Accountability, Bible, Confrontation, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender

WHIRLING SWORDS

HOSEA 11:6

And the sword will whirl against their cities, and will destroy their oracle priests and consume them, because of their counsels.”

When my son was small, he played all sorts of video games. Back then the games weren’t quite as elaborate as they are today. Some of those games had courses you had to get through to win. Of course, those courses were full of dangers. There were traps to fall in, lasers to dodge and even swords. They could end your “life” in the game and make you go back to the beginning.

God was sending whirling swords on the heads of the Israelites. Swords from warring nations would come upon them to deliver God’s judgment. But look at what caused this – their counsels. Actually, the Hebrew says “their own counsels.” They only listened to words that pleased them. They knew God’s law but ignored it.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want whirling swords to fall on you, do you? No one does. But we still all try to live our lives according to our own counsel. We think we know what is best. We have our lives all mapped out without any regard to the plan God has for us. Whirling swords come in all sizes and descriptions. What will it take for God to get your attention?

We can all avoid the whirling swords of judgment by turning to Jesus. When we are surrendered to His will, judgment has already been paid. Jesus took the punishment on Himself. He died so that we can avoid those swords. He not only destroyed those swords, but He also secured our future. We are promised that. Isn’t that great?

I don’t want my head taken off by a swirling sword. I had much rather rest in Jesus. I know I deserve judgment. I am just a sinner saved by grace. But it is so comforting to know my head is safe. My soul is safe. And because I know that, I want to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord. Don’t you?

I am thankful for Jesus taking my judgment. Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confrontation, Courage, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Evangelism, Heaven, Hell, Judgment, Modeling, Scripture, Witnessing

KEEP WATCHING

HOSEA 9:8

“Ephraim was a watchman with my God, a prophet; yet the snare of a bird catcher is in all his ways, and there is only hostility in the house of his God.

Do you remember as a child playing hide and seek? The secret to winning is to find a great hiding place and to stay alert. You can’t just hide and go to sleep. You’re sure to be found. I always liked to hide in a spot that a quick escape route. I had to keep watching for the person looking for me. I didn’t want to be caught off guard.

Israel had been given the task to be His watchman. Not only were they His chosen people, but they were also supposed to warn their neighbors of God’s wrath. They were to tell them about Jehovah. Yet, they had failed. Not only had they fallen into God’s judgment for chasing after pagan gods, they had fully participated with those foreign nations in their idolatry.

APPLICATION

We have the responsibility as believers to share the good news of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible. You know as well as I do that the world is chasing after everything but God. They may not have idols on their mantles, but they are sure worshipping stuff. They have totally forgotten the Creator.

So, we have been tasked by God as a watchman. We have to warn others of the danger of sin. We have to tell them what God expects. We have to show them the love of Jesus so they will turn to Him. That’s our task. Will you accept it? Will you do that today? Think of one person and go to them.

I know it is not easy for some of you to step out and do that. But just think about what you are doing. You are literally giving someone the opportunity to escape hell. You are giving them the chance to embrace heaven. That’s motivation.

Show me those who need to hear Your message, Lord. Give me the boldness to speak out when I know those around me need to hear.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Flesh, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture

WARNING! WARNING!

HOSEA 8:1

Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the LORD, because they have violated My covenant and rebelled against My Law.”

Picture yourself on the wall of a city. Your job is to watch for any approaching enemies. You have a trumpet to blow to warn the city if danger is sighted. So, when do you blow that trumpet? Do you wait until the enemy is at the gate or do you sound the alarm as soon as you spot them?

Here in Hosea the enemy has come. There is no time for the trumpet to be sounded. Judgment has fallen. God is holding them accountable for their breach of the covenant. They have rebelled against His Law. So, God is using their enemies to judge them.

APPLICATION

We must sound the alarm. In our society today we are surrounded by encroaching enemies. But we remain silent. We don’t warn our brothers and sisters about the danger that is all around us. We may run for cover ourselves, but we leave the rest to fend for themselves.

Who are these enemies? Anyone or anything that goes against God’s Word and His commands for our lives. Anyone or anything that speaks against Jesus is an enemy of the cross. Satan will use all these to try to tear us down. He is on the attack – always. We cannot let up for a second. We must be on guard. We must keep the trumpet in our hands ready to blow.

I am looking. Are you? I’m on the wall. Are you? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t think for a second he’s got your best interest in mind. He has one goal – to destroy you and other believers. Stand firm and strong.

I will blow the trumpet, Lord. I will sound the alarm. I will stand with You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Commands, Confession, Confrontation, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

WRONGS UNCOVERED

HOSEA 7:1

“When I would heal Israel, the wrongdoing of Ephraim is uncovered, and the evil deeds of Samaria, for they practice deception; the thief enters, a band of robbers attack outside,”

Have you ever had a wrong exposed? Boy, I have. I can remember trying to hide some of my sins when I was growing up. I got pretty good at it. I knew where to hide things. I knew how to sneak around my parents. I thought I was getting by, but I wasn’t. God knew, right?

If that is true (that God always knows), why do we think we can hide those wrongdoings? Ephraim thought they could but found out differently. God held them accountable for every single breach of their covenant. Nothing escapes His eye, and they found out the hard way.

APPLICATION

Can we live our lives without every doing wrong? I wish. But it’s not possible. As hard as we try, we will slip up from time to time. God tells us to live holy lives but will forgive us when we make those mistakes. What He can’t tolerate is our lying to Him and refusing to repent. That can bring out His wrath.

