Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Gifts, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Trust

LOST BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:9

“Therefore, I will take back My grain at harvest time and My new wine in its season. I will also take away My wool and My flax that I gave to cover her nakedness.”

I have this vision about heaven. Now, hear my clearly. This is my vision. I am NOT saying this is biblical. It’s just my thought. I have this vision of getting to heaven and seeing this huge box with my name on it. When I ask what’s in it, I’m told that it contains all the blessings that were meant for me that I never asked for. Wouldn’t that be awful?

Israel suffered in that way time and time again. They repeatedly turned their back on God, and He withheld His blessings. He cannot bless disobedience. It goes against everything He is. But He stands ready to bless when we return to Him. Israel eventually did return and reaped the blessings.

APPLICATION

What blessings do you think you are missing? What disobedience in your life is thwarting God from pouring His blessings on you? Perhaps it’s withholding your tithes and offerings. Maybe it’s seeking other loyalties besides Him. Don’t you want to be blessed?

Let me ask you something. Do you really think anything you can gain in this world will outweigh God’s blessings? I don’t think so. There is nothing in this world that can compare. Everything we gain in this world is temporal. God’s blessings are eternal. Even the material gains He may send your way come with eternal lessons. Those blessings build our faith and trust in Him.

Today, ask yourself if you want to live life pursuing worldly things or the blessings of God. Just say yes to Him today. Ask Him what He would have you do today. He has a plan. But He won’t force you to do anything. It’s your choice. What will it be?

God, I want to please You. I want to honor You in all I do. I know You want to bless me, and I want to receive those blessings which draw me closer to You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Trust

OBEDIENCE

HOSEA 1:3

“So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” 

So he went. Just like that. God told Hosea to go take a wife whom God knew would not be faithful to him. Hosea believed what God said was true, so he knew she would be faithful. And he still did it. Now, I have to admit – that would be a hard pill to swallow. After all, what man wants to know that?

You see, sometimes God asks us to do things that make no sense. In the logic of the world, it may even seem crazy. Sell your house and all your possessions and move to a foreign country to serve as a missionary? Are you crazy, God? Give up my rights for someone else? No way, Lord. But listen, we have to trust that He knows exactly what is best for us. He sees the end result.

APPLICATION

Trusting the Lord with the big things may seem easy. When we get sick, we quickly pray for healing. When we are faced with a career change, we turn to Him. But how about the little things, the everyday things? Do we trust Him with those? Don’t you think the Lord cares about those things too? Of course, He does. He knows when one hair falls from our heads.

Can you ask the Lord to give you that kind of faith? He will. He wants to. But you have to mean it. He will build in you the kind of faith that Jesus said could move mountains. I want that kind of faith. I want to move pebbles. I know the Lord can do it through me if I will just die to myself and allow Him to live through me.

Start your day tomorrow asking God to teach you to live that way. He’s waiting on you to ask. He’s ready to perform miracles in and through you. But like Hosea, you have to willing to do exactly what He says. Are you?

Lord, give me that kind of faith. I want it. I desire it. I trust You, Lord.

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Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Friends, Inspirational, Kindness, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Trust, Truth

WHO IS THIS LADY?

2 JOHN 1

“The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,”

There are a lot of speculations about who this lady is John is writing this letter to. No one really knows, but it is pretty much agreed that this was someone John knew well. He calls her “chosen lady” and someone “whom I love in truth.” You don’t talk about someone like that unless you know them well and care for them.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a letter addressed to you like that? I wonder what she had done for John to care so much. Let me ask you a question. Can someone write these words about you? Truth seems to be an important word in this relationship. Are you truthful? Are you trustworthy? Good questions, huh?

APPLICATION

Why don’t you get your children to write a letter to someone they really care about? Help them choose some descriptive words for the person they are writing. And I bet the person they write would like a picture that shows their relationship. Getting a letter like that would be special.

Now, just like John, the words need to be truthful. You don’t want them to just say nice things to say nice things. Whomever they are writing will appreciate knowing those words are true. And I bet when they get that letter they will write back or call your child to thank them. What a lesson that will be for your child!

Truth! It’s what our relationship with Christ is all about. It’s also what builds our relationships with others. I have heard said that trust is the glue that holds relationships together. Well, that trust is founded upon truth. Live that way.

I want to be known as a trustworthy person, Lord. Let me reflect Your truth so it will flow out of me.

