Accountability, Battles, Belief, Bible, Contentment, Courage, Faith, God's Will, Inspirational, Protection

NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 10:8

Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will grow on their altars; then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ And to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’”

Have you ever just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide? Things are going so bad and there seems to be no relief in sight. I have had a few moments in my life like that. I didn’t want to see anyone or have anyone see me. I just wanted to hide. Those feelings are tough.

Israel felt the same way. Hosea says they wanted the mountains to cover them and the hills to fall on them. They wanted to disappear. But from who? From God. They couldn’t handle being before Him. Their sins were too grave, and they were now paying the penalty.

APPLICATION

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you. Lol. Listen, there is always hope. As believers, we will face hard times. But we must remember that everything that touches us has gone through God’s hands first. He has allowed it. I don’t pretend to understand that. I wish some things hadn’t touched me, but they did.

God can see right through all our pain. He stands ready to send relief and comfort, if we only ask. He will send it when it’s time. Our suffering may seem to last forever, but it only lasts as long as the Lord allows. Trust Him in that. He will never give you more than you can handle. That’s His promise to you.

I have been through some harrowing times. My most recent health crisis brought me to the brink of despair. I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was ready to go to heaven. I had no more strength. I was done. But my Lord saw me through. I know I can trust Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over.

Cover me with Your love. I don’t need to hide from You or anyone because You are my strength.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Promises

TWIGS

HOSEA 10:7

Samaria will be destroyed with her king, like a twig on the surface of the water.”

There is just something fascinating about streams of water. You can sit and watch the current for hours. It is constantly changing. A ripple here, a ripple there. Bubbles pop up and then disappear. I used to love to put little twigs in the current and watch them disappear downstream. Some would float on top while others got submerged.

That’s the picture Hosea is painting here regarding Israel’s king. He would be swept away just like a twig in a stream. He would have no power to control where he was going. Assyria would come in and take him away. No man, no matter his position, could be trusted to lead Israel safely. After all, they were only human.

APPLICATION

I pray your trust is not in some person or thing. Some people think if they just get the right people in political power, all their problems will be solved. Some people believe government is the solution. Others put all their trust in their pastor or church. All of those will let you down. No human or manmade entity can be your source of strength.

There is only one true source of strength – Jesus Christ. He has the power to do what He desires when He desires. Everything He decides to do will be done. He has the perfect plan for your life if you will just trust Him. He is a benevolent king and a patient king. He won’t force Himself on you. He will wait. But do you have enough time?

I am old enough now to realize I need Jesus to direct me every day. The one day I try to go it on my own is the day that I blow it. When I am down, He lifts me up. When I am tearful, He wipes them away. When I am angry and upset, He stills me. He is my only source of strength and stability. Will you trust Him too?

I am thankful I can rely on You for my strength, Lord. You are the one true foundation.

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Affection, Affliction, Bible, Comfort, Confession, Disciplemaking, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Scripture, Shame

ASHAMED

HOSEA 10:6

The thing itself will be brought to Assyria as a gift of tribute to King Jareb; Ephraim will be seized with shame, and Israel will be ashamed of its own plan.”

I can remember as a child getting caught doing something wrong (we won’t go into exactly what that was, lol) and feeling shame. I was ashamed because I knew the right thing to do but chose the wrong thing. Hanging my head and not making eye contact. Hearing my mom or dad say how disappointed they were in my decision. Shame is not something you want to hang on to.

Ephraim was ashamed. Israel was ashamed. They knew what God expected but chose to go their own way. When what they loved (idols and pagan altars) was carried away with them into exile, then they felt the shame of their sin.

APPLICATION

Shame can be a great motivator to return to the Lord. Now, we can’t stay there. Once we have confessed our sin and made things right with the Lord, He does not want us to wallow in our shame. We have been made clean. There is no reason to stay in shame or guilt. Have you done that?

Many people feel so ashamed that they don’t think the Lord can forgive them. They think their sins are too big. We have to let them know just how big our God is. He can forgive whatever they have done. All they have to do is come to Jesus. They just have to confess Him as Lord and Savior and believe in His name. We have to give them that message.

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sins. He won’t let me get away anything. The moment I sin He is in my business reminding me that I am a child of God and sin has no place in my life. Am I perfect? Not in any way. But I have a perfect Savior who pushes me to live holy. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole. Thank You, Lord, for giving to me Thy great salvation so rich and free.

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DON’T CRY

HOSEA 10:5

“The inhabitants of Samaria will fear for the calf of Beth-aven. Indeed, its people will mourn for it, and its idolatrous priests will cry out over it, over its glory, since it has left it.”

