Accountability, Battles, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

REPROACHED

HOSEA 12:14 

“Ephraim has provoked God to bitter anger; so his Lord will leave his guilt for bloodshed on him and bring his disgrace back to him.” 

Have you ever been reproached? Do you even know what that means? Well, Webster defines reproach as “to address someone with disapproval or disappointment.” Now, how do you answer that question? I can remember my parents being disappointed in me due to some of my behaviors. It is not encouraging. 

God has reproached Ephraim because of their sins. They had become immune, or so it seemed, to guilt due to their sins. They figured since they had forgotten them, God had also. Well, He hadn’t. God will not look the other way. He held them accountable.  

APPLICATION 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I like being reproached. I don’t want to disappoint my Lord. I want to please Him. One way to avoid being reproached is by doing that – pleasing Him. He really isn’t that hard to please. All we have to do is surrender to Him daily and allow Him to live through us. 

You may say Well, that’s not so easy, Carl. Sure, it is. We just die to self. We wake up each morning and decide to let God have His will that day. We lay down our agenda for His. We bow at His throne instead of sitting on ours. We yield to His Word to determine how to proceed. 

Don’t want to do that? Okay, live dangerously. I choose to bow. I want to live in victory, not defeat. It really is so much easier. I have fought against the Lord. I have been reproached. It’s not fun. I choose surrender.  

Lord, thank You for victory. Thank You for allowing me to walk with You. 

Standard
Abiding, Angels, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Compassion, Courage, Encouragement, Inspirational, Passion, Prayer, Reward, Scripture

ANGEL WRESTLING

HOSEA 12:4

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and implored His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us,”

When I was growing up with my older brother, Tim, we used to wrestle a lot. I can still hear my mother screaming for us to stop. She hated when we did that. And in all those years, my brother would win. After all, he was over 4 years older than me. Until…he went away to college, and I started seriously lifting weights at school for football. I remember when he came home for Christmas during his freshman year at college. I pinned him. He was shocked. It felt great, lol.

Jacob wrestled the angel “and prevailed.” The angel of God or the man with whom Jacob wrestled is believed by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ. He gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he who contends with God. That sounds bad but it isn’t. Jacob was persistent in asking for his blessing, and he received it.

APPLICATION

Have you ever wrestled with God? I don’t mean like my brother and I used to do. Have you wrestled with Him in prayer? There is nothing wrong with getting intense during your prayer time. When we do that we really have God’s ear. We already have it, but He knows when we are intense. He can feel our passion.

I want to encourage you to make a plan to do that. I am sure you have something which you need to come to the Father about. Maybe it’s something you have been praying about for years. Go to Him and don’t let go until you hear. God’s answers are always right on time. You need to pray expectantly, knowing He will answer, just like He did with Jacob.

Prayer for me is intimate. I love talking to my Lord. There have been times when I wrestled with Him over things. God has never let me down. He has always come through. He will for you also, if you trust Him with it. Are you ready to wrestle?

I am so thankful You hear my prayers when I wrestle with You. Give me the wisdom to wait on You.

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Belief, Bible, Contentment, Courage, Faith, God's Will, Inspirational, Protection

NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 10:8

Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will grow on their altars; then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ And to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’”

Have you ever just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide? Things are going so bad and there seems to be no relief in sight. I have had a few moments in my life like that. I didn’t want to see anyone or have anyone see me. I just wanted to hide. Those feelings are tough.

Israel felt the same way. Hosea says they wanted the mountains to cover them and the hills to fall on them. They wanted to disappear. But from who? From God. They couldn’t handle being before Him. Their sins were too grave, and they were now paying the penalty.

APPLICATION

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you. Lol. Listen, there is always hope. As believers, we will face hard times. But we must remember that everything that touches us has gone through God’s hands first. He has allowed it. I don’t pretend to understand that. I wish some things hadn’t touched me, but they did.

God can see right through all our pain. He stands ready to send relief and comfort, if we only ask. He will send it when it’s time. Our suffering may seem to last forever, but it only lasts as long as the Lord allows. Trust Him in that. He will never give you more than you can handle. That’s His promise to you.

I have been through some harrowing times. My most recent health crisis brought me to the brink of despair. I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was ready to go to heaven. I had no more strength. I was done. But my Lord saw me through. I know I can trust Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over.

Cover me with Your love. I don’t need to hide from You or anyone because You are my strength.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Flesh, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture

WARNING! WARNING!

HOSEA 8:1

Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the LORD, because they have violated My covenant and rebelled against My Law.”

Picture yourself on the wall of a city. Your job is to watch for any approaching enemies. You have a trumpet to blow to warn the city if danger is sighted. So, when do you blow that trumpet? Do you wait until the enemy is at the gate or do you sound the alarm as soon as you spot them?

