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, Advice, Asking, Bible, Commitment, Hope, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rebuke, Scripture

LOOKING IN WRONG PLACES

HOSEA 5:13

“When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sore, Ephraim then went to Assyria and sent word to King Jareb. But he is unable to heal you, or to cure you of your sore.”

I lose things. It’s just something I deal with. I am really bad about losing pocket knives. I think I know where I put them, but when I go back to find, they are not there. I look in drawers, in pants pockets and in my truck. They just disappear. Not really. I know I have just misplaced them. I can continue to look in the wrong places with the same results – no knife.

Ephraim and Judah looked in the wrong places for help. They turned to pagan kings to rescue them and didn’t find what they were looking for. In fact, they found exactly what they didn’t want. These pagan kings offered persecution rather than help. They gave them exile instead of peace.

APPLICATION

We need to remember where our help comes from. We can pursue help in a multitude of places, but there is only one true and reliable source. We can look towards friends or family. We can go to counselors or pastors. These are all good choices, but they are not Jesus. Only He can guide us correctly every time. His advice is always perfect.

What kind of help are you looking for right now? Are you in need of some wisdom? Go to the Word. The Holy Spirit speaks through God’s Word. Now, I don’t mean to randomly open the Bible and just point your finger at a verse. Do a word search for the area you are seeking wisdom. See what God says about that topic. I promise you there is an answer in there.

I would encourage you to go to a close Christian brother or sister in Christ who holds the Word to a high level, someone who knows the Word and can help you find the answers you need there. Use an online Bible resource like Biblehub.com or Blue Letter Bible. Whatever you do, use His Word.

Lord, I will go to You when I am in need. I will turn to Your Word for wisdom. Thank You for always being there for me.

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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, Advice, Bible, Commitment, Following, God's Will, Knowledge, Obedience, Sin

HE KNOWS

HOSEA 5:3

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; because now, Ephraim, you have been unfaithful, Israel has defiled itself.”

Do you ever really know someone fully? I have been married for over 35 years, but I am still learning things about my wife. I know a lot about her. I know her favorite candy bar is Heath. I know she loves birds and planting flowers each Spring. But she still surprises me with things she loves. I will never fully know her because I can’t know her thoughts.

God knew Ephraim. He knew Israel. He knew them intimately. He knew what they were going to do. He knew their hearts. There was nothing hidden from Him about them. And because He knew them, He would not let them get by with what they were doing.

APPLICATION

This is a good thing to remember about our God. He knows us. He knows everything about us. There is nothing about us that is hidden from Him. Now, that’s a good thing. He knows exactly what we need even before we know we need it. He knows our hurts and our dreams.

So, why do we think we can hide all this from Him? We try to figure it all out for ourselves and then complain when it doesn’t. If we truly believe He knows us so well, why don’t we just cry out to Him and seek His will?

I can rest today knowing that God knows me. I don’t want to try to hide anything from Him. That’s hopeless anyway. I want my life to be an open book. And I know when I open myself up to His Will, there is no limit to what He can do in and through me.

Lord, I lay my life before You to take and do with as You see fit. You know me so much better than I know myself.

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Bible, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Following, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

NAME RECOGNITION

HOSEA 2:17

“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will no longer be mentioned by their names.”

Remembering people’s names is a gift. I had the privilege of knowing Father Val Peters who was the Superintendent of Boys’ Home in Nebraska. He made it a point to know every child’s name at the home. That was over 500 children. He worked at it, but he did it. I have tried to do that myself everywhere I have served. Kids love it when you know their name and call them by it.

God didn’t want to hear the names of the false gods on the mouths of His children. He wanted them toconcentrate on His name. No other name matters. Calling on anything or anyone besides Jesus is equivalent to the Israelites worshipping Baal. It’s empty. It’s hopeless. Call on His name.

APPLICATION

Who are you calling on? Family? They will let you down. Church? They are imperfect and filled with imperfect people. A Pastor? Don’t even go there. Too many of them are failing. Listen. There is nothing wrong with any of those. But we must make sure our first call is to Jesus. He is the only sure thing.

Aren’t you tired of being let down? Aren’t you frustrated with depending on people who are more concerned with themselves than you? God has you at the center of His mind. He always wants you to succeed. He will give you the skills you need to follow Him. Will you just let Him?

