Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Modeling, Passion, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

MY BETROTHED

HOSEA 2:19

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion,”

Have you ever been betrothed? Here in the U.S. we would call it being engaged. When I asked my wife to marry me, we became engaged to be married. Ours was a short courtship. We only dated about two and half months before we were married. Hey, when you see a good thing… lol.

I love the image Hosea uses here. God betroths us to Him. That word literally means to pay the price and so gain the right of possession. When a dowry was given, the couple became betrothed. But look how He betrothed Israel (and us) – in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion. Wow! Now, that’s a betrothal.

APPLICATION

Do you feel betrothed? Are you living your life as the betrothed of God? Oh, you should be. Look at who you are betrothed to. The God of the universe. The Creator of all things. The Beginning and the End. Jehovah God. I could go on and on and on.

People get excited about celebrities. They dream about being married to one. But these are finite, fallible people who will let you down. Look at how many celebrity marriages fail. Our betrothal to Almighty God will never fail. We are His betrothed forever!

Doesn’t that excite you? It does me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him. When God betroths us, that means we are His bride from now throughout eternity. Don’t you want to know your betrothed better? I sure do.

Lord, thank You for making me Your betrothed. You did purchase me with a price – Your Son. Amen.

Standard
Inspirational, Comfort, Encouragement, Bible, Scripture, Direction, Peace, Contentment, Protection, Battles, Advocate

PEACE ALL AROUND

HOSEA 2:18

“On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground. And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.”

Have you ever been in a situation where everything is totally out of control? I mean, it is total chaos! You get one fire put out and another one springs up. You cannot get one moment of rest because of all the stuff you are having to deal with. Then…peace. The chaos ends. You can breathe. Isn’t that an awesome feeling?

The Lord is telling Israel that in today’s verse. Everything is going to calm down. Even the animals, birds and crawling things are going to cooperate. No more war. They can finally feel safe. Those must have been welcomed words from Hosea.

APPLICATION

Are you fighting a battle right now that seems impossible? Does it seem hopeless? Listen, brother and sister, there is hope. But you must come to Him. He can calm all the storms in your life. There aren’t any problems too big for Him. I’ve said it before, everything over our heads is under His feet. Never forget that.

Turn to Him now and say, “Lord, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I need help. Will you help me through this storm I’m in?” What do you think He is going to say to that? He will come to you. Now, you may not like the way He works in that situation, but if you will trust Him, He will see you through.

Sometimes, peace comes only by navigating through a storm. Let Jesus do that for you. He knows where all the safe ports are. He wants to give you rest. I don’t know about you, but I want that in my life. I’ve had enough storms lately, lol. I am ready for some still waters.

Lord, I give you the helm. Guide me into the still waters of Your peace.

Standard
Bible, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Following, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

NAME RECOGNITION

HOSEA 2:17

“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will no longer be mentioned by their names.”

Remembering people’s names is a gift. I had the privilege of knowing Father Val Peters who was the Superintendent of Boys’ Home in Nebraska. He made it a point to know every child’s name at the home. That was over 500 children. He worked at it, but he did it. I have tried to do that myself everywhere I have served. Kids love it when you know their name and call them by it.

God didn’t want to hear the names of the false gods on the mouths of His children. He wanted them toconcentrate on His name. No other name matters. Calling on anything or anyone besides Jesus is equivalent to the Israelites worshipping Baal. It’s empty. It’s hopeless. Call on His name.

APPLICATION

Who are you calling on? Family? They will let you down. Church? They are imperfect and filled with imperfect people. A Pastor? Don’t even go there. Too many of them are failing. Listen. There is nothing wrong with any of those. But we must make sure our first call is to Jesus. He is the only sure thing.

Aren’t you tired of being let down? Aren’t you frustrated with depending on people who are more concerned with themselves than you? God has you at the center of His mind. He always wants you to succeed. He will give you the skills you need to follow Him. Will you just let Him?

I don’t know about you, but I want His name on my lips. It is the sweetest name we know. When you are in a low time, call His name. When you are rejoicing, call His name. Call His name in every situation. He longs to hear it.

O God, I praise Your name. No other name means as much to me. You are worthy of my praise.

Standard
Disciplemaking, Passion, God's Will, Affection, Bible, Scripture, Faithfulness, Husbands, Protection, Relationships, Intimacy

MY MAN

HOSEA 2:16

“‘And it will come about on that day,’” declares the LORD,

“‘That you will call Me my husband and no longer call Me my Baal.’”

I’ve been married for over thirty-five years now. I truly have to say that I love my wife more today than the day we got married. Why? Because I know her better. I just had this flashback of Sonny and Cher singing “I love you more today than yesterday.” Lol. I love it when my wife refers to me as her husband. I love that term. It’s intimate. It’s personal. I’m her man.

