Adultery, Bible, Blasphemy, Commands, Deceit, Devil, Fire, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Satan, Scripture, Self-control, Sin

FRESH BREAD

HOSEA 7:4

They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by the baker, who stops stoking the fire from the time the dough is kneaded until it is leavened.”

I don’t think there is any smell quite as good as fresh baked bread. There is just something so comforting about it. I have a friend who bakes bread a lot. She gives it away to people to bless them. I love her bread heated with a pat of butter. Excuse me while I drool. Lol

What does this analogy of bread have to do with the people committing adultery? Just like the oven heated by the baker, they were heated in their lust to commit adultery both spiritually and physically. Once that “oven” is turned on and heated up, it can quickly burn whatever is put within it.

APPLICATION

Are you burning? Are you heated up? Our flesh is prone to go that way unless we turn the oven down. Do you understand that we have a temperature control knob on our flesh? Yep! As a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to do just that. When we yield to Him, He can control that knob. He can turn down the temperature.

The problem is we are in a spiritual arm wrestle for that knob. We want the temperature to stay up. We like the heat. Or so we think. When the heat gets too high and we start to burn, we want out. But Satan has one of those oven door locks that slams shut when the heat gets high. He wants us trapped in that oven.

So, what do we do? Stay out of the oven! Stay away from temptation. Know your surroundings. Ask the Lord each day to guard you from the evil one. He will. But stay out of the oven. It’s not that hard, if you yield to Him. If you don’t, watch out. That oven will burn you.

Keep me safe, Lord. I trust You to guide me. I desire to be out of the oven and safely in Your arms.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Double-minded, Flesh, Following, Lies, Obedience, Rebuke, Satan, Scripture

BACKWARDS

HOSEA 7:3

With their wickedness they make the king happy, and the officials with their lies.”

Sometimes life just seems to be going in reverse. What’s right is wrong, and what’s wrong is right. Upside down is right side up and vice versa. The whole thing is just topsy turvy. Have you ever felt that way? Boy, I sure have. It seems the harder I try to straighten things up, the more confusing it becomes.

This verse in Hosea today sounds like that. The wickedness of the people made the king happy. Their lies made the officials happy. Doesn’t that sound wrong to you? You have to understand that the king and his officials were just as bad as the people. In fact, they encouraged the people in their sins. The more everyone sinned, the less guilt anyone felt. They were all doing the same thing.

APPLICATION

That is just like Satan! He wants to keep us so confused and disoriented that we don’t know the truth. He loves filling our minds with falsehoods. He gets joy watching us plunge deeper and deeper into sin. He will surround us with others who are doing the same thing to dull our senses to what we are doing.

Before you know it, you are so far down that rabbit hole you don’t how to get out. Stop right there. There is always a way out. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. There is no hole too deep that He can’t reach us. We can’t stray far enough away that He can’t find us. His reach is extensive. We just have to stop and turn toward Him.

Are you ready to do that? Have you done that? When we turn to Jesus, the world finally begins to make sense. We can see the schemes of the devil. We can recognize his attempts to trick us. He has been exposed by the light of God’s Word. We can live for Jesus without fear. Don’t you want that? I sure do.

Father, You are the only true north. I will set my path towards You. I want to walk secure, knowing You are with me.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Confession, Death, Demons, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Rescue, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Sin

SURROUNDED

HOSEA 7:2

“And they do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their deeds surround them; they are before My face.”

The story goes that one day the Lone Ranger caught himself surrounded by a band of angry Indians. He had no way of escape. He looked at his trusty Indian sidekick, Tanto, and said, “Well, Tanto, I guess this is the end for us.” Tanto calmly turned to the Lone Ranger and said, “What do you mean, pale-face?”

I know, I know, not too funny. But hear me out. Just like the Lone Ranger, the people of Israel suddenly found themselves surrounded by their wickedness. They had to be aware of their evil deeds but had become blinded to the dangers around them. All of a sudden, God’s judgment fell. There was no escape. Payment was due.

