Accountability, Advice, Affection, Appeasement, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption

UNTIL

HOSEA 5:15

“I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their distress they will search for Me.”

I remember when I was growing up I hated to hear these words: “Wait until your daddy gets home.” I knew what that meant. I had undoubtedly done something that required a spanking (yes, my parents spanked me). My mom would spank us sometimes, but she withheld the spankings for the more serious infractions for my dad. Man, o man. I didn’t like to hear that.

In today’s verse, the Lord has already dealt out the punishment. Now He is saying He will not return to them UNTIL they repent. They need to seek His face. They must search for Him. We know He is always ready to forgive, but it requires that we turn to Him. And when we do, He is ready and willing to take us back into His warm embrace.

APPLICATION

So, if we know that the Lord desires to forgive us, why do we wait so long to repent? Just like Judah or Israel, we think we’re okay. We think we can get by without confessing. We may think that we have done nothing wrong. After all, who is God that He should judge us, right? Wrong!

Without right and wrong, without good and evil, there is no direction in life. We have to pursue what’s right in the Lord’s eyes, not ours. There can only be one absolute truth. That is found in His Word. We can pretend that we know best, but we will find out that we don’t.

When we realize that our way of thinking is fleshly and is driven by our own desires, we should repent and ask the Lord to change our views. Listen to me, brother and sister. When He directs us, we can be sure we are doing the right thing. His goal is always to make us more like Jesus. That applies to everything we say and do. Will you trust Him? Will you return?

O God, I confess my selfish desires and actions as sin. I need You to point me in the right direction. I truly want to please You in all I do.

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Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Commitment, Hope, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rebuke, Scripture

LOOKING IN WRONG PLACES

HOSEA 5:13

“When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sore, Ephraim then went to Assyria and sent word to King Jareb. But he is unable to heal you, or to cure you of your sore.”

I lose things. It’s just something I deal with. I am really bad about losing pocket knives. I think I know where I put them, but when I go back to find, they are not there. I look in drawers, in pants pockets and in my truck. They just disappear. Not really. I know I have just misplaced them. I can continue to look in the wrong places with the same results – no knife.

Ephraim and Judah looked in the wrong places for help. They turned to pagan kings to rescue them and didn’t find what they were looking for. In fact, they found exactly what they didn’t want. These pagan kings offered persecution rather than help. They gave them exile instead of peace.

APPLICATION

We need to remember where our help comes from. We can pursue help in a multitude of places, but there is only one true and reliable source. We can look towards friends or family. We can go to counselors or pastors. These are all good choices, but they are not Jesus. Only He can guide us correctly every time. His advice is always perfect.

What kind of help are you looking for right now? Are you in need of some wisdom? Go to the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks through God’s Word. Now, I don’t mean to randomly open the Bible and just point your finger at a verse. Do a word search for the area you are seeking wisdom. See what God says about that topic. I promise you there is an answer in there.

I would encourage you to go to a close Christian brother or sister in Christ who holds the Word to a high level, someone who knows the Word and can help you find the answers you need there. Use an online Bible resource like Biblehub.com or Blue Letter Bible. Whatever you do, use His Word.

Lord, I will go to You when I am in need. I will turn to Your Word for wisdom. Thank You for always being there for me.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Denial, Following, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

LITTLE BY LITTLE

HOSEA 5:12

“Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.”

Have you ever had a part of your house rot? It happens a lot around gutters or downspouts. You don’t notice the rot at the beginning. It’s pretty much imperceptible. The rot is happening beneath the paint. Everything looks fine. But the longer that water penetrates the wood, the more rot happens. Eventually, you have to tear out a section and replace it. The damage has been done.

Hosea is using two examples to describe the Lord’s judgment on Ephraim and Judah which are similar. A moth’s damage to fabric begins very small. You don’t really notice. Then the holes appear, and the fabric is ruined. And then Hosea refers to rottenness, similar to what I described above. God had been trying to correct them both little by little, but they had not responded. Now, the final judgment is upon them.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy being judged. I don’t like punishment. I never have. Now, I know I need to be disciplined at times. I am not perfect. God has to correct me. He does that through the Holy Spirit. I am convicted of my sins which leads me to confession. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

But there are times when I just bow up my back and am determined to have my way. I am convinced I am right, and God is wrong. I know that’s stupid. I didn’t say I am the brightest bulb in the pack. And when I do that, God will allow me to wander. He is still urging me to return and will turn up the heat for me to do so. I have to make that choice to stop and return.