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Advocate, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fear, God's Will, Godliness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Prayer, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Trust, Victors

THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Inspirational, Lies, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Trust

CAN GOD BE A FALSE WITNESS?

1 JOHN 5:10

“The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.”

People bear false witness all the time. It’s called lying. Some lies are little, and some are big. But they are all lies. There is no such thing as a half lie or a white lie. They are all lies. You may lie with the best of intentions, but it is still a lie. That’s just how it is.

John is continuing his thought from verse 9 in chapter 5, so if you haven’t read that verse, go back and read it. God has testified about Jesus. God cannot tell a lie, so whatever He has said must be truth. For us to say anything different is calling God a liar. That’s not exactly something I would want to do. How about you?

APPLICATION

Children are always picking on each other. They will tell lies on each other just to see the other person get in trouble. Why do we do that? Because of our sin nature. We’ve had it since Adam and Eve. Our flesh loves evil. Lies are evil. Don’t let your child get into the habit of telling them. When they do, correct them swiftly. There is no room for this in the life of a believer.

Take them to this verse. Use it to talk about telling falsehoods. Ask them to name a “little” lie and “big” lie. You will probably get tickled at some of the things they name. Then show them how some people who do not believe in Jesus call God a liar by their unbelief. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Remind them that if God said it, that settles it. His Word means something.

Are you calling God a liar by the way you live your life? Do you not believe what He says about you? Do you believe His Word? By our lack of belief, we call God a liar. He is trustworthy and true. There is nothing that He has said that He will not do.

I am resting in the truth of Your Word, Lord. I know You are able. You are trustworthy.

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OF THE TRUTH

1 JOHN 3:19

“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him”

Have you ever had doubts? I mean, really had doubts about something? You think you know what the truth is, but something just keeps bugging you. You can’t seem to put your finger on it. Doubt is a worrying thing, isn’t it? No one wants to feel unsure of themselves. At least, I don’t. I want to be assured that my actions and beliefs are grounded on something solid.

John is telling us here in this verse that we can be assured. How? By relying on the truths of God’s Word. Nothing else is certain. He says it “will assure our heart before Him.” What does that mean? The word “assure” means to be persuaded. But not just any persuasion. It means the Lord persuades the believer to be confident in His preferred-will. It involves obedience, but it is the result of God’s persuasion.

APPLICATION

Have you taught your kids to jump in the water to you? How did you do that? Did you stand way out in the pool or lake and tell them to just run and jump? Of course, not. You did it slowly. You stepped just away from them and had them jump into your arms. Then you backed away a little more, until they were literally diving out into your arms.

You had to persuade them to trust you. The Lord knows the same is true for us as we learn to trust Him. He wants us to teach our children these small truths of trust. As our children learn to trust the Lord in little things, they will begin to trust Him with bigger things. Of course, the biggest thing we trust Him with is our salvation. And if we can trust Him with that, why can’t we trust Him with the other stuff?

What are you holding back from God? What are you not trusting Him with? Let me ask you a question. Are you persuaded that you are in His will right now? Hmmm? The Lord doesn’t want you unstable or unsure in your ways. Lean on Him. Trust Him to guide you in all your days. He will!

Father, forgive me of my doubts. Reassure me today that You are guiding and protecting me. I will trust You! 

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DEAD COW

1 PETER 4:1

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,”

How do you face the problems of today? Do you go out and battle the enemy on your own? How crazy is that? No! Peter tells us here to arm ourselves with the same purpose as Christ. What does that mean? Christ died to His own will and constantly sought the will of His Father. He literally armed Himself by dying to His self.

We can do the same, and the result is we cease from sin. Really, Carl? We won’t sin anymore? Listen closely. We will battle the desire to sin until we are in Glory. However, when we die to ourselves and seek the Lord’s will, we also die to the desire to sin. Dead men can’t sin! It’s all about surrender.

APPLICATION

At Kids’ Camp we play a game a lot called “Dead Cow.” Any adult at any time can yell “Dead Cow” and everyone has to drop to the ground on their back and stick their arms and legs in the air. Kids love it. Try this with your family. When things are getting crazy around the house and no one is listening, yell “Dead Cow.” Now you have to give the instructions first or they will think you are crazy.

Dead Cows can’t do anything. They can’t eat. They can’t moo. They can’t make milk. Nothing! That’s the point. Explain to your children that when they die to their own selfish desires and surrender to God, they die to those fleshly things. Yes, our sin nature is still there. That’s why we have to die every second of every day.

