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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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Deceit, Discipline, Faithfulness, Following, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

STILL UNRULY

HOSEA 11:12

Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is still unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.”

When I worked in children’s homes, it wasn’t unusual for a child or youth to come into the home very unruly and out of control. After a period of time and much love, they would begin to calm down and settle in. But quite often that same child would resort back to their old way of behavior. It seemed they just couldn’t maintain a calm demeaner. Even though the staff was consistent and loved them, they preferred chaos.

Hosea tells us Ephraim, Israel and Judah acted the same way. Even though “the Holy One” was faithful, they rebelled. Lies, deceit and unruliness were how they responded to a faithful Father. They gave way to flesh. They let their old sin nature take over. It didn’t matter how much God loved them, they acted out against Him.

APPLICATION

Now, if you don’t see yourself in today’s verse, well… We are all the same. We know how much the Lord loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us exactly what we needed – salvation. And we still rebel. We still take Him for granted. Oh, we say the right things. We go to church and throw a few dollars in the offering plate and think we have done enough. We don’t want to obey – just like the Israelites.

Aren’t you tired of living that way? God wants you to surrender to Him. He wants you to yield to His will. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him. We are to take His yoke on us. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Will you trust Him today to lead you in His yoke. Stop the unruliness and yield.

I still battle that sometimes. I even think I am yielded only to discover I’m not. That’s a bit embarrassing, lol. But I truly want to be. I don’t want to rub against the yoke. I want to follow Him in the yoke. I want to learn to walk with the Master. Don’t you?

Oh Lord, I praise You for putting up with my stubbornness. I thank You for Your patience with me.

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Abiding, Alone, Bible, Comfort, Deceit, Devil, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Leading, Lies, Punishment, Righteousness, Satan, Scripture

WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Foolishness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Rebuke, Scripture, Sin

DON’T BET ON IT

HOSEA 9:2

“Threshing floor and wine press will not feed them, and the new wine will fail them.”

Back in 2008 our economy went through a downturn. A lot of people lost a lot of money in those months. In fact, my wife and I lost about one third of our retirement funds. It happened quickly. It was unexpected. Funds we thought would be there in years to come year were gone almost overnight.

Israel thought their harvest and wine would be there for them to enjoy. After all, they had worked for those harvests. They had produced that wine. Why wouldn’t it be there for them to enjoy? They really thought they could do as they pleased and still be blessed by God. Not so!

APPLICATION

Are you betting on your future? Are you relying on what you’ve achieved or on God? We put so much energy in planning for our future. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s smart to plan ahead. But we can’t leave God out of the equation. He has to be part of what we are planning. God may have plans for you that you can’t even begin to imagine.

So, how do you plan for your future? You start on your knees. You ask the Lord what He would have you do. This goes for your money, as well. Don’t you think the Lord wants you to be provided for? Of course, He does. He doesn’t want to see His children struggle unless…. Perhaps He wants to use you to show others how to depend on Him. Perhaps He wants to use you to be that example of faith that can only we experienced as we go through trials and hardships. But He still loves you and wants what is best for you.

My future is in the Lord’s hands. Stepping out at sixty years old and starting to raise support for a new ministry is not something I planned. But He has led me to do just that. It’s an exciting adventure. I can’t wait to see what He does in and through me in the months and years to come. I can’t count on the threshing floor or winepress. God has other plans, and I’m all in.

I am thankful that my blessings are promised through You. I will love and serve You because I know You will walk with me through the hardest times.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Deception, Fighting, Flesh, Perfection, Safety, Scripture

BENT SIGHTS

HOSEA 7:16

They turn, but not upward, they are like a loose bow; their officials will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.”

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know I love to hunt. I normally hunt with a gun, but during archery season, I hunt with a crossbow. I have spent time zeroing in that crossbow. I set up a target at different distances and practice shooting to make sure I can hit what I am shooting at when the time comes. There’s nothing much more frustrating than to have a great weapon and not have it sighted so you can shoot well.

