do, hold on. He may just put you in a place to be used as never before.

Lord, use me. Take my life and use it however You desire today. And I will give You all the glory.

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