Abiding, Affection, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Confession, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Intimacy, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Reputation, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

IT NEVER LASTS

HOSEA 6:4

“What shall I do with you, Ephraim? What shall I do with you, Judah? For your loyalty is like a morning cloud, and like the dew which goes away early.”

I have been in the woods enough in the early morning to know that the early morning frost on the ground in the Fall doesn’t last long. It is really quite neat to watch the sunbeams hit the ground. As they inch across the landscape with the rising sun, you can watch the frost melt away. Little by little it vanishes.

God compares Ephraim and Judah to the vanishing morning clouds and the dew. They, too, vanish quickly. God knew they were about as loyal. Here one moment and gone the next. Fickle! Always looking for the next best thing. They could not be trusted.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you. Are you dependable? Can the Lord rely on you? When He asks you to do something, will you do it? He requires the same loyalty from us that He required of Ephraim and Judah. He has paid a huge price for our salvation. He gave His only Son to die for us. When we receive that gift, He expects us to be obedient.

What do we do with a disobedient child? We discipline them, of course. Why? To teach them to obey. We don’t pleasure in discipling them, but we know we must. An undisciplined child will be a disobedient adult. Therefore, God will discipline His children.

I never liked discipline. I still don’t. How do you avoid being disciplined? By obeying. I try to obey the Lord, but I am not always successful. Most of the time that disobedience is accidental. Whether the disobedience is accidental or purposeful, I still must be corrected by God. Will you yield to the Lord’s correction? Better yet, will you obey?

I won’t to obey You, Lord. And when I disobey You, I will accept Your discipline. I know You only discipline me to make me more like You.

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Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Condemnation, Destruction, Discipline, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Mercy, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

THE LION GOD

HOSEA 5:14

“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, yes I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be no one to rescue.”

I hunt in an area known to have bears and an occasional mountain lion. We even have coyotes and wolves. You may ask me why I hunt there then. Well, I go in the woods fully armed. I am carrying a pistol and either a rifle, shotgun or crossbow. I walk in with my head on a swivel. I don’t want to end up breakfast or dinner for one of these critters.

God describes Himself as a lion tearing apart Ephraim and Judah. That’s pretty vicious. It gives you an idea how angry He was at them. Their rebellion had gone too far. He could not sit idly by and watch them relish in their pagan activities. Judgment had to fall and fall it did.

APPLICATION

Do you want to be torn apart by an angry God? Of course, not. No one does. And no one has to. When we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, that judgment is appeased. God no longer seeks to devour us because of our wickedness. Because of the blood of Jesus, our sins are covered. Hallelujah!

Do you know someone who has not surrendered to the Lord? They are at risk! Their sins are not covered. God will hold them accountable for their sins. There is nothing they can do to escape His wrath – except… They must come to Jesus. Are you playing a part in showing them that? Perhaps the Lord has put you in their lives for just that reason.

Wouldn’t it be glorious to be a part of someone you know coming to Christ? There is no better joy than to lead someone to Him and watch them respond. Their excitement of salvation is contagious. You will catch it. You will be on cloud nine. You will seek out others to share with. So, what are you waiting for?

Lord, I want to see many avoid Your wrath. Will You give me the courage and boldness to be Your witness to a lost world?

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

TROUBLE’S COMING

HOSEA 5:7

“They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, for they have given birth to illegitimate children. Now the new moon will devour them with their land.”

Sometimes we think we have gotten away with stuff. Can you think of things in your life that you have done that you have yet to suffer the consequence? I don’t mean really bad stuff. It could be anything that you know you shouldn’t have done. It could have been years ago. You have never confessed and now think God has forgotten about it. Guess again.

Israel has “dealt treacherously with the Lord.” They have dealt in deception. They have birthed children from their pagan worship and with pagan people. They think they have pulled the wool over God’s eyes. But now God tells them through Hosea that within a month judgment is coming. Wow! I guess God wasn’t fooled.

APPLICATION

What are you attempting to hide from God? Do you really think you can do that? Let me save you some time and some trouble. You can’t. God sees all and knows all. You can waste your time trying to hide stuff from Him, but He knows it all before it happens.