Why would God be wrathful? To protect His name. Once we take on the name of Jesus, we must protect that name. Our actions reflect on Him. Remember, God is holy. He expects us to live like Him – holy. Ephesians 5:3 says, “There must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity or of greed, for these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have a higher standard to live by.

The beauty of this high standard, though, is that God doesn’t expect us to live it on our own. The Holy Spirit lives in and though us, empowering us to that level. It’s not us living like Jesus. It’s the Holy Spirit in us. We just have to submit. Will you do that today?

I want to please You in my living, Lord. I want to be holy and above reproach.

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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Obedience, Scripture

STRIVING

HOSEA 4:4

“Yet let no one find fault, and let no one rebuke; for your people are like those who contend with a priest.”

Striving is not fun, nor is it godly. We know that, but we just can’t help ourselves. Why? Because we think we are right. Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes we are right and have to defend the truth. I’m not talking about that. I am talking about striving just to strive, fighting just to fight.

You see, Israel was so out of sorts with God that they only knew striving. Hosea is telling them here to stop it. Even the priests were striving with the people. No one was following the Lord. They had all decided to pursue their own way. And God was sick of it.

APPLICATION

The same is true today. Just look at the U.S. government. Our two main political parties couldn’t agree on the sunrise right now. They come from polar opposites on just about every issue out there. There seems to be no grounds of agreement. This has crept into our churches and lives. How sad. Why in the world would we allow such striving to enter our churches?

We, as believers, must stand for truth. We have to maintain the fundamental beliefs we are taught in God’s Word. If we stop that, the church is going to suffer. It will falter. It will cease being the beacon of light to a lost world. Will you cease striving with men and start striving for God?

I want to be known as a fighter but not as one who fights others. I want to be known as someone who fights for the truth, who fights for God’s army. I do not want to fight just to fight. No! I want to fight knowing I already have the victory. The battle is His. Will you join me?

I can’t imagine fighting for anyone else, Lord. I want to proclaim Your Word to a lost world no matter the resistance.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Confrontation, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Intimacy, Mercy, Protection, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance

QUARANTINED

HOSEA 3:3

“Then I said to her, ‘You shall live with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute, nor shall you have another man; so I will also be toward you.’”

Don’t you just hate that word “quarantine”? Over this past year chances are you have been quarantined due to the covid-19 virus. If you haven’t, you must have been living on a desert island all by yourself. It has been just about impossible to avoid at least one quarantine period due to infection or exposure. Frankly, I am a little tired of it. How about you?

Hosea brought Gomer back but basically quarantined her. She would not be given access to him or any other man. He provided for her and treated her kindly, but she had to remain quarantined for a period of time. Her past behavior required it. She needed a cleansing period before reentering her husband’s home.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you grateful that God doesn’t require us to go through a cleansing period after we sin? We come to Him just as we are and confess our failures. He forgives us and casts our sins away. It says in Psalm 103:12 that He removes them as far as the east is from the west. We are washed whiter than snow.

With that said, we are not free to sin and just confess it. Sin does have consequences. Deliberate sin even more. Let me ask you to take a look at your sin life. My what? you say. Your sin life. Look at the patterns of sin in your life. Is sin accidental or planned? God may just put you in quarantine to get some of that sin out of you. He will not let you just sin willy nilly and think it’s nothing. He does expect obedience from His children.

Just like Hosea still cared for Gomer, God cares for us despite our sin. But it does break His heart when we sin against Him. He wants to love us and care for us. If we are insistent on living how we want, we restrict how much love He is able to show us. Sin is deplorable to God. Don’t ever forget that. Come to Him today and confess whatever is on your heart.

Lord, I know you love me despite my failures. Help me walk in victory today and only come to You for forgiveness when I have tripped up and fallen into sin.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confrontation, Enemies, Exhortation, Modeling, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

CONFRONTATION

3 JOHN 10

“For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

A lot of people do not like confrontation. They will do anything to stay away from it. Others dive right in before knowing all the facts and can make matters worse. Of course, the best approach is to gather all the facts before confronting someone to make sure what you have heard is true. Your purpose for confronting is to correct a wrong and set things straight.

John had gathered his facts. He had been informed about Diotrephes’ actions against him, others and the church. With the apostolic authority he possessed, he planned to confront Diotrephes. Why? Did John just want to get him back? I don’t believe so. I believe John wanted to restore a brother. We don’t know what happened between John and Diotrephes. I guess we will find out in heaven if this was settled biblically.

APPLICATION

Children have to be taught how to settle disputes according to Scripture. That does not come naturally. Our flesh almost always wins out. How do we teach them this life skill? I can think of two ways. Let’s make that three ways. Prayer, God’s Word and modeling the behavior.

You are probably saying Okay Carl, I like the first two, but I am so tired of you telling me to model behavior. I understand, but it does no good to teach them to pray for others and search God’s Word for direction if we aren’t living that out before them. We have to show them what it looks like to confront in love. We have to be their example to follow during difficult times. That’s parenting.

Is there someone in your life whom you need to confront in love? Perhaps there is a family member who professes Christ but is not living like it. Confront them. Maybe a co-worker consistently takes the name of the Lord in vain. Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you and will guide you. He will give you the words to say at just the right time. Follow His lead.

It is not easy to confront others, Lord. Give me the courage to speak truth in love.

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