Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Bosses, Brokenness, Commitment, Compassion, Devout, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, Following, God's Will, Loyalty, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

LOYALTY

HOSEA 6:6

“For I desire loyalty rather than sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

I’ll never forget getting called into my boss’ office one time. He called me down and before I could even sit down in a chair, he lit into me. He had a list of accusations against me, things I had supposedly done to undermine his authority. This lasted about thirty minutes. When he finished, I asked if I could respond. He said I could, so told him I hadn’t done any of those things. None of them were true.

Loyalty is important. God demands it. He demanded it of the Israelites, and He requires it of us, His children. We can act like the Israelites and make our sacrifices (giving our tithes, serving in the nursery, helping the homeless), but unless we are loyal to Him, He rejects those sacrifices. Just as the burnt sacrifices that smoldered on the altar, our acts of service are just smoldering ashes.

APPLICATION

How do you show your loyalty to a holy God? How can we prove our heart’s desire is for Him? Listen, brothers and sisters, He knows your heart. He knows your motives. You don’t have to do anything. That is not necessary. All you have to do is surrender. You have to stop trying to please Him and just bow.

When we cease striving, we can start thriving. Hey, I like that. Stop working so hard to justify His love. You just have to bow your will to His, just like Jesus did in the garden. Remember that? Not My will, but Thine be done. That should be our heart cry. That shows our loyalty.

I am tired of trying, aren’t you? I am tired of trying to figure it all out. All I want to do is rest in Him. Guess what? That’s what He wants, too. He wants to take us in His warm embrace and snuggle us. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. He loves us so much. Come to Him today.

I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul rejoice.

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Accountability, Advice, Affection, Appeasement, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption

UNTIL

HOSEA 5:15

“I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; in their distress they will search for Me.”

I remember when I was growing up I hated to hear these words: “Wait until your daddy gets home.” I knew what that meant. I had undoubtedly done something that required a spanking (yes, my parents spanked me). My mom would spank us sometimes, but she withheld the spankings for the more serious infractions for my dad. Man, o man. I didn’t like to hear that.

In today’s verse, the Lord has already dealt out the punishment. Now He is saying He will not return to them UNTIL they repent. They need to seek His face. They must search for Him. We know He is always ready to forgive, but it requires that we turn to Him. And when we do, He is ready and willing to take us back into His warm embrace.

APPLICATION

So, if we know that the Lord desires to forgive us, why do we wait so long to repent? Just like Judah or Israel, we think we’re okay. We think we can get by without confessing. We may think that we have done nothing wrong. After all, who is God that He should judge us, right? Wrong!

Without right and wrong, without good and evil, there is no direction in life. We have to pursue what’s right in the Lord’s eyes, not ours. There can only be one absolute truth. That is found in His Word. We can pretend that we know best, but we will find out that we don’t.

When we realize that our way of thinking is fleshly and is driven by our own desires, we should repent and ask the Lord to change our views. Listen to me, brother and sister. When He directs us, we can be sure we are doing the right thing. His goal is always to make us more like Jesus. That applies to everything we say and do. Will you trust Him? Will you return?

O God, I confess my selfish desires and actions as sin. I need You to point me in the right direction. I truly want to please You in all I do.

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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, 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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Advice, Advocate, Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Scripture

THEN YOU WILL KNOW HIM

HOSEA 2:20

“And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”

I have known a lot of people in my life. I have probably met a few thousand over 60 years. Some I have known better than others. But there have been only a handful that I have known well. Those are the ones you want to spend time with and share life’s moments.

The same is true about God. I just love this verse. God tells us here that because He betroths us in faithfulness, we will know Him. This Hebrew word for “know” has a multitude of meanings, but it can also mean an intimate knowledge. God wants to know us. Isn’t that amazing?

APPLICATION

So, for us as believers who are seeking to know the Lord, how do we do that? It takes an investment of time. You have to be willing to spend time with the Lord in prayer and studying His Word. How much time are you willing to invest? An hour a day? How about a half hour? It is not necessarily the quantity of the time as much as the quality of time.

