Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Following, Forgiveness, Jealousy, Repentance, Scripture

IF MY PEOPLE…

JOEL 2:18

“Then the LORD will be zealous for His land, and will have compassion for His people.

If…then. That is a principle used by a lot of parents. “If you clean your room, then you can have a treat.” It makes sense. Our choices often determine our consequences. I know if I exercise, then I will feel better. If I eat healthier, then I will possibly lose some weight. But the “if” is hard to do sometimes, isn’t it?

The previous verses in chapter 2 of Joel tell us the prerequisite for this verse to be true. The people of Judah had to come to the Lord in repentance. When they did, the Lord responded. I love what Joel says here. Then He will be zealous for this land. That word “zealous” in the Hebrew has the idea of the Lord being jealous for Judah. That’s meant in a good way. “Compassion” means He will spare them the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

If the Lord asked you to do something, would you do it? Most of us would say “yes.” But how many of us would actually do it? The Lord wants so much to bless us. But the Lord expects certain things from us. If we live godly lives, His blessings flow. If we forgive others who trespass against us, He forgives us our trespasses.

The Lord is still jealous over us. He will guard and protect us. He wants to show us compassion and spare us the possible consequences we deserve. For His jealousy and compassion to come forth, we have to respond to Him. We need to come to Him in a spirit of confession. Will you do that?

I long for God’s blessings in my life. I know those blessings are dependent on my obedience to Him. Now, listen to me. I am NOT saying I obey to get blessed. I obey because I love my Savior. As a result of my obedience, the Lord desires to bless me. If…then.

Lord, I long to please You. I know Your blessings flow when we follow You.

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Battles, Choices, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

INFESTED

JOEL 2:9

“They storm the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief.”

Once, when I lived in Florida, our house became infested with ticks. We noticed a couple climbing up the wall in our den one night and killed them. The next day we saw more and killed them, but they just kept coming. We had the house sprayed a few times before they were finally contained. But they were everywhere. It was pretty creepy to live in.

The locusts Joel is describing here that came as part of God’s judgment on Judah were everywhere. One commentator’s description talked about them eating everything in the house, even clothing. The people had no rest from them. They couldn’t eat without battling them for the food. Can you imagine the scene? It must have been horrible.

APPLICATION

Sin is that way. It creeps in and infests our lives. If we do not deal with it quickly it will affect every area of our lives. We may think we can keep it isolated, but we can’t. It spreads. It penetrates even our most guarded areas. Sin seeps in and begins to cause decay. Just like those locusts in today’s verse, sin will devour everything in its path.

But we have the solution – Jesus. His blood covers all those sins. We will never be free from the presence of sin this side of glory. However, we do not have to live chained to sin. We have the power to live above it. We can close the windows and doors of our lives to its penetrating power through the Holy Spirit. His power trumps sin’s power every time.

So, you have a choice. You can choose to live in the stench of sin or in the aroma of our Savior. That’s pretty much a no brainer, if you ask me. I choose Jesus. I know He is my protector and defender. I trust Him to cover my sins with His precious blood. I am free because of that. How about you?

O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow!

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Purity, Refreshing, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

DECAYING

HOSEA 14:1

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.”

Sometimes when I am in the woods hunting, I come across a dead animal. I always smell it before I see it. It’s hard to not smell it. When I find the carcass, it hardly recognizable. Often, I have to really look to figure out what it was. It has decayed to a point that you really don’t want to touch it or be near it.

Why do I bring that up? Because the Hebrew word for “stumbled” can also mean decayed. Israel has gone so far from God that they had that same stench. Their sins reeked. God was not pleased. Hosea is begging them to return. They can be salvaged if only…

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? I’m not asking if you deodorant is working. What I want to know is if your sins are stinking. All sin smells. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It may not smell to begin with, but it will. Left unconfessed, that sin will begin to turn rank in your life. The stench of sin in your life will begin to be noticed by others.

