Accountability, Bible, Choices, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Purity, Refreshing, Repentance, Sanctification, Scripture

DECAYING

HOSEA 14:1

“Return, Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your wrongdoing.”

Sometimes when I am in the woods hunting, I come across a dead animal. I always smell it before I see it. It’s hard to not smell it. When I find the carcass, it hardly recognizable. Often, I have to really look to figure out what it was. It has decayed to a point that you really don’t want to touch it or be near it.

Why do I bring that up? Because the Hebrew word for “stumbled” can also mean decayed. Israel has gone so far from God that they had that same stench. Their sins reeked. God was not pleased. Hosea is begging them to return. They can be salvaged if only…

APPLICATION

How are you smelling? I’m not asking if you deodorant is working. What I want to know is if your sins are stinking. All sin smells. Sorry, but that’s the truth. It may not smell to begin with, but it will. Left unconfessed, that sin will begin to turn rank in your life. The stench of sin in your life will begin to be noticed by others.

But praise be to God, there’s a remedy. Confess your sins. Be bathed in the blood of the Lamb. Get refreshed by His life-giving water. He will wash away all your sins. His blood works so much better than any household cleaner out there. If you are tired of smelling like sin, come to Him.

I don’t like the smell of sin. The more I spend time in the Word, the easier it is to smell sin. My nose can sniff it out. It’s like an early warning system to my soul. The Holy Spirit points out sin to me before I go there. Do I always listen? No, but when I don’t the Spirit won’t let me go until I confess it. I want to smell good, don’t you?

O God, cleanse me and purify me. I want to smell like Jesus.

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Belief, Bible, Comfort, Courage, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Heaven, Promises, Scripture

THE STING OF DEATH

HOSEA 13:14

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? Death, where are your thorns? Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”

We have probably all experienced the loss of a loved one. I lost my brother recently. While I continue to grieve, I am reminded where he is. He is in Glory with his Savior. He wouldn’t return here for anything, but I shall go to him one day and be reunited. That certainly lessens the sting of death for me. It still hurts, but not nearly as bad as it would if I didn’t know Jesus and know that my brother had not known him.

In the midst of judgment on the nation of Israel, Hosea tells us that God will certainly show mercy to them. The original Hebrew reads a little different than the New American Standard, which is what I used above. It says, “I will ransom them from Sheol. I will redeem them from death.” I like that. God is intentional. He doesn’t wonder about His decisions. He knows exactly what He plans to do.

APPLICATION

If you have experienced the sting of death, take courage. God can and will remove that stinger. Its power is diminished through the blood of the cross. Jesus shed His perfect blood to ransom us from death. Death for the believer is simply a portal into eternity with Christ. It is nothing to fear. We embrace it when it comes, knowing our destination is wonderful.

Now, for us who are left behind, we will grieve. It seems right now all around me there is death. In the past week it has arisen 3-4 times in the lives of my family and friends. And death will not stop. It is never satisfied. But the promises of God reign supreme. We need to be sharing our hope with those who have no hope so they can have that stinger removed.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes envy those who have gone before me into Glory. I wonder what they saw in their first glimpse of heaven. I wonder who they saw as they entered into their reward. I am so thankful I don’t have to fear death. I know death means life everlasting for me. What a trade off!

DEATH HAS BEEN SWALLOWED UP in victory. WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR VICTORY? WHERE, O DEATH, IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54c-56

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Bible, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Obedience, Promises, Redemption, Scripture

DISAPPEARING

HOSEA 13:3 

“Therefore they will be like the morning cloud and like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor, and like smoke from a chimney.” 

Here in the Tennessee Valley, it is not uncommon to have low morning clouds that cover our mountains. A lot people like to drive up Lookout Mountain and welcome the day above the clouds. It doesn’t take long though, for the clouds to burn off to reveal the valley below. Those clouds are beautiful but fleeting. 

