Abiding, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Surrender

THE PROPHET

HOSEA 12:13 

“But by a prophet the LORD brought Israel up from Egypt, and by a prophet he was protected.” 

Don’t you love the story of Moses? A baby is born in Egypt and doomed to die. Miraculously he survives a short voyage in the Nile among crocodiles to land in the arms of the Pharoah’s daughter. He grows up privileged and educated. Then God leads him away for forty years to prepare him for his role as liberator of the children of Israel.

Hosea is, of course, referring to Moses in today’s verse. This prophet, Moses, led and protected the nation. There was nothing special about Moses, except that he yielded to the will of God. He allowed God to use him, even though he felt unworthy. Remember, he even told God he stuttered so he couldn’t talk to Pharoah. But God used this humble man to be the leader of a nation. 

APPLICATION 

As I was reading this verse, I asked myself how the Lord may want to use me. How does He want to use you? Moses was tending sheep when he encountered the burning bush. Have you had a burning bush experience? I don’t mean you’ve seen an actual burning bush. But have you had a definite meeting with the holy God of the universe? Has He called you by name? 

He is calling us. He is calling us to do great and wonderful things on His behalf. Jesus told us we would do “greater things than these” as His followers. Are you willing? God will make you able. You just have to allow Him to. Ask Him today to use you in ways that you can’t imagine.  

I want to be used. I desire to be led by His Spirit. Often my own will and desires get in the way. It’s easy to get sidetracked and think I am doing His will, when in fact I am doing my own. That’s not my desire. My prayer today is to be that willing vessel surrendered to His will for my life – wherever that leads. 

Father God, I know I am headstrong and stubborn at times, but I want to yield to You. Led me as You led Moses to do great and mighty things for 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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ANGEL WRESTLING

HOSEA 12:4

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and implored His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us,”

When I was growing up with my older brother, Tim, we used to wrestle a lot. I can still hear my mother screaming for us to stop. She hated when we did that. And in all those years, my brother would win. After all, he was over 4 years older than me. Until…he went away to college, and I started seriously lifting weights at school for football. I remember when he came home for Christmas during his freshman year at college. I pinned him. He was shocked. It felt great, lol.

Jacob wrestled the angel “and prevailed.” The angel of God or the man with whom Jacob wrestled is believed by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ. He gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he who contends with God. That sounds bad but it isn’t. Jacob was persistent in asking for his blessing, and he received it.

APPLICATION

Have you ever wrestled with God? I don’t mean like my brother and I used to do. Have you wrestled with Him in prayer? There is nothing wrong with getting intense during your prayer time. When we do that we really have God’s ear. We already have it, but He knows when we are intense. He can feel our passion.

I want to encourage you to make a plan to do that. I am sure you have something which you need to come to the Father about. Maybe it’s something you have been praying about for years. Go to Him and don’t let go until you hear. God’s answers are always right on time. You need to pray expectantly, knowing He will answer, just like He did with Jacob.

Prayer for me is intimate. I love talking to my Lord. There have been times when I wrestled with Him over things. God has never let me down. He has always come through. He will for you also, if you trust Him with it. Are you ready to wrestle?

I am so thankful You hear my prayers when I wrestle with You. Give me the wisdom to wait on You.

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BLESSED BY GOD

HOSEA 12:3

“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his mature strength he contended with God.”

Strength and power are seen as bad today in many places. If you are aggressive and ambitious, it is often perceived as a negative thing. It seems any exhibition of power in our society today means you are uncaring and/or ungrateful. Nothing could be further from the truth, if it is done according to God’s will.

Hosea is pointing out the strength of Israel that was evident in the life of Jacob, later renamed Israel. Even from birth he was pursuing his birthright over his brother by grabbing his heel. And later he wrestled with the angel of God until He blessed him. Jacob was a strong man. And the nation needed to be reminded of that.

APPLICATION

The Lord stands ready to bless you also. It is through His strength that He can do that. Have you asked for it lately? Don’t wait until you are knee deep in the mire of life to do that. There’s no need to wait. God’s strength is available to all His children every day. We just fail to receive it.

I bet you are facing something right now which could really benefit from God’s strength and blessing. Most of us face them all the time. But we continue to labor under our own strength and fail. What is so hard about asking for help from Jesus? Nothing! But we have to ask. You have to ask.

