Abiding, Affection, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Confession, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Intimacy, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Reputation, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

IT NEVER LASTS

HOSEA 6:4

“What shall I do with you, Ephraim? What shall I do with you, Judah? For your loyalty is like a morning cloud, and like the dew which goes away early.”

I have been in the woods enough in the early morning to know that the early morning frost on the ground in the Fall doesn’t last long. It is really quite neat to watch the sunbeams hit the ground. As they inch across the landscape with the rising sun, you can watch the frost melt away. Little by little it vanishes.

God compares Ephraim and Judah to the vanishing morning clouds and the dew. They, too, vanish quickly. God knew they were about as loyal. Here one moment and gone the next. Fickle! Always looking for the next best thing. They could not be trusted.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you. Are you dependable? Can the Lord rely on you? When He asks you to do something, will you do it? He requires the same loyalty from us that He required of Ephraim and Judah. He has paid a huge price for our salvation. He gave His only Son to die for us. When we receive that gift, He expects us to be obedient.

What do we do with a disobedient child? We discipline them, of course. Why? To teach them to obey. We don’t pleasure in discipling them, but we know we must. An undisciplined child will be a disobedient adult. Therefore, God will discipline His children.

I never liked discipline. I still don’t. How do you avoid being disciplined? By obeying. I try to obey the Lord, but I am not always successful. Most of the time that disobedience is accidental. Whether the disobedience is accidental or purposeful, I still must be corrected by God. Will you yield to the Lord’s correction? Better yet, will you obey?

I won’t to obey You, Lord. And when I disobey You, I will accept Your discipline. I know You only discipline me to make me more like You.

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Cleansing, Comfort, Confession, Encouragement, Flesh, Gentleness, Healing, Holy Spirit, Joy, Life, Refreshing, Rejoicing, Salvation, Scripture

SPRING RAINS

HOSEA 6:3

“So let’s learn, let’s press on to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain waters the earth.”

When I was a little boy, I loved to play in the rain. Now, I don’t mean the rains that came during the Winter. Those are terrible. It’s cold. You can’t enjoy the rain because you’re freezing. But in the Spring those rains are awesome. Growing up in Southwest Georgia, here in the U.S., Spring is normally pretty warm. So, Spring rains are welcomed.

Hosea describes the Lord like that. He says, “He will come to us like the rain, as the spring rain…” What does a Spring rain do? It refreshes the earth. It brings things back to life. Winter has caused everything to die back. But when those Spring rains begin, the new growth pops out. That’s what God does for us.

APPLICATION

Do you realize we can have the same effect on others? If we are living for Him, we can be like a refreshing Spring rain. The joy of Jesus should be all over us. People should see us and practically run to be near us. They should desire our presence. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Do you know someone you just love to be around because of their sweet spirit? That’s what I’m talking about.

Unfortunately, too many of us are “Negative Nancy” or “Troublesome Tom.” We exude negativity, and people avoid us. Isn’t that a shame? I have to admit that I have slipped into that character from time to time. When I do, the Holy Spirit convicts me. I truly want others to be drawn to the Jesus in me. I really want them to want to be around me and not avoid me.

Would you join me today in being more like Jesus, more like that Spring rain? Would you let the Holy Spirit show out in your life? All it takes is us dying to ourselves. We have to give up our fleshly desires and pursue the Spirit. He is waiting to show Himself. Ah…I can feel the rain now.

I love the feel of You working in and through me. Help me get out of the way, so You can be seen in me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Commands, Denial, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

BROKEN

HOSEA 5:11

“Ephraim is oppressed, broken by judgment, because he was determined to follow man’s command.

We can do things in this life that can leave us broken. Wrong decisions can lead to horrible consequences. Some of those consequences are natural. Other consequences are imposed by man. For instance, if we break the law, we can be found guilty and have to go to jail. But all consequences go back to our decisions. Do we obey or not?

Ephraim made the decision to pursue their own desires. They followed man rather than God. As a result, they faced God’s judgment. They fell under the oppression of man. They had a choice to begin with. They could have obeyed Jehovah. But, like us, they chose what seemed pleasing to them. So, consequences followed.

APPLICATION

Do you enjoy the consequences of your sin? Now, if you say you do, you must be a little crazy. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that. It makes you wonder why we choose to follow after our own desires then. We know that doing that will almost always result in consequences. But we still do it.

