Accountability, Bible, Choices, Confession, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Obedience, Prayer, Redemption, Relationships, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

FOOLISH THINKING

HOSEA 12:8

“And Ephraim said, ‘I have certainly become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no wrongdoing, which would be sin.’”

Have you ever gotten away with doing something wrong? You didn’t get caught, so you figured all was well. God didn’t zap you. When that happens, it is very easy to think that you are immune to punishment. Just call yourself “Teflon Joe.” Nothing sticks to you. We both know that is dangerous ground.

Ephraim was saying that about themselves. They were disobedient to God, but them seemingly were still being blessed. They exclaimed, “I have certainly become rich.” They had the midas touch. So, they assumed they were without sin. However, they soon realized that was not true. God’s punishments may be delayed, but they are not going to be withheld forever.

APPLICATION

You may be knee deep in sin right now. God has not disciplined you yet. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit within you is convicting you, but you may be tuning Him out. You figure you will deal with this sin later. You will confess later. You will get right with the Lord later. Listen to me – later is now. It’s time.

Just because the Lord does not immediately discipline us for our sins does not mean He is pleased with us. Sins have consequences. Some are immediate. Others may be delayed, but they all have consequences. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking God doesn’t care about your sins. He does. He sent His Son to die for them, all of them, past, present and future.

I desire to stay “confessed up.” I don’t want my sins, which are many, to come between me and my Lord. I need that direct line to the Lord open at all times and not full of the static of my unconfessed sins. Don’t you want that too?

Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and grace in my life. Show me my sins so that I can repent and have my fellowship restored.

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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.

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Choices, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Obedience, Parenting, Protection, Scripture

FIRST STEPS

HOSEA 11:3

Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them.”

I can’t remember my first steps as a baby. Why would I? I mean, I was pretty young, right? But I do remember my children’s first steps. We spent weeks helping them stand up and then watched them “cruise” around furniture. Then that day arrived when they took those first steps. How proud we were as parents! First steps are a milestone.

Jehovah helped Israel walk. He guided them by His strong hand. He held them up when they toppled. He led them along a safe path, only to have them jerk away and start walking in their own direction. How painful that must have been for our God to see His beloved children walk away.

APPLICATION

Sadly, we do the same thing. Think about your own walk. When you came to Christ, He was the one who led you on your first steps. He pointed you toward the direction He would have you walk. He held you up when you stumbled and fell. He picked you up and dusted you off. He was always there.

But we get comfortable in our walk and don’t think we need Him anymore. We see a path that looks better than the path He has for us. We explore new walkways and leave the safety of Jesus’ path behind. And what happens? Almost every time, we fall. We trip. We are attacked by our enemies. All we have to do is remain on the sure path, but we want to walk our way.

The older I get the less I want to wander. I like the assurance of Jesus holding my hand. I don’t want to jerk away and go my way. I have learned His way may not be as “glamorous,” but it is trustworthy. I know He will never lead me wrong. So, why would I ever want to “explore” another path? Never!

Lord, I praise You for holding my hand as I took my first steps with You. But You kept holding it. You kept leading me.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Altars, Bible, Choices, Destruction, Double-minded, Faithfulness, Idols, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Sincerity

GOD THE DESTROYER

HOSEA 10:2

“Their heart is deceitful; now they must suffer for their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their memorial stones.”

There is something about tearing something down. I can remember as a boy using my dad’s big sledgehammer. I used to ask my dad if I could swing it when he had to tear apart stuff. Man, when that big hammer hit the wood, it would just splinter that stuff. Tearing down stuff was fun.

But here in today’s verse, the Lord is tearing down some stuff, and He wasn’t having fun. He was angry at Israel’s sin, at the way they had built these altars to their false gods. He was determined to destroy any sign of their idolatry. And He didn’t need a sledgehammer.

APPLICATION

Are there things in your life that you need to tear down? We all have things that we have built up that get between us and God. They may just be small things, but anything between you and the Lord is an idol, a distraction. It must come down. It has to be removed. If you leave it there, it will affect your walk with Him.

Now, you don’t need a sledgehammer to do that. You just need to turn to the Lord. It seems when we prioritize Jesus in our lives, all those other things seem to disappear or take a back seat. The “altars” and “memorial stones” we have placed in our lives have to come down. There is only room for Jesus.

From time to time I have built up “altars” in my life. I have placed too much emphasis on things at the expense of worshipping the Lord. One by one the Lord showed me those “altars” had to come down. As I got rid of them, my love for the Lord grew stronger. Sole devotion to Jesus is what is required. My knee will bow to no one else.

Help me Lord to keep my altars torn down. I desire to worship only You.

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Bible, Choices, Courage, Destruction, Encouragement, Eternity, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture

DESTRUCTION

HOSEA 9:6

“For behold, they will be gone because of destruction; Egypt will gather them together, Memphis will bury them. Weeds will take possession of their treasures of silver; thorns will be in their tents.”

The word “destruction” carries with it a feeling of doom and ruin. If you’re an Avengers fan, you can probably think of a couple of those movies when total destruction happened. Everything was destroyed. It was havoc. There was no escape. That’s the picture I get of destruction.

Israel thought they were escaping destruction. They fled to Egypt, but that didn’t protect them. God’s judgment would not be thwarted, no matter where they went. The picture Hosea paints here is one of loss and ruin. Their silver and tents are gone.

