Modeling, Disciplemaking, Obedience, Affection, Bible, Scripture, Blasphemy, Commitment, Devout, Relationships, Abiding, Belief, Intimacy, Idols, Betrayal

A KISS

HOSEA 13:2 

“And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves cast metal images, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. They say of them, ‘Let the people who sacrifice kiss the calves!’” 

A kiss seems harmful enough, doesn’t it? Have you ever blown someone a kiss? That’s one of the first things we teach our babies. It is so cute to see them blow you a kiss. But when you are an adult, you had better be careful to whom you blow kisses. Blowing those to the wrong person will get you in a whole heap of trouble. 

Ephraim was guilty of idolatry. They had multiplied their idols, even making them to represent any god they imagined. They covered them with silver and gold and bowed before them. They kissed them and when they couldn’t physically kiss them, they would blow a kiss towards them. Wow! How do you think God felt when He saw His chosen people kissing false gods? 

APPLICATION 

I know what you are thinking. But Carl, I don’t have any silver or gold idols in my house that I kiss and bow to. Most of don’t. We are too sophisticated for that. We would never have our idols placed out in front of everyone. We tend to hide our idols. We disguise our idols.  

What do you worship? Anything you place before God and His Son, Jesus, is an idol. Anything or anyone you prioritize over your worship of the only true God is an idol. So, what do you worship? It could be your family, your job, your possessions or even your health. Nothing can come between you and your Lord. Stop kissing the wrong thing. 

I have been guilty of placing things before God from time to time. I get busy and replace my quiet times with scheduling for the day. I get sidetracked and stop spending time with Him in prayer. It can happen to all of us. Take a minute right night and look at the day ahead of you. Make time with God your priority. Spend the time you need (and you need it) with Him today. Kiss Him today! 

I lavish You with my worship today, O Lord. I long to kiss Your hands and feet and pay homage to You for all You have done for me. 

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AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

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TENDER HANDS

HOSEA 11:11

“They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD.”

I can remember as a little boy finding baby birds that had fallen out of their nest. Some didn’t even have their eyes open yet. They were so defenseless. Usually, the mama would be flitting around trying to protect her little ones. I would pick them up so tenderly and, if I could, put them back in their nest. If the nest was too high in the tree, we would try to raise them in a box.

I had this picture in my mind when I read this verse today. God tenderly picked up Israel from Egypt and Assyria and placed them in their land again. They were shaken from their exile. They were dazed and confused, but God reached down with His tender hands and picked them up and loved them.

APPLICATION

Are you dazed and confused? Have you fallen out your nest? God’s tender hands are waiting to pick you up. You need to call out to Him. He doesn’t want to see you on the ground vulnerable to attack. He wants to protect you. But our tender God will not force His love on you. He will not come in uninvited.

Oh, but when you do call out, He is right there. And when you feel His tender hands (and believe me, you can), you just relax and realize that He has you. He will never let you go. He will carry you to your home. He will place you in a place of safety created by Him just for you. Do you want to experience that today?

I know I need His tender hands in my life daily. I love the feel of His hands on my life. I love it because I trust Him. His hands will never crush me. He will not squeeze me into submission. Don’t you love that? I do. Call out to Him today and feel His touch. You won’t ever forget it.

Lord, thank You for Your tender touch. Thank You for picking me up and taking me home.

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UPSET HEART

HOSEA 11:8

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled.”

There have been times in my life when my heart was torn between two decisions. I wanted to do one thing, but I was confused. Both choices were good choices. Trying to decide between the two was frustrating. I sought advice to no avail. Those kinds of decisions are hard.

Hosea portrays God as being torn between two decisions regarding Israel – judgment or mercy. Admah and Zeboiim were two cities in the plains of Gomorrah that were destroyed by the hail and brimstone. God is wanting to spare Israel. His mercy is apparent. This does not mean He was indecisive. It’s just that His two attributes of holiness and mercy were both active.

APPLICATION

God sees us the same way. He knows our sins must be judged, but He also desires to show us mercy. His compassion is kindled towards us as well. Aren’t you glad? Which do you prefer – judgment or mercy? That’s kind of a dumb question, isn’t it? Of course, you prefer mercy.

How do you obtain that mercy? There’s only one way – Jesus. Through Jesus God showed us mercy by putting all His judgment on His Son. Our sins were judged at the cross. We deserve be treated just like Admah and Zeboiim, but instead, Jesus paid the price. God’s mercy is so beautiful!

I am so thankful for His mercy. And it is new every day. I don’t deserve it. I never have. But because I have aligned myself with His Son, I am guaranteed mercy every day. I am so glad God’s mercy is mine. Without it I would be lost. I would be doomed. Praise be to God I am forgiven and free. How about you?