God desires that we disclose all to Him. He wants us to live holy lives before Him. That requires transparency. That requires open and vulnerable hearts. When we do that, our lives are so much more in tune with Him. We can walk in victory and not fear repercussions from the Lord.

I don’t like to walk around looking over my shoulder. I prefer to walk facing straight ahead, knowing the Lord has my back. I have nothing to hide from Him. He knows everything I have done. He knows my motive for doing it. He knows my every little thought and knows my actions before I do them. I will trust Him. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for knowing me. I trust You because You know what is best for me each and every day.

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Accountability, Apologies, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Confession, Following, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

UNWANTED SACRIFICES

HOSEA 5:6

“They will go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them.”

Have you ever tried to make amends to apologize to someone who wouldn’t accept it? It is really a difficult situation. You may be entirely sincere, but the hurt the other person is feeling is so real to them. They just can’t forgive. You are in a helpless situation. You can’t make them accept your apology. You have to prove yourself to them over time.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah could do nothing at this point. God wasn’t interested in their sacrifices of their flocks and herds. All the shed blood of their sacrifices could not appease God. His judgment was sure. They had to pay for their sins. He may forgive them in the future, but right now He was holding them accountable.

APPLICATION

What do you do when you have sinned against God? You need to make quick confession. We know that we should never sin intentionally against the Lord. But we may sin unintentionally. Sin, no matter how it is committed, must be confessed to our Lord. We need His forgiveness. We desire it. And the Lord is quick to give it.

Isn’t forgiveness sweet? Recall the feeling that comes with fresh cleansing from the Lord. There is nothing like it. I could write a list of analogies to compare it, but if you have experienced it, you know no words can really express it. If you haven’t come to Him lately to seek His forgiveness, come.

Let me remind you that when we choose not to seek forgiveness, we only put another brick in the wall that prevents us from hearing the Lord’s voice. The longer we go without confessing, the dimmer His voice becomes. Come to Him today. Confess all your sins to your Lord now and feel His warm embrace.

Father, never let me stray from the sound of Your voice. I want to stay “confessed up” and near to Your heart.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Stumble

WEAK ANKLES

HOSEA 5:5

“Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, and Israel and Ephraim stumble in their wrongdoing; Judah also has stumbled with them.”

When I was a sophomore in high school, I broke my left ankle at football camp. I had won a starting position as center and was determined to not miss that season. I didn’t treat my injured ankle as the doctor suggested and actually ended up doing more harm to it. That ankle has been sprained a number of times since because it was weakened due to my own stupidity.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah stumbled due to their own stupidity. You see, the word “stumble” means to be weak in the ankles. When you are weak in your ankles, you can’t walk too well. When you are weak in your spiritual ankles, you can’t walk with God well. That’s what happened to Israel, Ephraim and Judah. They had injured their own spiritual walk through their choices.

APPLICATION

How do you keep your ankles strong? I am talking about your spiritual ankles. How do you do that? As with any body part, you have to exercise them to keep them strong. You can’t just sit around and expect to have strong ankles. You have to walk. And you have to walk correctly. If you walk incorrectly, you can damage your walk. But if you walk as He walked, you will have strong ankles.

I suffer from neuropathy in both of my feet. This has been progressing ever since I had chemotherapy in the Fall of 2019 and early Winter 2020. The numbness and pain have progressed up past my ankles. I can’t go for a walk right now because of the pain in my feet, toes and ankles. That is frustrating.

But the physical pain and numbness in my feet and ankles do not affect my spiritual ankles. I have to accept this side effect of my chemotherapy. I have no choice. I will probably have to live with it for the rest of my life. That’s okay. God has allowed it for a reason. It’s now part of my spiritual walk. How are your spiritual ankles?

Lord, strengthen my ankles so I can walk with You. I want to walk with You daily.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Commands, Discipline, Faithfulness, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Rebuke, Scripture

REBUKED

HOSEA 5:2

“And the rebels have gone deep in depravity, but I will discipline all of them.”