God is telling Israel (and Gomer) to call Him “my husband” or “my man.” He really is. That’s what the Hebrew word ish means. Why is He saying this? Because He didn’t want them using the word Baal which means lord. A husband was often called lord by his wife, but in this instance, God didn’t want any confusion on their part with Him and that pagan god named Baal. So just call Him my husband.

APPLICATION

Is God “your man”? I don’t mean that in any kind of derogatory way. I mean do you have an intimate, personal relationship with Him? My wife and I have been developing our relationship for over thirty-five years now, but we still have a long way to go. I will never fully know her because we are both limited by our humanness. God knows you fully and wants you to know Him.

How can you know God on a more intimate level? There is only one way. You have to spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. If you don’t spend time with someone, you will never know them. It’s just not possible. Will you commit to spend some more time with the Lord this week?

The beauty of spending time with the Lord is that it can happen anywhere. Unlike my wife, who has to be physically with me to spend time with me, God is accessible 24/7. He is everywhere. He is always listening. That blows my mind, but it’s true. Just reach out and see what happens. He’s there waiting to commune with you.

O God, creator of the universe, I am amazed that You want to spend time with me. I will stop today and listen to Your voice.

Standard
Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Hope, Protection, Scripture, Trouble

DOOR OF HOPE

HOSEA 2:15

“Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will respond there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt.”

From September 2019 through around April 2020, I went through a pretty grueling physical test. I have a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. The treatment of this disease required me to go through my second stem cell transplant, this time with six months of chemotherapy beforehand. It was hard. I kept my hope in the fact that I had been down this path before in 2010 and knew the treatment could work.

The Israelites had seen God work in the past. They knew what God had done bringing them out of Egypt. They knew their hope was not a false hope. One scholar defines the Hebrew word for hope as “patient, enduring longing.” I kind of like that. I can relate. That’s exactly what I had last year – patient, enduring longing.

APPLICATION

What are you longing for right now? On what are you basing your hope? If you are hoping in anything by God, you are bound to be disappointed. There is no sure thing out there, except Him. Everything and everyone else will let you down. I don’t care how much someone may love you, they can’t give you the hope God can through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I love the expression we have today in the verse that says “the valley of Achor. This valley was on the border of Judah. Achor actually means trouble or disturbance. God brings us through our valleys of trouble into hope. But we have to pass through it first. We can’t forget that if He leads us into a valley of trouble, He will lead us out. We just have to stay with Him.

I just got this picture in my head of an old western where the good guys have to ride through a desert canyon that is probably being watched by the bad guys. There is only one way through. They know trouble is ahead, but they have to ride anyway. Listen, God sent us Jesus to see us through those times. Stay close to Him. He will lead you to the door of hope.

I am so thankful that I know my hope lies in You. There is no one else I would yield my trust to.

Standard
Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Hope, Relationships, Scripture, Sin

RESTORATION

HOSEA 2:14

“Therefore, behold, I am going to persuade her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.”

It feels so good to be brought back into the fold. When you have lost favor with someone it hurts. You feel like there is nothing you can do to earn their trust again. In the world it’s hard. People don’t forgive that easily. Sometimes it may take years to restore a relationship. And it’s just not possible without forgiveness.

At this point in the book of Hosea, God is offering Gomer and Israel forgiveness. Listen to the words of this verse. They are tender words. God is going to “persuade” her. That word means to allure, to be wide open. He is going to “speak kindly to her.” What a change from the previous verses. God is a forgiving God.

APPLICATION

Have you wandered away from the Lord? Are you trying to find your way back? It only takes one step. The moment you make that first step, God is there. There’s a story in the New Testament called “The Prodigal Son.” Forget about the wayward son. Forget about the older brother. Look at the father in that story. The moment his son reappeared, the father ran to him and kissed him. That’s our God.

Now, what happens if you don’t return? You stay in that no man’s land. You are in despair. You are hopeless. God won’t beg you to come home, but He is always waiting. Just like He was with Israel. When they finally repented and came back, He spoke kindly to her.

Are you ready to return? I don’t want to be away from His presence one day. There is absolutely nothing like being in fellowship with the Father. There is nothing like His embrace. Come!

Lord, I praise You for the joy of my salvation. I know whenever I falter, You are there waiting for me to come back to You.

Standard
Advice, Beauty, Bible, Blasphemy, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

NOSE RINGS

HOSEA 2:13

“‘I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she used to offer sacrifices to them and adorn herself with her nose ring and jewelry, and follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,’ declares the LORD.”

