Accountability, Bible, Choices, Confession, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Obedience, Prayer, Redemption, Relationships, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

FOOLISH THINKING

HOSEA 12:8

“And Ephraim said, ‘I have certainly become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no wrongdoing, which would be sin.’”

Have you ever gotten away with doing something wrong? You didn’t get caught, so you figured all was well. God didn’t zap you. When that happens, it is very easy to think that you are immune to punishment. Just call yourself “Teflon Joe.” Nothing sticks to you. We both know that is dangerous ground.

Ephraim was saying that about themselves. They were disobedient to God, but them seemingly were still being blessed. They exclaimed, “I have certainly become rich.” They had the midas touch. So, they assumed they were without sin. However, they soon realized that was not true. God’s punishments may be delayed, but they are not going to be withheld forever.

APPLICATION

You may be knee deep in sin right now. God has not disciplined you yet. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit within you is convicting you, but you may be tuning Him out. You figure you will deal with this sin later. You will confess later. You will get right with the Lord later. Listen to me – later is now. It’s time.

Just because the Lord does not immediately discipline us for our sins does not mean He is pleased with us. Sins have consequences. Some are immediate. Others may be delayed, but they all have consequences. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking God doesn’t care about your sins. He does. He sent His Son to die for them, all of them, past, present and future.

I desire to stay “confessed up.” I don’t want my sins, which are many, to come between me and my Lord. I need that direct line to the Lord open at all times and not full of the static of my unconfessed sins. Don’t you want that too?

Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and grace in my life. Show me my sins so that I can repent and have my fellowship restored.

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REPAYMENT

HOSEA 12:2

“The LORD also has a case against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds.”

You’ve heard all about paybacks, haven’t you? It’s when someone has done you wrong, and you get them back later. I’ve known people who wait weeks or even months to do that. They want that payback to really hurt that person. They plan every detail so that person knows exactly what is happening. Sounds cruel. Well, it is.

God is not that way. He is not plotting against Judah. He is simply holding them accountable for their “deeds.” Sin has consequences. Judah knew that, but they chose to sin anyway. I am sure they cried and bellyached about God’s discipline. However, God had to deal with their sin.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you glad Jesus has already paid the price for you? If you have received Him as your Lord and Savior, the repayment is done. Jesus took care of that for you. I love Psalm 103:10. It says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Whew!

My sins are many. If I counted up all my sins in just one year, it would stagger you. But I bet yours are the same. Then can you imagine if everyone’s sins were totaled? That number would be astronomical. But that’s what Jesus died for. His sacrifice took care of all those sins. We only have to come to Him and accept the free gift of salvation.

I am glad that on July 31, 1977 I did that. I have been far from perfect since then, but I know my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Do you know that for certain? You can. I pray today you will make sure of that. The freedom you can experience in knowing that is incredible. Come to Him today.

I am free because of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for saving me.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hearing, Holy Spirit, Listening, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

ROAR

HOSEA 11:10

“They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar, and His sons will come trembling from the west.”

I have had the privilege to go to Africa several times. In all those journeys I have never heard a lion roar. I have actually seen a couple of lions, but all they were doing was lying around sleeping. But I have friends there who tell me if you ever hear a lion’s roar up close and personal, you will never forget it.

God’s people returned to Him. Hosea says they will respond to His roar, His roar to repentance. They came trembling from the west. From all their exiled locations, God’s people returned. They came to walk after Him. Finally! They are following their God.

APPLICATION

We are just like that. God has to take many of us into “exile” before we finally hear His roar to repentance. Why does it take us so long to return? We are stubborn, obstinate people who just want our own way. We refuse to submit to His commands until we see that He was right all along.

Are there things in your life right now which God is calling you to repent of? Do you have that secret sin that is eating you up inside? You’re hiding it from family and friends, but God knows. Isn’t it time to repent of that? Do you hear His roar?

I hear His roar all the time. Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit I am led to repent. I am so thankful I can hear His roar. It doesn’t scare me. I am not afraid of it. I welcome it. It’s a reminder that He loves me and desires me to be with Him and not the world. Listen! Do you hear Him now?

Lord, thank You for “roaring” after me. I know I am Your child and that You desire me close.

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DOUBLE GUILT

HOSEA 10:10

When it is My desire, I will discipline them; and the peoples will be gathered against them when they are bound for their double guilt.”

I have felt guilty plenty of times for not doing something I knew I should have done. I have also felt guilty for doing something I knew I shouldn’t have done. Now, before you raise your eyebrows and look down your nose at me, you have done the same thing. Am I right? Sure I am.

Israel was guilty of turning away from Jehovah and also turning to the pagan gods. Double guilt! That’s what Hosea is referring to in today’s verse. They had no excuse, and God is going to discipline them when He was ready. Hosea even says God desires to do that. He wants to straighten them out. That may not sound good, but everything God does is good.

APPLICATION

Are you guilty? God, through the Holy Spirit, will convict us of sin. He uses that guilt to draw us back to Him. I have discussed before the difference between guilt and shame. Shame is not of God. The devil uses that to make us feel unworthy, to make us feel unusable. Don’t accept that.

