Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Giving, Inspirational, Life, Perseverance, Promises, Scripture

THE EARTH SINGS

HOSEA 2:22

“And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.”

I grew up in farm country in South Georgia. When I say “farm country” I mean that. My small hometown economy revolved around the farms that surrounded us. I loved seeing all those crops in the fields. It seemed to inspire life. Fields of corn, tomatoes, watermelons and etc. It did appear that the earth was singing.

Hosea 2:22 gives a similar picture. Grain, new wine and oil were about life during the time of Hosea. Everyone depended on the health of the harvest. When it was good, everyone celebrated. It was a festive time. When it was not, worry set in. They didn’t have the elaborate food economy we have today. It was literally hand to mouth.

APPLICATION

So, how does this apply to us today? We need to celebrate the life that the Lord has given us. Each day with Him brings new hope. We can face anything if we know He is with us. We do want the grain, new wine and oil, just like the Israelites. We may not call it that, but we live to celebrate new life.

What do you do, then, when things aren’t going so well? Do you pout and complain? Be honest – you probably do. But we shouldn’t. Even in the lean times, God is still on His throne. He is still with us. We can rest assured that He has not forgotten us and will once again bring in the harvest times.

What are you celebrating today? You can celebrate the fact that Jesus died for your sins. He hung on that cross to bear the sins of the whole world. He rose from that grave and ascended to His heavenly Father. He sits on His right hand interceding for you right now. Now, that’s worth celebrating.

Father, I praise You for giving me life. I praise You for promising life even on the darkest of days.

Standard
Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Inspirational, Listening, Obedience, Praise, Singing

A GOOD RESPONSE

HOSEA 2:21

“‘And it will come about on that day that I will respond,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,’”

Back in the 80’s I was serving at a children’s home in South Carolina. One of my responsibilities was to have a thirty minute counseling session with each of the children on my caseload (24 children). Nothing was more irritating than the child not responding when we met. I could handle yelling and even crying. But when they just sat there and said nothing, I was irritated.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t just sit there? He always responds. Look at today’s verse. The word “respond” is used three times. This word could be translated “sing.” Isn’t that cool? The Lord sings to us. He sings to the heavens. I just love that, don’t you?

APPLICATION

Have you ever responded in song to the Lord? Colossians 3:16 tells us to sing songs with gratitude in our hearts to God. What if you started each day with a song to God rather than a groan? That would be fantastic. Your husband or wife and children might wonder what happened to you.

Do you have a favorite hymn? Sing it now. Belt it out. Wake your neighbors (just kidding). Perhaps you have a favorite praise song. Then start your Quiet Time singing that. God is worthy of our praise. He delights in it. He will respond to it.

One of my favorite hymns is How Great Thou Art. If you know it, sing it with me now:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Chorus:
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

O God, You are great and my soul does sing to You. I can imagine You singing back to me.

Standard
Advice, Advocate, Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Scripture

THEN YOU WILL KNOW HIM

HOSEA 2:20

“And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”

I have known a lot of people in my life. I have probably met a few thousand over 60 years. Some I have known better than others. But there have been only a handful that I have known well. Those are the ones you want to spend time with and share life’s moments.

The same is true about God. I just love this verse. God tells us here that because He betroths us in faithfulness, we will know Him. This Hebrew word for “know” has a multitude of meanings, but it can also mean an intimate knowledge. God wants to know us. Isn’t that amazing?

APPLICATION

So, for us as believers who are seeking to know the Lord, how do we do that? It takes an investment of time. You have to be willing to spend time with the Lord in prayer and studying His Word. How much time are you willing to invest? An hour a day? How about a half hour? It is not necessarily the quantity of the time as much as the quality of time.

But you have to turn off the distractions. No cell phone. No FaceBook or Instagram. You need to be diligent and dedicated. The payoff is huge. The more intense your time with the Lord becomes, the more you look forward to it. You will find yourself absolutely craving these times. Go for it.

Knowing the Lord is a sweet thing. It’s really a shame that so many Christians go their whole lifetime not really knowing Him. Why would not want to know the God who created you and gave His Son to die for you? Why would you not want to spend as much time as you could with Him? I pray today you will spend some time getting to know Him better.

Thanks for giving me the desire, Lord, to know You deeper. I want to know You more and more.

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

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

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