Abiding, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Obedience, Parenting, Protection, Scripture

FIRST STEPS

HOSEA 11:3

Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.”

I can’t remember my first steps as a baby. Why would I? I mean, I was pretty young, right? But I do remember my children’s first steps. We spent weeks helping them stand up and then watched them “cruise” around furniture. Then that day arrived when they took those first steps. How proud we were as parents! First steps are a milestone.

Jehovah helped Israel walk. He guided them by His strong hand. He held them up when they toppled. He led them along a safe path, only to have them jerk away and start walking in their own direction. How painful that must have been for our God to see His beloved children walk away.

APPLICATION

Sadly, we do the same thing. Think about your own walk. When you came to Christ, He was the one who led you on your first steps. He pointed you toward the direction He would have you walk. He held you up when you stumbled and fell. He picked you up and dusted you off. He was always there.

But we get comfortable in our walk and don’t think we need Him anymore. We see a path that looks better than the path He has for us. We explore new walkways and leave the safety of Jesus’ path behind. And what happens? Almost every time, we fall. We trip. We are attacked by our enemies. All we have to do is remain on the sure path, but we want to walk our way.

The older I get the less I want to wander. I like the assurance of Jesus holding my hand. I don’t want to jerk away and go my way. I have learned His way may not be as “glamorous,” but it is trustworthy. I know He will never lead me wrong. So, why would I ever want to “explore” another path? Never!

Lord, I praise You for holding my hand as I took my first steps with You. But You kept holding it. You kept leading me.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Calling, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Listening

IGNORING THE CALL

HOSEA 11:2

The more they called them, the more they went away from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.”

I can so clearly remember my mama calling me to come home when I was out playing with my friends. I could hear her calling, but I would pretend I couldn’t so I could stay out a little longer. I knew I needed to go home, but I wanted to do that in my own time. When I tarried too long, there were always consequences.

Hosea makes a quick turn from verse 1 in this chapter to this verse today. From focusing on the one whom He loved and brought out of Egypt, he turned to the nation as a whole and their continued betrayal. It didn’t matter who it was who called them, they turned toward their idols. They turned their backs on Jehovah and knelt before the Baals. How quickly they forgot who had rescued them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear Him calling you? He is, you know. He always is. He wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to be safe in His arms. He knows if we don’t come home, we will stay in harm’s way. We will keep running.

Do you know what you have to do to hear His voice? You have to listen. That’s not hard, is it? Oh, but it is. We get so destracted from all the noise of the world that we don’t stop to listen. We are going here and going there. God just wants us to stop and listen. He’s calling our names.

I have learned to pause and listen more. In my quiet times it is always good to stop reading and talking and just listen. It’s amazing what I hear when I do that. That happened recently when I spent some time by myself camping. God’s voice was so clear. Let me challenge you to do the same.

I love to hear Your voice. Open my ears so I can hear You clearly.

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Belief, Bible, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Promises, Rescue, Salvation, Surrender

OUT OF EGYPT

HOSEA 11:1

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

There have been a few places from which I wanted to be out of. I won’t name them so as not to upset anyone, lol. You may have been in a similar situation but had no way out. You may have been kept there due to a job or family. Whatever it was, you felt trapped. Well, today’s verse ought to hit home with you.

God rescued Israel from Egypt. They had been there many years and were made into slaves. There seemed no way out, but God sent a deliverer by the name of Moses to set His people free. Many years later, He brought His Son out of Egypt. Joseph had taken his young family there to escape the wrath of Herod. But when the time came, He brought Jesus back to Israel to begin His plan for redemption.

APPLICATION

God can rescue you just as well. You may feel trapped in your Egypt, but there is a way out. Just as God sent a deliverer for Israel, He has sent a deliverer for you. His Son Jesus was sent so you can be free. But you can only be free if you follow the Deliverer. Only He knows the way out.

You may already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you still filled trapped by something. He can set you free from that too. Jesus wants you to walk in freedom each day. That requires you to lay down those burdens. He can handle them. He wants you free to live for Him without restraints. He wants you free to share Him with others. Accept that freedom He offers.

I am so thankful I am free. Nothing can chain me down. No troubles, no pain, no heartaches. I am free to be whatever the Lord wants me to be, as long as I surrender daily to Him. I know that, but each day I have to make a conscious decision to do that. I have pledged to do that. Will you?

I vow Lord to follow You daily. I want to walk in freedom.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Christ's Return, Destruction, Encouragement, Eternity, Gospel, Heaven, Modeling, Scripture

DOOMS DAY

HOSEA 10:15

So it will be done to you at Bethel because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.”

I have often wondered what it would be like to know the day you were going to die. I wonder what I would do on those days leading up to it. Would I quit work and do all the things I have always wanted to do? Or would I continue doing all the things I am presently doing? I don’t fear that day. I am ready for it.

Hosea gave the warning to Israel. “At dawn the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” Wow! What a warning! Because of their wickedness their kingdom would be destroyed. There was nothing they could do to change that fact. God had spoken. Dooms day was upon them.