Your mercies are new each day. I praise Your holy name.

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ROPES OF LOVE

HOSEA 11:4

I pulled them along with cords of a man, with ropes of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them.”

I remember a time when I was using a piece of rope as an object lesson for children in a children’s sermon. I asked the kids if anyone had ever been tied up with a rope. To my surprise, one of the little boys raised his hand and said his dad ties him up and puts him in a closet sometimes. You can imagine how low his dad slipped into the pew upon hearing that. (By the way, the child was making that up, lol).

When I read this verse, the phrase “ropes of love” puzzled me. I didn’t think how that could be used in a good way, but it is. Jehovah is showing compassion for Israel. He is not treating them as an animal is with ropes. He even lifts the yoke off of them and feeds them. He is tenderly caring for them, even when they don’t see it.

APPLICATION

Has the Lord placed ropes of love on you? If you are a believer, He certainly has. He has bound you up in His love. He is leading you tenderly. His ropes are not meant to cut or bruise you. They are simply there to give you guidance. You may see them as restrictive. They aren’t. They are for your safety.

If you were climbing a mountain with a group, you would want some ropes. I promise you. You may think those ropes are restricting your climb, but they are keeping you safe as you wander near an edge or have to grab an outlying ledge. Ropes are good, especially God’s ropes of love. Will you let Him “tie you up”?

I will willingly offer my hands and feet to His cords. I want to be bound up in Him. I want His hands to tie those ropes securely around me to keep me near Him. I know I am prone to wander. He will gently tug when I am drifting away. I need that. I bet you do too.

Father God, use Your cords to lead me. I submit myself to Your ropes of love.

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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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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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ASHAMED

HOSEA 10:6

The thing itself will be brought to Assyria as a gift of tribute to King Jareb; Ephraim will be seized with shame, and Israel will be ashamed of its own plan.”

I can remember as a child getting caught doing something wrong (we won’t go into exactly what that was, lol) and feeling shame. I was ashamed because I knew the right thing to do but chose the wrong thing. Hanging my head and not making eye contact. Hearing my mom or dad say how disappointed they were in my decision. Shame is not something you want to hang on to.

Ephraim was ashamed. Israel was ashamed. They knew what God expected but chose to go their own way. When what they loved (idols and pagan altars) was carried away with them into exile, then they felt the shame of their sin.

APPLICATION

Shame can be a great motivator to return to the Lord. Now, we can’t stay there. Once we have confessed our sin and made things right with the Lord, He does not want us to wallow in our shame. We have been made clean. There is no reason to stay in shame or guilt. Have you done that?

Many people feel so ashamed that they don’t think the Lord can forgive them. They think their sins are too big. We have to let them know just how big our God is. He can forgive whatever they have done. All they have to do is come to Jesus. They just have to confess Him as Lord and Savior and believe in His name. We have to give them that message.

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sins. He won’t let me get away anything. The moment I sin He is in my business reminding me that I am a child of God and sin has no place in my life. Am I perfect? Not in any way. But I have a perfect Savior who pushes me to live holy. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole. Thank You, Lord, for giving to me Thy great salvation so rich and free.

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CRY BABIES

HOSEA 7:14

And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn against Me.”

I have to admit – I’m a cry baby. I cry at Hallmark commercials. There is nothing wrong with tears. I like to say crying keeps your tear ducts open. Am I right? Of course, I am. But no one should cry just to cry. I’ve known people who did that. They use those tears to control people.

In today’s verse we see the people crying, but not out to God. They are just crying because of their situation. They are crying out for grain and new wine, perhaps to use in their pagan worship. Their tears are misplaced. Any tears they could shed should have been tears of repentance. But that is not what is happening here. They are just being cry babies.

APPLICATION

What are you crying about? Sometimes we just want to throw a pity party and cry about our situation. We don’t want to hear what the Lord has to say about our situation because we don’t want to admit our errors. We just want to feel bad. Doesn’t that sound strange?

However, the Lord is waiting to heal our hearts. He loves our tears, but not the attention-seeking ones. He loves tears of remorse. When we open our hearts and bare our souls, He is there to listen and comfort. Why don’t you do that? Let Him wipe your tears and pull you close. Don’t just rail at Him for “not seeing you.” He does. He knows.

It’s been a while since I cried deeply. The last time was back when I was going through my chemotherapy. I sobbed for healing. I didn’t think God was listening, but He was. He healed – in His time. He always does – in His own way.

Father, I praise You for Your comfort in the midst of my tears. May my tears always be received by You.

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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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