Accountability, Battles, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

REPROACHED

HOSEA 12:14 

“Ephraim has provoked God to bitter anger; so his Lord will leave his guilt for bloodshed on him and bring his disgrace back to him.” 

Have you ever been reproached? Do you even know what that means? Well, Webster defines reproach as “to address someone with disapproval or disappointment.” Now, how do you answer that question? I can remember my parents being disappointed in me due to some of my behaviors. It is not encouraging. 

God has reproached Ephraim because of their sins. They had become immune, or so it seemed, to guilt due to their sins. They figured since they had forgotten them, God had also. Well, He hadn’t. God will not look the other way. He held them accountable.  

APPLICATION 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I like being reproached. I don’t want to disappoint my Lord. I want to please Him. One way to avoid being reproached is by doing that – pleasing Him. He really isn’t that hard to please. All we have to do is surrender to Him daily and allow Him to live through us. 

You may say Well, that’s not so easy, Carl. Sure, it is. We just die to self. We wake up each morning and decide to let God have His will that day. We lay down our agenda for His. We bow at His throne instead of sitting on ours. We yield to His Word to determine how to proceed. 

Don’t want to do that? Okay, live dangerously. I choose to bow. I want to live in victory, not defeat. It really is so much easier. I have fought against the Lord. I have been reproached. It’s not fun. I choose surrender.  

Lord, thank You for victory. Thank You for allowing me to walk with You. 

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GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

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ROCK PILES

HOSEA 12:11 

“Is there injustice in Gilead? Certainly, they are worthless. In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls, yes, their altars are like stone heaps beside the furrows of a field.” 

Here where I live in Eastern Tennessee, it is not uncommon to pass a field where years earlier a farmer had cleared that field of rocks so he could cultivate the soil. Some of those rock piles are decades old. Those rocks were in the way of the task and had to be removed. The pile meant nothing, except maybe a source of stone to be used elsewhere on the farm. 

But here in today’s verse we see the stone heaps being used for altars. In a similar way, stones were removed from their fields. But they made them into altars, going directly against the word of God. Their sacrifices on these piles of rock meant nothing. They thought they were being religious, but they were, in fact, being sacrilegious in their actions. 

APPLICATION 

We often do “religious” stuff to make ourselves feel better. How many of us pray out of habit without any true communication with the Lord? People attend church because they are supposed to. They don’t go to worship as much as they go to be seen and check the box for the week. We may feel better by doing those things, but that is not the point. 

What is the point? The point is this – we have to come to God in Spirit and in Truth. We have to come to Him worshipping, not to worship. We pray to hear from Him, not to tell Him things. When our motives change our heart changes. We can experience a true relationship with the Lord. We can stop building rock piles. 

I desire the deeper things of God, don’t you? I want to know Him more each and every day. I want to know Christ so well that when I see Him face to face in glory, it will be just another day. Now, I know that day will be like none other, but you get my point. Make your faith real today. Stop playing religion.  

Father, I want to know You in a way in which I have never known You. Show me Yourself. 

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SPEAK FORTH

HOSEA 12:10 

I have also spoken to the prophets, and I provided many visions, and through the prophets I spoke in parables. 

How many times have you asked someone to give a message to someone? I have done that a lot. And you know what? You have to be mighty careful who you entrust with your message. Some people can’t be trusted to deliver your message properly. Others tend to forget to deliver it. Still others may twist your words to suit themselves. Passing a message on for someone is important. 

God spoke through the prophets. Hosea is sharing God’s message which was given to him. He didn’t change it to suit his whims. He spoke exactly what God gave him. He spoke through visions and parables. God will use whatever means necessary to get His message to His people. 

APPLICATION 

God has given you a message to deliver. What is it? It’s the Gospel of Christ. As believers, we have been tasked with delivering this message of mercy and grace to a lost world. We have the benefit of having the Word of God available to us in ways unprecedented in history. 

We don’t have to rely on a scroll and ink. We literally have the Word at our fingertips. Smart phones, tablets and computers can access God’s Word instantly. There aren’t many places on the earth where you cannot get to the Word. Yet we still don’t share it as we should. What is stopping us? 

Let me encourage you today to share a verse with someone. You never know how much you can encourage another person by doing that. Pray and ask the Lord to open a door of opportunity for you today. You will be amazed what He does. Speak forth! 

Lord, give me boldness to share with others the lifechanging message of the Cross. Fill my mind with Your Word. 