You see, unconfessed sin doesn’t get better with time. It gets worse. We get accustomed to the sin. We ignore the Holy Spirit’s urgings. We begin to get tone deaf to God’s voice. Then the rot sets in. Then the moth begins to feed. Stop it right now. Come to Him in repentance. Let Him restore you to your right place.

I come to You today, Lord, and seek Your forgiveness. I long for freshness in my walk with You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Condemnation, Deceit, Faithfulness, God's Will, Holiness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

MOVING THE LINE

HOSEA 5:10

“The leaders of Judah have become like those who displace a boundary marker; On them I will pour out My anger like water.”

There’s been a battle for a number of years over the official boundary marker on a part of the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. The battle is really about water rights to the Tennessee river. Georgia wants access to that water, mainly for their largest city, Atlanta. But the original boundary marker excludes that. They claim the line was drawn incorrectly and needs to be corrected. I doubt that boundary marker will ever be changed.

Hosea uses the idea of moving a marker to describe Judah. Anyone who would move a boundary marker without permission is dishonest. God does not tolerate that and certainly wouldn’t from Judah. Their deceit draws God’s anger. He says He will pour it out like water. Not good!

APPLICATION

Have you moved the line on someone? Have you been dishonest in your dealings with anyone? Have you been dishonest with God? God still does not tolerate that. As believers, we must be the most honest of all people. Why? Because we represent our Lord. Our dishonesty reflects on Him.

That is why God is angered over any dishonesty in our lives. Anything that brings dishonor to His name angers our holy God. His name means something. It stands for something. We have no right to associate Him with our behaviors. That’s why He tells us we are to be holy as He is holy. Again, we represent Him. Don’t forget that.

As for me, I don’t want to do anything to bring shame on myself from being deceitful or dishonest. I want my actions to reflect well on my Lord. I want Him to look at me and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I will not move the line, Lord. I want to honor You in all I do. I know my actions are a reflection of my testimony of my faith in You.

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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

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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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Stumble

WEAK ANKLES

HOSEA 5:5

“Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, and Israel and Ephraim stumble in their wrongdoing; Judah also has stumbled with them.”

When I was a sophomore in high school, I broke my left ankle at football camp. I had won a starting position as center and was determined to not miss that season. I didn’t treat my injured ankle as the doctor suggested and actually ended up doing more harm to it. That ankle has been sprained a number of times since because it was weakened due to my own stupidity.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah stumbled due to their own stupidity. You see, the word “stumble” means to be weak in the ankles. When you are weak in your ankles, you can’t walk too well. When you are weak in your spiritual ankles, you can’t walk with God well. That’s what happened to Israel, Ephraim and Judah. They had injured their own spiritual walk through their choices.

APPLICATION

How do you keep your ankles strong? I am talking about your spiritual ankles. How do you do that? As with any body part, you have to exercise them to keep them strong. You can’t just sit around and expect to have strong ankles. You have to walk. And you have to walk correctly. If you walk incorrectly, you can damage your walk. But if you walk as He walked, you will have strong ankles.

I suffer from neuropathy in both of my feet. This has been progressing ever since I had chemotherapy in the Fall of 2019 and early Winter 2020. The numbness and pain have progressed up past my ankles. I can’t go for a walk right now because of the pain in my feet, toes and ankles. That is frustrating.

But the physical pain and numbness in my feet and ankles do not affect my spiritual ankles. I have to accept this side effect of my chemotherapy. I have no choice. I will probably have to live with it for the rest of my life. That’s okay. God has allowed it for a reason. It’s now part of my spiritual walk. How are your spiritual ankles?

Lord, strengthen my ankles so I can walk with You. I want to walk with You daily.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commitment, Following, God's Will, Knowledge, Obedience, Sin

HE KNOWS

HOSEA 5:3

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; because now, Ephraim, you have been unfaithful, Israel has defiled itself.”

Do you ever really know someone fully? I have been married for over 35 years, but I am still learning things about my wife. I know a lot about her. I know her favorite candy bar is Heath. I know she loves birds and planting flowers each Spring. But she still surprises me with things she loves. I will never fully know her because I can’t know her thoughts.