Here in Hosea the enemy has come. There is no time for the trumpet to be sounded. Judgment has fallen. God is holding them accountable for their breach of the covenant. They have rebelled against His Law. So, God is using their enemies to judge them.

APPLICATION

We must sound the alarm. In our society today we are surrounded by encroaching enemies. But we remain silent. We don’t warn our brothers and sisters about the danger that is all around us. We may run for cover ourselves, but we leave the rest to fend for themselves.

Who are these enemies? Anyone or anything that goes against God’s Word and His commands for our lives. Anyone or anything that speaks against Jesus is an enemy of the cross. Satan will use all these to try to tear us down. He is on the attack – always. We cannot let up for a second. We must be on guard. We must keep the trumpet in our hands ready to blow.

I am looking. Are you? I’m on the wall. Are you? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t think for a second he’s got your best interest in mind. He has one goal – to destroy you and other believers. Stand firm and strong.

I will blow the trumpet, Lord. I will sound the alarm. I will stand with You.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Belief, Bible, Blameless, Bondslaves, Busyness, Choices, Cleansing, Commands, Confession, Disciplemaking, Faith, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

NETTED

HOSEA 7:12

When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will discipline them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly.

I have never used a net to catch birds, but I have used a cast net to catch fish. There’s quite an art to it. You need to know how to fold it in your hands and swing it just right to cause the net to open as it hits the water. Otherwise, you just have a mess of a net in a wad in the water. When you throw it correctly, you have the potential to catch some bait fish to use later.

The Lord has cast His net over the dove mentioned in verse 11. Ephraim may have thought they could escape capture and judgment just like a dove to quickly fly off and escape. But the Lord’s net it sure. He knows exactly how to throw it. His cast is always perfect. He would hold them down to earth to face the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

Oh, be sure, my brothers and sisters, you will not escape the wrath of God. Unless we all turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will all face His wrath. We will pay for our sins. We have no excuse. We can’t claim ignorance. We can’t say we were too busy and meant to get to it. No! We will face judgment one day.

But thanks be to God, He has provided a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) for us. All we have to do is turn to Jesus, admit we are a sinner, believe He is the Son of God who died on that cruel cross for us, was buried and rose again. Then we confess our sins and ask for His shed blood to cover them. Then God extends His loving arms to us and grants us forgiveness and gives us the faith to live obediently to Him.

You have a choice today. You can be a netted dove, caught in your sins, awaiting judgment or you can be set free by the blood of Jesus. Which is it? I am so thankful I am free. I am free to live a life dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life is in His hands. I am secure and protected. What a feeling. I feel just like that dove soaring high in the sky, knowing I am protected by my loving Father. How about you?

I am free because of Jesus’ blood. Thank You, Lord, for cutting loose the net that bound me to my sins.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Satan, Scripture, Surrender

PRIDE

HOSEA 7:10

Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, yet they have not returned to the LORD their God, nor have they sought Him, despite all this.

Pride comes before the fall. Have you heard that? Well, it’s true. We get cocky and arrogant, and before you know it, we fall flat on our face. Pride can be a good thing. We should take pride in our country. We should be proud of our friends or family when they have a great achievement. But pride of self will always bring us down.

Hosea continues to speak against Ephraim and talks about their pride. They are caught in their sins, but their pride will not let them repent. Why should they? Their sins aren’t as bad as the pagans of the land (or so they thought). Surely, God would not judge them. They are special. They are chosen. Wrong! God did hold them accountable.

APPLICATION

How do we fight against the pride of our flesh? There is only one way – we have to die to our flesh every second of every day. I have said that a lot in my devotional blogs. But what exactly does that mean – to die to your flesh? It means recognizing that we are not capable of living a holy life on our own. It means humbling ourselves before Him. It means saying you can’t do this on your own.

When we do that, the Holy Spirit empowers us to do everything we just said we couldn’t. What? Yep! He lives in us and will live through us when we get out of the way. He will control our tongue. He will direct our eyes. He will… But we have to surrender our will to the Father’s Will. Then and only then can the Holy Spirit do those things for us.

Are you tired of your prideful life? Are you sick of picking yourself back up after another horrible stumble? Kill that self pride today. Don’t let Satan have an inch of real estate in your life. Jesus is waiting to give you a victory.

I am so tired of trying to prove myself, Father. I surrender my life to You to do with as You see fit. Use me today to glorify Yourself.

Standard
Anger, Apologies, Battles, Bible, Choices, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Holiness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

SMOLDERING EMBERS

HOSEA 7:6

For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like flaming fire.”

