Abiding, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Ministry, Obedience, Sacrifice, Scripture, Testimony, Witnessing

HIS WORD

JOEL 2:11

“The LORD utters His voice before His army; His camp is indeed very great, for mighty is one who carries out His word. The day of the LORD is indeed great and very awesome, and who can endure it?”

I have never served in the military. I admire those who have and am thankful for their service. Many of them have sacrificed greatly. Many others sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice to follow the commands they were given. When you are in the military you are expected to listen to your commander and do what they say. You follow orders. You obey.

The phrase that caught my attention in today’s verse was “for mighty is one who carries out His word.” They recognized then and we recognize now those who heed His word. Obedience is expected, is it not? Joel knew that. I am sure Joel had rather be doing anything other than preaching this message to the people of Judah who didn’t want to hear it. But he listened to the Lord and carried out His word.

APPLICATION

The application for us from this verse is obvious. Will we carry out His word? What does that mean for us? What does the Lord expect us to do? It’s pretty simple, really. He expects us to take His Word to a lost world. He expects us to glorify Him in all we do. He expects us to live out Matthew 28:18-20.

The expectations are clear. The question is – will we do it? You don’t have to be in full time ministry to do this. Witnessing to your neighbor is carrying out His word. Helping someone in distress is carrying out His word. Praying in your prayer closet because you are too weak to get out is carrying out His word. There are all kinds of ways to carry out the word of God. We just have to be diligent.

I have not always done this. Even as a pastor, I have not always done it. Sure, I’ve gone through the motions of ministry, but I haven’t truly carried out His word. But over the past several years I have been convicted to be more and more diligent to do that. I pray more. I read more of His word and memorize it. Let us all join together to carry out His word to the world.

I am so grateful for Your word. Help me proclaim it to a lost world daily.

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LISTEN UP

JOEL 1:2

Hear this, you elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers’ days?”

Each Sunday when I teach the children at the church where I serve, I have to say “listen” several times to get their attention. We have rules for children’s church to help prepare these little ones for the day when they start attending “big church.” One of those rules is “Listen Up.” In other words, tune your ears to what I’m about to say.

Joel is telling the people of Judah to listen up. He is about to give them a message. He is going to remind them of some things. He needs their undivided attention in order to get his message across. Let me correct that. It’s not his message. It’s God’s message, which makes it even that much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had to tell someone to listen up, haven’t you? Have you ever been telling a story to someone and noticed they weren’t paying attention? If you have kids, I guarantee you have had to tell them to listen up. Now, listen to me. You have a message to share. People need to hear it.

We need to make sure people are listening. God’s message hasn’t changed. He still desires for all to come to Him. He still offers salvation to those who believe in His name and receive His Son as Savior. That’s a message we need to be shouting from the rooftops. Get their attention and deliver the message.

Right now, there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world. People are dying and going to hell. Believers are being persecuted for their faith. We are living in perilous times. But God is still faithful. He will deliver each and every one who turns to Him. Will you help spread the word today?

I am so thankful for the message of the cross. Give me the opportunity today to share that with someone.

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OUR SMELL

HOSEA 14:6

“His shoots will sprout, His majesty will be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.”

I love the smell of the outdoors. That’s part of the reason I like to hunt and fish. Just being outdoors and inhaling the aromas that are out there is invigorating. Where I hunt here in Tennessee, there are a lot of pine trees. Their smell in the mornings is great. In fact, some hunters will break off limbs from the pine trees and rub it on their clothes to cover their human scent.

Hosea, in the last phrase of today’s verse, says Israel will have the fragrance of cedars. Now, he was not saying they would actually smell like that. He was saying Israel would put off a scent to draw others to God. I wonder how well they did that. What would others smell that would entice them to come to God?

APPLICATION

Our “odor” can affect someone’s decision to follow Christ. We don’t think about that very often, do we? I am not necessarily referring to our physical odor. However, it is hard to witness to someone if we smell like cigarettes or alcohol. I am referring more to our spiritual smell. You see, the closer we walk with Jesus, the more we smell like Him.

I have been in a room before with people who were smoking. When I came out of that room, I smelled just like them. You would have thought I was smoking as well. In the same way, when I spend more and more time in His Word and in prayer, I smell more like Him. The world’s scent is covered by the Holy Spirit. I, in a sense, have broken off the branches of holiness and rubbed them all over my body.

I like smelling like Jesus. There is no other scent that I would want. His is a sweet smell, an inviting smell. Others smell it and want what I have. That is so cool. But I have to stay in His presence to keep that scent. The second I walk away the world’s scent envelopes me. That is not a pleasant smell. I choose Jesus’ scent. How about you?

I want to smell like You, Lord. I want others to be drawn to You through Your scent on me.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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