But when you feel guilty remember that is the Lord’s desire for you. What?! Are you crazy, Carl? I don’t think so. He, just like He did with Israel, is desiring you to return to Him. He draws you through His Spirit. Don’t you recall the feeling when you are cleansed. That is waiting for you.

I am thankful for the Holy Spirit’s conviction in my life. Without it I am not sure where I would be. No, that’s not true. I know exactly where I would be – in deep sin. My flesh is weak, but the Spirit in me is strong. If you are a believer, you have that strength too.

Lord, thank You for convicting me when I am in sin. I want to be drawn back to You.

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Accountability, Bible, Cleansing, Compassion, Confession, Eternity, Forgiveness, Grace, Holy Spirit, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

HORRIBLE SINS

HOSEA 10:9

“Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel; there they stand! Will the battle against the sons of injustice not overtake them in Gibeah?”

I have had too many people tell me they were too wicked or bad for God to forgive. They have claimed their atrocities were so bad that even the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough to wash them away. These individuals were convinced they would spend eternity in hell and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Today’s verse refers to a horrible sin committed by the men of Gibeah (Benjamites) that brought the entire nation of Israel against them (Read Judges 19-20). The entire tribe was wiped out except for six hundred, which God saved as a remnant of the tribe. I believe it’s a picture of God’s mercy, even in the face of seemingly unforgiveable sins.

APPLICATION

I won’t ask you what sins you have committed. That’s between you and God. Aren’t you glad? None of us want our sins plastered on a billboard for all to see, do we? You may be one of those who can’t believe God could forgive you. You may even be a Christian, but you still can’t forgive yourself. You must let it go. God has.

There’s only one sin that is unforgiveable. That’s the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin will take you to a spot where you no longer feel the drawing of the Spirit. You no longer feel any conviction for your sins. But as long as you feel the Spirit nudging you toward repentance, you can rest assured you have hope.

I know I am saved and sealed. I believe Jesus’ blood rescued me. All my past, present and future sins are forgiven. To say God can’t save me is to say God has limited powers. We know that’s not true. His power to save reaches beyond what we can ask or think. I am so glad because my flesh is wicked beyond description and is only redeemed through His grace. How about you?

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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ASHAMED

HOSEA 10:6

The thing itself will be brought to Assyria as a gift of tribute to King Jareb; Ephraim will be seized with shame, and Israel will be ashamed of its own plan.”

I can remember as a child getting caught doing something wrong (we won’t go into exactly what that was, lol) and feeling shame. I was ashamed because I knew the right thing to do but chose the wrong thing. Hanging my head and not making eye contact. Hearing my mom or dad say how disappointed they were in my decision. Shame is not something you want to hang on to.

Ephraim was ashamed. Israel was ashamed. They knew what God expected but chose to go their own way. When what they loved (idols and pagan altars) was carried away with them into exile, then they felt the shame of their sin.

APPLICATION

Shame can be a great motivator to return to the Lord. Now, we can’t stay there. Once we have confessed our sin and made things right with the Lord, He does not want us to wallow in our shame. We have been made clean. There is no reason to stay in shame or guilt. Have you done that?

Many people feel so ashamed that they don’t think the Lord can forgive them. They think their sins are too big. We have to let them know just how big our God is. He can forgive whatever they have done. All they have to do is come to Jesus. They just have to confess Him as Lord and Savior and believe in His name. We have to give them that message.

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit convicts me of my sins. He won’t let me get away anything. The moment I sin He is in my business reminding me that I am a child of God and sin has no place in my life. Am I perfect? Not in any way. But I have a perfect Savior who pushes me to live holy. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole. Thank You, Lord, for giving to me Thy great salvation so rich and free.

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POISONOUS LIPS

HOSEA 10:4

“They speak mere words, with worthless oaths they make covenants; and judgment sprouts like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.”

Have you ever known people who can’t seem to say one good thing about anyone? They are always critical. They find fault in everyone. They question everyone’s motive. You can almost see the poison dripping from their lips. These are not people you want to be around. To do so can cause you to “catch” their poison.

Israel was reeking of poison. Their oaths and covenants with pagan gods were a stench in the nostrils of the Lord. He promised judgment on them because of this. Judgment was sure. Today’s verse even says it will be like poisonous weeds in the field. That wasn’t good for man or animal. God’s judgment will affect them all.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never spoken evil of anyone. Right? Come on, be honest. We have all been guilty of spewing poison, haven’t we? But as believers, we can’t do that. We must speak love to others, even those who harm us. Now, that’s hard. It is actually impossible, unless you allow the Lord to be your spokesman.

Don’t you think the Lord loves all those people you have spoken evil of? Of course, He does. He wants them to walk in the Spirit as much as He wants you to do that. If we would stop and look at others as Christ sees them, we would not speak poisonous words about them.