There comes a time when wrong doers have to be confronted and put in their place. I worked for over thirty years with children and youth who had been abused and neglected. Some of those children were rebels. They fought against everything we did for them – at least for a while. Their past abuse damaged their ability to receive love and proper affection. We had to discipline them on occasion to point them towards the right path.

God is doing the same here in Hosea. These rebels in Israel had sunk deep in depravity. God said He will discipline all of them. Notice that. He said “all” of them. He couldn’t leave out one rebel. They all had to be disciplined. None would escape. Nothing’s changed! That’s still true today.

APPLICATION

Are you a rebel against the commands of God? Of course, not, Carl. I would never rebel. Really? I ask that question because we are all prone to wander, as the old hymn said. Our flesh wants what it wants when it wants it. We may think our rebellion is too small to be labeled as rebellion. So, how do you know if you’re a rebel?

It’s pretty simple. If you are not following the Lord’s commands that He has laid out in His Word, you are rebelling against Him. Does that sound harsh? It is. You can’t partially follow Him. You can’t have one foot in the world and one foot following Jesus.

Will you join me in confessing our rebellion? We’ve all done it. The good news is He is there ready to forgive our rebellion. He wants to place us where we need to be. He wants us to follow Him. He wants to drive out any spirit of rebellion we may have in our hearts. And through Jesus we can do that.

Father, I confess my rebellion against Your commands. Lead me and direct me each day.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Choices, Comfort, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Stubbornness

LIVESTOCK

HOSEA 4:16

“Since Israel is stubborn like a stubborn cow, will the LORD now pasture them like a lamb in a large field?”

My Grandma Carter raised cows. The funny thing was she didn’t like to eat beef. She spent hours tending to, feeding and watering her cattle, but didn’t enjoy the fruits of her labor. I remember going out in the pasture with her at times. She always carried a whip with her and did not hesitate to use it on the stubborn cows. As a little boy I thought that was cruel. Now I know it wasn’t. She was just trying to move them.

Hosea uses the imagery of cows and sheep here. The cows are stubborn, and the sheep are unprotected in a large field. The people who heard this message understood this. They understood how you handle stubborn cows. God was doing the same with Israel. They also knew you didn’t place sheep in large fields with no protection. Israel was heading toward exile (a large, unprotected field).

APPLICATION

Now, let me ask you a question. How stubborn are you? Are you “pulling against the yoke”? Do you know what that does? When you pull against the yoke rather than in it, you develop blisters and raw spots. The yoke is designed to not do that. If a cow gets raw spots on their skin from rubbing against the yoke, they will be in pain and not pull as effectively.

Stubbornness may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. It especially isn’t when you are being stubborn against God. The Lord gives us specific commands to follow. When we bow up and refuse to obey, we are going to suffer the consequences. We will develop those blisters that will bring pain.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like blisters. I don’t like the pain they bring. So, I have a choice. I choose to stay yoked to Jesus and follow His lead. When I do that, I will not develop those painful blisters. Following His lead will allow me to grow in my “pulling” status. I will get stronger and smarter as I follow Him.

Father, I thank You for discipline. When I am showing my stubborn streak, I ask You to correct it. I want to follow You.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Devil, Idols, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Satan, Scripture, Sin

UNDER THE SHADE TREE

HOSEA 4:13

“They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains and burn incense on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is pleasant. Therefore, your daughters play the prostitute, and your brides commit adultery.”

Growing up in South Georgia I spent many lazy summer days under the shade of a tree with my buddies. After playing and riding bikes we would find a favorite spot under a tree and just lay around shooting the breeze. We could talk for hours about nothing. Those childhood memories will be with me forever.

That is not what the people of Israel were doing, however. They were offering sacrifices to false gods under those trees. These idols and their worship led them to do things that were abhorrent to God. They deserted the worship of the one, true God for the momentary pleasures of false ones. They were lulled into this by Satan himself. He wanted them to stray and offered every opportunity to do so.