APPLICATION

Our sins will find us out. There is no escaping the consequences of rebellion. Everything we have ever done is known to God. But…thanks be to Him, He has provided a way of escape for us. He sent His precious Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross. He paid the price for our sin. His blood covers our unrighteousness. He gives us His righteousness when we turn to Him.

But if you have never done that, if you have never asked Christ to be your Savior, you are surrounded by encroaching sins. None of your sidekicks can save you. Your family can’t save you. The preacher can’t save you. Only Jesus can save you. Rest in that. Receive that free gift from the Father. He will rescue you.

I am so thankful I can walk in victory. Aren’t you? When Satan sends his little minions to surround me, I just have to look to the hills where God’s army has come to defend me. I fear no evil because my Father in heaven knows my name. He is my deliverer. He is my stronghold and place of safety. Amen? Amen!

O Lord, I praise You for rescuing me. I give You all the glory for the victories in my life.

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Abiding, Accountability, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Commands, Confession, Confrontation, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

WRONGS UNCOVERED

HOSEA 7:1

“When I would heal Israel, the wrongdoing of Ephraim is uncovered, and the evil deeds of Samaria, for they practice deception; the thief enters, a band of robbers attack outside,”

Have you ever had a wrong exposed? Boy, I have. I can remember trying to hide some of my sins when I was growing up. I got pretty good at it. I knew where to hide things. I knew how to sneak around my parents. I thought I was getting by, but I wasn’t. God knew, right?

If that is true (that God always knows), why do we think we can hide those wrongdoings? Ephraim thought they could but found out differently. God held them accountable for every single breach of their covenant. Nothing escapes His eye, and they found out the hard way.

APPLICATION

Can we live our lives without every doing wrong? I wish. But it’s not possible. As hard as we try, we will slip up from time to time. God tells us to live holy lives but will forgive us when we make those mistakes. What He can’t tolerate is our lying to Him and refusing to repent. That can bring out His wrath.

Why would God be wrathful? To protect His name. Once we take on the name of Jesus, we must protect that name. Our actions reflect on Him. Remember, God is holy. He expects us to live like Him – holy. Ephesians 5:3 says, “There must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed, for these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have a higher standard to live by.

The beauty of this high standard, though, is that God doesn’t expect us to live it on our own. The Holy Spirit lives in and though us, empowering us to that level. It’s not us living like Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit in us. We just have to submit. Will you do that today?

I want to please You in my living, Lord. I want to be holy and above reproach.

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Bible, Blessing, Bondslaves, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Harvest, Joy, Labor, Obedience, Reward, Scripture

HARVEST TIME

HOSEA 6:11

Also, Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people.

I grew up in a rural community. My hometown was surrounded by farms. One great part of that childhood was my grandmother’s garden. She lived out in the country and always had a huge garden. All of us children knew that when the vegetables were ready for picking, we would be right there with our mom and grandmother.

God is promising to restore Judah, and with that, He would restore the harvest. Crops would be gathered. Seed could be saved for another year. A bountiful harvest gave hope for the coming winter and even into the following spring. Harvest time gave joy to the people. God’s harvest time is even more joyful.

APPLICATION

One day God will reach down and reap the harvest of His people. We don’t know when that will come. He may do that right in the middle of our harvest season or in the dead of winter. We are His bounty. He wants to gather us home. But only He knows when the full crop will be ready.

While we are waiting, we have a job. We should be sowing and tending the seed He has given us to share. We are His bondservants with a specified job. We are to spread the Gospel, thus increasing the yield at the harvest. What an awesome responsibility. He will be well pleased at our efforts, if we are obedient and faithful.

I like gardening. I like sowing the seed of the Gospel even more. There is nothing more exciting than to see a seed you have sown take root and sprout. Then you see it come to maturity and reproduce 20, 60 or 100 fold. Wow! What a joy! Will you join me in the harvest?

