Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Condemnation, Deceit, Faithfulness, God's Will, Holiness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

MOVING THE LINE

HOSEA 5:10

“The leaders of Judah have become like those who displace a boundary marker; On them I will pour out My anger like water.”

There’s been a battle for a number of years over the official boundary marker on a part of the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. The battle is really about water rights to the Tennessee river. Georgia wants access to that water, mainly for their largest city, Atlanta. But the original boundary marker excludes that. They claim the line was drawn incorrectly and needs to be corrected. I doubt that boundary marker will ever be changed.

Hosea uses the idea of moving a marker to describe Judah. Anyone who would move a boundary marker without permission is dishonest. God does not tolerate that and certainly wouldn’t from Judah. Their deceit draws God’s anger. He says He will pour it out like water. Not good!

APPLICATION

Have you moved the line on someone? Have you been dishonest in your dealings with anyone? Have you been dishonest with God? God still does not tolerate that. As believers, we must be the most honest of all people. Why? Because we represent our Lord. Our dishonesty reflects on Him.

That is why God is angered over any dishonesty in our lives. Anything that brings dishonor to His name angers our holy God. His name means something. It stands for something. We have no right to associate Him with our behaviors. That’s why He tells us we are to be holy as He is holy. Again, we represent Him. Don’t forget that.

As for me, I don’t want to do anything to bring shame on myself from being deceitful or dishonest. I want my actions to reflect well on my Lord. I want Him to look at me and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I will not move the line, Lord. I want to honor You in all I do. I know my actions are a reflection of my testimony of my faith in You.

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ANOTHER BROTHER

3 JOHN 12

“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

Do you have people in your life you can trust? I mean people whom you can tell anything and know they will hold that in confidence. We all need those kinds of people in our circle. I don’t care how grounded you are in the Word, there are times when we just need to talk about stuff. I have a couple of guys like that. They could be my Demetrius.

John mentions Demetrius and really brags on him. Now understand something. John could only brag on him because he was proven. John says he had a good testimony. Actually, John says he “has received” a good testimony. That verb is in the Perfect tense which means it happened with lasting results. Demetrius’ testimony was proven. And it was based on “the truth itself.” John really believed in him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to build reputations like that. Those don’t come quickly and can be lost so easily. We can help our children build those kinds of testimonies by holding them accountable and teaching them the truth. Their word needs to be trustworthy. Their actions need to be honorable. When we continue to point them to the Word, they learn to incorporate that into their lives.

When our children mess up, and they will, we point them back to the Word. We make sure they apologize and make things right if necessary. We model this behavior in front of them when we have wronged someone. We show them examples from Scripture of individuals who messed up but made things right with God.

Are you a Demetrius to someone? Do you have a Demetrius in your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Demetrius (at least this Demetrius) is only mentioned right here in the New Testament. But his name was important enough for John to put in this letter to Gaius. His name has been read through the centuries by millions of believers probably without a second thought. Think about him today and thank God for his testimony to John, Gaius and others.

Father, help me be a Demetrius to others. Let my testimony point to Jesus in all I do.

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GOD’S TESTIMONY

1 JOHN 5:9

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.”

Have you ever had to give a deposition for a trial? It’s no fun. I have done that a few times in my life. How it goes all depends on the one who is asking the questions. If they are professional and courteous, it goes well. If they are trying to trip you up and are asking confusing questions, it can be very frustrating. I have been the recipient of both. But…as long as you just tell the truth, it will be okay.

John tells us in today’s verse that God testified concerning His Son. Now, no one deposed God. Who is going to do that, lol? But He did testify for His Son. When did He do that? A few times. How about at Jesus’ baptism? He spoke from heaven. Again at the transfiguration of Christ He spoke to the disciples. God the Father had the Son’s back. He was the ultimate witness of who Christ was.

APPLICATION

Children need to be taught who to stand up for? They can get caught up with some friends who aren’t exactly dependable. Before you know it, they are defending these less than desirable actions of these friends. That is not a good thing. We don’t want our kids on the wrong side of truth, do we?

How do you teach them the right way? There’s only one way – the Word. We must show them that the Word will always point them to the truth. They can testify to it without doubt. Anything else must be measured against it. Because we know Jesus is the truth, we can testify for Him. He is trustworthy and has the backing of the Father.

Will you join the Father as a witness for Jesus? That’s pretty good company. If I had to choose who take sides with, I would definitely be on God’s side. We all like sure wins, right? Well, with God on your side you are guaranteed a win. Testify about Jesus today. Tell someone of His love.

I join with God the Father as a fellow witness on behalf of Christ. I believe He is the way, the truth and the life.

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BAD COMPANY

2 PETER 2:13

“suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,”

Some people are just not good to be around. Their intentions are wrong, and they seek to bring you down with them. Peter is warning us today about these people. They are going to suffer wrong. What does that mean? It means they are going to be given the same kind of justice they have given others. They will receive their judgment. They seek only their own pleasure. No one else matters.