APPLICATION

Are you headed toward destruction? God provides a way out. But you have to stop going in the direction you are going. You will never outrun God’s wrath. There is no other source of rescue. Running to others won’t work. Where will you turn?

Turn to Jesus. When all hope seems gone, turn to Him. He is the one who can pull you from the pit of destruction. He is ready and able to rescue you. Ask Him to forgive you. Seek restoration with the Father now. He will hear you and forgive. He promises that. Will you come?

I am so thankful that I have stopped running. I know in whom I have believed. I know He is able. He will keep me until eternity finds me. I am safe and secure with Jesus as my Lord. I only desire that others find Him too. That’s my goal now – to bring others to Him.

The destroyer can’t touch me because I belong to You, Lord. I am so thankful You called me so many years ago. I am in Your hands.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, Hell, Obedience, Promises, Repentance, Scripture

OUTCASTS

HOSEA 9:3

“They will not remain in the LORD’S land, but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.

There have been a few times in my life when I felt like an outcast, like I wasn’t wanted. I can remember being chosen last at recess for a game. I wasn’t the fastest kid when I was little. I was on the heavy side. So, if there were teams being picked that involved running fast, I was usually one of the last chosen. I hated that feeling.

It’s not the same, but here in Hosea we see that Israel or Ephraim would be cast out of their land. The Lord was not going to allow them to remain there. They would be taken away. I can’t imagine how that must have felt. They would have to leave their homes and their lands and be taken to a strange land as slaves, as exiles. All because they had not obeyed the Lord.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen to me. Without Christ in our lives, we will all be outcasts. We will be cast into hell. We will face eternal punishment for not obeying the Lord. He will hold us accountable for all the sins we have committed. We will not escape His wrath.

But…if we turn to Him in repentance and bow our knee to Jesus, He is quick to adopt us into His family. We will never be cast out. We will inherit His promises. We are heirs of His kingdom. We are commanded to obey, and by doing so He draws us close. So, we have a choice – outcast or drawn close.

I know what I choose. I want to draw close. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you.” Spending time in the Word daily does that. Hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His precepts pulls me closer each day. I can just hear His still small voice. Can you hear Him?

I love to hear Your voice. I want to be drawn close to You. I praise You!

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Foolishness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Rebuke, Scripture, Sin

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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Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Disciplemaking, Following, Harvest, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Surrender

FALSE HARVEST

HOSEA 8:7

“For they sow wind and they harvest a storm. The standing grain has no kernels; it yields no grain. If it were to yield, strangers would swallow it.”

I have mentioned before that I grew up in Southwest Georgia in a very rural community. My Grandma Carter had a farm about 12 miles from our home where we used to go to harvest vegetables from her garden. I especially loved to pick the corn. Sometimes, though, the corn cobs would be underdeveloped. They weren’t good to eat. We wasted all that time in the harvest with nothing to show for it.

Israel was facing the same thing. Because of God’s judgment upon them, they would not be blessed in their harvests. In fact, nothing they did would be productive. There is a cost for rebellion. There are consequences for not obeying the Lord’s commands. They expected blessings but received nothing.

APPLICATION

Perhaps you are wondering why you are not receiving blessings from the Lord. I am not talking about a prosperity gospel. I am not saying we can just name it and claim it. I mean, you are looking for the Lord to bless you, but He isn’t. Why? God wants to bless all His children. I hope you believe that. But maybe you are living in a such a way that the Lord can’t bless you.

God does demand allegiance. Obedience is expected. And when we are obedient, God is ready to pour out His blessings. He blesses us because He wants to. He enjoys seeing us live obedient lives. Because He loves us so much, we should want to please Him.

I want to receive His blessings. I truly desire them. But I have learned through many years of walking with the Lord that those blessings only come through obedience. I know this to be true and still I fall short too many times. But God knows my heart. He lovingly welcomes me home each and every time I come to Him in repentance. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for sending Your blessings when I come to You in surrender. Your blessings are my desire.

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Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Commands, Faith, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin

IDOL MAKING

HOSEA 8:4

“They have set up kings, but not by Me; they have appointed officials, but I did not know it. With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves, so that they will be eliminated.”

Idols come in all shapes and sizes. Now, I am not talking about the little statues that people used to bow down to and worship. I’m talking about all those things we put on the top of our priority list. We put all sorts of things up there and never realize what we’ve done. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Israel had literally made idols for themselves. They had turned to the false gods of the land and worshipped them. They turned their backs on God and decided to go after the newest craze. They loved the pagan worship they witnessed in the land and were drawn into it by the people around them. Idols were everywhere.

APPLICATION

We know that as believers Jesus must be our Lord. Nothing must come between Him and us. But we let things slide in. Many of those things are good things. There is really nothing wrong with them. It’s just we start to put them higher and higher and all of a sudden, they’ve taken first place.

Mom and Dad, are you prioritizing your relationship with Jesus? Do you spend time every day reading and studying His Word? Well Carl, I would but Jenny has dance and Robert has soccer. We are just busy with sports. What have you done? You’ve replaced time with God with busy activities. Anything that replaces God is an idol. Anything!

I am at the age now that I realize just how important time with Jesus is. I desire it so much. For me, first thing in the morning is best. There are fewer interruptions. I don’t let things get in the way of that time. That’s my time with Jesus. How about you? Will you take a look at what is important in your life? Ask yourself if anything has taken over Jesus’ spot in your life.

Father, You must always be the most important person in my life. I vow to put You first and keep You in that spot.

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