Have you died lately? If you are having trouble with a co-worker, check out your death meter. Perhaps you and your spouse are fighting. Yell “Dead Cow.” Not really, I’m just kidding. But go to the Lord in complete abandonment and die to yourself. Death really does bring forth life – new life in Christ.

O Lord, I die to myself today. I surrender my will to Yours. I want to walk today in newness of life.

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FREE

ACTS 12:7

And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

You really need to read Acts 12:1-19 to get the full story of Peter’s imprisonment and release. It’s a fascinating story of God’s miraculous power. This verse, in the midst of that story, is great. Peter is sleeping between two soldiers when an angel appears, wakes him up and his chains fall off.

Can you imagine Peter’s surprise? But notice too that Peter was sleeping. He was at rest in prison. He was not up all night wringing his hands. He was trusting his Savior with his outcome. Whether he was released, kept in jail or killed, he was at peace. We could take a lesson from Peter here. Even when in chains, trust.

APPLICATION

This story would be a fun one to act out. Get your family together and assign the parts (Peter, angel, guards, Rhoda). Kids learn a lot from role playing. Act it out two or three times, changing roles each time. You have to video this too. Make sure to get the reaction of “Peter” each time he is awakened by the angel.

Ask your kids what they would do if an angel woke them up in the middle of the night. Ask them if they would follow the angel’s instructions or hide under the sheets. Our children need to understand that God still performs miracles. He may never send an angel to them, but He is still working in their lives every day. They just have to keep their eyes open.

What would you do with an angelic message? More importantly, what will you do with the message of God’s Word? He is speaking to you, if you will listen. The Scriptures are God’s way of talking to you today. But you have to read it to receive the message. Take time each day to read it.

Thank You, Lord, that I am free wherever I am because of Jesus in my life. The chains of sin have fallen off of me.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confession, Denial, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Service, Shame, Trust, Witnessing

PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE

MARK 16:7

“’But go, tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.”’” 

Oh boy, do I remember those days. I was quite the class clown and got sent to see the principal on numerous occasions. I wasn’t mean. I just loved making people laugh. Let’s just say the principal knew me well. His paddle did too.

I don’t know what the disciples were thinking when they heard these words from the women. But I bet Peter was thinking Oh no! What will I say? I just denied Him three times just as He said. Will He tell the others? Peter probably felt embarrassed and a little scared.

APPLICATION

Your child will probably do something that cause them to feel like I did. They, hopefully, won’t deny Jesus like Peter. But being ashamed is hard. When you have to deal with them, use this passage. Ask them how they think Peter felt. Ask them what they think happened when Jesus finally saw Peter.

Skip ahead and read that passage in John 21. Your children need to see how Jesus restored Peter to his leadership role. If hadn’t done that, Peter may have spent the rest of his life in deep grief and sorry. Jesus restored him because had just spent three years preparing him to accomplish his mission to a lost world.

What has Jesus been preparing you for? Will you let him use you? You may have unconfessed sins that are holding you back from being fully utilized by Him. Confess them today. Let Jesus use you to accomplish His mission. He still uses us. Let Him have you.

Take my life and use it, Lord. I ask You to forgive me and cleanse me now so there is nothing in me that could thwart Your mission.

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THE INSIDE SCOOP

MARK 13:3-4

“3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?’” 

Jesus was preparing them for what was ahead. This discourse had immediately followed Jesus’ statement that the temple would be destroyed. So, Peter and the others wanted more details. They wanted to know when. Will there be any warnings?

We’re the same way. We want to prepare. We want to get ready. However, sometimes there is no warning. Lightning strikes without warning. It’s that way with life. We think if we get all the information we will be okay. That may work some of the time, but not always.

APPLICATION

Have you ever planned a secret family trip? Only you knew the details. How many times per day did your kids pester you about it? They wanted to know where, when, how and what. The questions were never ending. They wanted the inside scoop. But when the day arrived they were blown away.

We will never know all the plans God has for us. We simply have to trust that He will reveal them when its time. He only discloses to us what we can handle. That could be a lot or a little.

Is the Lord doing a work in you right now but you are not sure exactly what He’s doing? Ask Him. He may tell you. Or He may not. He may be holding off for the great reveal. Just be patient and trust His handiwork.

I trust your work in my life. I get a little anxious sometimes. Forgive me. I will wait on Your completed work

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