Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Goodness, Obedience

INDIAN GIVER

HOSEA 13:11

I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.”

Do you remember as a child what we called someone who gave you something and then took it back? We called them an “Indian giver.” That phrase was really offensive to someone (not to mention how offensive it is to Native Americans). To give someone a gift and then demand it back is not very nice.

God had given Israel a king. He gave them Saul after they demanded one. He wasn’t happy about that. Hosea even says He did it in anger. Then after their repeated disobedience, His wrath fell. He sent them into exile. He removed their king, never to return again.

APPLICATION

Let me clarify something. God is NOT an Indian giver. That is not His style. That’s not what He did to Israel. God wants to give good gifts to you. In fact, He is just waiting to bless you. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He wants to bless you. He always has your best in mind. Every gift He gives you is custom made just for you.

So, why aren’t you asking for His blessings? I don’t mean you can just name it and claim or blab it and grab it. No! The problem most of us have with asking for God’s blessings is we aren’t living worthy of those blessings. We pretend to live for Him or we are outright living in sin. How can we expect Him to bless us?

I want His blessings. Therefore, I choose to live in such a way that He is able to bless me. What does that mean? It means I live for Jesus each day by surrendering my will to His. Just like our earthly fathers love to bless their obedient children, God desires the same. I don’t obey in order to be blessed. I obey because I love Him. And when I do, He give His good gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for Your good gifts. Help me live in such a way that Your blessings flow.

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Contentment, Encouragement, Intimacy, Love, Scripture

I KNEW YOU

HOSEA 13:5 

“I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of drought.” 

I have been married to my wife for over 35 years now. You would think by now I would know her pretty well. But there are still things about her that I am learning. Isn’t that amazing? Maybe it’s because she has not revealed all her secrets to me yet. That’s probably it, lol. More than likely it’s because I have not been observant enough over the years. 

In today’s verse, the word “cared” is the Hebrew word yada. This is an important word used throughout the Old Testament. It can mean to know, to know very well, to understand and even mean to have relations. The point is this – God knew Israel intimately. They were His people. He had chosen them. They were His. 

APPLICATION 

That is still true today. God knows us. He knows us well. He created us. He knows what makes us tick. He knit us in our mother’s womb. So, we can’t use the excuse that God just doesn’t understand us. Of course, He does. No one understands us like He does. We just choose to not believe it or accept it. 

When you and I finally realize that God knows what is best for us and learn to trust Him in that, life is so much easier. Now, I don’t mean easy as in no trials. I mean easy in that now our life is His to live. We just sit back and watch Him work it. We will all face hard times, even seemingly impossible times, but knowing God knows us helps us rest. 

My brother went to his heavenly reward yesterday. His family watched this and are hurting. Thankfully, they know the Lord and can trust He knows exactly what they are going through. He knows them intimately. He loves them deeply. He will carry them through. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that my brother fully knows his Savior now.

Lord, I am so grateful You know me. You know me perfectly and intricately. 

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Death, Encouragement, Fellowship, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Promises, Redemption, Reward, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

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. 

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Commands, Contentment, Courage, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Leading, Obedience, Reward, Scripture, Surrender

GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

Standard
Belief, Bible, Blessing, Child Rearing, Compassion, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Giving, God's Will, Inspirational, Praise, Remembering

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.

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
Bible, Blessing, Courage, Passion, Promises, Reward, Scripture

BLESSED BY GOD

HOSEA 12:3

“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his mature strength he contended with God.”

Strength and power are seen as bad today in many places. If you are aggressive and ambitious, it is often perceived as a negative thing. It seems any exhibition of power in our society today means you are uncaring and/or ungrateful. Nothing could be further from the truth, if it is done according to God’s will.

Hosea is pointing out the strength of Israel that was evident in the life of Jacob, later renamed Israel. Even from birth he was pursuing his birthright over his brother by grabbing his heel. And later he wrestled with the angel of God until He blessed him. Jacob was a strong man. And the nation needed to be reminded of that.