Hosea paints the same picture of Israel. Under Jeroboam it was a glistening nation, ripe with promise. But because of their continual sins, the nation quickly vanished just like the morning cloud and dew, just like chaff which is blown away and smoke from a chimney. All of these are quick to disappear. How sad, when all they had to do was obey Jehovah’s Law and worship Him. 

APPLICATION 

We don’t want our lives to disappear too quickly. We want to be around for a while. There are things we can do to assist in that. We can eat healthier. We can take our medications when prescribed. We can avoid situations where our lives are put at risk. But none of those things can guarantee a long life. There is only one person who can guarantee that – God. 

Now, just because we trust our lives to God doesn’t mean we will live to be in our 80’s or 90’s. God knows the number of our days. What we have to come to understand is when the Lord calls us home, that constitutes our long life. We have lived as long as He has planned. That could be short in the eyes of the Lord. But God does not make mistakes. He calls us home when we are ready, no sooner, no later. 

I had a friend die yesterday at 60. That’s young. In fact, that’s my age. I was surprised, shocked to say the least. But she was a believer and loved Jesus. She is in her heavenly home. And although her death caught us all by surprise, it did not surprise God. He was ready for her to come home. We will miss her, but we shall see her again. Welcome home, my friend. 

Though my days may be fleeting, I shall trust You, Lord. I long to be with You. 

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Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Death, Encouragement, Fellowship, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Promises, Redemption, Reward, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Witnessing

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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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Confession, Death, Demons, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Rescue, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Sin

SURROUNDED

HOSEA 7:2

“And they do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their deeds surround them; they are before My face.”

The story goes that one day the Lone Ranger caught himself surrounded by a band of angry Indians. He had no way of escape. He looked at his trusty Indian sidekick, Tanto, and said, “Well, Tanto, I guess this is the end for us.” Tanto calmly turned to the Lone Ranger and said, “What do you mean, pale-face?”

I know, I know, not too funny. But hear me out. Just like the Lone Ranger, the people of Israel suddenly found themselves surrounded by their wickedness. They had to be aware of their evil deeds but had become blinded to the dangers around them. All of a sudden, God’s judgment fell. There was no escape. Payment was due.

APPLICATION

Our sins will find us out. There is no escaping the consequences of rebellion. Everything we have ever done is known to God. But…thanks be to Him, He has provided a way of escape for us. He sent His precious Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross. He paid the price for our sin. His blood covers our unrighteousness. He gives us His righteousness when we turn to Him.

But if you have never done that, if you have never asked Christ to be your Savior, you are surrounded by encroaching sins. None of your sidekicks can save you. Your family can’t save you. The preacher can’t save you. Only Jesus can save you. Rest in that. Receive that free gift from the Father. He will rescue you.

I am so thankful I can walk in victory. Aren’t you? When Satan sends his little minions to surround me, I just have to look to the hills where God’s army has come to defend me. I fear no evil because my Father in heaven knows my name. He is my deliverer. He is my stronghold and place of safety. Amen? Amen!

O Lord, I praise You for rescuing me. I give You all the glory for the victories in my life.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Condemnation, Darkness, Death, Devil, Flesh, Guilt, Judgment, Lies, Satan, Scripture

FOOTPRINTS

HOSEA 6:8

“Gilead is a city of wrongdoers, tracked with bloody footprints.”

One thing my mom could not tolerate is for us to track in dirt on her clean floors. She would holler at us to take our shoes off before we got on the carpet. You see, for years our house was all tile. When she got carpet (and it was that thick shag carpet) we were told to keep it clean. No dirty footprints allowed.

Hosea is speaking to Gilead here. That is the area across the Jordan where the two and a half tribes claimed their possession. They are being accused of tracking the blood of innocent victims with their shoes. Wherever they went, their guilt followed them. Idolatry was in their steps.

APPLICATION

What are you guilty of? Or maybe I should ask it this way. What do you think you are guilty of? It all depends on which side of the cross you’re on. If you are an unbeliever, you are definitely guilty. Your sins cover you. You, too, walk with bloody footprints. No amount of scrubbing will remove it off your feet either. Only the blood of Jesus can do that.