If you have ever been camping, you know the danger of leaving a campfire with even a few embers. You have to take great care to make sure all those embers are out. You can use water or dirt, but you need to ensure there’s not a chance of the wind kicking that fire back up. That could lead to a wildfire which could destroy acres of timber and perhaps even endanger homes.

The people of Israel had smoldering embers of anger. Hosea said they plot, giving those embers a flame that burned. Anger is dangerous, especially when it is directed toward God. The Israelites were angry at God for their punishment. They didn’t think they deserved it. After all, they were God’s chosen people. How could He judge them?

APPLICATION

How’s your anger? Are you smoldering about something? Let me be quick to say that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus showed a righteous anger in the temple when He overturned the tables. He was mad at how they had turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. But how many times is your anger righteous?

We tend to get angry about the dumbest stuff – traffic, the price of gas, our neighbors. You could probably name a few yourself. Don’t let that anger rule you. Let it go. There’s really no room for it in the life of a Christian. It doesn’t reflect Jesus. It doesn’t solve anything. And especially deal with any anger you have towards God.

Carl, I would never be angry at God. Oh really, well I have been. When I was going through my last stem cell transplant process, there were a few days that I was angry at God. I was tired of feeling sick and wanted to get better. I realized, though, that I was being refined. God was making me more like His Son through that trial. If you are dealing with anger towards God right now, stop and ask Him why. He will show you. I promise.

Rid me of any anger towards You, Lord, or anyone else. Let me heart be like Yours. Give me insight into why I am angry and lead me into repentance.

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Evil, Foolishness, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Holiness, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

DRUNKENNESS

HOSEA 7:5

“On the day of our king, the officials became sick with the heat of wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers,”

I have known a few drunks in my lifetime. These individuals were so addicted to alcohol, they couldn’t function in everyday life. They couldn’t hold a job. They had lost their right to drive. They were in and out of jail for public intoxication. Their life was a mess, all because of their appetite for drink.

Hosea is talking about that in today’s verse. The officials and even the king drank to excess. They became sick they drank so much. And to make matters worse, they teamed up with the scoffers. Who are they? They were the individuals who scoffed or scorned at God. They mocked Him and encouraged others to do the same.

APPLICATION

How do we avoid this? Avoid drunkenness. This is not a blog to debate if Christians can drink or not. I’m not going down that road. But there is no reason for a believer to become drunk. We know where that leads. It leads to no good. When we are in that condition we can’t represent Christ, which is our calling.

We should also avoid associating with those who mock and ridicule the things of Christ. In most drinking situations Christ will not be glorified. Isn’t that our purpose? If we can’t do that where we are, something’s wrong. Our actions and attitude should always point to Him.

I haven’t always lived up to that. There have been times when I have failed. I have not represented Christ well. I have asked for forgiveness for that. I truly want to please Him in all I do. My goal is to do that every day. So, my prayer each day is to keep me focused on Him and sharing the good news of the gospel to whomever will listen.

Lord, keep my heart in tune with Yours. I want to walk in such a way that I never bring shame on Your name.

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Holiness, Horror, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Purity, Scripture, Testimony

HORROR SHOWS

HOSEA 6:10

“In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;

Ephraim’s infidelity is there, Israel has defiled itself.”

Before I came to Christ, I loved to watch horror movies. I loved the blood and gore. I know – that’s sick, right? But back then I didn’t really have a filter for what entered my mind. The Holy Spirit wasn’t guiding my thoughts and eyes and ears. The world had complete control of me, and everything seemed fine. Horror was okay with me.

But can you imagine how bad it must have been in the house of Israel for God to call something horrible? Think about it. God has seen the most horrible of horrible. How bad was it? Undoubtedly, pretty bad. God doesn’t tolerate horrible. He doesn’t allow it in His presence. He is holy and pure. Ephraim knew that. The people knew that, but they just kept on with the horrible lifestyles and choices.

APPLICATION

Nothing has changed much today. Our world is still making horrible choices. Look all around you. Marriage has been defiled by all the “alternative” lifestyles that are out there. Genders are being questioned and even reassigned outside God’s design. Babies in the wombs are not safe from our “choices.” I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

It doesn’t matter where you live on this terrestrial ball we call earth. People are still engaged in horror shows. So, what can we do about it? Stop watching! Stop participating! Start speaking up for truth. But Carl, if I do that I might face persecution. So what? We must stand up for the truth of God’s Word. He will tell when that is appropriate. He will give you the words to say. Be bold.

I know that is easy for me to say here in print. I can sit behind a computer screen and give you advice. But it’s more than that. I am also fed up with the horror show. I will join you in this battle. Can you claim your family in this fight? How about your city or state or country? Let’s begin, people. Let’s stop being horrible and start being holy.

Father, I am tired of the horrible state of our world. Give me the boldness to stand up for You.

Standard