Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Cleansing, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender

HAMMER AND CHISEL

HOSEA 6:5

“Therefore, I have cut them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that shines.”

When I was growing up in my parents’ home, I used to love to go down to my dad’s workshop and use his tools. He only had one rule – put the tools back where you found them. My dad had a large assortment of hammers and chisels. Some of those chisels were for wood, some were for metal and some were for stone. As a little boy, I didn’t know which were which. I just grabbed one and started chiseling.

But the Lord knows which hammer and chisel to use. He used the prophets as an instrument to chisel away the hard hearts of the people. He often sent messages through them that would knock off huge chunks of their hard hearts. Other times He would use the more refining tools. But He always knew exactly what was needed to do the job.

APPLICATION

Does God need to use the 20 pound sledge on you? Is your heart that hard? Sometimes those blows are painful. You have to remember one thing. He is only knocking off what doesn’t look like Jesus. Those blows may seem relentless at times, but with each swing of the hammer, He is bringing you into a form that looks like Him.

Why would we complain about those blows then? Why do we fuss and fret and say God is not being fair with us? Because we don’t like pain. We don’t like discomfort. We want to be pampered. We want things to be easy. Well, guess what? Life isn’t easy. God never promised us that. But when we allow Him to shape us according to His Will, we understand life better.

I don’t like pain, but I welcome His chisel. I want to look like Jesus. I want to reflect His image. I want others to look at me and only see Jesus. Do they always? Not hardly. But that is my desire. How about you?

Lord, knock off all the junk in my life that hides Your Son. I want to look just like Him. Shape me and mold me.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Judgment, Lawlessness, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

DON’T FOLLOW THE LEADER

HOSEA 4:9

“And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.”

Did you ever play the game Follow the Leader? I used to love playing that game as a child. We would try to make our path as hard as possible to weed out our followers. Up hills, through ditches, whatever it took. The path was crooked and could even be considered dangerous to some.

Hosea is warning the people. Don’t follow these leaders. They are leading the people in the wrong direction. Their lifestyles are nothing to emulate. In fact, go the opposite direction is essentially what Hosea is saying. There are times when you don’t follow the leader.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been under a bad leader? What do you do? Do you follow them, no matter what? Of course, you don’t. We do have to submit to our leaders unless their leadership is illegal, immoral or unbiblical. Will that be an hard decision to make? It sure will. But to be true to the Lord, you have to make it.

When you make the decision to not follow the leader, be prepared for repercussions. You could lose your job. You could suffer payback. Remember, Peter tells us in 1 Peter that is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Lord has your back. Trust Him.

I have faced this a couple of times. Each time I have prayed and then gone to the leader in question and made my opposition known. So far, each time the Lord had gone before me and had softened this person’s heart. They heard me. The turned from their announced course of action. That confrontation actually brought us closely.Lord, lead me down Your path, even when that means I have to stop following those over me. I have one Master – You.

DON’T FOLLOW THE LEADER

HOSEA 4:9

“And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.”

Did you ever play the game Follow the Leader? I used to love playing that game as a child. We would try to make our path as hard as possible to weed out our followers. Up hills, through ditches, whatever it took. The path was crooked and could even be considered dangerous to some.

Hosea is warning the people. Don’t follow these leaders. They are leading the people in the wrong direction. Their lifestyles are nothing to emulate. In fact, go the opposite direction is essentially what Hosea is saying. There are times when you don’t follow the leader.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been under a bad leader? What do you do? Do you follow them, no matter what? Of course, you don’t. We do have to submit to our leaders unless their leadership is illegal, immoral or unbiblical. Will that be an hard decision to make? It sure will. But to be true to the Lord, you have to make it.

When you make the decision to not follow the leader, be prepared for repercussions. You could lose your job. You could suffer payback. Remember, Peter tells us in 1 Peter that is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Lord has your back. Trust Him.

I have faced this a couple of times. Each time I have prayed and then gone to the leader in question and made my opposition known. So far, each time the Lord had gone before me and had softened this person’s heart. They heard me. The turned from their announced course of action. That confrontation actually brought us closely.

Lord, lead me down Your path, even when that means I have to stop following those over me. I have one Master – You.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Destruction, Direction, Following, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender

LEADERLESS

HOSEA 3:4

“For the sons of Israel will live for many days without a king or leader, without sacrifice or memorial stone, and without ephod or household idols.”

I have had the displeasure of working in some places that were leaderless. In order to protect the “guilty” I won’t name those places. There is nothing more disconcerting than coming to work each day not knowing which direction you are headed. No one takes charge. No one leads. Everyone is just wandering aimlessly. It really is a helpless feeling.

