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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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, Commands, Commitment, Condemnation, Deceit, Faithfulness, God's Will, Holiness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

MOVING THE LINE

HOSEA 5:10

“The leaders of Judah have become like those who displace a boundary marker; On them I will pour out My anger like water.”

There’s been a battle for a number of years over the official boundary marker on a part of the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. The battle is really about water rights to the Tennessee river. Georgia wants access to that water, mainly for their largest city, Atlanta. But the original boundary marker excludes that. They claim the line was drawn incorrectly and needs to be corrected. I doubt that boundary marker will ever be changed.

Hosea uses the idea of moving a marker to describe Judah. Anyone who would move a boundary marker without permission is dishonest. God does not tolerate that and certainly wouldn’t from Judah. Their deceit draws God’s anger. He says He will pour it out like water. Not good!

APPLICATION

Have you moved the line on someone? Have you been dishonest in your dealings with anyone? Have you been dishonest with God? God still does not tolerate that. As believers, we must be the most honest of all people. Why? Because we represent our Lord. Our dishonesty reflects on Him.

That is why God is angered over any dishonesty in our lives. Anything that brings dishonor to His name angers our holy God. His name means something. It stands for something. We have no right to associate Him with our behaviors. That’s why He tells us we are to be holy as He is holy. Again, we represent Him. Don’t forget that.

As for me, I don’t want to do anything to bring shame on myself from being deceitful or dishonest. I want my actions to reflect well on my Lord. I want Him to look at me and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I will not move the line, Lord. I want to honor You in all I do. I know my actions are a reflection of my testimony of my faith in You.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Examples, Following, Infidelity, Judgment, Scripture

DON’T DO IT

HOSEA 4:15

“Though you, Israel, play the prostitute, Judah must not become guilty; Also you are not to go to Gilgal, nor go up to Bethaven and take the oath: ‘As the LORD lives!’”

We can all remember warnings we received as a child. Our parents would say, “Don’t touch the stovetop.” Or perhaps your mom would yell, “Don’t run with that stick. You’ll put your eye out.” Whatever the warning, we had a choice to make. We could either heed the warning or ignore it. I have the scars of some of my decisions.

Hosea turns his attention from Israel to Judah in today’s verse. Israel had rebelled against the Lord and was suffering the judgment of God. Hosea now warns Judah to not do what Israel did. He is trying to help them avoid some scars. He doesn’t want them to follow Israel’s example.

APPLICATION

We all have people in our lives that we like to emulate. Their lives inspire us. We want to be like them in so many ways. I could name a few people in my life who have shown me how to “do things right.” But I also know that they are not perfect. They can make bad choices. I have to be able to discern through God’s Word when they have done that.

We do have a perfect example to follow. Jesus came to earth and lived a perfect life. Everything He did was to please the Father. If we do what He did, we will be on the right path. We can trust His example. There is nothing He did that will lead us astray. So, just follow Him.

The bottom line is who are we going to follow. I choose Jesus. Does that mean I will walk along paths of roses and lilies? Not hardly. Remember His path leads to suffering. His path will lead to others hating you. But His path is the safest path you can follow.

I will follow Your example, Jesus. I know if I do that I am going to be living for God each day.

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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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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Bible, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Forgetting, Judgment, Obedience, Remembering

FORGETFUL

HOSEA 4:6

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Since you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the Law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

Have you ever heard the term “memory like an elephant”? Have you ever wondered what that means? I have, so I looked it up. Scientists have determined through multiple tests that elephants can remember other elephants they met only briefly decades earlier. It’s pretty amazing. Google “elephants’ memory” and you can find dozens of articles about this.

Why am I talking about remembering (and elephants)? Because the Israelites had forgotten. They had forgotten all they knew about God. They were living as if He didn’t exist. We know the results of that. God is not pleased. In fact, Hosea tells us if we forget Him, He will forget us. Now, we know God is not forgetful, but He will stop remembering these sinful Israelites.

APPLICATION

God desires for us to draw close to Him and know Him. When we choose to walk away from what we know is true, it breaks His heart. He will not protect us if we are willfully sinning against Him. He is holy. That would be against His very nature. He must maintain who He is. After all, He is God.

But we show our ignorance and lack of knowledge when we turn towards the world and away from Him. He is the only true source of wisdom. He is the only one who is worthy of our attention and praise. God is not trying to make us guess at who He is or what He expects. He fully discloses Himself to all who desire it.

So, what are you going to do today? Do you want to know Him more fully? Just ask Him. Do you want to go deep with God? Make the first step. He will meet you right there. Lack of knowledge of God is entirely our fault. He is not holding anything back. We just have to want it. Do you?

God, my Father, I want to know You fully. I want to learn all I can about You and how to share that with others.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Affection, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

TAKE HER BACK

HOSEA 3:1

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

I have known several men who have reconciled with their wives after their wives had committed adultery. That is a hard pill to swallow. To take a woman back as your wife after she has cheated on you takes a lot. But each of these men were led by the Lord to do that. Some had children in the marriage. Others didn’t. But each decided to be obedient and bring their wife back to their marriage bed.

God told Hosea to do the same. He instructed Hosea to restore Gomer to his home as his wife after she had chosen willingly to be unfaithful. This was a symbolic move to show Israel the plan God had to restore them to Him following their exile in Babylon. After rejecting their false gods, they were seeking to return to Jehovah.

APPLICATION

You may have never had to reconcile with a wayward spouse. You may have never been that wayward spouse. My guess, though, is you have known someone who has. It’s all about forgiveness. There is no possible way to do this without the power of forgiveness. I am not talking about forgiveness powered by you. This takes a godly forgiveness.

When we think about what God has forgiven us, there is nothing that we should not be able to forgive. He has forgiven us of sins that would cause us to spend eternity in hell. There is nothing that has been done to us by anyone that can equal that. So, the question is will you forgive.

You may need to forgive someone today for something that you feel in unforgiveable. It’s not. With God, you can forgive anyone of anything. It won’t be easy. But it is possible because He can give you that power. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Will you?

Help me forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength today to give that forgiveness to anyone who needs it.

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