I don’t know about you, but I want His name on my lips. It is the sweetest name we know. When you are in a low time, call His name. When you are rejoicing, call His name. Call His name in every situation. He longs to hear it.

O God, I praise Your name. No other name means as much to me. You are worthy of my praise.

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Bible, Calling, Commitment, Confession, Destruction, Faithfulness, Hell, Husbands, Infidelity, Love, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

HUSBANDS AND WIVES

HOSEA 2:2

“Dispute with your mother, dispute, because she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; but she must remove her infidelity from her face and her adultery from between her breasts,”

My wife and I have been married thirty-five years. We could have never imagined back in 1985 how our lives would change. We have been through a lot together. We have lived in nine different homes in five different states. We have made so many friends and, thankfully, very few enemies, lol. Through it all, we have remained husband and wife.

In today’s verse, God uses the imagery of husband and wife and is referring to Hosea’s adulterous wife. Just as Gomer, Hosea’s wife, had been unfaithful to God, Israel had been unfaithful to Him. He is calling them to repentance. Sin must be confessed and expunged to restore the relationship.

APPLICATION

Do you understand how your unconfessed sin builds a wall between you and the Lord? Until you admit you are a sinner and ask Christ to save you, you are doomed to an eternal punishment. There really is no hope for you without Christ. But the moment you call on Him and confess your sins, believe in His name and surrender your life to Him, you are cleansed and become His child.

So many believers, however, stop there. No! You need to continue to confess and cleanse your heart each day. Now, you are only saved once, but because we are still human, we are going to sin and mess up. Those sins are forgiven under the same blood that saved you, but unconfessed sin can begin to be a barrier between you and God. Just like Gomer, we have to confess our sins and return to our “husband.”

Take a moment right now and pray. Ask the Lord to forgive you for the sins you have committed today or this week. Name them. Don’t just ask the Lord to forgive your sins. Name them specifically. If you don’t remember them, ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will. I guarantee you He knows. A clean heart restores fellowship with the Lord.

O Father, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. I want to fellowship with You .

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Advice, Advocate, Bible, Born, Calling, Commitment, Darkness, Doubts, Encouragement, Friends, Infidelity, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture

WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Confession, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Infidelity, Obedience, Scripture

INFIDELITY

HOSEA 1:2

When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife inclined to infidelity, and children of infidelity; for the land commits flagrant infidelity,  abandoning the LORD.” 

No one wants to talk about infidelity. It’s a dirty word. It’s a insulting word. But what exactly did the Lord mean by telling Hosea to take a wife that was “inclined to infidelity”? When God spoke through the prophets, He often asked them to do things to portray something that Israel had done. In this case, Israel had sought out other gods, thereby committing adultery with them. Israel, after all, was the bride of God.

What would you have done if the Lord had asked you to marry someone whom you knew was going to be unfaithful to you? You might have said, “Lord, are You sure about this? Are You sure You want me to marry her?” Remember, the Lord doesn’t make mistakes. He will never ask you to do something immoral or illegal.

APPLICATION

God wants us to be true to our spouses. He hates infidelity. There is never an excuse for it. I have actually heard people say the Lord told them to divorce their spouses because they had fallen out of love. Let me tell you something. That wasn’t God. That was their flesh talking. Infidelity is a sin – plain and simple.

Carl, you are being a little harsh, aren’t you? Well, the problem is we aren’t being harsh enough sometimes. So many of us are scared to call a sin a sin. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. So, we sit back and watch them die and go to hell. Ouch! If you are being unfaithful to your spouse, stop it, confess it and return to godly living.

Perhaps you are someone who would never be unfaithful to your spouse, but you have been unfaithful to God. You have put other things before Him. Your work, your play or even your family have been placed in that number one spot in your life. That is infidelity towards God. Repent of that now, as well. Ask the Lord to forgive you and return Him to His proper place in your life today.

Father, I want to keep You in the number one spot in my life. I vow to love and honor You above all.

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Bible, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Gospel, Modeling, Pastors, Prayer, Relationships, Scripture, Service

NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Inspirational, Joy, Mentoring, Parenting, Prayer, Relationships, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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