APPLICATION

What are you allowing Satan to lull you into? You see, we are in a spiritual battle every day. The devil loves to get our eyes off of Jesus. He puts things in our paths that seem to provide security. Right now, here in America, most of us have received stimulus checks to assist families during this covid economy. These checks can provide a false sense of security. Government funds are not the answer. God is.

Now, before you ask, yes, I did receive a check. Yes, I will accept it. And yes, I will spend it. The difference is I realize that check is not the answer to any financial concerns I may have. I can’t rely on any source of income to be my Savior. All those resources can dry up overnight. There is only one reliable source for me – Jesus. If I have nothing material, I will always have Him. He will provide for me. He has promised to do so. I must trust that.

I won’t ask you how you spent your stimulus check from the government. That’s none of my business. I will ask you who you are trusting, though. If it’s not your Lord, you need to stop and reassess your priorities. This may sound like I am brow beating you today. I don’t mean to. I only want to challenge you to trust Jesus with everything. Will you today?

Thank You, Lord, that You are my only source of provision. I am thankful how You use others to meet my needs when applicable, but I know it is You who are really my one true and safe source.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Choices, Evil, Foolishness, Infidelity, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Scripture

WOW!

HOSEA 4:11

“Infidelity, wine, and new wine take away the understanding.”

Can you think of a time when you let your poor decisions lead you into a messy situation? I will have to admit that in my B.C. (Before Christ) days I made plenty of stupid decisions based on emotion or unrestrained passion. Emotions and passion are good things when they are leading us in the right direction – towards God. But when they are pointed in the wrong direction – well…

Hosea says is pretty clearly, doesn’t he? Infidelity and wine will lead us astray. The people of Israel had allowed their indulgences to replace their love for Jehovah God. Hosea even says it took away their understanding. Understanding of what? Of what was important. Of their understanding of God. Of His love.

APPLICATION

Is anything influencing your decisions right now away from the Lord? It may not be infidelity or wine, but it could be something else. What is it? Before you make a decision about anything do you seek the Lord’s direction? That’s the only safe way of making any decision.

Does that mean any decision? I’m not talking about what kind of jelly to put on your toast. But I am talking about other seemingly mundane ones. Don’t you think the Lord cares about the little stuff? Of course, he does. We can’t afford to let anything influence our decisions that could possibly lead us away from our own understanding of our loving God.

Why not start each day asking the Lord for direction? Ask Him to guard your eyes and ears. Ask Him to protect your every step. He is listening and waiting to hear your plea. He will show you exactly what to do in His time. Do you believe Him? Then do it.

I don’t want to make a decision without Your guidance, Lord. Protect me from making any decision that leads me away from You.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Direction, Forgetting, Hypocrisy, Infidelity, Judgment, Lawlessness, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

NO DEVOTION

HOSEA 4:10

“They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the prostitute, but not increase, because they gave up devoting themselves to the LORD.”

I have been devoted to a lot of things in life. I was devoted to football when I was in high school. I loved the game. Truth be known, I loved to hit people. I did everything the coach asked of me. But as soon as high school ended that devotion ended. There was no future in it for me.

Israel gave up devoting themselves to the Lord and reaped the consequences. Their resources would not be enough. No matter how much they had, it would fall short. Hosea said they played the prostitute. They had sinned and deserted the Lord. God cannot bless that kind of behavior. Israel was judged for this.

APPLICATION

What happens to us when we stop devoting ourselves to Him? The same thing. God will cease blessing us. We may not “play the prostitute,” but sin is sin. Anything can lead us away from the Lord. What in your life is doing that? If it replaces the time you spend with the Lord, it is sin. If it becomes your first love, it is sin.

Devotion to anything besides the Lord will only lead you down the wrong road. Our Lord expects obedience, but He won’t make us obey. We have to choose to obey Him. We have to choose to devote ourselves to Him. And when we do, He is there to bless and lead us. He rewards our devotion.

Now, here me clearly. We devote ourselves to Him not for what we can get out of it. We devote ourselves to Him out of love for Him. His love draws us to this point of devotion if we will only yield to it. His love will never lead us to anything but devotion.

I have devoted myself to You, O Lord. My devotion is based on my love for Your love.

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