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Holiness, Horror, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Purity, Scripture, Testimony

HORROR SHOWS

HOSEA 6:10

“In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;

Ephraim’s infidelity is there, Israel has defiled itself.”

Before I came to Christ, I loved to watch horror movies. I loved the blood and gore. I know – that’s sick, right? But back then I didn’t really have a filter for what entered my mind. The Holy Spirit wasn’t guiding my thoughts and eyes and ears. The world had complete control of me, and everything seemed fine. Horror was okay with me.

But can you imagine how bad it must have been in the house of Israel for God to call something horrible? Think about it. God has seen the most horrible of horrible. How bad was it? Undoubtedly, pretty bad. God doesn’t tolerate horrible. He doesn’t allow it in His presence. He is holy and pure. Ephraim knew that. The people knew that, but they just kept on with the horrible lifestyles and choices.

APPLICATION

Nothing has changed much today. Our world is still making horrible choices. Look all around you. Marriage has been defiled by all the “alternative” lifestyles that are out there. Genders are being questioned and even reassigned outside God’s design. Babies in the wombs are not safe from our “choices.” I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

It doesn’t matter where you live on this terrestrial ball we call earth. People are still engaged in horror shows. So, what can we do about it? Stop watching! Stop participating! Start speaking up for truth. But Carl, if I do that I might face persecution. So what? We must stand up for the truth of God’s Word. He will tell when that is appropriate. He will give you the words to say. Be bold.

I know that is easy for me to say here in print. I can sit behind a computer screen and give you advice. But it’s more than that. I am also fed up with the horror show. I will join you in this battle. Can you claim your family in this fight? How about your city or state or country? Let’s begin, people. Let’s stop being horrible and start being holy.

Father, I am tired of the horrible state of our world. Give me the boldness to stand up for You.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Commitment, Examples, Following, Life, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

INFAMY

HOSEA 6:9

“And as a band of robbers lie in wait for a person, so a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem; certainly they have committed an act of infamy.”

On December 7, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into World War II. Our President then was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He made a speech that day that used the word “infamy.” Here is a link to that famous speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xd8MpR-5Ko

Infamy means something that is well known for a bad quality. Hosea compares the priests to that. They are well known for their bad qualities. He actually compared them to a band of robbers. He says they murder on their way to Shechem. Not high praise for religious leaders. Truly they had committed acts of infamy.

APPLICATION

What do you want to be known for? I doubt it is for things like the priests did. Who wants that? But have you given it any real thought? What will your legacy be? When you make your journey to your eternal home, what will your family and friends say about yet? Better yet, what will unbelievers say about you?

Think about for a second. We should have the desire to leave this world marked by our presence. There should be some lasting impact on those around us. I don’t mean we meant anything. What I mean is our life should be so full of Jesus that we leave His mark wherever we go. Our legacy is Jesus. Our impact is the cross.

Can you see that? We need to make every day about impacting one person for Jesus. Maybe it’s a waitress at a restaurant we are eating at. Perhaps it’s the lawn guy who comes each week to mow your lawn. Maybe it’s that neighbor across the street who no one on your street really talks to. We need to be the feet of Jesus today.

Open my eyes, Lord, to those around me who need a Savior. I want to leave Your imprint on their lives.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Condemnation, Darkness, Death, Devil, Flesh, Guilt, Judgment, Lies, Satan, Scripture

FOOTPRINTS

HOSEA 6:8

“Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, tracked with bloody footprints.”

One thing my mom could not tolerate is for us to track in dirt on her clean floors. She would holler at us to take our shoes off before we got on the carpet. You see, for years our house was all tile. When she got carpet (and it was that thick shag carpet) we were told to keep it clean. No dirty footprints allowed.

Hosea is speaking to Gilead here. That is the area across the Jordan where the two and a half tribes claimed their possession. They are being accused of tracking the blood of innocent victims with their shoes. Wherever they went, their guilt followed them. Idolatry was in their steps.

