Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Disciplemaking, Evangelism, God's Will, Gospel, Grandchildren, Mentoring, Parenting, Praise, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confrontation, Courage, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Evangelism, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Modeling, Scripture, Witnessing

KEEP WATCHING

HOSEA 9:8

“Ephraim was a watchman with my God, a prophet; yet the snare of a bird catcher is in all his ways, and there is only hostility in the house of his God.

Do you remember as a child playing hide and seek? The secret to winning is to find a great hiding place and to stay alert. You can’t just hide and go to sleep. You’re sure to be found. I always liked to hide in a spot that a quick escape route. I had to keep watching for the person looking for me. I didn’t want to be caught off guard.

Israel had been given the task to be His watchman. Not only were they His chosen people, but they were also supposed to warn their neighbors of God’s wrath. They were to tell them about Jehovah. Yet, they had failed. Not only had they fallen into God’s judgment for chasing after pagan gods, they had fully participated with those foreign nations in their idolatry.

APPLICATION

We have the responsibility as believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible. You know as well as I do that the world is chasing after everything but God. They may not have idols on their mantles, but they are sure worshipping stuff. They have totally forgotten the Creator.

So, we have been tasked by God as a watchman. We have to warn others of the danger of sin. We have to tell them what God expects. We have to show them the love of Jesus so they will turn to Him. That’s our task. Will you accept it? Will you do that today? Think of one person and go to them.

I know it is not easy for some of you to step out and do that. But just think about what you are doing. You are literally giving someone the opportunity to escape hell. You are giving them the chance to embrace heaven. That’s motivation.

Show me those who need to hear Your message, Lord. Give me the boldness to speak out when I know those around me need to hear.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

SWALLOWED

HOSEA 8:8

“Israel has been swallowed up; they are now among the nations like a vessel in which no one delights.”

I love to fish, especially for largemouth bass. One of my favorite ways to catch them is with topwater lures like artificial frogs. When that frog is coming across the water early in the morning, I love to see that ole bass blow up on it. It is a thing of beauty for a bass fisherman. But you have to wait until they swallow the lure before you set the hook. When they do, you have a fight on your hands.

For some reason, that image came to my mind when I read today’s verse. “Israel has been swallowed up,” just like that frog. They thought they were free to do just as they wished. But God sent judgment upon them. Just like that bass that came out of nowhere to swallow that frog, judgment fell upon them and swallowed them up.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid being “swallowed up” is to walk humbly with our Father. Without the saving blood of Christ covering our sins, we are all going to be swallowed up for eternity. The wonderful thing about our salvation is it covers us for eternity. Do you realize that? It doesn’t have an expiration date. It takes us into and throughout eternity.

But how many people do you know who don’t have this coverage? They are susceptible any day to be swallowed up because of their sins. We have a responsibility to share that good news with others. We have been commissioned by Christ Himself to do that (Matthew 28:18-20). Do you have a list of people you want to share with? If not, take a moment and do that. Then let the Holy Spirit guide you into each conversation.

As beautiful as it is to watch that bass blow up on that frog and swallow it, it is horrible to watch judgment blow up on someone you know needed Jesus. I want everyone to know Jesus. I want them all to experience His saving grace. Hurry and share. Time is short. We never know how much time we have to be about His business.

Father, put someone in my path today with whom I can share the gospel. I want to see others come to know You.

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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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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.

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Advocate, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Confidence, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Evangelism, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

GOD’S TESTIMONY

1 JOHN 5:9

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son.”

Have you ever had to give a deposition for a trial? It’s no fun. I have done that a few times in my life. How it goes all depends on the one who is asking the questions. If they are professional and courteous, it goes well. If they are trying to trip you up and are asking confusing questions, it can be very frustrating. I have been the recipient of both. But…as long as you just tell the truth, it will be okay.

John tells us in today’s verse that God testified concerning His Son. Now, no one deposed God. Who is going to do that, lol? But He did testify for His Son. When did He do that? A few times. How about at Jesus’ baptism? He spoke from heaven. Again at the transfiguration of Christ He spoke to the disciples. God the Father had the Son’s back. He was the ultimate witness of who Christ was.

APPLICATION

Children need to be taught who to stand up for? They can get caught up with some friends who aren’t exactly dependable. Before you know it, they are defending these less than desirable actions of these friends. That is not a good thing. We don’t want our kids on the wrong side of truth, do we?

How do you teach them the right way? There’s only one way – the Word. We must show them that the Word will always point them to the truth. They can testify to it without doubt. Anything else must be measured against it. Because we know Jesus is the truth, we can testify for Him. He is trustworthy and has the backing of the Father.

Will you join the Father as a witness for Jesus? That’s pretty good company. If I had to choose who take sides with, I would definitely be on God’s side. We all like sure wins, right? Well, with God on your side you are guaranteed a win. Testify about Jesus today. Tell someone of His love.

I join with God the Father as a fellow witness on behalf of Christ. I believe He is the way, the truth and the life.

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Baptism, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Submission, Testimony, Witnessing

WITNESSES

1 JOHN 5:6

“This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”

In the court of law, witnesses and evidence are required to convict you of something. Heresay and opinion aren’t enough. You need proof. Aren’t you glad of that? I have been accused of stuff in the past that I didn’t do. Some were serious. Someone wanted to get me in trouble, but thankfully, the truth came out and I was proven innocent.

John is laying out the evidence here about Jesus. Now, this verse has had many different opinions by many different scholars. But the majority of them agree that John is referring to Jesus’ baptism (water) and His death on the cross (blood) in this verse. His purity and submission testify to who He was and is. The Spirit also testifies in our hearts today the truth of these words.

