Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Purity, Refreshing, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

DECAYING

HOSEA 14:1

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.”

Sometimes when I am in the woods hunting, I come across a dead animal. I always smell it before I see it. It’s hard to not smell it. When I find the carcass, it hardly recognizable. Often, I have to really look to figure out what it was. It has decayed to a point that you really don’t want to touch it or be near it.

Why do I bring that up? Because the Hebrew word for “stumbled” can also mean decayed. Israel has gone so far from God that they had that same stench. Their sins reeked. God was not pleased. Hosea is begging them to return. They can be salvaged if only…

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? I’m not asking if you deodorant is working. What I want to know is if your sins are stinking. All sin smells. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It may not smell to begin with, but it will. Left unconfessed, that sin will begin to turn rank in your life. The stench of sin in your life will begin to be noticed by others.

But praise be to God, there’s a remedy. Confess your sins. Be bathed in the blood of the Lamb. Get refreshed by His life-giving water. He will wash away all your sins. His blood works so much better than any household cleaner out there. If you are tired of smelling like sin, come to Him.

I don’t like the smell of sin. The more I spend time in the Word, the easier it is to smell sin. My nose can sniff it out. It’s like an early warning system to my soul. The Holy Spirit points out sin to me before I go there. Do I always listen? No, but when I don’t the Spirit won’t let me go until I confess it. I want to smell good, don’t you?

O God, cleanse me and purify me. I want to smell like Jesus.

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AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

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NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

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THE ERASER

1 JOHN 3:5

“You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.”

There was nothing better than a good eraser when I was in grade school. In fact, my mom used to buy us extra erasers. We loved the kind that went on the end of your pencil. You were really cool if you had some kind of cartoon figure eraser. But we also had those big, pink rectangle-shaped erasers. Those could last a long time. Erasers were essential when I was in school.

Jesus is our sin eraser. Because He knew no sin, only He was qualified to be that sin eraser. One definition of the Greek word for “take away” is to sail away. I like that. Our sins simply sail away. They have weighed anchor. They are no longer here. Jesus makes them vanish. How great is that?

APPLICATION

Get your kids to try out some different erasers with different writing instruments. Start out with a sharpie. Have them try to erase it. Then try an ink pen. Finally, give them a pencil. Some marks we make cannot be erased with a plain eraser. They are pretty much permanent.

Ask your children how they erase their own mistakes, their own sins. They may say they ask someone to forgive them. They may say they promise to never do that again. Those are like the sharpie and pen marks. Our efforts to erase our sins just don’t work. Only through Jesus can we get the forgiveness we need. Teach your kids to confess their sins daily. A clean slate is always good.

Does your slate need cleaning? Go the One who can erase all your mistakes. He can forgive you and give you the cleansing you need. All you have to do is confess. That may be a little painful, but it is the only way. Make it right with Him and experience the joy of walking in forgiveness.

Lord, I need Your eraser in my life. I confess to You today the ways I have fallen short. Cleanse me now.

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WHAT HOPE?

1 JOHN 3:3

“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

Well, last night I went to bed with my team, the Atlanta Braves, leading in the fifth inning in game seven of the National League Championship. I tried to stay up but was just too tired. I went to bed with a hope they would hold on to win and go to the World Series. Guess what? That didn’t happen. The Dodgers came back to win, sending Atlanta home.

If you read this verse by itself, you have to ask yourself, “What hope?” That hope is not my hope in the Braves (thank goodness). You need to go back and read verses 1 and 2 of chapter 3. That hope is solely in Christ. John tells us if our hope is in Him then we should live in such a way to honor Him. We should purify ourselves by putting anything out of lives that dishonors Him.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just love bath time with the kids? Really? You don’t? It can be a challenge, especially when they get a little older. Little boys love to play outside and do not necessarily like to wash that outside off once they come in. The smells of where they have been and what they have been doing are all over them.

The next time you are discussing bath time with the kiddos, read them this verse. I know what you are thinking, but hear me out. Explain to them that just as the physical world can affect how we smell, the spiritual world can affect how we live. We have to keep ourselves cleaned up spiritually through confession and righteous living to remove the stench of sin. You may not can smell that sin, but you can sure see the results of it in your life.