Look at those words again in today’s verse. Oppressed, broken, judgment. Those aren’t words I want spoken over me. I prefer blessed, raised up, forgiven. Both lists of words are the result of choices. Choices, choices, choices. Why must we choose? Why doesn’t the Lord just make us do the right thing? Because He wants us to freely come to Him. He desires us to choose Him.

Well, today, I choose Jesus. I choose to follow Him. I want to please Him. That’s today. I know my flesh is strong. I know I must make this choice every day. I have to choose Him each and every day. And each time I do that, He smiles. Then He can bless me and raise me up. Those are consequences I can embrace.

I choose You, Lord. And in my choosing I realize it may not be easy to follow where You lead. But I go with You trusting You to see me through.

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LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deceit, Following, Judgment, Life, Obedience, Scripture

NO RETURN

HOSEA 5:4

“Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a  spirit of infidelity is within them, and they do not know the LORD.”

Once while traveling on an interstate highway, I took an off ramp only to discover a very disturbing sign halfway up the ramp. It read “No northbound return ramp this exit.” What! Why wasn’t that sign posted before I got off the highway? Now what was I supposed to do. This was in the days prior to GPS, so I had to stop at a gas station and ask someone for directions.

Too bad Israel couldn’t get some directions to get back to God. Too bad there wasn’t a gas station to stop in. Israel had lost its way. They had taken an off ramp with no return ramp, or so it seemed. Their poor choices and their infidelity had taken them way off course.

APPLICATION

Are you off course? Have you taken the wrong exit? The good news is there is a way back. His name is Jesus. He will personally guide you back on the right path, if you just stop. You see, our problem is usually that we keep moving. We keep driving in the wrong direction. We think we can figure out how to get back on the road, but we just keep driving, getting further and further away.

Take your foot off of your life accelerator and slow down. Ask the Lord which direction He is going in. That’s where you want to head. Follow Him. Better yet, give Him the driver’s seat. Why don’t you just slide over and let Him drive awhile? I guarantee you will be in safe hands. He will never get lost, and He won’t take you anywhere you are not prepared to handle.

I prefer to let the Lord lead. I have found through my six decades that He is a much better leader than I am. There are still occasions when I think I can drive better than Him, but it’s not long until I’m lost. But I have learned to stop and switch seats. And I’ve learned the sooner I do that, the better.

Lord, I am thankful that I can always trust Your directions. You keep me safe.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Blasphemy, Deception, Devil, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

LEAVE HIM ALONE

HOSEA 4:17

“Ephraim is allied with idols; Leave him alone.”

Some people have made up their mind about God. They refuse to believe in the Son of God. Nothing you can say will change their mind. You have preached to them. You have shared your testimony, and still they refuse to believe that Jesus died for their sins. We should still pray for them, but there comes a point when the Lord may just tell you to leave them alone. That’s hard.

Ephraim had reached that point. Nothing Hosea was going to say was going to tear them away from their idols. Isn’t that sad? They knew the power of Jehovah. They had been told about all the things He had done on behalf of Israel, yet they had been blinded by the devil to believe the false idols of the land were more worthy of their worship. It doesn’t make any sense.

APPLICATION

But we are just as bad. Don’t look at Ephraim and claim to be better than them. We do the same thing. We put our trust in false idols just as much. We trust people over God. We trust money over God. We trust medicine over God. We trust a lot of things rather than putting our trust in the Almighty.

I am not saying those things aren’t important. We need people in our lives, but we can’t trust them as we can Jesus. We need money to live in this world, but I know a lot of people who trust their paychecks and bank accounts more than the provisions of the Lord. We need medicine to fight diseases, but doctors and medicine only treat the disease. It is God who heals.

So, before we get all high and mighty and say we don’t act like Ephraim, check out your idols. Do you have anything you trust more than the Lord? When push comes to shove and you are in a deep hole, who do you turn to? It had better be Jesus because He is the only one who will always be there. He is the only true God. Amen?

Lord, You are my only source. I worship You and You alone.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Devil, Idols, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Satan, Scripture, Sin

UNDER THE SHADE TREE

HOSEA 4:13

“They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains and burn incense on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is pleasant. Therefore, your daughters play the prostitute, and your brides commit adultery.”

Growing up in South Georgia I spent many lazy summer days under the shade of a tree with my buddies. After playing and riding bikes we would find a favorite spot under a tree and just lay around shooting the breeze. We could talk for hours about nothing. Those childhood memories will be with me forever.

That is not what the people of Israel were doing, however. They were offering sacrifices to false gods under those trees. These idols and their worship led them to do things that were abhorrent to God. They deserted the worship of the one, true God for the momentary pleasures of false ones. They were lulled into this by Satan himself. He wanted them to stray and offered every opportunity to do so.