But you have to turn off the distractions. No cell phone. No FaceBook or Instagram. You need to be diligent and dedicated. The payoff is huge. The more intense your time with the Lord becomes, the more you look forward to it. You will find yourself absolutely craving these times. Go for it.

Knowing the Lord is a sweet thing. It’s really a shame that so many Christians go their whole lifetime not really knowing Him. Why would not want to know the God who created you and gave His Son to die for you? Why would you not want to spend as much time as you could with Him? I pray today you will spend some time getting to know Him better.

Thanks for giving me the desire, Lord, to know You deeper. I want to know You more and more.

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Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Modeling, Passion, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

MY BETROTHED

HOSEA 2:19

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion,”

Have you ever been betrothed? Here in the U.S. we would call it being engaged. When I asked my wife to marry me, we became engaged to be married. Ours was a short courtship. We only dated about two and half months before we were married. Hey, when you see a good thing… lol.

I love the image Hosea uses here. God betroths us to Him. That word literally means to pay the price and so gain the right of possession. When a dowry was given, the couple became betrothed. But look how He betrothed Israel (and us) – in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion. Wow! Now, that’s a betrothal.

APPLICATION

Do you feel betrothed? Are you living your life as the betrothed of God? Oh, you should be. Look at who you are betrothed to. The God of the universe. The Creator of all things. The Beginning and the End. Jehovah God. I could go on and on and on.

People get excited about celebrities. They dream about being married to one. But these are finite, fallible people who will let you down. Look at how many celebrity marriages fail. Our betrothal to Almighty God will never fail. We are His betrothed forever!

Doesn’t that excite you? It does me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him. When God betroths us, that means we are His bride from now throughout eternity. Don’t you want to know your betrothed better? I sure do.

Lord, thank You for making me Your betrothed. You did purchase me with a price – Your Son. Amen.

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DOOR OF HOPE

HOSEA 2:15

“Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will respond there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt.”

From September 2019 through around April 2020, I went through a pretty grueling physical test. I have a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. The treatment of this disease required me to go through my second stem cell transplant, this time with six months of chemotherapy beforehand. It was hard. I kept my hope in the fact that I had been down this path before in 2010 and knew the treatment could work.

The Israelites had seen God work in the past. They knew what God had done bringing them out of Egypt. They knew their hope was not a false hope. One scholar defines the Hebrew word for hope as “patient, enduring longing.” I kind of like that. I can relate. That’s exactly what I had last year – patient, enduring longing.

APPLICATION

What are you longing for right now? On what are you basing your hope? If you are hoping in anything by God, you are bound to be disappointed. There is no sure thing out there, except Him. Everything and everyone else will let you down. I don’t care how much someone may love you, they can’t give you the hope God can through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I love the expression we have today in the verse that says “the valley of Achor. This valley was on the border of Judah. Achor actually means trouble or disturbance. God brings us through our valleys of trouble into hope. But we have to pass through it first. We can’t forget that if He leads us into a valley of trouble, He will lead us out. We just have to stay with Him.

I just got this picture in my head of an old western where the good guys have to ride through a desert canyon that is probably being watched by the bad guys. There is only one way through. They know trouble is ahead, but they have to ride anyway. Listen, God sent us Jesus to see us through those times. Stay close to Him. He will lead you to the door of hope.

I am so thankful that I know my hope lies in You. There is no one else I would yield my trust to.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, Forgiveness, Hope, Relationships, Scripture, Sin

RESTORATION

HOSEA 2:14

“Therefore, behold, I am going to persuade her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.”

It feels so good to be brought back into the fold. When you have lost favor with someone it hurts. You feel like there is nothing you can do to earn their trust again. In the world it’s hard. People don’t forgive that easily. Sometimes it may take years to restore a relationship. And it’s just not possible without forgiveness.

