Abiding, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender

ONE SAVIOR

HOSEA 13:4 

“Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” 

I have been reading a book by Nik Ripken entitled, “The Insanity of Obedience.” It is an inspiring and convicting read. I highly recommend it. One thing Nik points out about the conversion of Hindu believers is the danger of incorporating Jesus into their many gods. True conversion of a Hindu will result in the removal of their altars to their other gods in their homes. There’s only room for one Savior. 

Israel struggled with the influence of pagan religions, the very thing God warned them about when they came into the Promised Land under Joshua. They allowed the nations they were supposed to defeat to defeat them from within by absorbing their beliefs. But God is a jealous God and would not allow that to continue. 

APPLICATION 

The same holds true for us today. God is still a jealous God. He will not share us with other gods. You may say, What other  gods?  The gods of our own making. As I have said before, we put all kinds of things before our Lord. We celebrate and worship the things of this world. We spend our time and money in places that have no eternal value. 

Have you torn down your altars and made room for just one Savior? Nothing or no one else can deliver you from the struggles of this life. No amount of Pure Barre or Orange Theory workouts can diminish the pain you are feeling. Only Jesus can remove what ails you. He can bring you into a perfect peace that will never leave you.  

I have tried different things in my life to get the peace that can only come through Jesus. Some of them actually seem to work for a while. I have even tried ministry to others to fill that void. Only time with Jesus can do it. Allow Him to occupy your mind and heart today. He is the only Savior you will ever need. 

Father, I am grateful for the Savior. Jesus is all I will ever need. 

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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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ROCK PILES

HOSEA 12:11 

“Is there injustice in Gilead? Certainly, they are worthless. In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls, yes, their altars are like stone heaps beside the furrows of a field.” 

Here where I live in Eastern Tennessee, it is not uncommon to pass a field where years earlier a farmer had cleared that field of rocks so he could cultivate the soil. Some of those rock piles are decades old. Those rocks were in the way of the task and had to be removed. The pile meant nothing, except maybe a source of stone to be used elsewhere on the farm. 

But here in today’s verse we see the stone heaps being used for altars. In a similar way, stones were removed from their fields. But they made them into altars, going directly against the word of God. Their sacrifices on these piles of rock meant nothing. They thought they were being religious, but they were, in fact, being sacrilegious in their actions. 

APPLICATION 

We often do “religious” stuff to make ourselves feel better. How many of us pray out of habit without any true communication with the Lord? People attend church because they are supposed to. They don’t go to worship as much as they go to be seen and check the box for the week. We may feel better by doing those things, but that is not the point. 

What is the point? The point is this – we have to come to God in Spirit and in Truth. We have to come to Him worshipping, not to worship. We pray to hear from Him, not to tell Him things. When our motives change our heart changes. We can experience a true relationship with the Lord. We can stop building rock piles. 

I desire the deeper things of God, don’t you? I want to know Him more each and every day. I want to know Christ so well that when I see Him face to face in glory, it will be just another day. Now, I know that day will be like none other, but you get my point. Make your faith real today. Stop playing religion.  

Father, I want to know You in a way in which I have never known You. Show me Yourself. 

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REMEMBER

HOSEA 12:9

“But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival.”

Oh, how quick we forget the Lord’s blessings. I have been guilty of that. In the past, I have prayed about a certain thing and received a blessing from the Lord. At the time, I was so full of praise and thankfulness, but as time passed, I forgot about that blessing. I began to take it for granted

Hosea is reminding Israel of their feast of tabernacles, the festival which commemorated their dwelling in tents during their wilderness years. They were reminded of God’s abundant provisions during all those years (water, manna, quail). As the decades had passed, the people had forgotten His blessings.

APPLICATION

Take out a sheet of paper and start listing all the blessings you have received from the Lord this past week. Think about the little things, not just the biggies. Hey, you woke up each day, right? You had food to eat. You had clothes to wear. Just start listing them.

Now think back further. Think about all the blessings He has bestowed on you since your salvation. When you start doing this, it is pretty amazing. How soon we forget. Maybe you could start writing down these blessings as they happen. At the end of each year you could sit down with your family and read through the list and praise Him.

I have known people who kept a blessing box. They would write down on a slip of paper each time they received some kind of blessing. They would put that slip of paper in a shoe box or something and then pull them all out and read them at the end of the year. If you have kids, get them involved in this. I bet when you reflect back, you will be amazed at just how blessed you are.

Father, You bless me in so many ways. I am sorry I am so ungrateful and forgetful. Forgive me.

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YAHWEH

HOSEA 12:5

“And the LORD, the God of armies, the LORD is His name.”

People should be known for their name. When called on, people should use their name. That’s why I have always strived to learn children’s names that I served. Calling a kid by their name when you see them in the hallway or on the playground lets them know you know who they are and that they matter. Don’t you like to be called by your name?

In the verse today, it seems Hosea is reminding us just who God is. He is Yahweh. Both times the word LORD is used, it the Hebrew word Yahweh which basically means “He is” or “I am.” The word became too holy for Jews to say, so they used Adonai or Ha-shem. We have no trouble saying Yahweh. He is!

