Accountability, Battles, Bible, Calling, Courage, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Gospel, Judgment, Obedience, Passion, Scripture, Testimony

THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Calling, Commands, Direction, Encouragement, Hearing, Listening, Obedience

EARS OPEN

HOSEA 4:1

“Listen to the word of the LORD, you sons of Israel, because the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, for there is no faithfulness, nor loyalty, nor knowledge of God in the land.”

Guilty! That’s me! I am guilty! Too many times my wife will be talking to me, and I fake attention. I pretend to be listening but really my mind is a thousand miles away. This works beautifully until she wants an answer to a question she just asked. Then I am busted.

The word “listen” in today’s verse means to hear intelligently. In other words, it means to pay close attention. Hosea is telling Israel and us to listen closely. We need to tune in to hear God’s Word speaking to us. He was warning them about the inhabitants of the land. He wanted to make sure they understood they could not allow them to stay.

APPLICATION

Have you ever faked attention to God? Come on, be honest. God is telling you to do something and you nod your head yes but you really mean no or you’ll think about it. You aren’t really listening. Do you really think you can fake it with God? He knows your innermost thoughts.

Will you listen intelligently? Will you not only listen but will you obey? Will you do what He says? Listening without obeying is merely hearing. We need to do more than that. Do what He says. Trust His direction. If He is talking to you, it’s worth listening to.

The next time my wife starts talking to me I need to stop whatever I am doing and listen to her. I need to do the same when the Lord is talking. He won’t scream at me. He speaks in a quiet way through His Word and my prayers. I will listen.

I am listening, Lord. Talk to me. I want to do what You say.

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Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Modeling, Passion, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

MY BETROTHED

HOSEA 2:19

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion,”

Have you ever been betrothed? Here in the U.S. we would call it being engaged. When I asked my wife to marry me, we became engaged to be married. Ours was a short courtship. We only dated about two and half months before we were married. Hey, when you see a good thing… lol.

I love the image Hosea uses here. God betroths us to Him. That word literally means to pay the price and so gain the right of possession. When a dowry was given, the couple became betrothed. But look how He betrothed Israel (and us) – in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion. Wow! Now, that’s a betrothal.

APPLICATION

Do you feel betrothed? Are you living your life as the betrothed of God? Oh, you should be. Look at who you are betrothed to. The God of the universe. The Creator of all things. The Beginning and the End. Jehovah God. I could go on and on and on.

People get excited about celebrities. They dream about being married to one. But these are finite, fallible people who will let you down. Look at how many celebrity marriages fail. Our betrothal to Almighty God will never fail. We are His betrothed forever!

Doesn’t that excite you? It does me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him. When God betroths us, that means we are His bride from now throughout eternity. Don’t you want to know your betrothed better? I sure do.

Lord, thank You for making me Your betrothed. You did purchase me with a price – Your Son. Amen.

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Bible, Calling, Commitment, Confession, Destruction, Faithfulness, Hell, Husbands, Infidelity, Love, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

HUSBANDS AND WIVES

HOSEA 2:2

“Dispute with your mother, dispute, because she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; but she must remove her infidelity from her face and her adultery from between her breasts,”

My wife and I have been married thirty-five years. We could have never imagined back in 1985 how our lives would change. We have been through a lot together. We have lived in nine different homes in five different states. We have made so many friends and, thankfully, very few enemies, lol. Through it all, we have remained husband and wife.

In today’s verse, God uses the imagery of husband and wife and is referring to Hosea’s adulterous wife. Just as Gomer, Hosea’s wife, had been unfaithful to God, Israel had been unfaithful to Him. He is calling them to repentance. Sin must be confessed and expunged to restore the relationship.

APPLICATION

Do you understand how your unconfessed sin builds a wall between you and the Lord? Until you admit you are a sinner and ask Christ to save you, you are doomed to an eternal punishment. There really is no hope for you without Christ. But the moment you call on Him and confess your sins, believe in His name and surrender your life to Him, you are cleansed and become His child.

So many believers, however, stop there. No! You need to continue to confess and cleanse your heart each day. Now, you are only saved once, but because we are still human, we are going to sin and mess up. Those sins are forgiven under the same blood that saved you, but unconfessed sin can begin to be a barrier between you and God. Just like Gomer, we have to confess our sins and return to our “husband.”

Take a moment right now and pray. Ask the Lord to forgive you for the sins you have committed today or this week. Name them. Don’t just ask the Lord to forgive your sins. Name them specifically. If you don’t remember them, ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will. I guarantee you He knows. A clean heart restores fellowship with the Lord.

O Father, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. I want to fellowship with You .

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Advice, Advocate, Bible, Born, Calling, Commitment, Darkness, Doubts, Encouragement, Friends, Infidelity, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

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WALKING IN TRUTH

2 JOHN 4

“I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment to do from the Father.”

When I was growing up I attended church and even sang in the youth choir and ensemble. Honestly, I went to church just to be with friends and meet girls. You see, at eight-years-old I was baptized but just got wet. It wasn’t until age sixteen that I was saved. All those previous years I faked it. I wasn’t walking in truth. I was walking in falsehood, just like many are doing every day.

John expresses his joy that his friend’s children are walking in truth. The Greek there actually says “rejoice exceedingly.” He was thrilled. Because he loved her, he loved her children. Hearing that “some” of her children were being obedient to the Lord’s command made his heart glad. We don’t know how many children she had, but at least these were living for Jesus.

