Abiding, Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Peace, Relationships, Scripture

THE WRONG SIDE

HOSEA 13:9 

“It is to your own destruction, Israel, that you are against Me, against your help.” 

There have been times in my life when I have chosen the wrong side of a fight. I became emotionally involved about something and didn’t think things through. The end result wasn’t good. I lost. It doesn’t matter what the issue was. The problem was I had not prayed about it first. I thought it was a matter that I needed to decide without consulting my Savior. I was wrong. 

Israel had chosen the wrong side. They had sided against God. They had pursued the other gods. They had decided to follow the pagan gods of the nations around them, the very nations God had told them to wipe out when they came into the Promised Land. Even after seeing all that God had done for their nation, they chose the wrong side. Now, their destruction was upon them. 

APPLICATION 

Whose side are you on? I pray you are on the Lord’s side. He has so much to offer. It may appear that siding with the Lord limits you. You may think walking with Him means you can’t “have fun” anymore. That is so far from the truth. Living for Jesus is the most fun you could have. He fills our lives with joy and peace. He surrounds us with a family that loves us and wants to see us succeed. What more could you want? 

I just returned from my brother’s funeral. As I sat in the service and listened to the speakers share about my brother, I was amazed. My brother and I lived about six hours apart. I knew he was involved in his church, but I had no idea just how much he served. I was blown away at their accolades of my brother. My brother chose the right side. He had chosen to serve Jesus. He is enjoying the victory now. 

It’s never too late to join the winning side. The other side, the devil’s side, will never win. His side is doomed for defeat. And the simple truth is if you are not on the Lord’s side, you are on the devil’s side. Join the right side today. Come to Jesus. Repent of your sins. Ask Him to come and live inside of you through His Holy Spirit. Experience the joy and peace He has to offer.  

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. 

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

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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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Deception, Double-minded, Examples, Following, Lies, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

BAD SCALES

HOSEA 12:7

“A merchant, in whose hands are fraudulent balances, loves to exploit.”

I may have mentioned this before in an earlier blog, but it fits perfect with this verse. When I was growing up in South Georgia, I worked at gas station that also sold feed and seed. We had a scale which was used to weigh out loose seed for people who just needed some for a small garden. Well, that scale had to be calibrated to maintain true weights. Our boss insisted on that. He didn’t want to cheat anyone by using a false scale.

Hosea uses that same illustration. He says anyone who uses false scales loves to exploit others. They can’t be trusted. They love taking advantage of others. Of course, God detests that. This verse is in direct contrast to the previous verse which spoke of maintaining mercy and justice. Israel was guilty of using those fraudulent balances.

APPLICATION

Are you a cheater? Do you rob others? What do I mean by that? I am not implying you are some kind of evil person. But we tip the scales in our favor when we can, don’t we? That’s even evident in relationships. Husbands try to get something from their wives by false motives. Wives do the same. Our motives matter. Our heart matters. Unless we are relating with pure motives towards each other, it is all fraudulent.

Aren’t you glad that is not required? When we balance our scales with truth and treat each other as Christ would, no one is cheated. I quote this often concerning my wife. “It is my privilege to show my love for Jesus by caring for my wife, to love her, to show her honor, to try to understand her and to give up my life and rights for her.” When I do that, my scales are balanced.

Jesus is the answer to false scales. Let Him do the measuring. Let Him do the weighing. He will always pour out the exact amount of mercy and grace we need in our lives to show to others. Isn’t that a pretty picture? We simply pour out His grace and mercy.

Oh Father, don’t let me be use false scales to hurt anyone. Help me to be always true.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deceit, Discipline, Faithfulness, Following, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

STILL UNRULY

HOSEA 11:12

Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is still unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.”

When I worked in children’s homes, it wasn’t unusual for a child or youth to come into the home very unruly and out of control. After a period of time and much love, they would begin to calm down and settle in. But quite often that same child would resort back to their old way of behavior. It seemed they just couldn’t maintain a calm demeaner. Even though the staff was consistent and loved them, they preferred chaos.

Hosea tells us Ephraim, Israel and Judah acted the same way. Even though “the Holy One” was faithful, they rebelled. Lies, deceit and unruliness were how they responded to a faithful Father. They gave way to flesh. They let their old sin nature take over. It didn’t matter how much God loved them, they acted out against Him.