I have never understood the fascination with nose rings. I would not want someone to drill another hole in my nose. I’ve seen nose rings with chains that attached to an earring. I’ve seen simple studs in a nose. I’ve even seen large hoops hanging from the center of the nose, actually covering their mouth. If that’s your thing, have at it. I just don’t get it.

Now, that I have offended half of you, lol.  Gomer was all about her nose rings and jewelry. But you need to understand something. She was doing that to make herself more presentable to her false gods. Israel was doing the same. They would dress up to worship the false gods that had infiltrated their land. It was all futility. God was going to show them that.

APPLICATION

What are you doing in the name of religion that is absolutely futile? We often dress up and put on airs to impress others in church. We pretend to be something we aren’t. We play the part well, don’t we? It used to be that people would dress to the nines with their suits or dresses. Now they see who can dress down the most. It seems jeans and sneakers have replaced the three-piece suit.

So, who are you trying to impress? It’s not about what you are wearing, is it? God could care less what we look like on the outside. It’s all about what is on the inside. You could have the most elaborate nose ring collection in the world, but it wouldn’t impress a holy God.

I want to ask you to examine how you come to worship. Do you come humbly, asking the Lord to teach you? Or are you coming to church to just hang with your friends and see what others are looking like? Will you step back and just take a look in the mirror before you leave your house for worship. Who are you dressing for?

Lord, I want to come before You in all humility. I also want to dress in a way that honors You.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Choices, Destruction, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

MY WAGES

HOSEA 2:12

“And I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of which she said, ‘They are my wages for prostitution which my lovers have given me.’ And I will turn them into a forest, and the animals of the field will devour them.”

I remember getting my first job. I worked at a gas station in my hometown. I was only fourteen and was assigned to wash cars in an alley beside the gas station. I worked all day from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and made $12.00. I did get a half hour break for lunch, but the rest of the time was spent in that alley washing cars. It was hard work, and I learned a lot.

Gomer’s wages were a little different. You couldn’t exactly call her earnings honest. She was selling herself to others to get these things. She was continuing her unfaithfulness. But remember what this was all about. God was using her as a symbol, a message about Israel’s unfaithfulness. They thought all their earnings were their possessions, no matter how they got them. However, God was about to destroy all they held dear because of their unfaithfulness.

APPLICATION

The same applies to us today. We get so busy making a living and building a career that we forget about true worship. We throw a pitiful offering toward the Lord from our labor and think that is what God requires. God could care less about our tithes and offerings if they are offered in this manner. God desires our hearts, first of all.

What are you working so hard for? Well, Carl, I have to save so much money. I have to put enough money back to retire. Oh really? Do you think the God of the universe doesn’t know your needs in the future? Do you believe He will provide exactly what you need if you are following Him? Of course, He will.

Earned wages mean nothing if they are not earned according to God’s principles and direction. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away.” Why don’t you ask the Lord today how He wants you to earn your wage? Ask Him what He wants you to do with that wage once you get it. It might just surprise you.

Father, all I have is Yours. I want to please You in all I do. I want my work to be seen as worship of You.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Confession, Direction, Fellowship, Following, God's Will, Hypocrisy, Inspirational, Obedience, Punishment, Rejection, Scripture, Sin, Worship

THE PARTY’S OVER

HOSEA 2:11

“I will also put an end to all her joy, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her festivals.”

I’ll never forget when I came to Christ. Before I did, I was kind of a party guy. I grew up in the 70’s when drugs were big. I got caught up in that scene and liked to party with my friends. But…when Christ came into my life, I gave up all of that. I didn’t want that anymore. My friends I had at the time thought I was crazy for giving up that party scene. I knew better. Still do today.

God also took away the “parties” from the Israelites but in a different way. He couldn’t tolerate their false worship anymore. By leading them into exile, they were not allowed to celebrate the festivals. They had the right “parties” but were abusing them. God desires our worship, but He won’t accept false worship.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. What are you worshipping? I worshipped partying in my young life. I discovered true worship in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Are you going through the motions of worship? Do you do the “church thing” expecting that to suffice for your spiritual life? It won’t. You’re not fooling God. He knows your heart.

So, when are you going to seek Him in spirit and truth? Are any of these questions hitting home with you? Well, let me tell you a secret. They hit home with me, too. I have to constantly reflect on my worship. I want to make sure my worship is always pointed heavenward. I want my worship to be glorifying God. Anything else is just as bad as the Israelites.

Will you join me in true worship? Oh, how the Lord loves that. He loves to see His children honoring Him. He longs for our fellowship. Begin today. Stop what you are doing and spend some time worshipping Him. He is listening.

I worship You, O God. My heart is lifted before You today.

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