APPLICATION

There is coming a day when we all will face our last day. What is your plan for that day? If God is not a part of that plan, you are in a heap of trouble. Let me ask you the question I pondered at the beginning of the devotional. If you knew the day you were going to die, would you change your behavior? Why not change it now?

God wants us to live each day as if it’s our last. We never know when He is going to call us home. We have to be ready. We have to be doing His work until the very end. What has the Lord asked you to do for Him? Do it today. Don’t wait. You may not have another chance. I pray you will not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

I know the days are drawing to a close. It can’t be too long until the Lord returns. I want to be found doing His work on that day. There are so many people who need to hear about Him. I want to be caught telling someone about Jesus. Don’t you? What better way to enter glory that the words of Jesus on your lips?

I do not know when I will meet You face to face, Lord. But I do know I am looking forward to that day. Help me share that story with many before I come.

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Abiding, Advocate, Angels, Battles, Bible, Demons, Devil, Fighting, Holy Spirit, Opponents, Satan, Scripture

WORTHLESS DEFENSES

HOSEA 10:14

An uproar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were slaughtered with their children.”

If you have read very many of my blogs, you know I love to hunt. The area I hunt here in Tennessee has black bears. Now they aren’t known to be very dangerous, as long as you stay away from a mama bear and her cubs. But I always want to be prepared in case I run into one. I know if a bear really wants to hurt me, he will. I am no match for a bear. My best defenses fall short.

Hosea was reminding Israel of the Assyrian conquest of Beth-arbel. Any defenses they may have mustered on their own couldn’t hold them off. I am reminded, however, of the ONE angel that killed 185,000 Assyrians another time. Our defenses are worthless, but God has the power and resources to conquer all our enemies, if we will trust Him.

APPLICATION

Enemies come from all angles and directions. Satan scouts us out to find our weak spots and will send his demons to target those areas. Men, are you prone to look at pictures you shouldn’t? Be assured Satan will give you lots of opportunities. Ladies, do you gossip too much? Old Satan loves to whisper in your ear the latest juicy news to spread. Only by surrendering to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis will you overcome these temptations. Only God’s defenses are strong enough for victory.

I am just too old to try to fight these battles on my own. I know I need Jesus every day, or I will be whipped. I bet you are the same. Aren’t you tired of battling on your own? Step back and let the Lord fight for you. He will, you know. And when the victory is won, He gets all the glory.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever! Thank You for the victory I have in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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Accountability, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deception, Harvest, Lies, Righteousness, Scripture, Surrender

IF YOU SOW WILD OATS…

HOSEA 10:13

You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your many warriors,”

I can remember my dad, before he became a believer, talking about young men sowing their “wild oats.” He was referring to guys living immorally. Of course, before my dad became a believer, he didn’t understand that kind of talk was wrong. He didn’t understand that kind of living was against the will of God. He was just living naturally, according to the world.

But if you sow wild oats, you are going to reap wild oats. Look back at the previous verse in Hosea 10. We were given the picture of how to sow and reap properly. Today’s verse shows us what happens when you sow wickedness. You reap injustice. You can’t rely on your own strength. You can’t trust your way. It will always let you down. It will always fill you with lies.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Which do you prefer, mercy or injustice, truth or lies? Unless you are really messed up, I know which you prefer. No one likes to be lied to. No one likes injustice. We all want to be treated fairly. So, we must sow the right seed in our lives.

Aren’t you tired of trying to do things your own way? Aren’t you sick of picking up pieces of your life? I am not promising you that your life will be a bed of roses if you accept the Lord as your Savior or surrender it fully to Him. You may still have struggles. But with Him, all the struggles make sense. You have someone to carry you through.

I have lived with enough lies and untruths in my life. I don’t want to live that way. Once I experienced the grace of Jesus, there was no turning back. A.W. Tozer said, “O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.” Amen!

O Lord, protect me from sowing wickedness. Keep me from reaping injustice. I want to trust only in You.

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Accountability, Bible, Bondslaves, Harvest, Modeling, Perseverance, Sowing

HARVEST TIME

HOSEA 10:12

Sow for yourselves, with a view to righteousness; harvest in accordance with kindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes and rains righteousness on you.”

Man, O man, I love harvest time. There is just something about harvesting things you have planted. I used to have great gardens. I don’t have a space for it anymore. But picking squash and tomatoes, green beans and corn. Yum, I can just taste those fresh vegetables.

The Lord tells us in today’s verse to “sow…with a view to righteousness.” He also says to “harvest in accordance with kindness.” Look at that. Righteousness and kindness. Those were two things that Israel was lacking during those days. But the Lord still expected that, just as He expects it from us.

APPLICATION

Just how righteous are you? Now I know any righteousness we have comes from Jesus. Right? He makes us righteous through His shed blood. But as we are made righteous, we shall live that way. Everything we do (sow) should be done in righteousness. And then we shall reap in kindness.

Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a person sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.” Take this to heart.

Sowing and reaping go hand in hand. Whatever we choose to sow, we shall reap. It’s really our choice. I choose righteousness because I want kindness and mercy. Don’t you?

Father, I desire Your righteousness and mercy. I want to sow to please You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Busyness, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Satan, Scripture

TAKE MY YOKE

HOSEA 10:11

Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh, and I passed over her lovely neck; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, Jacob will harrow for himself.”

I have never used a yoke and harness on an ox or horse. I have in my front yard a seed and fertilizer spreader that is meant to be used with an animal pulling it. It’s probably 150 years old, but it just sits there in my yard idle. It hasn’t been used in decades. It’s not much use except for a yard decoration.

Hosea tells us in this verse that God had harnessed and placed His yoke on both Judah and Israel. They had been trained to pull for Him. In fact, Hosea says Ephraim loves to thresh. That’s an image of threshing grain unmuzzled so they could enjoy the grain they were crushing. But we know they both rebelled in the end.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord “trained” you to do? Are you in His harness and yoke? Are you pulling for Him? If you aren’t, you are pulling for the devil. You can only pull for one master. Don’t you know that? Carl, I’m not in anyone’s harness. I’m free. Yes, you are. You are free to serve either master, but you will serve one or the other.

God only calls us to do tasks that are good and productive. We shouldn’t be wasting our time doing things that don’t really matter. Fruitless, unproductive, time-wasting activities bring no glory to the Father. After all, that is our purpose – to bring glory to Him. Ask yourself if the things you are so busy doing are doing that.

The older I get the more precious time becomes. It seems the days get shorter and shorter. I don’t want to waste my time not pulling for my Lord. I want to wear His harness proudly. I want to pull for Him boldly. I want to please the One who has done so much for me. Don’t you?

Thanks for placing Your yoke around my neck. When I get tired remind me who I am pulling for.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Commands, Confession, Discipline, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

DOUBLE GUILT

HOSEA 10:10

When it is My desire, I will discipline them; and the peoples will be gathered against them when they are bound for their double guilt.”

I have felt guilty plenty of times for not doing something I knew I should have done. I have also felt guilty for doing something I knew I shouldn’t have done. Now, before you raise your eyebrows and look down your nose at me, you have done the same thing. Am I right? Sure I am.

Israel was guilty of turning away from Jehovah and also turning to the pagan gods. Double guilt! That’s what Hosea is referring to in today’s verse. They had no excuse, and God is going to discipline them when He was ready. Hosea even says God desires to do that. He wants to straighten them out. That may not sound good, but everything God does is good.

APPLICATION

Are you guilty? God, through the Holy Spirit, will convict us of sin. He uses that guilt to draw us back to Him. I have discussed before the difference between guilt and shame. Shame is not of God. The devil uses that to make us feel unworthy, to make us feel unusable. Don’t accept that.

But when you feel guilty remember that is the Lord’s desire for you. What?! Are you crazy, Carl? I don’t think so. He, just like He did with Israel, is desiring you to return to Him. He draws you through His Spirit. Don’t you recall the feeling when you are cleansed. That is waiting for you.

I am thankful for the Holy Spirit’s conviction in my life. Without it I am not sure where I would be. No, that’s not true. I know exactly where I would be – in deep sin. My flesh is weak, but the Spirit in me is strong. If you are a believer, you have that strength too.

Lord, thank You for convicting me when I am in sin. I want to be drawn back to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Confession, Eternity, Forgiveness, Grace, Holy Spirit, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

HORRIBLE SINS

HOSEA 10:9

“Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel; there they stand! Will the battle against the sons of injustice not overtake them in Gibeah?”

I have had too many people tell me they were too wicked or bad for God to forgive. They have claimed their atrocities were so bad that even the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough to wash them away. These individuals were convinced they would spend eternity in hell and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Today’s verse refers to a horrible sin committed by the men of Gibeah (Benjamites) that brought the entire nation of Israel against them (Read Judges 19-20). The entire tribe was wiped out except for six hundred, which God saved as a remnant of the tribe. I believe it’s a picture of God’s mercy, even in the face of seemingly unforgiveable sins.

APPLICATION

I won’t ask you what sins you have committed. That’s between you and God. Aren’t you glad? None of us want our sins plastered on a billboard for all to see, do we? You may be one of those who can’t believe God could forgive you. You may even be a Christian, but you still can’t forgive yourself. You must let it go. God has.

There’s only one sin that is unforgiveable. That’s the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin will take you to a spot where you no longer feel the drawing of the Spirit. You no longer feel any conviction for your sins. But as long as you feel the Spirit nudging you toward repentance, you can rest assured you have hope.

I know I am saved and sealed. I believe Jesus’ blood rescued me. All my past, present and future sins are forgiven. To say God can’t save me is to say God has limited powers. We know that’s not true. His power to save reaches beyond what we can ask or think. I am so glad because my flesh is wicked beyond description and is only redeemed through His grace. How about you?

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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