How pure are you today? Jesus wants you to walk before Him purified and reflecting Him. He is not honored by our wallowing in sin and professing to be a believer. He, in fact, demands pure living. Will you confess whatever it is you need to confess today? Let Him cleanse you and help you walk in purity.

Thank You for Your cleansing power in my life. Thank You for convicting me of the impurities I carry along with me. I want to walk representing You.

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HOW WILL HE FIND YOU?

2 PETER 3:14

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,” 

Have you ever been caught off guard by someone or something? Boy, I have. It can be embarrassing or even dangerous. It’s always best to be prepared. When I’m hunting, I try to be prepared for any situation, but I can still be caught sometimes not looking in the right direction or moving when I shouldn’t.

Peter is telling us in this verse to be found by Jesus in peace, spotless and blameless. Well, good luck with that, lol. Listen, you can’t be found “in” peace until you are “at” peace. That only comes through Him. And you will never be found spotless and blameless unless you are covered in His blood through your salvation. You see, it is really all about Him.

APPLICATION

Have you ever found your child’s room to be spotless? I doubt it, unless you have a remarkable child who just loves cleaning. Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you surprise your child and clean their room and make it spotless? When they see it, you can explain that you wanted to bless them by doing this.

Then read them this verse and explain how Jesus makes us spotless when we come to Him. Explain that unlike their room which will get dirty again, we are made spotless in His sight for eternity. Sure, we may sin again and need to confess that, but He sees us in our glorified state already. Isn’t that cool?

Are you at peace with God? Are you spotless and blameless? That’s how He wants to find you when He returns. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to strive for it. He says so in His word. Our God demands holiness, and He gives us the ability to be holy as we surrender daily to His Spirit. Now, go “scrub” yourself.

Thank You, Lord, that my holiness does to rely on me. You produce holiness in me through Your Holy Spirit. I want to be found worthy of You.

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TIME FOR JUDGMENT

1 PETER 4:17

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 

Judgment! No one likes to be judged. However, we all will be one day. In this verse, Peter makes a distinction between Christians (the household of God) and unbelievers (those who do not obey the gospel of God). For Christians our judgment comes in the form of correction, to make us more like Him. It can be harsh. We are not in danger of losing our salvation. That was settled the moment we accepted Christ as our Savior, but we can all use correction.

Unbelievers, on the other hand, face a more severe judgment. Peter implies that in this verse. He is saying You think our judgment is bad? Just wait until you see what happens to those who don’t believe. While our judgment is correction, their judgment will be punishment. They will suffer the ultimate consequence – eternal damnation.

APPLICATION

When my children were small, we used corporal punishment (we spanked them). Now, you may not agree with that. I don’t want to argue this point here. But we only used spanking when they deliberately disobeyed. When they just messed up or got caught up in the “heat of the moment” we didn’t use spanking as discipline. In those times we corrected them, even though that might mean some type of consequence.

Our children need to know God loves them so much that He will correct them. Just as we correct them, God will also correct them to keep them close to Him. He will never force them to do anything. We can’t force them to do anything either. But correction is needed at times. We should teach them to welcome it as it guides them toward holiness.

You probably hate correction as much as I do. I have learned through the years that I need it, though. I still don’t like it, but I know I need it. God’s Word corrects me each and every day. As I read and study His Word, it points men in the direction nearer to the heart of God. Will you trust Him today as He corrects you?

Thank You, Lord, for correcting me. Thank You for showing me the error of my ways. Keep me close by whatever mean necessary.

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SAFETY IN OBEDIENCE

1 PETER 3:20

“who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.”

Noah’s family survived the flood because of their obedience to God, not because of the ark. The ark was simply the vessel God used. Peter is using this well known story to illustrate how our Heavenly Father chooses to save us. He has provided the vessel (Jesus) through which we are saved. Our obedience to His call results in being safely carried through life.