APPLICATION

You need to take this verse apart to explain it to your children. Take them to Matthew 3:13-17 and talk about Jesus’ baptism. You can show them there Jesus submission to His Father in this act. You can also show how the Spirit testified about Jesus through the appearance of the dove. Pretty cool! Wouldn’t it be cool if a dove came down when they got baptized, lol?

And then take them to John 19 and read the crucifixion story to them. This may be hard on tender ears so be mindful of that. But our children need to know exactly what Jesus did for them. His shed blood wasn’t a finger prick. He died for them. He gave his life for them. His blood was dripping from His pierced hands and feet. His body was ripped and bleeding from the beating. His head was bleeding from the crown of thorns that was shoved on it.

Water and blood testified to who Jesus was and is. Let me ask you a question. What testifies to your faith in Christ? Have you accepted Him as Your Savior? Have you believed upon Him? His blood still covers sins. His baptism still serves as the example for us to follow. I pray that today you will take a fresh look at just who Jesus is. He wants you to live through Him.

O God, forgive me for taking Your life for granted. All You did for me is not forgotten. Thank You for Your submission in baptism and death.

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Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

OUR PURPOSE

1 JOHN 4:14

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

I bet you have wondered at one point or another what your purpose is in life. Rick Warren wrote the best seller “The Purpose Driven Life.” People want to know their purpose. They actually spend hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to figure it out.

If you are a believer, it’s so simple. John spells it out right here. You are to testify about Jesus. That’s your purpose. Now, John actually saw the Father because he had seen the Son. We may not have seen the Father, but we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We know the truth. We are, therefore, called to testify about it.

APPLICATION

Ask your children to tell you about something they have seen. Maybe they can tell you about their trip to the zoo or the beach. Just let them talk. Let them describe every activity. Kids love to tell about what they have seen. They can go on and on about all the wonderful things they have experienced.

Now, bring them to this verse. Explain to them how we should have the same passion to tell the story of Jesus to others. Ask them to share their experience with Jesus. By doing so, they can fine tuning their testimony. They are learning to tell others of the amazing things they have seen God do in their lives. They are sharing the good news. That’s their purpose.

Are you purpose driven? Are you aware of this calling on your life? Today ask the Lord to put someone in your path to whom you can testify about the goodness of God. Maybe there is someone you need to go to today to share Jesus with. Go, do it. Don’t put it off. Remember, their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. God has purposed you to share.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder of my calling, my purpose. Help me today to share Jesus with someone who is in need of a Savior. 

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Abiding, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Invisible, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Promises, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

IS GOD INVISIBLE?

1 JOHN 4:12

“No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”

When I first read this verse, it seemed like the first part had nothing to do with the second part. What has God not being seen to do with God abiding in us and His love? But then it hit me. Of course, we can’t see God, but we can see God when His love, which abides in us, is shown to others.

John talks about loving one another and God abiding in us a lot. So, he is not confused in this verse. All these thoughts in this verse go together. If we want people to see God, we have to love them. We have to show them how He abides in us and how His love is perfected in us.

APPLICATION

How do your kids know you love them? Do they read about it in some book? Do you just talk about it? No, they see how you love them by how you treat them, how you talk to them, how you express that love when they are the most unloveable. We teach our kids about our love for them by expressing that love.

I’m a hugger. I love to hug people. The hardest part about this covid-19 pandemic is not being able to do that. But you can hug your own kids. Express your love. Take every opportunity you have to do that. Kids need to be touched. They need to be cuddled. Do all that in Jesus’ name. Every time you hug them, ask them if they know who loves them more than mommy and daddy. Tell them just how much God loves them.

Who do you need to show God’s love to today? Maybe you have a neighbor who is struggling right now due to isolation in this pandemic. Find a way to express God’s love to them. Maybe a coworker is going through a hard time at work. Express God’s love to them. Remember, they can’t see God, but they can sure see God in you.

I may be the only Jesus someone sees today, Lord. Help me love them as You do. I want them to see You in me.

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LOVE ONE ANOTHER

1 JOHN 4:7


“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

If I asked you what it meant to love one another, what would you say? Does it mean just saying it? How about doing something for them occasionally? To really understand what John is saying here, you have to dig deeper. This isn’t surface level stuff.

Loving one another is tied to the meaning of the Greek word “love” that is used here. This word is agape. This is God’s kind of love for us. Now, that changes everything. How do you love like God? You can’t. It’s not possible. It’s not in your DNA. But praise be to God, He can do it through you, if you are a believer.

APPLICATION

I have mentioned before in my devotionals that many kids are really good at loving. They are just drawn to people. They are giving and kind and… You get the picture. But that’s not biblical “loving one another” unless that child is born again, and the Spirit is motivating their actions.

We need to teach our kids that biblical love, God’s love, means always wanting what is best for the other person. That means there is no room for jealousy. There is no room for holding grudges. God’s love, agape love, means being willing to sacrifice for the other person. Wow, that changes things, doesn’t it?

Let me ask you something. Are you loving that way? I don’t mean just your own family. I mean the entire family of God. I mean everyone you meet. I have to admit that I struggle with that at times. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am able to love anyone anytime. How is that possible? Because it’s not me doing the loving. Let Him love through you today.

I confess that I do not love like You, Lord. Forgive me. Use Your Spirit in my life to love others. Help me die to myself daily and surrender to the Spirit’s power.

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