APPLICATION

The Lord stands ready to bless you also. It is through His strength that He can do that. Have you asked for it lately? Don’t wait until you are knee deep in the mire of life to do that. There’s no need to wait. God’s strength is available to all His children every day. We just fail to receive it.

I bet you are facing something right now which could really benefit from God’s strength and blessing. Most of us face them all the time. But we continue to labor under our own strength and fail. What is so hard about asking for help from Jesus? Nothing! But we have to ask. You have to ask.

I know I have to ask every day. I can’t go one day with His strength and blessing in my life. Whether it is a physical challenge, emotional struggle or financial woes, He can give you the power to overcome. No, let me rephrase that. He will overcome through you.

Strengthen me today, O Lord. I praise You for the blessings You bestow on me every day.

Standard
Asking, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Following, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Lies, Prayer, Scripture

VERY LIGHT DIET

HOSEA 12:1

“Ephraim feeds on wind and pursues the east wind continually; he multiplies lies and violence. Moreover, he makes a covenant with Assyria, and oil is brought to Egypt.”

I just got back from visiting my older brother in the hospital. He was in bad shape but is bouncing back. However, while I was there his hospital diet was very light. In fact, the first day I was there it consisted of nothing, not even water. Now, that’s a light diet. He did finally get some water and even some coffee, but that won’t sustain you long.

Ephraim had a light diet, too. Hosea said they fed on the wind. That east wind was horrible. It was dry and dusty. Hosea goes on to say Ephraim kept sinning and seeking help in all the wrong places. After all they had been through, they still sought help from anyone but God. How sad!

APPLICATION

We are the same way, aren’t we? We try to fix things ourselves. We try to manage things. Or we ask people to help who we shouldn’t ask. Why do we do that? All we need to do is turn to the Father. He has all the answers. He knows how to “fix” it. We need to stop feeding on the “light, windy diet” and turn to Him.

What happens when you do that? When you turn to the Lord through His Word and prayer, He directs you exactly where you need to be. He points out your sins, so you can repent and regain fellowship with Him. When you listen to the Holy Spirit, instead of the world, you are led down the right path.

My brother’s diet can’t remain as it was when I left the hospital. He would not get healthy on water and coffee. He will have to get nourishment again. And the source of that nourishment isn’t himself or outside the hospital. The hospital will give him what he needs when he’s ready for it. That sounds just like God, doesn’t it?

Thank You, Lord, for providing for me. I will feed on Your Word and allow it to nourish my soul.

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Hugs, Intimacy, Peace, Safety, Salvation, Scripture

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.

Standard
Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Following, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture

UNWELCOMED GIFTS

HOSEA 9:14

“Give to them, LORD—what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dried-up breasts.”

Have you ever gotten a gift that you really didn’t like? Come on, now. We all have. It may have been a pair of socks from a relative at Christmas. It could be that really, gawdy tie you got at your office party. Whatever it may have been, you didn’t like it and didn’t want it. But now you have it. What do you do with that?

Israel got a gift in today’s verse that wasn’t welcomed. I won’t go into great detail. I don’t have to. God was going to cause them to be barren and not be able to have children. This was not a gift they wanted, but they couldn’t return it. In fact, they had earned this gift due to their rejection of God.

APPLICATION

If you could ask for any gift you wanted from the Lord, what would you ask for? Now, before you answer that, think long and hard about it. If you are a believer, you have already received the greatest gift – Jesus Christ. What else could you possibly want? He fulfills every desire you have. Am I right?

What is the worst the thing you could receive from the Lord? Suffering? Hardships? Trials? If you received those, would you want to return them? Once again, before you answer that, think about it. God only gives us what we need. If He allows all those
gifts to come into your life, He has a purpose. That purpose is to make you more like Him. Now that’s a gift.

They say it’s not about the gift. It’s more about the giving. Do you think that is true? God always has the perfect motive for His gifts. We can’t look at anything He gives us as bad. If we are walking with Him and trying to live a life that pleases Him, whatever gift we receive should be embraced.

Thank You, Lord, for the gifts You send my way. I may not always see them as a blessing, so open my eyes to Your intentions for my life.

Standard