Peter even calls them stains and blemishes. Not a very good reputation, huh? They love to deceive others even while they are pretending to fellowship with you. It is interesting that the word “carouse” is only used twice in the New Testament (here and Jude 12) and both times in a negative way.

APPLICATION

I believe Peter is telling us to not fellowship with these types of people. We still have the obligation to witness to them and love them in Jesus’ name. But that does not mean we are to be best buds with them. The old saying goes, “If you lie with dogs, you’re going to get fleas.” That’s true. If you hang out with these types of people they are going to influence you.

That’s why we guard our children from ungodly influences. We don’t let them spend the night with other boys and girls who parents live ungodly lives. That’s why we teach our children to only date fellow believers who share the same world view. That’s why we want to know who our children are hanging out with at school or on weekends. We want, to the best of our ability, to keep them from being “stained” or “blemished.”

Are you keeping yourself from being “stained” or “blemished”? It’s really not that hard, if you are following Jesus. Jesus just may send you to these types of people to share the Gospel. But He does not want you sharing their lifestyle. If you look no different than them, why would they want to hear anything about Jesus. Be different. Live holy.

Lord, protect me from the stains and blemishes of this world. Help me reach those who think and act like this, without putting myself at risk of evil influences.

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ARE YOU STRANGE?

1 PETER 4:4

“In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you;

If you do the right thing around some people they are going to think you are strange. Peter says so right here. The Greek word translated as “are surprised” means to think strange. You see, if you don’t hang out with them and do the things they do, they not only think you are strange, but they will also “malign” you.  That means they will speak evil of you.

When I got saved the summer before my senior year in high school, my lifestyle changed. Most of my friends acted exactly as this verse says. They asked what was wrong with me. They wanted to know why I wasn’t hanging out with anymore and doing the things they were doing. That was a tough year. I lost a lot of those friends that year, who interestingly enough now love the Lord.

APPLICATION

This is a great verse to read to your children when they are made fun of for standing up for Jesus. It will never fail. If your kids are living for Jesus, the devil will send people into their lives to try to discourage them. Peer pressure is tough. Our kids can be easily manipulated by a bunch of friends to compromise their convictions.

That’s why their convictions have to be built upon God’s Word and not what mom or dad says. His Word is plain and simple. If we keep them in it and work to disciple them appropriately, we have to leave the rest of it up to God. He is big enough to convict and lead them to make the right choices. All our yelling and screaming does is drive them away. Lean on Him.

So, let me ask you again. Are you strange? I hope so. I hope you stick out like a sore thumb. I hope all those around you notice you are different. I want them to ask you why you are different. And I want you to be ready to respond with the Gospel. Be strange for Jesus.

Father, being strange doesn’t sound too good. I want to be considered normal, but I don’t want to “fit in” with the crowd. Give me the boldness to be strange.

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FALSELY IMPRISONED

ACTS 12:5

“5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Peter seemed to be in and out of prison a lot. The religious leaders did not want him preaching the Gospel. So, they threw him in jail time and time again. Peter was not hindered. God kept using him. He wasn’t afraid of prison bars because he knew he was free in Christ.

Let me ask you a question. If you were threatened with jail if you didn’t stop preaching about Jesus, what would you do? That probably won’t happen in the United States (and I say probably because things seem to be changing quickly). But it is a real threat in many parts of the world. People are praying for those who face this threat, just like people were praying for Peter.

APPLICATION

One thing we need to teach our children is to not fear sharing Jesus. It is hard for many of us to do that. We are afraid the person may get mad at us or that we may hurt their feelings. Help your children develop way to share without being harsh. Living for Jesus daily speaks volumes. Help your children tell others what Jesus has done for them.

But most importantly, help them to understand that if they are faithful to share His good news with others, God will take care of them. Now, that doesn’t mean they will be spared from insults or ridicule. It could even lead to more serious consequences. But we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

Are you willing to face the consequences for obeying Jesus? Or are you more concerned with your reputation? Peter had a mission, and nothing could keep him from it. You and I have that same mission – to spread the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

I am ready, Lord, to suffer for You. I don’t like saying that, but I know You will see me through whatever comes my way. I want to be obedient to share Jesus.

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GOOD CONSCIENCE

1 PETER 3:16

“and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

What does it mean to “keep a good conscience”? Let’s break this down a bit. Actually, the Greek word translated as “keep” in this verse means to have or possess. The word “conscience” has the idea of the God-given capacity to know right from wrong. So, Peter is saying that no matter what others may say about us, as long as we know what we are doing is right, don’t worry about it. They are the ones who will be shamed.

Have you ever had someone put you down for something you have done? I have. I prayed about and had a perfect peace that what I was doing was God’s will. But because it went against or interfered in what someone else wanted, they ridiculed or at the very least questioned my intentions. All you can do at that point is trust the Lord and go on.

APPLICATION

Children face this all the time from their peers. It gets worse in the middle school and high school years. Whenever your child stands up for what God tells them, they are sure to be made fun of by others. It’s just the day in which we live. Living a life of integrity and purity is almost looked down on by those who choose to live another way.

