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.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Blasphemy, Deception, Devil, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

LEAVE HIM ALONE

HOSEA 4:17

“Ephraim is allied with idols; Leave him alone.”

Some people have made up their mind about God. They refuse to believe in the Son of God. Nothing you can say will change their mind. You have preached to them. You have shared your testimony, and still they refuse to believe that Jesus died for their sins. We should still pray for them, but there comes a point when the Lord may just tell you to leave them alone. That’s hard.

Ephraim had reached that point. Nothing Hosea was going to say was going to tear them away from their idols. Isn’t that sad? They knew the power of Jehovah. They had been told about all the things He had done on behalf of Israel, yet they had been blinded by the devil to believe the false idols of the land were more worthy of their worship. It doesn’t make any sense.

APPLICATION

But we are just as bad. Don’t look at Ephraim and claim to be better than them. We do the same thing. We put our trust in false idols just as much. We trust people over God. We trust money over God. We trust medicine over God. We trust a lot of things rather than putting our trust in the Almighty.

I am not saying those things aren’t important. We need people in our lives, but we can’t trust them as we can Jesus. We need money to live in this world, but I know a lot of people who trust their paychecks and bank accounts more than the provisions of the Lord. We need medicine to fight diseases, but doctors and medicine only treat the disease. It is God who heals.

So, before we get all high and mighty and say we don’t act like Ephraim, check out your idols. Do you have anything you trust more than the Lord? When push comes to shove and you are in a deep hole, who do you turn to? It had better be Jesus because He is the only one who will always be there. He is the only true God. Amen?

Lord, You are my only source. I worship You and You alone.

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Calling, Courage, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Gospel, Judgment, Obedience, Passion, Scripture, Testimony

THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Caregiver, Direction, Following, Obedience, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony

NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 2:10

“So now I will uncover her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hand.”

Have you ever been in a place where you were trapped and couldn’t get out? It’s not a very comfortable feeling. Many years ago, while I was in high school, I was in a serious car wreck. After the car finally stopped, after flipping on its top and slamming the top down on the front seat, I was trapped. I couldn’t get out my door. Fortunately, the driver of the car was able to crawl out his window and help us out. We needed to be rescued.

If God withdraws His rescue, you are truly in a bad place. God has placed Israel (and Gomer) in a place where no one can rescue them. He has placed them where only He could. It is during these times that we realize He is the only source. We can sit in this place of uncomfortableness, or we can turn to the only one who can rescue us.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid the need to be rescued is to not get in a place where it is necessary. How do you do that? By abiding in Him daily. There really is no other way. Most of the time when we are needing to be rescued, we have sought our own way. We have ignored the leading of the Lord. When we follow Him we are safe.

Now, we may face some hard times. God may lead us there. That’s okay. Because wherever He leads us, He will lead us through it. Don’t you believe that? I do. I have experienced that. I have had the privilege, yes, the privilege, to suffer for Him. But in every suffering circumstance, He has brought me through. He will do the same for you.

So, avoid those self-induced needs for rescue by remaining in Him. He will keep you close. And there is no better place to be. Read John 15:1-11 today. Take it to heart. Memorize it. Abide in Him.

Lord, I know You are there when I need to be rescued. Help me avoid those situations and remain close to You.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

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.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confrontation, Enemies, Exhortation, Modeling, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

CONFRONTATION

3 JOHN 10

“For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

A lot of people do not like confrontation. They will do anything to stay away from it. Others dive right in before knowing all the facts and can make matters worse. Of course, the best approach is to gather all the facts before confronting someone to make sure what you have heard is true. Your purpose for confronting is to correct a wrong and set things straight.

John had gathered his facts. He had been informed about Diotrephes’ actions against him, others and the church. With the apostolic authority he possessed, he planned to confront Diotrephes. Why? Did John just want to get him back? I don’t believe so. I believe John wanted to restore a brother. We don’t know what happened between John and Diotrephes. I guess we will find out in heaven if this was settled biblically.