APPLICATION

But let me ask you something. Who is God to you? Do you recognize Him for who He is? He is everything. Nothing exists that didn’t come through Him. Nothing maintains existence unless He wants it to. He is all you need. When we recognize that, it all makes sense. Life takes on a whole new meaning.

The problem with most us (myself included) is we lose sight of our Biblical worldview. Without that, God does look different. But with that worldview, everything becomes crystal clear. When we understand that “God is,” we accept what the world throws at us with the understanding that God is in control. That makes all the difference in the world.

I have put my focus on that. I want to see the world through my God tinted glasses. When I see the world as He sees it, I understand things so much better. Knowing Yahweh is in control gives me peace of mind. It allows me to focus on serving Him rather than trying protect myself. Isn’t that awesome? Don’t you want that too?

Yahweh, You are my God and my Redeemer. I trust You with my life and know You are all I need.

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OUR KINGS

HOSEA 11:5

They will not return to the land of Egypt; but Assyria—he will be their king because they refused to return to Me.

I have never lived under a monarchy. I am an American, which means I live under a representative government. We elect our officials. Every four years we elect a President of the United States. Some years the person I vote for wins. In other years, the other candidate wins. That’s the way it works here.

Israel pushed to have their own king (instead of God) and got Saul. Numerous kings came and went over the generations. They eventually got kings from other nations who defeated them. Assyria was one such kingdom that forced their king on them. You have to remember, though, that it was God who allowed these kings to conquer Israel as part of their judgment. It is God who establishes kings and kingdoms.

APPLICATION

We should not complain about our President here in America. We are getting exactly what the Lord allows. Though I may not like the policies of a certain President, I am still told to pray for my leaders. There is a reason for the Lord establishing our current presidential administration. What is He trying to teach us, as believers?

One thing is for sure. We cannot and should not depend on the person sitting in the oval office to solve our problems. God is the only one we can turn to for that. Our politicians, whether President, Senator, Representative or Governor, are just flesh and bones. They are not infallible. They will make mistakes. They need Jesus to guide them.

So, our response to our “kings” has to be one of submission and obedience, unless they attempt to lead us in an unbiblical direction. Then we have a choice to make. For me, I will always choose Jesus. That may get me in trouble one day with the government, but that’s okay. God’s got my back. I can always count on Him. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in authority over me whom You wish to use to draw me closer to You. I trust You.

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OUT OF EGYPT

HOSEA 11:1

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

There have been a few places from which I wanted to be out of. I won’t name them so as not to upset anyone, lol. You may have been in a similar situation but had no way out. You may have been kept there due to a job or family. Whatever it was, you felt trapped. Well, today’s verse ought to hit home with you.

God rescued Israel from Egypt. They had been there many years and were made into slaves. There seemed no way out, but God sent a deliverer by the name of Moses to set His people free. Many years later, He brought His Son out of Egypt. Joseph had taken his young family there to escape the wrath of Herod. But when the time came, He brought Jesus back to Israel to begin His plan for redemption.

APPLICATION

God can rescue you just as well. You may feel trapped in your Egypt, but there is a way out. Just as God sent a deliverer for Israel, He has sent a deliverer for you. His Son Jesus was sent so you can be free. But you can only be free if you follow the Deliverer. Only He knows the way out.

You may already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you still filled trapped by something. He can set you free from that too. Jesus wants you to walk in freedom each day. That requires you to lay down those burdens. He can handle them. He wants you free to live for Him without restraints. He wants you free to share Him with others. Accept that freedom He offers.

I am so thankful I am free. Nothing can chain me down. No troubles, no pain, no heartaches. I am free to be whatever the Lord wants me to be, as long as I surrender daily to Him. I know that, but each day I have to make a conscious decision to do that. I have pledged to do that. Will you?

I vow Lord to follow You daily. I want to walk in freedom.

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IF YOU SOW WILD OATS…

HOSEA 10:13

You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your many warriors,”

I can remember my dad, before he became a believer, talking about young men sowing their “wild oats.” He was referring to guys living immorally. Of course, before my dad became a believer, he didn’t understand that kind of talk was wrong. He didn’t understand that kind of living was against the will of God. He was just living naturally, according to the world.

But if you sow wild oats, you are going to reap wild oats. Look back at the previous verse in Hosea 10. We were given the picture of how to sow and reap properly. Today’s verse shows us what happens when you sow wickedness. You reap injustice. You can’t rely on your own strength. You can’t trust your way. It will always let you down. It will always fill you with lies.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Which do you prefer, mercy or injustice, truth or lies? Unless you are really messed up, I know which you prefer. No one likes to be lied to. No one likes injustice. We all want to be treated fairly. So, we must sow the right seed in our lives.

Aren’t you tired of trying to do things your own way? Aren’t you sick of picking up pieces of your life? I am not promising you that your life will be a bed of roses if you accept the Lord as your Savior or surrender it fully to Him. You may still have struggles. But with Him, all the struggles make sense. You have someone to carry you through.

I have lived with enough lies and untruths in my life. I don’t want to live that way. Once I experienced the grace of Jesus, there was no turning back. A.W. Tozer said, “O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.” Amen!

O Lord, protect me from sowing wickedness. Keep me from reaping injustice. I want to trust only in You.

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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.

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LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

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