Hosea shifts his thoughts back to Israel in today’s verse. Israel, as a result of its sin, would be without a king or leader. This prophecy, of course, came true. Israel and Judah were taken into exile. They had no king to lead them. They were left leaderless. They had lost sight of the fact that Jehovah was their only true king.

APPLICATION

Who is your leader? To whom do you look up to? If you place your trust in a man or woman, you will be disappointed. No one can lead you like the Lord. He is the only one that will never lead you falsely. He will always point you in the right direction. So, who are you following?

Perhaps you are a leader. Where are you leading those following you? Listen carefully. If you are leading, you are going to be held responsible. That’s right. You can’t claim you didn’t know. Leaders are held to a higher level of scrutiny. That means you must take your guidance from the Lord so you can lead biblically.

As a Pastor, I am held to a higher standard by my Lord. I am responsible for the flock He has given me to lead. I do not want to find out that I have been misled and have led poorly. I pray you don’t either. Will you join me in leading well? Will you join me in following Jesus? He is worthy to lead.

O Father, I do not want to be leaderless. I desire to follow You. I know You will always lead me correctly.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Honor, Mentoring, Missionaries, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Service, Surrender, Witnessing

SEND THEM ON

3 JOHN 6

“and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.”

A few years ago, my daughter had the privilege to spend several months in Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. It was an incredible opportunity for her. She was able to work alongside some Kenyan Social Workers and learn from them, as well as share with them her experience in Social Work that she had learned in college.

Our church commissioned her and sent her out in the same way John is referring to here in today’s verse. John had just praised Gaius for the way he had treated the brethren who had visited him. Now he tells him to send them out in a way that honors God. What does that mean? I believe John is saying send them as if you are actually dealing with God Himself. They deserved that kind of honor.

APPLICATION

A lot of churches have lost respect for those who dedicate their lives in service to the Lord. We shrug our shoulder when we hear about someone leaving for an overseas commitment. I remember as a child being in awe of those missionaries. Our children need to be taught what that kind of commitment actually means. We shouldn’t put those individuals on a pedestal, but we should show them the honor they deserve.

How can you teach your child that? How about helping your child send letters to those missionaries? I guarantee you that will bless their hearts. How about doing a fundraiser for a missionary project one of those missionaries has shared about? Sometimes those projects aren’t very costly and can be accomplished with a little help from home. And most importantly, pray for those missionaries in your home.

Is there someone you know who is raising support now to go serve in another country? What can you do to help with that? You may not be able to give financially, but there are plenty of other ways to help in the effort. May I encourage you to be a Gaius today? Send them out in a manner worthy of God.

Lord, I pray for all those who have surrendered to serve You away from home. Bless them today and meet every need they have.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Praise, Scripture, Surrender

YOU KNOW THIS STUFF

2 JOHN 5

“Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

How many times do you have to be told something before you get it? How long do you have to study a subject before you are considered prepared? Did you know you can be so focused on studying that you don’t apply? Yep! There comes a point when you have to start using what you’ve learned.

John focused on “love one another” in his first letter. He said it over and over. Obviously, this lady had either read that letter or had heard John talk about it. We don’t know all that was going on her life, but John must have felt she needed a reminder. Maybe it was about her other children who were not walking with the Lord. Whatever it was, the command was still the same – love one another.

APPLICATION

I’ve said it before. Children learn through repetition. That’s why we teach them the same thing over and over again. We want them to get it. Sometimes it takes longer than we want, but every child is different. So, we keep teaching and modeling the behavior we want to see in them.

But how do you teach them to love one another? By reinforcing good behavior and disciplining bad. Every time you see them showing love toward a sibling, praise them. Every time you see a “less than desirable” behavior, deal with it swiftly. And most importantly, model this behavior around them. They need to see you living what you’re teaching. Love one another.

Do you have this down? Do you love others? Do you love them the way Jesus did? Now, I know that may seem impossible. But remember, when you surrender to His Will, He loves through you. I think that is what John was telling the lady. Let Jesus love through you. Will you?

I know this, Lord. Your Word has told me over and over. I will love others today.

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Advice, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deception, Disciplemaking, Faith, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Surrender

WATCH OUT

1 JOHN 5:21

“Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

What do you value most in your life? What do you spend the most of your time doing? If your house was burning down, what would you grab first to rescue? I ask those questions of you and me because we make idols out of a lot of things. Idols can be anything. They are things in our life that we place above God.