I know I have to ask every day. I can’t go one day with His strength and blessing in my life. Whether it is a physical challenge, emotional struggle or financial woes, He can give you the power to overcome. No, let me rephrase that. He will overcome through you.

Strengthen me today, O Lord. I praise You for the blessings You bestow on me every day.

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NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 10:8

Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will grow on their altars; then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ And to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’”

Have you ever just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide? Things are going so bad and there seems to be no relief in sight. I have had a few moments in my life like that. I didn’t want to see anyone or have anyone see me. I just wanted to hide. Those feelings are tough.

Israel felt the same way. Hosea says they wanted the mountains to cover them and the hills to fall on them. They wanted to disappear. But from who? From God. They couldn’t handle being before Him. Their sins were too grave, and they were now paying the penalty.

APPLICATION

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you. Lol. Listen, there is always hope. As believers, we will face hard times. But we must remember that everything that touches us has gone through God’s hands first. He has allowed it. I don’t pretend to understand that. I wish some things hadn’t touched me, but they did.

God can see right through all our pain. He stands ready to send relief and comfort, if we only ask. He will send it when it’s time. Our suffering may seem to last forever, but it only lasts as long as the Lord allows. Trust Him in that. He will never give you more than you can handle. That’s His promise to you.

I have been through some harrowing times. My most recent health crisis brought me to the brink of despair. I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was ready to go to heaven. I had no more strength. I was done. But my Lord saw me through. I know I can trust Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over.

Cover me with Your love. I don’t need to hide from You or anyone because You are my strength.

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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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DESTRUCTION

HOSEA 9:6

“For behold, they will be gone because of destruction; Egypt will gather them together, Memphis will bury them. Weeds will take possession of their treasures of silver; thorns will be in their tents.”

The word “destruction” carries with it a feeling of doom and ruin. If you’re an Avengers fan, you can probably think of a couple of those movies when total destruction happened. Everything was destroyed. It was havoc. There was no escape. That’s the picture I get of destruction.

Israel thought they were escaping destruction. They fled to Egypt, but that didn’t protect them. God’s judgment would not be thwarted, no matter where they went. The picture Hosea paints here is one of loss and ruin. Their silver and tents are gone.

APPLICATION

Are you headed toward destruction? God provides a way out. But you have to stop going in the direction you are going. You will never outrun God’s wrath. There is no other source of rescue. Running to others won’t work. Where will you turn?

Turn to Jesus. When all hope seems gone, turn to Him. He is the one who can pull you from the pit of destruction. He is ready and able to rescue you. Ask Him to forgive you. Seek restoration with the Father now. He will hear you and forgive. He promises that. Will you come?

I am so thankful that I have stopped running. I know in whom I have believed. I know He is able. He will keep me until eternity finds me. I am safe and secure with Jesus as my Lord. I only desire that others find Him too. That’s my goal now – to bring others to Him.

The destroyer can’t touch me because I belong to You, Lord. I am so thankful You called me so many years ago. I am in Your hands.

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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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THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

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GOD’S WALLS

HOSEA 2:6

“Therefore, behold, I will obstruct her way with thorns, and I will build a stone wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.”

Has God ever blocked you from doing something that you know was wrong? Without going into details (of course), I can think of a time or two when I was younger when my decision to pursue a course that was less than godly. At the time I was frustrated but looking back I can see God was protecting me.

In Hosea 2:6 the Lord is talking about one of two things. Scholars have varying opinions. Was He preventing Gomer (Israel) from pursing her sinful behavior or was He preventing Gomer from spreading her sinful behavior and influencing others to sin? Either way, God has put up walls.

APPLICATION

How does this apply to us? Aren’t you thankful for God’s walls of protection in your life? Think about it. He may be keeping you away from some wrong decisions in your life. He may be keeping evil away from you. Walls may seem constraining, but they are for your protection.

You see, the key is which side of the wall God is on. You want to be on the right side of the wall. And if you are on the side with God, walls are good. And you want them high. The devil may try to come over the walls, but God will knock him down every time. But you have to stay inside the walls. Don’t even peak over the wall.

We all need protection – from our own choices and from the evil one. Don’t moan and groan about the walls God puts in your path. Learn to see them as God’s love in action. He builds those walls with love because you are His child.

Lord, I thank You for walls. Your walls protect me. Help me see the walls as Your love in action.

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