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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 2:10

“So now I will uncover her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hand.”

Have you ever been in a place where you were trapped and couldn’t get out? It’s not a very comfortable feeling. Many years ago, while I was in high school, I was in a serious car wreck. After the car finally stopped, after flipping on its top and slamming the top down on the front seat, I was trapped. I couldn’t get out my door. Fortunately, the driver of the car was able to crawl out his window and help us out. We needed to be rescued.

If God withdraws His rescue, you are truly in a bad place. God has placed Israel (and Gomer) in a place where no one can rescue them. He has placed them where only He could. It is during these times that we realize He is the only source. We can sit in this place of uncomfortableness, or we can turn to the only one who can rescue us.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid the need to be rescued is to not get in a place where it is necessary. How do you do that? By abiding in Him daily. There really is no other way. Most of the time when we are needing to be rescued, we have sought our own way. We have ignored the leading of the Lord. When we follow Him we are safe.

Now, we may face some hard times. God may lead us there. That’s okay. Because wherever He leads us, He will lead us through it. Don’t you believe that? I do. I have experienced that. I have had the privilege, yes, the privilege, to suffer for Him. But in every suffering circumstance, He has brought me through. He will do the same for you.

So, avoid those self-induced needs for rescue by remaining in Him. He will keep you close. And there is no better place to be. Read John 15:1-11 today. Take it to heart. Memorize it. Abide in Him.

Lord, I know You are there when I need to be rescued. Help me avoid those situations and remain close to You.

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WELCOME HOME

HOSEA 2:1

“Say to your brothers, ‘Ammi,’ and to your sisters, ‘Ruhamah.’”

Several years ago our daughter spent several months in Bomet, Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. We had the opportunity to FaceTime with her, when the internet worked, but that was still not the same as being with her in the same room. As her parents, we longed to hold her and love on her. When the day came for her to arrive back home in the U.S., we were ecstatic. We made the trip to the airport and waited anxiously for her to appear in the international flights waiting area. We almost choked her hugging her so tight.

God is doing the same for His people in this verse. They had not been His people, and now He calls them His people (Ammi). They had been shown no mercy, and now He is showing them compassion (Ruhamah). He is essentially embracing them and welcoming them back home. That’s what He promises to all His lost children. He wants us home. He wants to hug us tightly.

APPLICATION

Have you been welcomed home? I hope so. At salvation, we move from lostness to a place of security. We whom have seen no mercy can now experience the love of a merciful God. If you haven’t experienced this, I pray today you will turn to Him and allow Him to pour over you.

Perhaps you have strayed from His embrace. You have allowed the worries of this world to encompass you. You are drowning in despair. Stop where you are and turn back towards the Father. He is waiting to call you His child once again. He is longing to embrace you and show you mercy. What are you waiting for?

Too many of us struggle needlessly when the Father is right there. We allow the world to blind us to the reality of His love. Don’t be foolish like the Israelites. Don’t wander in exile. Come home to Him today. Welcome home.

I long to be at home with You, O Lord. In Your arms is where I belong.

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WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

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NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

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ANOTHER BROTHER

3 JOHN 12

“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself; and we add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.”

Do you have people in your life you can trust? I mean people whom you can tell anything and know they will hold that in confidence. We all need those kinds of people in our circle. I don’t care how grounded you are in the Word, there are times when we just need to talk about stuff. I have a couple of guys like that. They could be my Demetrius.

John mentions Demetrius and really brags on him. Now understand something. John could only brag on him because he was proven. John says he had a good testimony. Actually, John says he “has received” a good testimony. That verb is in the Perfect tense which means it happened with lasting results. Demetrius’ testimony was proven. And it was based on “the truth itself.” John really believed in him.

APPLICATION

Our children need to build reputations like that. Those don’t come quickly and can be lost so easily. We can help our children build those kinds of testimonies by holding them accountable and teaching them the truth. Their word needs to be trustworthy. Their actions need to be honorable. When we continue to point them to the Word, they learn to incorporate that into their lives.

When our children mess up, and they will, we point them back to the Word. We make sure they apologize and make things right if necessary. We model this behavior in front of them when we have wronged someone. We show them examples from Scripture of individuals who messed up but made things right with God.

Are you a Demetrius to someone? Do you have a Demetrius in your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Demetrius (at least this Demetrius) is only mentioned right here in the New Testament. But his name was important enough for John to put in this letter to Gaius. His name has been read through the centuries by millions of believers probably without a second thought. Think about him today and thank God for his testimony to John, Gaius and others.

Father, help me be a Demetrius to others. Let my testimony point to Jesus in all I do.

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