God knew Ephraim. He knew Israel. He knew them intimately. He knew what they were going to do. He knew their hearts. There was nothing hidden from Him about them. And because He knew them, He would not let them get by with what they were doing.

APPLICATION

This is a good thing to remember about our God. He knows us. He knows everything about us. There is nothing about us that is hidden from Him. Now, that’s a good thing. He knows exactly what we need even before we know we need it. He knows our hurts and our dreams.

So, why do we think we can hide all this from Him? We try to figure it all out for ourselves and then complain when it doesn’t. If we truly believe He knows us so well, why don’t we just cry out to Him and seek His will?

I can rest today knowing that God knows me. I don’t want to try to hide anything from Him. That’s hopeless anyway. I want my life to be an open book. And I know when I open myself up to His Will, there is no limit to what He can do in and through me.

Lord, I lay my life before You to take and do with as You see fit. You know me so much better than I know myself.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Condemnation, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Destruction, Direction, Encouragement, Infidelity, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Scripture

WHEN YOU REACH THE BOTTOM

HOSEA 4:18

“Their liquor is gone, they prostitute themselves continually; Their rulers dearly love shame.”

The church I serve has a homeless ministry in our city. I hear just about every week about an individual they are working with. Their stories are heartbreaking. Most of them are on the street due to a series of bad breaks or bad choices. Some of them, unfortunately, have made the choice to live on the street. They have fallen so low they cannot see themselves ever doing any better.

Hosea continues his words about those who have fallen away from God. He says, “their liquor is gone.” Their means to forget is now gone. They can’t numb themselves further. Hosea goes on to say, “they prostitute themselves continually.” Their self-respect is completely gone. Even their bodies mean nothing to them anymore. Finally, Hosea says they “love shame.” Wow! Now that’s low.

APPLICATION

Have you ever sunken that low? Have you ever felt there was no way out? I have had a couple of those moments in my life. My low points weren’t due to alcohol or prostitution, but my low was still low. I couldn’t see a way up. I was depressed. I felt alone. I thought my future was over.

But guess what? It wasn’t. I could not have imagined back then that I would be writing devotions and posting them so that literally thousands of individuals could read them annually. That blows my mind. God had a plan back then for me that I could not possibly understand. I just had to trust Him.

Are you feeling low today? Turn to Him. Let the Lord Jesus pick you up, dust you off and give you a new lease on life. He has never stopped believing in you. He has always had a plan for your life. Will you trust Him to show you? He will. And He will walk with you as you take those first steps.

Lord Jesus, I trust You. I want to live my life honoring and magnifying Your work in and through my life.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Choices, Comfort, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Stubbornness

LIVESTOCK

HOSEA 4:16

“Since Israel is stubborn like a stubborn cow, will the LORD now pasture them like a lamb in a large field?”

My Grandma Carter raised cows. The funny thing was she didn’t like to eat beef. She spent hours tending to, feeding and watering her cattle, but didn’t enjoy the fruits of her labor. I remember going out in the pasture with her at times. She always carried a whip with her and did not hesitate to use it on the stubborn cows. As a little boy I thought that was cruel. Now I know it wasn’t. She was just trying to move them.

Hosea uses the imagery of cows and sheep here. The cows are stubborn, and the sheep are unprotected in a large field. The people who heard this message understood this. They understood how you handle stubborn cows. God was doing the same with Israel. They also knew you didn’t place sheep in large fields with no protection. Israel was heading toward exile (a large, unprotected field).

APPLICATION

Now, let me ask you a question. How stubborn are you? Are you “pulling against the yoke”? Do you know what that does? When you pull against the yoke rather than in it, you develop blisters and raw spots. The yoke is designed to not do that. If a cow gets raw spots on their skin from rubbing against the yoke, they will be in pain and not pull as effectively.

Stubbornness may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. It especially isn’t when you are being stubborn against God. The Lord gives us specific commands to follow. When we bow up and refuse to obey, we are going to suffer the consequences. We will develop those blisters that will bring pain.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like blisters. I don’t like the pain they bring. So, I have a choice. I choose to stay yoked to Jesus and follow His lead. When I do that, I will not develop those painful blisters. Following His lead will allow me to grow in my “pulling” status. I will get stronger and smarter as I follow Him.

Father, I thank You for discipline. When I am showing my stubborn streak, I ask You to correct it. I want to follow You.

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