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REUNITED

HOSEA 1:11

“And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for the day of Jezreel will be great.”

Don’t you just love reunions? I have been to a lot of family reunions, both on my side of the family and on my wife’s. There’s just something about going back home to your hometown or to a family home place and seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a while. Hugs and kisses are all around. And it’s not long until the stories start being told about “the good ole days.”

In today’s verse we see a prophetic statement about the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. When they return from their exile, they will be one nation, not two. The people who return will not see themselves as separate people. They will be reunited as one nation. This is as it should be.

APPLICATION

How does this verse relate to us today? We must be united as one in Christ. It doesn’t matter if we have petty differences. We have to come together as one for the cause of Christ. The world is watching the church. They are wondering why the Baptists and Methodists can’t get along. If we all believe Jesus is God’s Son and died for our sins, why can’t we worship as one?

I know we have doctrinal issues among the denominations. Some of those are worth discussing. But many of them really are not crucial. We tend to major on the minors, don’t we? I wonder what could happen in the world if we all came together and worshipped our Lord. I believe revival would break out, don’t you?

How can you be part of this? Reach out to someone from another church. Find your common ground. We have to agree on the basics, of course. But I challenge you to come alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to reach the lost, and that can only be done if we fight together.

Reunite us, God. Bring us together as one to battle the enemy and proclaim the good news of Christ.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Judgment, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Separation

TEST THE SPIRITS

1 JOHN 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 

Don’t you hate when you have batteries lying around and you don’t know if they are good or not? I hate that. When you need a battery, you need a battery. Most of us don’t have battery tester at home. So, what do you do? You put that battery in the device to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you throw it away.

John tells us to test the spirits. In fact, the word “test” means to test to see if it’s good. It’s not so much testing to see if it’s bad. You see, if it’s good, it’s from God. If it’s not, well… As John says, “because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” There are many who will try to deceive us. But if we are mindful to test the spirits, according to God’s Word, He will show us who to believe.

APPLICATION

Take some of those batteries you have lying around the house and get your children to help you test them. Come on, go buy that tester. You know you need it. Teach them how to test the different sizes – AA, AAA, 9 volt. Now, it’s important to teach them how to know what a good test is.

A weak battery is as no good as a dead battery. Did you get that? Do you believe that? Of course, you do. A spirit that tests “okay” is as bad as a spirit that does not test good. Your kids need to know this. They need to understand that. And the tester they will use throughout their life is the Word of God. It will reveal what is truth and what is not.

Do you struggle knowing what is true, what is good? You don’t have to. Measure everything according to His Word. It will never let you down. You will know instantly whether that spirt, that preacher, that evangelist, that speaker is of God or not by how they measure up to the Word. Trust it.

O God, I am thankful I have the “tester” necessary to test the spirits. You have given me Your Word as the instrument of truth.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Family, Following, God's Will, Harmony, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Parenting, Prejudice, Scripture, Separation, Witnessing

UNPARTIAL

ACTS 10:34

“Opening his mouth, Peter said: ‘I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,’”

These words of Peter should be music to our ears. God does not show favorites. The phrase “show partiality” is one Greek word that is only used right here in this verse. It means to be a respecter of persons. Think about it. What if God only picked a few people to save because of their skin color or eye color. Unfortunately, that is what we do.

If we are to live like Christ, we must also show no partiality. They say the most segregated time of the week is Sunday mornings. Whites go to their churches. Blacks go to theirs. Hispanics go to theirs and so on. Why? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all worship together? Wouldn’t it be great if we were “color blind” on Sundays?

APPLICATION

Our children must be taught the no partiality thing early in life. In fact, we must teach them that God loves everyone – period. The world will begin to bombard them with prejudices early in life. This not only applies to skin color. It applies to any prejudice you can think of. The kid others make fun of is loved by God, so our children should too.

Let me encourage you, mom and dad, to nip this in the bud (to borrow a Barney Fife phrase). Don’t let prejudice remain in your household. God wants to use us, just like He used Peter, to reach people groups we might not normally be drawn to. You will be amazed at the response, if you will simply be obedient.

Do you battle showing partiality? Most of us do. It’s normal. It’s human. But we are called to live above that. I bet you could think of a dozen reasons God shouldn’t love you, but He does. He takes you just as you are and transforms you into something beautiful. Don’t you want to be a part of that in someone else’s life?

Father, show me my prejudices. I want to confess those to You as sin. And put those people in my life You want me to have relationships with, regardless of who they are.

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WALKING AWAY

1 PETER 2:25

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Sheep get lost by walking away. They don’t run away. They simply stop watching their shepherd and wander away. Before they know it, the shepherd is nowhere in sight. Unless the shepherd comes and finds them, they will most likely stay lost.