APPLICATION

Now, if you don’t see yourself in today’s verse, well… We are all the same. We know how much the Lord loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us exactly what we needed – salvation. And we still rebel. We still take Him for granted. Oh, we say the right things. We go to church and throw a few dollars in the offering plate and think we have done enough. We don’t want to obey – just like the Israelites.

Aren’t you tired of living that way? God wants you to surrender to Him. He wants you to yield to His will. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him. We are to take His yoke on us. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Will you trust Him today to lead you in His yoke. Stop the unruliness and yield.

I still battle that sometimes. I even think I am yielded only to discover I’m not. That’s a bit embarrassing, lol. But I truly want to be. I don’t want to rub against the yoke. I want to follow Him in the yoke. I want to learn to walk with the Master. Don’t you?

Oh Lord, I praise You for putting up with my stubbornness. I thank You for Your patience with me.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Calling, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Listening

IGNORING THE CALL

HOSEA 11:2

The more they called them, the more they went away from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.”

I can so clearly remember my mama calling me to come home when I was out playing with my friends. I could hear her calling, but I would pretend I couldn’t so I could stay out a little longer. I knew I needed to go home, but I wanted to do that in my own time. When I tarried too long, there were always consequences.

Hosea makes a quick turn from verse 1 in this chapter to this verse today. From focusing on the one whom He loved and brought out of Egypt, he turned to the nation as a whole and their continued betrayal. It didn’t matter who it was who called them, they turned toward their idols. They turned their backs on Jehovah and knelt before the Baals. How quickly they forgot who had rescued them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear Him calling you? He is, you know. He always is. He wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to be safe in His arms. He knows if we don’t come home, we will stay in harm’s way. We will keep running.

Do you know what you have to do to hear His voice? You have to listen. That’s not hard, is it? Oh, but it is. We get so destracted from all the noise of the world that we don’t stop to listen. We are going here and going there. God just wants us to stop and listen. He’s calling our names.

I have learned to pause and listen more. In my quiet times it is always good to stop reading and talking and just listen. It’s amazing what I hear when I do that. That happened recently when I spent some time by myself camping. God’s voice was so clear. Let me challenge you to do the same.

I love to hear Your voice. Open my ears so I can hear You clearly.

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Accountability, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deception, Harvest, Lies, Righteousness, Scripture, Surrender

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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Advice, Betrayal, Bible, Denial, Foolishness, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Respect, Scripture, Surrender

NOSE THUMBER

HOSEA 10:3

“Certainly now they will say, ‘We have no king, for we do not revere the LORD. As for the king, what can he do for us?’”

I have known a few people who thumbed their nose at God. I had a coworker once who wanted nothing to do with God or me. I was the Chaplain at a children’s home, so I represented God to him. He really didn’t like me because of that. He was constantly speaking badly about our chapel services and ridiculed the decisions the children were making. He did not revere the Lord.

Israel did not revere the Lord. They had no respect for their king either. They had lost all their allegiance to anyone except themselves, and that was failing. So, they were also thumbing their noses at God. He wasn’t doing what they wanted, so they were done with Him. They wanted God to serve them, to meet all their needs. Anything less was useless to them.

APPLICATION

What is your view of God? You may expect God to meet all your needs when you want Him to. You may think the Lord is kind of like Santa Claus. And when He doesn’t “perform” you put Him aside. That is not the way God works. He is not on your timetable.

But, oh listen to me. God wants to work in your life. He has such grand plans for you and me. We have to lay down our plans and allow Him to work in and through us. We will never know the heights to which He can take us unless we lay down our own self made plans. Will you do that today?

I am still learning how to lay down my plans. I am a planner and there are times when I get tired of waiting on God. Don’t judge me. I am sure you have done that. But when I do wait on Him, His plan makes so much better sense. You would think I would have learned this by now. Keep me in your prayers, and I will pray for you, too.

Father, I don’t want to ever caste You aside. You are the center of all I do. I want to honor You.

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DON’T BET ON IT

HOSEA 9:2

“Threshing floor and wine press will not feed them, and the new wine will fail them.”