If you are a believer, you may feel as if you are guilty. Listen – you’re not. Jesus shed His blood to cleanse you from all guilt.  I am not saying you’re innocent. We still sin in these fleshly bodies, but there is no room for Satan to try to convince you that you’re guilty. He is a liar. You are free from that guilt because you have accepted God’s Son as your Lord and Savior.

Aren’t you glad that guilt is gone? Jesus paid the debt. We could never pay the price demanded for our guilt and shame. But one tiny drop of that divine blood washed the slate clean. His action on that cross secured for you and me an eternity with Him. Hallelujah!

I am so thankful, Lord, that I am guilt free. I know I am not perfect, but You see me as righteous because of Jesus.

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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Joy, Life, Promises, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

ON THE THIRD DAY

HOSEA 6:2

“He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.”

We just celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago. I have always loved Easter. I loved the Easter baskets, hiding and finding the Easter eggs and I especially loved Easter lunch after church. Of course, the older I got the more I understood about Easter and the importance of the resurrection on the third day. We truly have something to celebrate.

I just love the words in today’s verse. I had forgotten these words were spoken here in Hosea. Hosea was prophesying about the Messiah here. Jesus was revived, and He was raised up on the third day. These Israelites were placing their hope in a resurrection from Jehovah God. We do the same.

APPLICATION

So, if you are a believer in Christ, you have hope in the resurrection Christ. His shed blood on Calvary covers our sins, but His resurrection gives us eternal life. There is nothing else into which we put our hope. There is nothing else that can give us eternity. We will be changed into a glorified body and live forever with our God.

Sadly, some people don’t believe in that. They think when we die, we just die. Our lives end. There is nothing beyond the grave. How depressing! The fact is our lives are just beginning at death. Death is just a portal into our eternal home. If we love Jesus and have given our lives to Him, then that home is heaven. If we have not done that, then that eternal home is hell. Either way, we have an eternal destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad I have secured my room in my mansion in the heaven. I will be happy with the closet in the mansion, honestly. Just to be in the presence of my God is good enough for me. How about you? Have you punched your ticket for heaven? Are you ready? Are you longing for your heavenly home?

O Father, I long for heaven. But while I am here, let me be about Your business.

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Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Faith, Joy, Life, Resurrection, Scripture

HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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Advice, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Love, Scripture, Sowing

WHY WE SOW

HOSEA 2:23

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

In the past I enjoyed gardening. Have you ever thought about the process of sowing and reaping? We plant a certain seed in order to reap a certain crop. You don’t plant okra seed and expect to reap tomatoes. There is only one way that works. Plant the seed for the crops you want to enjoy later.

God says here in Hosea 2:23 that He is going to sow “her” for Himself in the land. He is going to sow Israel to reap Israel. Sowing requires something to die first before it sprouts. The seed has to die and give birth to new growth. There’s a waiting period.

APPLICATION

Therein lies the question. Are you willing to die to yourself in order to rise up as a new growth in Christ? Are you willing to lay aside all the stuff required to be sowed by God? You will never produce new growth or bring in a harvest if you don’t let yourself be buried by God. He has to sow you. But rest assured, what He sows, He waters, He nourishes. He doesn’t forget where He planted you.

Once when I was planting a row in my garden, I forgot to mark what I planted in that row. I had to wait until the plants began to sprout and grow to find out what it was. I kept watering and fertilizing the seed, though. I knew it was something I wanted. God doesn’t do that. He knows exactly where He planted you and He already has a purpose for your new life.

Seed have to get dirty in order to fulfill its purpose. Allow God to get you dirty. Let Him plant you and water you to bring you to a place of new growth. You will be amazed at the number of people who will benefit from your crops.

Bury me Lord so I can sprout. Let me produce new growth which will bring forth fruit.

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