Look what John says in today’s verse. By the way, this is the last verse of 1 John. He ends it by saying, “guard yourselves from idols.” That word “guard” really means to keep your eye on something. John is telling us to be careful what we put first place in our lives.

APPLICATION

This week, of all weeks, our children have their hopes set on getting things that they may not even need. Their eyes are bugged out for Christmas, and they truly believe that if they get that certain toy or gift, they will be happy. I’m not saying toys are idols. But we have a great opportunity to teach our children about what is truly important.

Buy them those special things this Christmas, but make sure you talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Talk about what makes Christmas special to them. Talk about family and faith. Talk about your priorities in life, what’s important to you and why. They need to hear it from you.

Jesus belongs on the top of your list – period. Anything else becomes an idol. Idols corrupt us. Idols distract us. Idols draw us away from the Lord. Keep your eyes on Jesus and nothing else. That’s John’s message for us. Will you follow his advice? After all, it is from the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of who is first place in my life. I will not allow anything to come before You.

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HIS SON

1 JOHN 5:12

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”

It’s neat this verse fell on today’s date because this is my son’s birthday. He’s thirty-four today. That’s interesting to me because that falls right in the middle of the ages of Christ’s ministry on earth (@32-36) to the best of our knowledge. When I think of my son at his age leading a bunch of disciples around, it kind of blows my mind. Jesus was a young man. Yes, He was and still is God, but humanly speaking He was young.

Yet, here we are, two thousand years later, looking back at this God-Man for guidance. John says here if we “have Him” we have life, and if we don’t have Him, we don’t have life. That’s so true. Think back to your days without Christ. Life was so meaningless. It had no purpose. It had no direction. I don’t care how old you were before Christ, you had no life without Him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to learn this early in life. I know you are praying they give their lives to Christ, if they haven’t already. But they need to learn what it means to surrender completely. It’s not just saying a prayer. It’s total surrender of everything to Him. That involves how they talk, how they play and how they think. Oh, that last one is hard, isn’t it? Even we adults struggle with that one.

So, how do we direct our children to do this? How do we help them learn the importance of total surrender? By modeling it ourselves. Don’t you get tired of hearing that? Sorry, but it’s true. We have to show them how to surrender. We have to exemplify total surrender ourselves in the way we talk, the way we treat people and the way we think. No, our kids can’t read out minds, but they sure can see our behaviors.

Is the Son in your life? If so, live like it. It’s the Christmas season. Act like it. Live like every day could be your last day to share Jesus with someone. Live like He is all that matters. After all, He is all that matters. When you surrender to His Will, His life becomes your life. Try that today.

I have life only because of His life, Father. Thank You for giving Him to the world. We must show others the value of living in Him.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Following, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Scripture, Submission, Surrender, Testimony

NOT TOO HEAVY

1 JOHN 5:3

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”

Have you ever lifted weights? I did that a lot in junior high and high school. I have done some of that as an adult, but not consistently. For weights to work you have to lift them, right? You can lift to build muscle, or you can lift to tone muscle. But you must lift. You push against the resistance. You must endure some uncomfortableness to gain the benefit of the weights.

How does that apply to today’s verse? John uses the word “burdensome.” That word in the Greek means weighty or heavy. The difference is the rest of the definition. It can mean pressingdown on a person with oppressive force. This kind of burden makes a person unable to function. That is NOT the purpose of God’s commandments. However, God’s commandments do require us to build spiritual muscle to follow them. They require us to push against the forces of evil. That will build muscle.

APPLICATION

Do you have any weights in your house? Maybe some small dumbbells? If you don’t, you can use anything with any weight. Have your kids do a little workout for you. Join them. Let them lift until they get tired and then feel their muscles. They love that. Talk about how the weights cause our muscles to grow because of their heaviness. The heavier the weight and the more they lift them, the bigger the muscles.

Explain to them the same thing happens when we choose to follow God’s command rather than the world. It’s easy to follow sin. There is no resistance, no push back, if we follow our flesh. But if we seek to follow the Lord’s commands, we will have to die to self and surrender. Tell them that’s how we grow as Christians. That’s how we grow those spiritual muscles.

Some days we can flex those muscles and obey. Other times, we feel limp and weak and can barely walk the walk. Listen beloved, He is your strength. You cannot do it on your own. It’s just not possible. But if you will yield to Him and follow His commands, you will experience the love of God in ways that will make you stronger.

I will follow Your commands. I want to be able to do the heavy lifting in life knowing You are the one “spotting” me as I lift.

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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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