As parents we hate to see them come home in tears or sullen. Our job is to encourage them with verses like this one today. Remind them that in the end those who have given them a hard time will be shamed. In the meantime, they are to continue to live for Jesus and trust Him to guard their hearts. Is it easy? By no means. But the end result is the key. He will reward the faithful.

How is your conscience? Are you remaining true to Him? Stay faithful, my friend. Allow the Lord to show you the big picture. Ask Him to give you a glimpse into the possibilities before you. He will as you surrender. He doesn’t want to keep secrets from you. He wants you in on His plans. Follow Him.

O God, I will trust You in the difficult circumstances. I will allow You to guard my heart as others attack. I will count it a privilege to suffer for You.

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JUDGE IF YOU HAVE TO

Acts 4:19

“But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;”

Obeying God can have consequences. Peter and John faced this dilemma when the Jewish authorities ordered them to stop preaching about Jesus. People were coming to Christ due to the miracles they were performing and their message about repentance. The Jewish leaders didn’t want that.

But Peter and John knew they had to answer to a higher authority. They weren’t trying to be ugly or hard to get along with. They just knew the Lord had told them to preach the Gospel, so they had to. They were willing to accept the consequences that could have come from the authorities.

APPLICATION

Years ago, I served as Chaplain at a Children’s Home. Occasionally, former residents of the home would want the Chaplain to marry them in the Chapel on campus. When I could, I was honored to do so. On one occasion, however, I was asked to marry two former residents who both had multiple former marriages. I couldn’t do that and remain true to my calling. I was questioned by the Superintendent why I refused. Fortunately, he understood and supported my decision. But I was prepared to leave my job if necessary.

Your children may face a decision between standing up for Christ and their beliefs or giving in to pressures from others. You have to prepare them now for those times. They have to know why they believe what they believe. They need to know that God will be with them to support them. Share with them how you have handled similar situations.

Are you willing to stand up for Christ? There may be a day when you are faced with that decision. Are you ready? He is. He will stand beside you. Then you can say as Peter said, “you be the judge.”

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead me. If that means I am judged by others, so be it. I will be proud to be named as Your follower.

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WITH THEIR OWN EYES

1 PETER 3:2

“as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” 

It’s one thing to hear about someone’s reputation. It’s another to see it with your own eyes. Peter is telling the wives that their husbands will be won to Christ by what they see in them. The way they behave towards their husbands could be the difference between heaven and hell for their husbands.

I have known people who act one way at home and a whole different way at church. Our behavior as believers is a twenty-four hour, seven days a week responsibility. We don’t get to take off days and live like we want to. Too many people are being influenced, especially family.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had your child’s Sunday School teacher tell you what a joy it is to have your child in their class? I am sure you are glad to hear that. But what if you heard that after a morning of screaming and yelling to get them dressed and out the door for church. I am sure you might think how nice it would be to see that kind of behavior at home.

Teaching our children to live consistent lives for Christ is hard. It’s hard for us to do that. Maybe that’s the problem with our children. They see us live one way at home and another at church. We have to model what we expect from them. Our lives are being observed by little ones every day. We can’t afford to “take a day off.”

How about you? Are you consistent in your walk? Don’t let your inconsistency influence someone to walk away from Jesus. You may not even be aware that someone is watching you to see if they want to respond to His call. You may be the only Jesus some people ever see.

I want to reflect Your life through my actions and behavior. Help me walk with You daily to influence those around me to follow You.

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NOT AN OPTION

1 PETER 2:17

“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

Peter gives us four commands in this short verse. And he pretty much covers everyone in these commands. Honor all people means to place value on someone according to how precious you consider them. He says to do the same toward the king. That’s convicting, isn’t it? How precious do you consider everyone? How precious do you hold your “king”, which for us would be our President or leaders? Hmmm!

Then Peter says to love the brotherhood which refers to all believers. Be honest, aren’t there some believers you don’t like? Peter doesn’t leave room for that. He uses the Greek word for love agapao which means always doing what the Lord prefers. Ouch! And finally, he says to fear God. Now, he doesn’t mean to be scared of God, but rather to be in awe of, to show reverence toward.

APPLICATION

Teaching our children to honor, love and fear is no small task. Some of these they won’t get until they are older, but we must start when they are young. But all these are best taught by example. We have to model these behaviors. Therein lies the rub, eh? Children learn the easiest by observing us, we have to love, honor and fear.

Ask your children what they think it means to love, honor and fear. You just might learn something. Often their answers are convicting to we adults. They speak with such innocence (at least most of the time) that it drives the point home. You know Jesus often used children to illustrate faith. Don’t you think if He used them, we could learn something from them?

How are you loving, honoring and fearing? Well Carl, I’m doing pretty good with the fearing thing, but that loving thing is tough. I know it is, but all four of these are in the imperative which means they are commands, not suggestions. If you are aren’t doing so good on one or more of these, you need to ask the Lord to show you how. He will you know.

Honor, love and fear need to be more a part of my daily behaviors. I need to spend more time loving and less time judging. I need to depend on You for my ability to do these.

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