APPLICATION

Children have to be taught how to settle disputes according to Scripture. That does not come naturally. Our flesh almost always wins out. How do we teach them this life skill? I can think of two ways. Let’s make that three ways. Prayer, God’s Word and modeling the behavior.

You are probably saying Okay Carl, I like the first two, but I am so tired of you telling me to model behavior. I understand, but it does no good to teach them to pray for others and search God’s Word for direction if we aren’t living that out before them. We have to show them what it looks like to confront in love. We have to be their example to follow during difficult times. That’s parenting.

Is there someone in your life whom you need to confront in love? Perhaps there is a family member who professes Christ but is not living like it. Confront them. Maybe a co-worker consistently takes the name of the Lord in vain. Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you and will guide you. He will give you the words to say at just the right time. Follow His lead.

It is not easy to confront others, Lord. Give me the courage to speak truth in love.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Enemies, Humility, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

GOT TO BE FIRST

3 JOHN 9

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”

Some people just have to be first. They push to be first in line. They insist on being recognized first in meetings. They give their opinion loudly even when no one wants to hear it. Don’t those people aggravate you? Be honest. You probably try to avoid them. Am I right?

Well, it appears Diotrephes was that kind of person. He rejected John’s counsel that was sent to the church in a previous letter. Obviously, Diotrephes wanted to be in charge and discounted John’s advice. We don’t know why he did that. Perhaps he didn’t like John. Maybe he just wanted control of the church himself. Whatever the reason, John called him out (check out verse 10).

APPLICATION

While it is good for our children to be ambitious and push themselves, it is never good for them to let their ambitions run over others. I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the wedding guests. He said it was better to sit at the lower seats of the table and be asked to move up than to sit at the best seat and be asked to move down.

This is really about humility and submission. Diotrephes refused to humble himself and submit to John. John! A disciple of Jesus Himself. The disciple Jesus loved, probably more than any other disciple. That was the person Diotrephes was rejecting. Teach your children to respect those who have walked the walk. They need to show honor to such followers of Christ.

Do you find yourself pushing for recognition or are you content to serve unnoticed? The Lord will exalt the humble, but He will also humble the exalted. If we insist on “tooting our own horn,” we may find ourselves without a horn to toot. Don’t be a Diotrephes. Submit yourself to those in authority over you. Allow them to direct you. This honors our Lord, and He will honor you.

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in my life to lead me. I want to honor You by submitting to their leadership.

Standard
Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Giving, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Service, Testimony, Witnessing

YOU’VE DONE GOOD

3 JOHN 5

“Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers;”

I have been an employee and an employer a long time. As an employee I love being told I am doing a good job. It’s nice to know others appreciate the work you do. As an employer and supervisor, I also know the importance of telling your employees they are appreciated. You can just see their faces beam when you tell them “Well done.”

John is telling Gaius the same thing. He is so proud of how Gaius is serving the brethren and not just those he knows well. He is even faithful serving strangers. The word “accomplish” here actually means “to work for.” Gaius was actively serving the brethren. He wasn’t just sending others. He was doing it himself.

APPLICATION

Have you helped your children serve others? There are all kinds of ways to show them how to directly serve someone. It’s one thing to put a few dollars in the offering plate on Sundays or to give toward a mission cause. But to put their hands into directly serving someone can cause a lifetime change.

How about taking them down to serve at the homeless shelter serving a meal? You can get them to go down the street and rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. The point is getting their hands dirty, experiencing a hands-on service project. And make sure they see the response of those they are helping. And when you get home, talk about how they felt doing this. Tell them how proud you are of them. Then read them this verse.

When is the last time you got your hands dirty? Don’t you want others to say “well done” to you? We all want that, but don’t do it for that. Do it to please the Lord. Let Him be the one to tell you “well done.” And as you are serving others, pray for the opportunity to share Jesus with them. You may be serving another believer who just needs encouraging. You may be serving someone who needs Jesus as their Savior. Just be obedient, like Gaius.

Help me Lord serve others You place in my path. I am not afraid to get my hands dirty for You.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

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.

Standard