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.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Bosses, Brokenness, Commitment, Compassion, Devout, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Loyalty, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LOYALTY

HOSEA 6:6

“For I desire loyalty rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

I’ll never forget getting called into my boss’ office one time. He called me down and before I could even sit down in a chair, he lit into me. He had a list of accusations against me, things I had supposedly done to undermine his authority. This lasted about thirty minutes. When he finished, I asked if I could respond. He said I could, so told him I hadn’t done any of those things. None of them were true.

Loyalty is important. God demands it. He demanded it of the Israelites, and He requires it of us, His children. We can act like the Israelites and make our sacrifices (giving our tithes, serving in the nursery, helping the homeless), but unless we are loyal to Him, He rejects those sacrifices. Just as the burnt sacrifices that smoldered on the altar, our acts of service are just smoldering ashes.

APPLICATION

How do you show your loyalty to a holy God? How can we prove our heart’s desire is for Him? Listen, brothers and sisters, He knows your heart. He knows your motives. You don’t have to do anything. That is not necessary. All you have to do is surrender. You have to stop trying to please Him and just bow.

When we cease striving, we can start thriving. Hey, I like that. Stop working so hard to justify His love. You just have to bow your will to His, just like Jesus did in the garden. Remember that? Not My will, but Thine be done. That should be our heart cry. That shows our loyalty.

I am tired of trying, aren’t you? I am tired of trying to figure it all out. All I want to do is rest in Him. Guess what? That’s what He wants, too. He wants to take us in His warm embrace and snuggle us. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. He loves us so much. Come to Him today.

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul rejoice.

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Affection, Affliction, Bible, Brokenness, Comfort, Discipline, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Healing, Modeling, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture

FIRST AID

HOSEA 6:1

“Come, let’s return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.”

I taught first aid for years. In the classes I taught how to bandage wounds and stabilize broken limbs. I actually enjoyed teaching these skills because I knew I was preparing the students to help someone who possibly couldn’t help themselves. What a great skill to have.

In this chapter 6 of Hosea, the people are responding to the Lord. They realize their need to return to Him. They recognize that He has punished them. They say He had torn them and wounded them. But they also know He will heal them and bandage them.

APPLICATION

Has the Lord torn you? Has He wounded you? And how did you respond? Most of us do not respond too well when chastised. I know I don’t. It’s hard to receive criticism or rebuke. But when it’s the Lord doing the rebuking, we need to listen. He only corrects us to bring us closer to Him. Don’t you want that?

Punishment is so much more bearable when we know the person doing the punishing loves us. How much does God love us? He sent His Son to die for us. That is a powerful love. That’s an eternal love. The next time you feel the Lord correcting you, look into His eyes and know how much He loves you.

The Lord just might use your correction to point someone else toward Him, if you respond well. As others watch you react, you have the opportunity to show them Jesus. A lot of people have never seen that before. Will you accept His healing and His bandages? Then show them to others so they can see what He has done for you.

I am healed because of You. You are the source of all my healing. Praise You, Jesus.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Commands, Denial, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

BROKEN

HOSEA 5:11

“Ephraim is oppressed, broken by judgment, because he was determined to follow man’s command.

We can do things in this life that can leave us broken. Wrong decisions can lead to horrible consequences. Some of those consequences are natural. Other consequences are imposed by man. For instance, if we break the law, we can be found guilty and have to go to jail. But all consequences go back to our decisions. Do we obey or not?

Ephraim made the decision to pursue their own desires. They followed man rather than God. As a result, they faced God’s judgment. They fell under the oppression of man. They had a choice to begin with. They could have obeyed Jehovah. But, like us, they chose what seemed pleasing to them. So, consequences followed.

APPLICATION

Do you enjoy the consequences of your sin? Now, if you say you do, you must be a little crazy. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that. It makes you wonder why we choose to follow after our own desires then. We know that doing that will almost always result in consequences. But we still do it.

Look at those words again in today’s verse. Oppressed, broken, judgment. Those aren’t words I want spoken over me. I prefer blessed, raised up, forgiven. Both lists of words are the result of choices. Choices, choices, choices. Why must we choose? Why doesn’t the Lord just make us do the right thing? Because He wants us to freely come to Him. He desires us to choose Him.

Well, today, I choose Jesus. I choose to follow Him. I want to please Him. That’s today. I know my flesh is strong. I know I must make this choice every day. I have to choose Him each and every day. And each time I do that, He smiles. Then He can bless me and raise me up. Those are consequences I can embrace.

I choose You, Lord. And in my choosing I realize it may not be easy to follow where You lead. But I go with You trusting You to see me through.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Brokenness, Christ's Return, Creation, Destruction, Scripture, Sin

CREATION MOURNS

HOSEA 4:3

“Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the animals of the field and the birds of the sky, and even the fish of the sea disappear.”

Have you ever seen a natural disaster? I, unfortunately, have seen this firsthand. I have seen the devastation of tornadoes and hurricanes. I have seen the effects of droughts and floods. I have seen animals suffering from lack of water or food. We forget how fragile our earth is in these circumstances. But do you realize how creation is tied to the fate of man?

Hosea is reminding us here how we are so knit together. God used nature to show man the effects of sin. I am not talking about the carbon footprint of men on the earth. I am referring to how God uses nature. We see it all around us. We are so dependent on each other. Just think about it. Scientist have warned us how the demise of the little honeybee could devastate crop production, thus bringing famine across the globe.