I have been guilty of this more times than I want to say. My flesh rises up when I have been offended. I want to “get back” at them. I take up a loved one’s offense and demand justice. I know the Lord isn’t pleased with that attitude. Sooner or later, I have to come to Him and confess that as sin, which it is.  Poisonous lips always poisons the one who speaks.

Father, forgive me for my poisonous lips. Remind me through Your Holy Spirit that my tongue belongs to You.

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GOD REMEMBERS

HOSEA 9:9

“They are deeply depraved as in the days of Gibeah; He will remember their guilt, He will punish their sins.”

My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have gone through chemotherapy a couple of times and now suffer with what is known as “chemobrain.” Some people don’t think that is real, but believe me, it is. I have to make a lot of lists now to get things done. I want to remember things but can’t.

God, however, remembers our sins. Hosea says so right here in today’s verse. He couldn’t forget the sins of Israel because they hadn’t repented. Their unconfessed sins were before Him. He had to hold them accountable. Hosea says “He will punish their sins.” They is true for us, unless…

APPLICATION

When we come to Jesus and admit we are sinners, when we confess those sins and ask for forgiveness, God forgives them. And not only does He forgive them, He choses to forget them. They are remembered no more. Psalm 103: says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Isn’t that incredible? The God of the universe choses to remove our sins from us and from His recollection. Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. He remembers our sins no more because of His Son. They are wiped away. Isn’t that worth sharing? Isn’t that something that the lost need to hear?

You and I can walk in freedom from sin because of the power of His forgiveness. I don’t have to feel guilty from past sins. I can walk in power over sin because of His Spirit who lives within me. I am no longer under the threat of damnation because of the shed blood of the Lamb. That is shouting ground. Amen?

I am so thankful for Your forgetfulness, Father. You have washed me clean by the blood of the Lamb, Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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SWALLOWED

HOSEA 8:8

“Israel has been swallowed up; they are now among the nations like a vessel in which no one delights.”

I love to fish, especially for largemouth bass. One of my favorite ways to catch them is with topwater lures like artificial frogs. When that frog is coming across the water early in the morning, I love to see that ole bass blow up on it. It is a thing of beauty for a bass fisherman. But you have to wait until they swallow the lure before you set the hook. When they do, you have a fight on your hands.

For some reason, that image came to my mind when I read today’s verse. “Israel has been swallowed up,” just like that frog. They thought they were free to do just as they wished. But God sent judgment upon them. Just like that bass that came out of nowhere to swallow that frog, judgment fell upon them and swallowed them up.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid being “swallowed up” is to walk humbly with our Father. Without the saving blood of Christ covering our sins, we are all going to be swallowed up for eternity. The wonderful thing about our salvation is it covers us for eternity. Do you realize that? It doesn’t have an expiration date. It takes us into and throughout eternity.

But how many people do you know who don’t have this coverage? They are susceptible any day to be swallowed up because of their sins. We have a responsibility to share that good news with others. We have been commissioned by Christ Himself to do that (Matthew 28:18-20). Do you have a list of people you want to share with? If not, take a moment and do that. Then let the Holy Spirit guide you into each conversation.

As beautiful as it is to watch that bass blow up on that frog and swallow it, it is horrible to watch judgment blow up on someone you know needed Jesus. I want everyone to know Jesus. I want them all to experience His saving grace. Hurry and share. Time is short. We never know how much time we have to be about His business.

Father, put someone in my path today with whom I can share the gospel. I want to see others come to know You.

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INNOCENT

HOSEA 8:5

“He has rejected your calf, Samaria, saying, ‘My anger burns against them!’ How long will they be incapable of innocence?”

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is when Moses had gone up on the mountain to receive the ten commandments. While he was gone the people approached Aaron and demanded an idol to represent the god who led them out of Egypt. Aaron gathers their gold and forms the golden calf. When Moses returns, Aaron claims he just threw the gold into the fire and the calf came out.

In today’s verse, Hosea reminds them of this idolatry. God is angry. They continue to sin. They refuse to repent. He says they are incapable of innocence. Don’t forget the decades and decades of pagan worship. Don’t forget how they had turned their backs on the true God, the one who had led them out of slavery and into the promised land.

APPLICATION

But before you start judging the Israelites, look at your own faith walk. You may not have a golden calf in your living room that you bow down to each day, but are you innocent? I bet not (neither am I, by the way). None of us are. But the Lord calls us to be holy as He is. That is only possible as we bow before Him.

As believers, God’s wrath is satisfied. We don’t have to fear His wrath anymore. However, God is not pleased with our sinful behaviors. When we don’t stay “confessed up,” it affects our relationship with our Lord. He cries out to us, “Return to me.” That’s when we need to fall to our knees, confess our sins, receive His mercy and rise to walk in newness of life.

I don’t want to be accused of a lack of innocence. I want to be bold in my approach to our Lord. I want to come into His presence knowing I am living, to the best of my ability, a holy life, transformed by His Word. I want to hear those words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I know I am declared innocent only because of the blood of Christ. Help me live to honor You.

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