You may have been told by your mom or dad to not cry over something. You may have even been told, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” I don’t suggest that either of those statements be used with kids. Crying is okay if it’s for the right reasons. I am a major crier. I cry at Hallmark commercials.

Israel, however, was crying over the wrong stuff. They were crying over the destruction of their pagan altars. They were heartbroken over an idol. Even their “idolatrous priests will cry out over it.” What a scene, what a spectacle. What a misuse of tears.

APPLICATION

Before you go and get all high and mighty, we have done the same. We have cried over things that we have no business crying over. When we lose something that is important to us, we may cry over that. I have known people who totally lost it after misplacing a piece of jewelry. I have known other people who couldn’t control their emotions over a breakup with someone.

We all put too much emphasis on temporal things. We put way too many things above God. He is the only one who deserves our full devotion. When we make anything or anyone an idol in our lives, we turn our attention away from the Lord. Sure, the Lord cares about our losses. He doesn’t want to see us upset and crying. But He also knows that only the eternal is really important.

Let me ask you a question. When is the last time you cried over a lost soul? Do you have friends or family who are lost? Have you cried out for them lately? I pray you have. Those are tears that move the Lord’s heart. Those are tears that can cause change. Now, go grab some tissue.

O Lord, let my tears be tears that move Your heart. I will shed those tears of brokenness over those I long to see come to know You.

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Advice, Bible, Condemnation, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Gossip, Guilt, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Lies, Lying, Poison, Rebuke, Scripture, Surrender

POISONOUS LIPS

HOSEA 10:4

“They speak mere words, with worthless oaths they make covenants; and judgment sprouts like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.”

Have you ever known people who can’t seem to say one good thing about anyone? They are always critical. They find fault in everyone. They question everyone’s motive. You can almost see the poison dripping from their lips. These are not people you want to be around. To do so can cause you to “catch” their poison.

Israel was reeking of poison. Their oaths and covenants with pagan gods were a stench in the nostrils of the Lord. He promised judgment on them because of this. Judgment was sure. Today’s verse even says it will be like poisonous weeds in the field. That wasn’t good for man or animal. God’s judgment will affect them all.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never spoken evil of anyone. Right? Come on, be honest. We have all been guilty of spewing poison, haven’t we? But as believers, we can’t do that. We must speak love to others, even those who harm us. Now, that’s hard. It is actually impossible, unless you allow the Lord to be your spokesman.

Don’t you think the Lord loves all those people you have spoken evil of? Of course, He does. He wants them to walk in the Spirit as much as He wants you to do that. If we would stop and look at others as Christ sees them, we would not speak poisonous words about them.

I have been guilty of this more times than I want to say. My flesh rises up when I have been offended. I want to “get back” at them. I take up a loved one’s offense and demand justice. I know the Lord isn’t pleased with that attitude. Sooner or later, I have to come to Him and confess that as sin, which it is.  Poisonous lips always poisons the one who speaks.

Father, forgive me for my poisonous lips. Remind me through Your Holy Spirit that my tongue belongs to You.

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Advice, Betrayal, Bible, Denial, Foolishness, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Respect, Scripture, Surrender

NOSE THUMBER

HOSEA 10:3

“Certainly now they will say, ‘We have no king, for we do not revere the LORD. As for the king, what can he do for us?’”

I have known a few people who thumbed their nose at God. I had a coworker once who wanted nothing to do with God or me. I was the Chaplain at a children’s home, so I represented God to him. He really didn’t like me because of that. He was constantly speaking badly about our chapel services and ridiculed the decisions the children were making. He did not revere the Lord.

Israel did not revere the Lord. They had no respect for their king either. They had lost all their allegiance to anyone except themselves, and that was failing. So, they were also thumbing their noses at God. He wasn’t doing what they wanted, so they were done with Him. They wanted God to serve them, to meet all their needs. Anything less was useless to them.

APPLICATION

What is your view of God? You may expect God to meet all your needs when you want Him to. You may think the Lord is kind of like Santa Claus. And when He doesn’t “perform” you put Him aside. That is not the way God works. He is not on your timetable.

But, oh listen to me. God wants to work in your life. He has such grand plans for you and me. We have to lay down our plans and allow Him to work in and through us. We will never know the heights to which He can take us unless we lay down our own self made plans. Will you do that today?

I am still learning how to lay down my plans. I am a planner and there are times when I get tired of waiting on God. Don’t judge me. I am sure you have done that. But when I do wait on Him, His plan makes so much better sense. You would think I would have learned this by now. Keep me in your prayers, and I will pray for you, too.

Father, I don’t want to ever caste You aside. You are the center of all I do. I want to honor You.

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Accountability, Advice, Altars, Bible, Choices, Destruction, Double-minded, Faithfulness, Idols, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Sincerity

GOD THE DESTROYER

HOSEA 10:2

“Their heart is deceitful; now they must suffer for their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their memorial stones.”