Back in 2008 our economy went through a downturn. A lot of people lost a lot of money in those months. In fact, my wife and I lost about one third of our retirement funds. It happened quickly. It was unexpected. Funds we thought would be there in years to come year were gone almost overnight.

Israel thought their harvest and wine would be there for them to enjoy. After all, they had worked for those harvests. They had produced that wine. Why wouldn’t it be there for them to enjoy? They really thought they could do as they pleased and still be blessed by God. Not so!

APPLICATION

Are you betting on your future? Are you relying on what you’ve achieved or on God? We put so much energy in planning for our future. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s smart to plan ahead. But we can’t leave God out of the equation. He has to be part of what we are planning. God may have plans for you that you can’t even begin to imagine.

So, how do you plan for your future? You start on your knees. You ask the Lord what He would have you do. This goes for your money, as well. Don’t you think the Lord wants you to be provided for? Of course, He does. He doesn’t want to see His children struggle unless…. Perhaps He wants to use you to show others how to depend on Him. Perhaps He wants to use you to be that example of faith that can only we experienced as we go through trials and hardships. But He still loves you and wants what is best for you.

My future is in the Lord’s hands. Stepping out at sixty years old and starting to raise support for a new ministry is not something I planned. But He has led me to do just that. It’s an exciting adventure. I can’t wait to see what He does in and through me in the months and years to come. I can’t count on the threshing floor or winepress. God has other plans, and I’m all in.

I am thankful that my blessings are promised through You. I will love and serve You because I know You will walk with me through the hardest times.

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ALTARS OF SIN

HOSEA 8:11

“Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin, they have become altars of sinning for him.”

I’ve never built an altar. Have you? It seems people do it all the time. You are probably thinking, What are you talking about?Altars are places of worship. People are bowing down all the time to things. They are putting their attention and time on priorities other than God.

Israel had built altars to all sorts of pagan gods. Altars, altars everywhere. And with all these altars they were sinning, sinning against a holy God. And they were not thinking anything about this. They were chasing after the gods of their pagan neighbors and turning their backs on Jehovah.

APPLICATION

What are you pursuing? What are you bowing before? You may not think you have altars in your life. You may think you are doing all the right things. But if you aren’t bowing only to Jesus, you have just built an altar. Your altar may not look like the ones the Israelites built, but it’s still an altar.

You are sacrificing your time on your false altars. You are sacrificing your money on those altars. Those altars are robbing you of your devotion to your Lord. Examine your life right now. Take a moment and look at where you are spending your time and money. Ask the Lord if you have built a false altar. He will tell you.

I will bow only to Him. There is nothing as important as spending time with Jesus. Time in His word and time in prayer have to be my number one priority spiritually. I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have time for my quiet time in the morning. I can’t say I just don’t have time to pray. I will turn to Him first each day. Will you join me?

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me the privilege to worship You. I desire to bow before You every day to honor and glorify You.

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BAD INVESTMENT

HOSEA 8:10

“Even though they pay for allies among the nations, I will gather them up now; and they will begin to diminish because of the burden of the king of officials.”

I am sure most of us have made a least one bad investment. It seemed so sure at the time, but after making the decision and going through with the purchase, we found out the truth. A lot of online purchases will fall into this category. Everything looks better online, doesn’t it?

Israel had sent gifts to Assyria to try to gain favor with them and put off the judgment God had said would befall them by their hands. That was a bad investment, money poorly spent. Assyria couldn’t be trusted. They were pagans with no morals. They were power hungry. They may promise peace, but their word meant nothing.

APPLICATION

Have you ever trusted the wrong person? I have. There have been people in my life who have turned on me. They promised one thing but did another. To be totally honest, I have done that myself in the past. I have confessed that as sin both to my Father in heaven and to those I have wronged. There is no excuse for it. It’s just plain sin.

But we are promised that God will never turn against us. He will always support us. His word is always sure. Do you believe that? It’s true. There is nothing we can do to drive Him away. He will always have our back. But we do need to abide in Him. That is only possible through His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray you are drawing close to Him. I pray you have allied yourself with Him. There is no better ally. You can’t outrun Him. You can’t hide from Him. He knows your innermost thoughts. He longs to be with you. Come to Him today and trust Him to protect you. He always will.

You are my ally, Lord. For that, I am truly thankful. I know I can always depend on You.

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