At this point in the book of Hosea, God is offering Gomer and Israel forgiveness. Listen to the words of this verse. They are tender words. God is going to “persuade” her. That word means to allure, to be wide open. He is going to “speak kindly to her.” What a change from the previous verses. God is a forgiving God.

APPLICATION

Have you wandered away from the Lord? Are you trying to find your way back? It only takes one step. The moment you make that first step, God is there. There’s a story in the New Testament called “The Prodigal Son.” Forget about the wayward son. Forget about the older brother. Look at the father in that story. The moment his son reappeared, the father ran to him and kissed him. That’s our God.

Now, what happens if you don’t return? You stay in that no man’s land. You are in despair. You are hopeless. God won’t beg you to come home, but He is always waiting. Just like He was with Israel. When they finally repented and came back, He spoke kindly to her.

Are you ready to return? I don’t want to be away from His presence one day. There is absolutely nothing like being in fellowship with the Father. There is nothing like His embrace. Come!

Lord, I praise You for the joy of my salvation. I know whenever I falter, You are there waiting for me to come back to You.

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UNSEEN BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:8

“Yet she does not know that it was I myself who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

Many years ago, my wife and I lost a baby girl, Cathleen. She was born premature and only lived six hours. It was a tragic thing in our lives, but one God used mightily. That’s another story. The part I want to share today is that we never received bills from the doctor or hospital. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that someone had paid all the bills for us. We eventually found out who had done that. They had blessed us without our knowledge.

God had done the same for Israel. They had no idea how God had been blessing them for years. As Hosea says here – “and lavished on her…” When God gives, He gives way beyond our comprehension. He makes sure we have what we need, and often times more than we need. He truly blesses us.

APPLICATION

I want you to sit down and think about the past year. How has God blessed you? For me, He got me through another stem cell transplant. He provided for me through multiple individuals the funds to pay my medical bills. He got me through covid-19 when I still had a compromised immune system. I could go on and on. How about you?

We often do not stop and count the blessings. There is an old hymn that talks about that.  Count Your Blessings goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the lord has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

Let me encourage you to do that today. You will be blessed when you stop and see al that He has done for you.

Lord, You bless me when I don’t deserve it. You see my need and move to meet it even before I am aware of it myself.

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ILLEGITIMATE

HOSEA 2:4

“Also, I will take no pity on her children, because they are children of infidelity.”

I have mentioned before that I worked over thirty years in children’s homes. Over these years I had the privilege to work with a lot of children who the world would call illegitimate. By that I mean, they were born out of wedlock. Their biological mother and father were not married. Early on in my ministry there was a lot more stigma attached to that. That’s really not the case now. In some ways that’s good, but it’s still not God’s design.

God knew (as did Hosea) that the children birthed by Gomer were probably not Hosea’s due to her infidelity. God used this extremely difficult human situation to portray to the nation of Israel that they were the same as Gomer. They had gone after other gods. They were being unfaithful to Him in the same way Gomer was to Hosea. As a result, children would suffer.

APPLICATION

We may not worship idols or other “gods,” but we are prone to be just as unfaithful. We worship our money, our careers, our churches, even our Pastors. We place them above our Lord way too often. We are no better than the Israelites. We are committing adultery with these “other gods.” We seek after them with more energy and zeal than we ever do after our God.

How do you not become a Gomer? By staying pure in heart. By seeking Him first in your heart. By staying faithful to Him. By…I could go on and on. Our pursuit of God is really not that complicated. We have to be laser focused. If anything gets in the way of that, it should be reprioritized. Hear me clearly. Nothing gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus.

What have you allowed to sneak in? What is disrupting your laser beam? Get it out the way. God has to come first, even before family or church. And when you put Him first, when you are faithful to Him, He will honor that. He will give you the strength and courage to do whatever is necessary to live for Him.

Keep me faithful to You and You only. Forgive me when I am not.

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