But praise be to God, there’s a remedy. Confess your sins. Be bathed in the blood of the Lamb. Get refreshed by His life-giving water. He will wash away all your sins. His blood works so much better than any household cleaner out there. If you are tired of smelling like sin, come to Him.

I don’t like the smell of sin. The more I spend time in the Word, the easier it is to smell sin. My nose can sniff it out. It’s like an early warning system to my soul. The Holy Spirit points out sin to me before I go there. Do I always listen? No, but when I don’t the Spirit won’t let me go until I confess it. I want to smell good, don’t you?

O God, cleanse me and purify me. I want to smell like Jesus.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Compassion, Direction, Disciplemaking, Following, Gentleness, God's Will, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Stubbornness

GOD’S WIND

HOSEA 13:15

Though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, the wind of the LORD coming up from the wilderness; and his fountain will become dry and his spring will dry up; it will plunder his treasury of every precious article.”

I love to fish. I used to own a fishing boat and would go out on our local lake to fish. Sometimes when you are out on the water the weather changes. I can remember one day when I was out with some friends when that happened. The sky started to get dark, so I checked my weather app. Sure enough, a storm was coming. I could see the water getting rougher from the approaching winds. I had to get off the water for my safety.

The wind of the Lord came up from the wilderness, says Hosea. God’s judgment on Israel was coming. They were going to feel the wrath of God soon. But Israel continued to ignore the signs. They continued in their sins and rebellion until the wind hit them. Stubbornness and pride will always bring you down.

APPLICATION

When you see a storm coming, don’t you take cover? I can remember preparing for approaching hurricanes when I lived in Florida. We boarded up windows and brought in outdoor furniture. We would have been foolish to do anything else. But so many of us ignore the approaching wind of the Lord. We think it certainly won’t hit us. God is too loving to punish us, right?

Wrong! I have said it multiple times – God cannot and will not allow unrepentant sin to go unpunished. Without Christ His wind will catch us all. But once we come to Christ and confess our sins, His wind will simply fill our sails and carry us along on our journey. It’s the same wind but with a different purpose. Isn’t that amazing?

I choose to have my sails filled with the gentle breath of the Lord’s wind. I want Him to guide me in my daily walk with Christ. I trust Him to blow as gentle or as strong as necessary to do that. And wherever He leads, I will go.

Wherever He leads, I’ll go, Wherever He leads, I’ll go. I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so. Wherever He leads, I’ll go.

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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, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender

ONE SAVIOR

HOSEA 13:4 

“Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” 

I have been reading a book by Nik Ripken entitled, “The Insanity of Obedience.” It is an inspiring and convicting read. I highly recommend it. One thing Nik points out about the conversion of Hindu believers is the danger of incorporating Jesus into their many gods. True conversion of a Hindu will result in the removal of their altars to their other gods in their homes. There’s only room for one Savior. 

Israel struggled with the influence of pagan religions, the very thing God warned them about when they came into the Promised Land under Joshua. They allowed the nations they were supposed to defeat to defeat them from within by absorbing their beliefs. But God is a jealous God and would not allow that to continue. 

APPLICATION 

The same holds true for us today. God is still a jealous God. He will not share us with other gods. You may say, What other  gods?  The gods of our own making. As I have said before, we put all kinds of things before our Lord. We celebrate and worship the things of this world. We spend our time and money in places that have no eternal value. 

Have you torn down your altars and made room for just one Savior? Nothing or no one else can deliver you from the struggles of this life. No amount of Pure Barre or Orange Theory workouts can diminish the pain you are feeling. Only Jesus can remove what ails you. He can bring you into a perfect peace that will never leave you.  

I have tried different things in my life to get the peace that can only come through Jesus. Some of them actually seem to work for a while. I have even tried ministry to others to fill that void. Only time with Jesus can do it. Allow Him to occupy your mind and heart today. He is the only Savior you will ever need. 

Father, I am grateful for the Savior. Jesus is all I will ever need. 

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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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