There is something about tearing something down. I can remember as a boy using my dad’s big sledgehammer. I used to ask my dad if I could swing it when he had to tear apart stuff. Man, when that big hammer hit the wood, it would just splinter that stuff. Tearing down stuff was fun.

But here in today’s verse, the Lord is tearing down some stuff, and He wasn’t having fun. He was angry at Israel’s sin, at the way they had built these altars to their false gods. He was determined to destroy any sign of their idolatry. And He didn’t need a sledgehammer.

APPLICATION

Are there things in your life that you need to tear down? We all have things that we have built up that get between us and God. They may just be small things, but anything between you and the Lord is an idol, a distraction. It must come down. It has to be removed. If you leave it there, it will affect your walk with Him.

Now, you don’t need a sledgehammer to do that. You just need to turn to the Lord. It seems when we prioritize Jesus in our lives, all those other things seem to disappear or take a back seat. The “altars” and “memorial stones” we have placed in our lives have to come down. There is only room for Jesus.

From time to time I have built up “altars” in my life. I have placed too much emphasis on things at the expense of worshipping the Lord. One by one the Lord showed me those “altars” had to come down. As I got rid of them, my love for the Lord grew stronger. Sole devotion to Jesus is what is required. My knee will bow to no one else.

Help me Lord to keep my altars torn down. I desire to worship only You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commitment, Completeness, Disciplemaking, Following, Fruit, Glory, Harvest, Life, Modeling, Scripture, Surrender

IT LOOKS GOOD, BUT…

HOSEA 10:1

“Israel is a luxuriant vine; He produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made; the richer his land, the better he made the memorial stones.”

My dad always had about three grape vines in our yard. They were muscadine vines. Every year we would pick those grapes and make jelly. My dad loved his jelly. But also, every year we had to cut back those vines so they could produce grapes and not just vines and leaves. A leafy vine is pretty but not very productive.

Today’s verse, at first glance, is confusing. It sounds like Israel is a good vine. But it actually means leafy and pretty, but not productive. And even when they did appear productive, they squandered their blessings on other gods, not Jehovah. Israel was not acknowledging their bounty as coming from the Lord.

APPLICATION

Your blessings are from above. You need to acknowledge that as a believer. And when you do acknowledge that, you need to give Him all the praise. It’s not about you. It’s all about Him. So, why do we try to toot our own horn? Why do we try to claim credit for it?

Maybe you’re one of those “leafy” Christians. You appear to be productive for the Lord, but you have no fruit. You look like a healthy Christian, but there is nothing in your life that points back to Jesus. You are all show and no go. You are missing out on the blessings He wants to bestow on you. He longs to show you how to be productive and bear fruit. But you must let Him in.

I have come to realize in my latter years that anything good in me is just Jesus. Anything I produce is for His glory and for the benefit of others. It has nothing to do with me. I am nothing outside of Christ. He deserves all the praise for any fruit in my life. I truly believe that. I don’t want any credit. It all belongs to Him.

Lord, I praise You for giving the opportunity to serve You and others. Help me be a productive believer for Your sake.

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WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

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NO ROOT, NO FRUIT

HOSEA 9:16

“Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will produce no fruit. Even though they give birth to children, I will put to death the precious ones of their womb.”

I had a great vegetable garden when I lived in South Carolina. I had both row gardens and raised beds. I could grow just about anything I wanted in that garden. But I discovered something about gardening there. If your vegetables don’t have a strong root system where they can absorb nutrients, you will get little if any fruit.

Hosea used this same imagery in today’s verse. God said Israel’s root was dried up so they couldn’t produce any fruit. Even if they were to give birth to children, they wouldn’t survive. The very fruit of their wombs would not last. They had no hope for a future.

APPLICATION

I hope you are rooted deep. What are you rooted in? If it isn’t Jesus and the word of God, then you are going to be fruitless. Isn’t that sad? Most of us want to be fruitful. We want to be used by the Lord, don’t we? So, we have to put down roots. How is that done?

We have to be committed to spending time with the Lord. We have to put down roots in prayer. We have to put down roots in studying His Word. Those roots will draw nourishment from that and produce fruit. Of course, any fruit we draw up belongs to the Lord. Our goal has to be to produce as much fruit as possible. And all that fruit is for others.

Fruit production is only as good as the soil and the plant. I have made the decision to guard my “plant” from being exposed to poor soil. I want to nourish it and allow it to flourish. I want to grow strong and produce as much fruit as possible. I pray that for you.

My roots will grow deep as I spend time with You, Lord. I know that healthy roots produce healthy fruit.

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