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WAITING ON GOD

HOSEA 12:6

“So as for you, return to your God, maintain kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.”

Don’t you hate to wait? I sure do. I am bad about going to a fast food place (don’t judge, lol) and driving straight through if there are more than two or three cars in line. I used to hate to wait at red lights, but I’ve learned to work on my memory verses while doing that. So, reading this verse bothered me a little. I don’t want to wait continually.

Hosea tells them to do three things – return, maintain and wait. Look at the order. They had to return to God first. They couldn’t do the second and third things unless that happened first. And once they did, he told them to maintain kindness (mercy) and justice. Then the waiting starts. God required them to preserve mercy and justice until He responded.

APPLICATION

What are you waiting on? Have you prayed this lately? “Dear God, I am so tired of waiting on You. Why won’t you answer my prayers?” We’ve all prayed that at one time or another. Waiting is hard. We feel like we are wasting time. We have so much to do and waiting on God just doesn’t fit our schedule.

Well, let me ask you this. Have you returned to God? Are you maintaining kindness and justice? If you do those things, you will be able to wait. How? You will be so busy preserving kindness and justice, you will totally forget about the waiting. And the more you do that, the closer you will grow towards God.

We have to remember this. God is always on time. If we remember this, then we should know that waiting is His plan for us. He will do what He is going to at just the right time. Waiting is good if we understand His plan is to make us more like Him. Isn’t that something you want? I sure do.

Waiting on You, Lord, is alright by me. I trust Your timing.

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STILL UNRULY

HOSEA 11:12

Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is still unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.”

When I worked in children’s homes, it wasn’t unusual for a child or youth to come into the home very unruly and out of control. After a period of time and much love, they would begin to calm down and settle in. But quite often that same child would resort back to their old way of behavior. It seemed they just couldn’t maintain a calm demeaner. Even though the staff was consistent and loved them, they preferred chaos.

Hosea tells us Ephraim, Israel and Judah acted the same way. Even though “the Holy One” was faithful, they rebelled. Lies, deceit and unruliness were how they responded to a faithful Father. They gave way to flesh. They let their old sin nature take over. It didn’t matter how much God loved them, they acted out against Him.

APPLICATION

Now, if you don’t see yourself in today’s verse, well… We are all the same. We know how much the Lord loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us exactly what we needed – salvation. And we still rebel. We still take Him for granted. Oh, we say the right things. We go to church and throw a few dollars in the offering plate and think we have done enough. We don’t want to obey – just like the Israelites.

Aren’t you tired of living that way? God wants you to surrender to Him. He wants you to yield to His will. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him. We are to take His yoke on us. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Will you trust Him today to lead you in His yoke. Stop the unruliness and yield.

I still battle that sometimes. I even think I am yielded only to discover I’m not. That’s a bit embarrassing, lol. But I truly want to be. I don’t want to rub against the yoke. I want to follow Him in the yoke. I want to learn to walk with the Master. Don’t you?

Oh Lord, I praise You for putting up with my stubbornness. I thank You for Your patience with me.

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HUNGUP

HOSEA 11:7

So My people are determined to turn from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him.

There are some things that I can really be hung up about. Fishing is one. I love to fish. There are times when all I can think about is catching that big one. I can spend hours at the lake, pond or river casting and casting, just hoping to land one that I can talk about. I have to be careful, though, to not get too hung up on fishing. There are more important things out there.

Why am I talking about getting hung up? Because the Hebrew word translated “determined” in today’s verse means just that. The people of Israel were hung up on turning from God. They were dead set on not following His commands. They were bent that way due to their flesh and were not going to obey. Sound familiar?

APPLICATION

Are you that way? Being “hung up” on something is not a bad thing, if the thing you are hung up on is in God’s will.  It’s okay to be hung up on reading the Word or praying. It’s okay to be hung up on sharing the Gospel with the lost. But when you get so hung up on something that you forget to ask the Lord about it, you need to back off.

What are you “hung up” about? Family? That can become a problem. Money? That can certainly lead you wrong. Being happy? What’s that got to do with anything? Check out your hang ups. You may just need to loosen the line a bit and take the hook out for a while (to borrow some fishing jargon).

I am hung up on Jesus. I just want to please Him. I figure if I concentrate on that He will take care of the rest. Jesus likes us being hung up on Him. He can handle it. He can use that. How about putting all your hang ups down and just hang on to Him?

Jesus, I am hung up on You. I want nothing more than to please You in my words and deeds.