APPLICATION

There is nothing we want more for our children than to live for the Lord. When they make that decision to follow Him, our hearts are like John’s heart. We are thrilled. We rejoice exceedingly. I had the privilege to baptize both of my children. I still remember getting choked up trying to speak while doing that. I pray daily for their walk with Him.

But we can’t let our guard down just because they have accepted Christ as their Savior. We have to continue to disciple and instruct them in the things of the Lord. And listen – that never stops. My children are 34 and 30. I still try to lead them as they allow me to. Their walk with Christ and their families’ walks with Christ are still at the top of my prayer list daily. Never stop discipling your children because they never stop needing it.

How are you doing with that? Are you offering godly counsel to your children? Some of our adult kids ask for it. Some don’t. But we still have a responsibility to them for the sake of the Lord. Today, on Christmas day, you may be spending some time with your adult kids and their families. Don’t forget to ask them how their walk is. You will be glad you did.

O Father God, You have blessed me with children who know You. Help me continue to guide and disciple them in their walk  with Christ.

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THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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OUR PURPOSE

1 JOHN 4:14

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

I bet you have wondered at one point or another what your purpose is in life. Rick Warren wrote the best seller “The Purpose Driven Life.” People want to know their purpose. They actually spend hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to figure it out.

If you are a believer, it’s so simple. John spells it out right here. You are to testify about Jesus. That’s your purpose. Now, John actually saw the Father because he had seen the Son. We may not have seen the Father, but we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We know the truth. We are, therefore, called to testify about it.

APPLICATION

Ask your children to tell you about something they have seen. Maybe they can tell you about their trip to the zoo or the beach. Just let them talk. Let them describe every activity. Kids love to tell about what they have seen. They can go on and on about all the wonderful things they have experienced.

Now, bring them to this verse. Explain to them how we should have the same passion to tell the story of Jesus to others. Ask them to share their experience with Jesus. By doing so, they can fine tuning their testimony. They are learning to tell others of the amazing things they have seen God do in their lives. They are sharing the good news. That’s their purpose.

Are you purpose driven? Are you aware of this calling on your life? Today ask the Lord to put someone in your path to whom you can testify about the goodness of God. Maybe there is someone you need to go to today to share Jesus with. Go, do it. Don’t put it off. Remember, their eternal destiny hangs in the balance. God has purposed you to share.

Thank You, Lord, for the reminder of my calling, my purpose. Help me today to share Jesus with someone who is in need of a Savior. 

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Advice, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Devil, Evil, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Satan, Scripture

THE SECRET TO OVERCOMING

1 JOHN 2:14

“I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

Look at this verse. What do you think the secret is to overcoming the evil one? Look closely. See it? “and the word of God abides in you.” John even said in his gospel, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Unless the Word of God is reigning supreme in our lives, we have no hope of overcoming anyone, much less the evil one.

So, how do you make sure the Word is abiding in you? Are you having your quiet time? Are you spending time daily in His Word to help guide you? You see, you can’t rely on your own strength to overcome the evil one. The devil is much smarter than you. He can outwit you and scheme against you. But with God’s Word go guide, he is no match.

APPLICATION

Your children need to know this truth. They may think they can handle it by themselves. This comes even more a danger when they get older. Teens get independent and don’t realize how deceitful the enemy is. Parents have to be diligent in teaching their older children the necessity of relying on the Word of God.

Are you teaching your children this? The bottom line is this. We can’t do it on our own. We have to be armed with the sword of the Lord. Your kids may think the Bible is outdated. We have to change that view by daily showing the applicability of it in our own lives.

Are you doing that? Are you using the Word to guide you? Do your children see you applying the Word to your daily decisions? Do they get tired of hearing you say, We need to see what God’s Word says about this? I hope they are. Don’t stop.

Lord, I will trust Your Word. I know it has the wisdom to guide me daily.

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A HARD SALVATION

1 PETER 4:18

“AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER?” 

Peter seems to quote from Proverbs 11:31 here. He expands on this verse to give us its full meaning, though. It is no easy thing for a righteous person to be saved. Their selfish ambitions, pride, fleshly desires and overall desire for sin are in the way. Only the Holy Spirit can draw them to a point of repentance and confession leading to salvation.

However, the godless man will not turn. They see no desire for change. The Greek for “what will become” is actually better translated “where will they appear.” The godless sinner will not disappear at death. They will appear again at the judgment. There is no escape.

APPLICATION

This is kind of a harsh verse, huh? But it is the truth. Our children need to be nurtured and taught to listen carefully for the call of the Holy Spirit in their lives. He calls us all at different times. Some children hear His call at an early age. Others don’t hear it until they are older. But their ears need to be tuned to Him.

How is that made possible? By filling their hearts and minds with the Word of God. The Spirit speaks through the Word. Did you know that most people come to Christ before the age of fourteen? These are crucial years. These are years where you have the privilege to speak Jesus into their lives every day. Then let the Spirit do His job.

When did you hear His voice? I heard it at sixteen, clear as day. He spoke to me as I was singing a solo in my youth choir practice the day before we left for a choir tour. He told me plain as day that I was lost and need a Savior. I yielded right then to His call and have never looked back since. Praise be to God.

Thank You, Lord, for not ceasing to call me. I thank You that You are still calling people today. Use me as Your mouthpiece.

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