This verse mentions God’s patience. Remember, it is God’s will that all men be saved. He is patient, but He is holy. His desire is salvation for all, but He will not tolerate outright disobedience. Peter states this, not to be harsh, but to be direct.

APPLICATION

I bet you never have to deal with disobedience from your children. Right? Now that you are through laughing, let me ask you a question. Do you see how you deal with your children’s disobedience as a reflection of how God deals with ours? It should be. We should be showing a measure of grace and patience, but at the same time, showing justice.

Our children have to know that there are absolutes. The world does not exist in gray areas or situational obedience. Too many parents allow their children to “push the boundaries” without repercussions. Base your expectations on God’s Word, which never changes. Only His Word will provide the absolutes.

Do you live according to God’s absolutes or the world’s non-absolutes? It is really a choice of obedience or disobedience. Joy never precedes obedience. Let me say that again. Joy never precedes obedience. But when we obey our Lord, He fills us with joy. Don’t you want joy today?

I desire joy, Father. Lead me to obey You so You will pour Your joy on me.

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DOING GOOD REGARDLESS

1 PETER 3:17

“For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”

This just sounds backwards, doesn’t it? You shouldn’t suffer for doing what is right. You should only suffer for doing the wrong things. At least that is what we think. But God doesn’t think like we think. Boy, I’m glad that is true, aren’t you?

So, what does this verse mean for believers? At times the Lord will call on us to suffer. Suffering is NOT punishment. Suffering is a gift. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. In the midst of suffering we discover God in a whole new way. Others see Jesus in us and are encouraged in their own faith or perhaps drawn for the first time to give their lives to Christ. We must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost.

APPLICATION

Teaching suffering to our children is no easy thing. We don’t want to see our children suffer. They may not understand why they are suffering for doing the right thing. These are teaching moments. Don’t overlook them just trying to soothe your child. You shouldn’t tell them to suck it up and get back on their feet either. It’s okay to feel hurt. That’s normal. We comfort them through God’s Word.

Suffering is a teaching time for our children. Perhaps you are going through a tough time right now. Maybe the Lord has led you into a suffering season just to model how to handle it for your children. Embrace it and live like Jesus. Your kids will never forget how you suffer for Him.

This is not a subject we want to talk about. We don’t want to suffer, especially when we are doing all the right things. We want to be blessed and be found faithful. You can be blessed through suffering also. Trust me, I know. Everyone’s suffering is different, but it is the same God who sees us through.

I will embrace the suffering You have for me, Lord. I know You know what is best for me. I trust You to teach me through the suffering.

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LOOKING AT OTHERS

JOHN 21:20-23

“20 Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ 21 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ 22 Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ 23 Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’”

Why do we compare ourselves to others? You can always find someone “lower” than you and someone “above” you. All we need to be concerned about is ourselves as far as the Lord is concerned. But Peter looks behind him and sees John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and couldn’t help himself. He had to ask Jesus about John.

Jesus was not one to pass on a teachable moment. I love the middle part of His answer. He said, “What is that to you?” Peter, don’t worry about John. Worry about yourself. You follow Me. I’ll take care of John. We would do well to heed Jesus’ words ourselves, right? Our first concern needs to be our own personal relationship with Him.

APPLICATION

Our children are prone to worry about how someone else is being treated. They want to make sure no one is treated better than them. I remember my brother-in-law telling me how he solved the last piece of pie debate with his two kids. One would divide the piece, but the other one got to choose which piece they wanted. Boy, that was the most evenly cut piece of pie in history, lol.

But the lesson for our kids from this verse is the same lesson Jesus gave Peter. They need to concentrate on their own faith walk first. Don’t worry if others seem to be getting “more” from God. He is not a respecter of persons. He is the most fair judge  there is. No one can persuade Him to treat them more fairly than they should be. Remind your children of that.

Do you look at others and envy them? Do you feel like they are being treated better than you? This verse is for you then. If our heart is surrendered to Jesus, we won’t care if others “get more.” In fact, we will be thrilled at the blessings they are receiving. God will take care of you.

Lord, I thank You that You are fair and just. I also thank You that You are always focusing me on my walk with You, not someone else’s walk.

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