We are the same way. We can become hopelessly lost unless we turn our eyes on the Shepherd. Only He can save us from a life spent in the wilderness, away from the watchful gaze of the “Guardian of your souls,” as Peter describe Him. He knows where the green pastures are and will lead us to them.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever gotten lost? They didn’t mean to, but they wandered away from you in a shopping mall or amusement park. Their eyes were fixed on something that intrigued them. Instead of watching you or holding your hand, they were pulled away by their own interests.

We need to remind our children that Satan has a way of luring us away from what we know to be safe and sound. Before we come to Christ, Satan doesn’t usually bother us much. He has us where he wants us. But once we come to Christ, he tries to entice us away from following Him. He can’t unsave us, but he can sure can distract us and make us feel unusable.

Have you strayed away from the safe and gentle embrace of the Shepherd? He desires for you to return to Him. He won’t force you, though. Your return is up to you. If that’s you, repent today and watch how quickly He picks you up. He longs for your embrace as well.

Father, forgive me for wandering. Fix my eyes on You so I can stay near to Your side. I want to spend my days close to You.

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KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE

MATTHEW 26:58

“But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome.”

Peter wasn’t stupid. He saw what was happening. Jesus had just been arrested and was being led away, probably to be put to death. The Sanhedrin had tried before. Now they had him, thanks to Judas. How could he do that? After all Jesus had taught them, Judas had betrayed him. Peter was keeping his distance.

Before you judge Peter, ask yourself how many times you have shied away from standing up for Jesus. In our situation we were only avoiding potential harassment or embarrassment. We weren’t facing the possibility of arrest and death. How can we keep our distance after all He has done for us?

APPLICATION

Do your children face ridicule and scorn at school for standing up for Jesus? Have they ever come home in tears because some other kid made fun of them for being a Christian? If they have, you have the perfect chance to encourage them. Read them this whole story of Peter’s denial and his ultimate shame. Remind them of Jesus sacrifice for them. We must stand tall in the face of persecution.

This world does not like Christians. That’s just a fact. Your children are going to encounter persecution, however slight it may seem. Standing for truth invites opposition. But we need to draw close to Him during those times, not keep our distance. Distance only increases the chance we will deny Him. Drawing close allows us to experience His loving embrace. That’s the message for our kids.

Are you a distance keeper? Do you hide the fact that you are a believer? Stop that! Take a stand. Don’t you believe Jesus will defend you? Don’t you know that no matter how harsh the persecution, you still win. No one can ever take your salvation away from you. Nothing can ever separate you from the love of Christ. Stay in His footsteps. Don’t hide in the shadows.

Forgive me, Father, for the times I have kept my distance. I will trust You to defend me. I will stay close and feel Your embrace.

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FRIENDS LEFT BEHIND

2 TIMOTHY 4:20

“Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.”

Both Erastus and Trophimus were trusted colleagues of Paul on his missionary journeys. Paul knew them both well and wanted to make sure Timothy conveyed his greetings in his farewell letter. Erastus was the treasurer of Corinth, so he was probably very well known. What an opportunity he had to share the Gospel.

Trophimus was left in Miletus by Paul when he became sick. Now, let’s talk about that. Didn’t Paul have the gift of healing? He had healed many people. So, why didn’t he just say, “Get up Trophimus. We’ve got to go.” Because God directs and does the healing, not us. We don’t decide when and whom to heal.

APPLICATION

Unless your children remain in your home all their life and you never move and their friends do the same, they are going to leave friends behind. That can be hard. I know it was for my children. We made a few moves during their childhood which forced them to leave friends and make new ones. So, how do we prepare them for that? What can we say and do to make that easier?

Here are few ideas:

  1. Invest in their friends while they are with them. Get to know them.
  2. Get to know their parents. Know them by name and talk about them to your children.
  3. Help your children share Jesus with them. Leaving behind a saved friend, knowing you will see them in eternity, is so much easier.
  4. Help your children make contact after the move easier. Let them FaceTime or Skype their friends.
  5. Pray with your children for those friends. Keep up with their prayer needs through their parents and pass them on to your children.

Now, these won’t prevent the tears from flowing when the parting comes. But knowing the separation is temporary (only here on earth) can be such a comfort. Do you have a friend that comes to mind whom you have had to leave behind? Why not this week reach out to them. It is so much easier today. And say a prayer for them. That’s the oldest form of long distance communication.

Father, thank You for friends. Thank You for companions who You put in our path through life. I ask You today to bless them.

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