APPLICATION

What are you guilty of? Or maybe I should ask it this way. What do you think you are guilty of? It all depends on which side of the cross you’re on. If you are an unbeliever, you are definitely guilty. Your sins cover you. You, too, walk with bloody footprints. No amount of scrubbing will remove it off your feet either. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.

If you are a believer, you may feel as if you are guilty. Listen – you’re not. Jesus shed His blood to cleanse you from all guilt.  I am not saying you’re innocent. We still sin in these fleshly bodies, but there is no room for Satan to try to convince you that you’re guilty. He is a liar. You are free from that guilt because you have accepted God’s Son as your Lord and Savior.

Aren’t you glad that guilt is gone? Jesus paid the debt. We could never pay the price demanded for our guilt and shame. But one tiny drop of that divine blood washed the slate clean. His action on that cross secured for you and me an eternity with Him. Hallelujah!

I am so thankful, Lord, that I am guilt free. I know I am not perfect, but You see me as righteous because of Jesus.

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Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Encouragement, Following, Lawlessness, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

VIOLATED

HOSEA 6:7

“But like Adam they have violated the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously with Me.”

What does it mean to violate something? Simply put, it means to break or fail to comply with a rule or agreement. I don’t know about you, but I have been a violator all my life. I broke the rules of my childhood home. I break the speed limit quite often. And I have broken God’s commands more times than I want to admit.

Israel was a rule breaker. They knew what God’s Word said, but they continued to break it. And just like us, they thought they could get by breaking the rules. After all, they were God’s chosen people. They had a special status. God wouldn’t hold them to all those rules and commands. They were His favorites.

APPLICATION

Rules are rules for a reason. God established His commands to help guide us and protect us. He expects us to follow them.  But why do we follow them? Do we follow them to appease Him? Do we obey them so He will love us? Listen carefully. We obey His commands because we love Him.

God could simply make us obey. He is all powerful, after all. He could force us to follow all His commands like some mind numb robots. But He has given us free will. We have the freedom to be a violator or a follower. It’s really that simple. What will you be?

I want to be a follower. I know I fall short many times, but my heart is to do what is right. God knows our motives. He knows if we are rebellious or just slipped up. We are born with a sin nature that will be with us until we go to heaven. But the Holy Spirit can give us the power and wisdom to make the right choices if we will just listen to Him. Will you?

Thank You, Father, for giving me Your commands to follow. I know they are given to help me live in a way that honors You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Bosses, Brokenness, Commitment, Compassion, Devout, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Loyalty, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LOYALTY

HOSEA 6:6

“For I desire loyalty rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

I’ll never forget getting called into my boss’ office one time. He called me down and before I could even sit down in a chair, he lit into me. He had a list of accusations against me, things I had supposedly done to undermine his authority. This lasted about thirty minutes. When he finished, I asked if I could respond. He said I could, so told him I hadn’t done any of those things. None of them were true.

Loyalty is important. God demands it. He demanded it of the Israelites, and He requires it of us, His children. We can act like the Israelites and make our sacrifices (giving our tithes, serving in the nursery, helping the homeless), but unless we are loyal to Him, He rejects those sacrifices. Just as the burnt sacrifices that smoldered on the altar, our acts of service are just smoldering ashes.

APPLICATION

How do you show your loyalty to a holy God? How can we prove our heart’s desire is for Him? Listen, brothers and sisters, He knows your heart. He knows your motives. You don’t have to do anything. That is not necessary. All you have to do is surrender. You have to stop trying to please Him and just bow.

When we cease striving, we can start thriving. Hey, I like that. Stop working so hard to justify His love. You just have to bow your will to His, just like Jesus did in the garden. Remember that? Not My will, but Thine be done. That should be our heart cry. That shows our loyalty.

I am tired of trying, aren’t you? I am tired of trying to figure it all out. All I want to do is rest in Him. Guess what? That’s what He wants, too. He wants to take us in His warm embrace and snuggle us. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. He loves us so much. Come to Him today.

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul rejoice.

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