APPLICATION

Creation groans for the return of Jesus. We are told that in Scripture. We have seen the increase of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, cyclones and the such. Creation is preparing. The question is are we. We seem to ignore these and blame it on global warming. Who do you think really controls the balance of nature? It’s not us.

We are a mere speck on the fabric of time. God orchestrates the heavens. He determines where and how much rain falls. He gives or withholds the snows. And even though we think we can change time by adding or taking away an hour in each day, there are still only twenty-four hours available to us.

So, what can we do about this? Very little, except to yield to the almighty hand of God. We must bow before Him, recognizing His power and majesty. Just as Israel ignored God’s hand on their nation and suffered the consequences, we are just as susceptible to the same ignorance. We have to acknowledge that it is He who is in control over everything.

Mighty God, I bow before You, recognizing You as the supreme power over all that exists. I praise You for allowing me to be a part of Your creation.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Destruction, Direction, Following, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender

LEADERLESS

HOSEA 3:4

“For the sons of Israel will live for many days without a king or leader, without sacrifice or memorial stone, and without ephod or household idols.”

I have had the displeasure of working in some places that were leaderless. In order to protect the “guilty” I won’t name those places. There is nothing more disconcerting than coming to work each day not knowing which direction you are headed. No one takes charge. No one leads. Everyone is just wandering aimlessly. It really is a helpless feeling.

Hosea shifts his thoughts back to Israel in today’s verse. Israel, as a result of its sin, would be without a king or leader. This prophecy, of course, came true. Israel and Judah were taken into exile. They had no king to lead them. They were left leaderless. They had lost sight of the fact that Jehovah was their only true king.

APPLICATION

Who is your leader? To whom do you look up to? If you place your trust in a man or woman, you will be disappointed. No one can lead you like the Lord. He is the only one that will never lead you falsely. He will always point you in the right direction. So, who are you following?

Perhaps you are a leader. Where are you leading those following you? Listen carefully. If you are leading, you are going to be held responsible. That’s right. You can’t claim you didn’t know. Leaders are held to a higher level of scrutiny. That means you must take your guidance from the Lord so you can lead biblically.

As a Pastor, I am held to a higher standard by my Lord. I am responsible for the flock He has given me to lead. I do not want to find out that I have been misled and have led poorly. I pray you don’t either. Will you join me in leading well? Will you join me in following Jesus? He is worthy to lead.

O Father, I do not want to be leaderless. I desire to follow You. I know You will always lead me correctly.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Humility, Infidelity, Judgment, Patience, Punishment, Righteousness

NAKED

HOSEA 2:3

“Otherwise, I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and put her to death with thirst.”

Have you ever been caught naked by someone? It can be quite embarrassing. I have had dreams of being caught somewhere without clothing. Now, don’t ask me why I am dreaming such things. I have no idea. But being without clothing can be humiliating. It’s not a situation in which you want to find yourself.

God is dishing out judgment here. He is laying out the punishment for Israel if they do not return. It wasn’t unusual for defeated people to be stripped naked before they were marched off into exile. It demeaned the people. It shamed them. God was warning them what was to come if they didn’t repent.

APPLICATION

Today is Valentine’s Day. I can’t say this verse fits that. Being humiliated and embarrassed isn’t exactly what that day is all about, is it?  That day is about love. Now, hold on for a second. Why do you think God is warning Israel about the encroaching judgment? Because He loves them.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t discipline us. He would let us go on our merry way and live like we want to. Because He loves us, He gave us His Word to live by. It points us in the right direction. He tells us the consequences of our actions. God is constantly drawing us to Himself. We have to decide if we want to obey or not, but we don’t get to choose whether or not to receive consequences.

Do you think you are getting by thumbing your nose at God? Do you think He is simply ignoring your behaviors? Think again. Don’t find yourself one day naked and humiliated. God will hold true to His Word. He has to. He’s God. And when His patience is done, you will receive His just wrath. That is not a threat. It’s a promise.

I do not want to be naked and alone, God. I want to be clothed by Your righteousness. I cling to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

BROKEN BY GOD

HOSEA 1:5

“On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

Have you ever been broken? Do you know what I mean by that? I mean to be so low that you can’t see the way up. I have had a couple of times in my life when that happened. Let me tell you, that is not a good place to be. I did not enjoy those times. It was hard. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

Israel had sinned against a holy God. God had had enough. He was about to break them. When it says, “break the bow,” He is saying they will have no defenses against my judgment. And the Hebrew word for “break” literally means to break in pieces, to shatter. God meant business. He still does today. He will break us down to get us to repent and return to Him. He is a jealous God.

APPLICATION

Are you in need of a breaking? If you are a believer who is not walking with Him, beware. Now, here me clearly. God isn’t disciplining you for fun. He doesn’t sit on His throne looking for someone to zap. That’s not how He works. He disciplines us to make us more like Him. He is trying to shape us and mold us into the image of His Son. When we stray off the straight and narrow, He will do whatever is necessary to get us back on the path.

When you really think about it, brokenness is a good thing. Carl, you are a crazy man. No, listen. Brokenness brings us closer to God. We might not enjoy the journey to brokenness, but the end result is incredible. Who doesn’t want to be closer to our heavenly Father? That’s a great place to be. That’s the only place to be.

Will you pray today for brokenness? I’m serious. Ask the Lord to show you the areas of your life that need to be cast off to make you more like Him. Ask Him to break down everything that keeps you from being fully committed to Him. This is a dangerous prayer. It is also a God honoring prayer. He wants to see Jesus in you. Let Him chip away everything that doesn’t look like Him.

Father, make me like Jesus. Use the hammer and chisel to knock off all those chunks that need to go.  

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