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OUR KINGS

HOSEA 11:5

They will not return to the land of Egypt; but Assyria—he will be their king because they refused to return to Me.

I have never lived under a monarchy. I am an American, which means I live under a representative government. We elect our officials. Every four years we elect a President of the United States. Some years the person I vote for wins. In other years, the other candidate wins. That’s the way it works here.

Israel pushed to have their own king (instead of God) and got Saul. Numerous kings came and went over the generations. They eventually got kings from other nations who defeated them. Assyria was one such kingdom that forced their king on them. You have to remember, though, that it was God who allowed these kings to conquer Israel as part of their judgment. It is God who establishes kings and kingdoms.

APPLICATION

We should not complain about our President here in America. We are getting exactly what the Lord allows. Though I may not like the policies of a certain President, I am still told to pray for my leaders. There is a reason for the Lord establishing our current presidential administration. What is He trying to teach us, as believers?

One thing is for sure. We cannot and should not depend on the person sitting in the oval office to solve our problems. God is the only one we can turn to for that. Our politicians, whether President, Senator, Representative or Governor, are just flesh and bones. They are not infallible. They will make mistakes. They need Jesus to guide them.

So, our response to our “kings” has to be one of submission and obedience, unless they attempt to lead us in an unbiblical direction. Then we have a choice to make. For me, I will always choose Jesus. That may get me in trouble one day with the government, but that’s okay. God’s got my back. I can always count on Him. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in authority over me whom You wish to use to draw me closer to You. I trust You.

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IGNORING THE CALL

HOSEA 11:2

The more they called them, the more they went away from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.”

I can so clearly remember my mama calling me to come home when I was out playing with my friends. I could hear her calling, but I would pretend I couldn’t so I could stay out a little longer. I knew I needed to go home, but I wanted to do that in my own time. When I tarried too long, there were always consequences.

Hosea makes a quick turn from verse 1 in this chapter to this verse today. From focusing on the one whom He loved and brought out of Egypt, he turned to the nation as a whole and their continued betrayal. It didn’t matter who it was who called them, they turned toward their idols. They turned their backs on Jehovah and knelt before the Baals. How quickly they forgot who had rescued them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear Him calling you? He is, you know. He always is. He wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to be safe in His arms. He knows if we don’t come home, we will stay in harm’s way. We will keep running.

Do you know what you have to do to hear His voice? You have to listen. That’s not hard, is it? Oh, but it is. We get so destracted from all the noise of the world that we don’t stop to listen. We are going here and going there. God just wants us to stop and listen. He’s calling our names.

I have learned to pause and listen more. In my quiet times it is always good to stop reading and talking and just listen. It’s amazing what I hear when I do that. That happened recently when I spent some time by myself camping. God’s voice was so clear. Let me challenge you to do the same.

I love to hear Your voice. Open my ears so I can hear You clearly.

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TAKE MY YOKE

HOSEA 10:11

Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh, and I passed over her lovely neck; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, Jacob will harrow for himself.”

I have never used a yoke and harness on an ox or horse. I have in my front yard a seed and fertilizer spreader that is meant to be used with an animal pulling it. It’s probably 150 years old, but it just sits there in my yard idle. It hasn’t been used in decades. It’s not much use except for a yard decoration.

Hosea tells us in this verse that God had harnessed and placed His yoke on both Judah and Israel. They had been trained to pull for Him. In fact, Hosea says Ephraim loves to thresh. That’s an image of threshing grain unmuzzled so they could enjoy the grain they were crushing. But we know they both rebelled in the end.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord “trained” you to do? Are you in His harness and yoke? Are you pulling for Him? If you aren’t, you are pulling for the devil. You can only pull for one master. Don’t you know that? Carl, I’m not in anyone’s harness. I’m free. Yes, you are. You are free to serve either master, but you will serve one or the other.

God only calls us to do tasks that are good and productive. We shouldn’t be wasting our time doing things that don’t really matter. Fruitless, unproductive, time-wasting activities bring no glory to the Father. After all, that is our purpose – to bring glory to Him. Ask yourself if the things you are so busy doing are doing that.

The older I get the more precious time becomes. It seems the days get shorter and shorter. I don’t want to waste my time not pulling for my Lord. I want to wear His harness proudly. I want to pull for Him boldly. I want to please the One who has done so much for me. Don’t you?

Thanks for placing Your yoke around my neck. When I get tired remind me who I am pulling for.

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