APPLICATION

What are you allowing Satan to lull you into? You see, we are in a spiritual battle every day. The devil loves to get our eyes off of Jesus. He puts things in our paths that seem to provide security. Right now, here in America, most of us have received stimulus checks to assist families during this covid economy. These checks can provide a false sense of security. Government funds are not the answer. God is.

Now, before you ask, yes, I did receive a check. Yes, I will accept it. And yes, I will spend it. The difference is I realize that check is not the answer to any financial concerns I may have. I can’t rely on any source of income to be my Savior. All those resources can dry up overnight. There is only one reliable source for me – Jesus. If I have nothing material, I will always have Him. He will provide for me. He has promised to do so. I must trust that.

I won’t ask you how you spent your stimulus check from the government. That’s none of my business. I will ask you who you are trusting, though. If it’s not your Lord, you need to stop and reassess your priorities. This may sound like I am brow beating you today. I don’t mean to. I only want to challenge you to trust Jesus with everything. Will you today?

Thank You, Lord, that You are my only source of provision. I am thankful how You use others to meet my needs when applicable, but I know it is You who are really my one true and safe source.

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FORGETFUL

HOSEA 4:6

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Since you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the Law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

Have you ever heard the term “memory like an elephant”? Have you ever wondered what that means? I have, so I looked it up. Scientists have determined through multiple tests that elephants can remember other elephants they met only briefly decades earlier. It’s pretty amazing. Google “elephants’ memory” and you can find dozens of articles about this.

Why am I talking about remembering (and elephants)? Because the Israelites had forgotten. They had forgotten all they knew about God. They were living as if He didn’t exist. We know the results of that. God is not pleased. In fact, Hosea tells us if we forget Him, He will forget us. Now, we know God is not forgetful, but He will stop remembering these sinful Israelites.

APPLICATION

God desires for us to draw close to Him and know Him. When we choose to walk away from what we know is true, it breaks His heart. He will not protect us if we are willfully sinning against Him. He is holy. That would be against His very nature. He must maintain who He is. After all, He is God.

But we show our ignorance and lack of knowledge when we turn towards the world and away from Him. He is the only true source of wisdom. He is the only one who is worthy of our attention and praise. God is not trying to make us guess at who He is or what He expects. He fully discloses Himself to all who desire it.

So, what are you going to do today? Do you want to know Him more fully? Just ask Him. Do you want to go deep with God? Make the first step. He will meet you right there. Lack of knowledge of God is entirely our fault. He is not holding anything back. We just have to want it. Do you?

God, my Father, I want to know You fully. I want to learn all I can about You and how to share that with others.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Confrontation, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Intimacy, Mercy, Protection, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance

QUARANTINED

HOSEA 3:3

“Then I said to her, ‘You shall live with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute, nor shall you have another man; so I will also be toward you.’”

Don’t you just hate that word “quarantine”? Over this past year chances are you have been quarantined due to the covid-19 virus. If you haven’t, you must have been living on a desert island all by yourself. It has been just about impossible to avoid at least one quarantine period due to infection or exposure. Frankly, I am a little tired of it. How about you?

Hosea brought Gomer back but basically quarantined her. She would not be given access to him or any other man. He provided for her and treated her kindly, but she had to remain quarantined for a period of time. Her past behavior required it. She needed a cleansing period before reentering her husband’s home.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you grateful that God doesn’t require us to go through a cleansing period after we sin? We come to Him just as we are and confess our failures. He forgives us and casts our sins away. It says in Psalm 103:12 that He removes them as far as the east is from the west. We are washed whiter than snow.

With that said, we are not free to sin and just confess it. Sin does have consequences. Deliberate sin even more. Let me ask you to take a look at your sin life. My what? you say. Your sin life. Look at the patterns of sin in your life. Is sin accidental or planned? God may just put you in quarantine to get some of that sin out of you. He will not let you just sin willy nilly and think it’s nothing. He does expect obedience from His children.

Just like Hosea still cared for Gomer, God cares for us despite our sin. But it does break His heart when we sin against Him. He wants to love us and care for us. If we are insistent on living how we want, we restrict how much love He is able to show us. Sin is deplorable to God. Don’t ever forget that. Come to Him today and confess whatever is on your heart.

Lord, I know you love me despite my failures. Help me walk in victory today and only come to You for forgiveness when I have tripped up and fallen into sin.

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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.

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