Hosea compares Israel to such a weapon – a loose bow. A loose bow will not shoot the arrow correctly. It will miss its target. It won’t hit what you aim at because the bow is deceiving you. Not only is that frustrating, but it’s also dangerous. If you are facing an enemy, you want to be able to stop them with that bow. If you can’t shoot straight, you’re in trouble.

APPLICATION

Are you a straight shooter? Is your heart aimed toward God? If we aren’t consistent in our quiet times and our prayer lives, we will begin to get off mark. We will begin to target the wrong things. Our aim will be off. Before you know it, we are totally off course. We are pursuing the wrong things. God is no longer in our view. How did that happen?

You see, our sights can be just slightly off and cause us to miss God. It doesn’t take much. Just a little distraction can cause it. Our minds start to drift. We put off our quiet times. We neglect for a few days our time with the Lord. Whamo! We are off. We have to set our sights afresh each day. We have to make sure Satan hasn’t moved in and “tweaked” our sights to make us miss. Be sure your aim is right.

I heard about a golfer this week who had an awful putting experience in his last tournament. Before he played in his next tournament, he was complaining about it. Someone asked him about his putter. It was only then that he noticed his putter was bent. There was no way he could have putted straight with it. Check out your tools and make sure you are aiming correctly.

Father, You are the only true way to measure whether I am shooting straight or not. I depend on You to be my guide.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Friends, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Service

TURNCOATS

HOSEA 7:15

Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me.”

Betrayal hurts, doesn’t it? If you live long enough, sooner or later, someone will betray you. It could be a friend you thought you could depend on. It might be a spouse who betrays your marital vows. However it happens, it hurts. When you put time and energy into a relationship only to have it squashed by a turncoat, it takes a while to get over that.

Ephraim had turned against God. Hosea says here in verse 15 that God had trained and strengthened them. Remember – God had chosen these people. He had made them a great nation. He had protected them from their enemies. He had enriched their boundaries. And yet, they turned. Not only that, Hosea says they “devise evil” against God. Wow!

APPLICATION

I want to ask you a hard question. Have you ever devised evil against anyone? Have you turned against them and tried to make them hurt? Not me, Carl. I am more spiritual than that. Right! Listen, we may not literally plot to do evil, but we have all had bad feelings toward someone and maybe even rejoiced when they fell on hard times.

As believers, our goal should be to lead others to Jesus at all times. That doesn’t give us the right to have any evil thoughts. When we have feelings, other than godly ones, towards someone, that flies in the face of God. How do you think He feels about that person? He desires them to come to Him. He may be wanting to use you to draw them, and you are refusing. You are fighting against Him. That, in a sense, is devising evil against God.

I want to be on the Lord’s side. Don’t you? I want to serve Him by serving others. I want Him to use me to bring His lost sheep home. May I never be found in conflict with God’s plan for the lost. Serving Him is a joy and pleasure. Won’t you join me?

I desire to remain loyal to You, Lord. I want to be on Your front lines serving Your kingdom.

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Devil, God's Will, Guilt, Heaven, Lying, Mercy, Promises, Redemption, Satan, Scripture, Truth

LYING ABOUT GOD

HOSEA 7:13

Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they have spoken lies against Me.”

When you read my title for the blog today you may have thought that to be a strange title. Who, after all, lies about God? Oh, don’t get me started. Look all around you. There are people everywhere who are lying about God. They say He accepts all kinds of lifestyles – nope. They say He will accept everyone into heaven – nope. Some even say He doesn’t really exist – nope.

God would love to redeem Ephraim. He would love to extend His mercy and grace, but they are lying about Him. They are refusing to acknowledge His power of creation and them. They are not bowing to His total control over their circumstances and are thereby lying about Him. God will not redeem the unrepentant.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you have lied about God? Oh Carl, I have never lied about God. Oh really? Have you never questioned His power to save you from a situation? Have you never believed Satan’s whispers that God was too busy for your prayers? You may call my words a little harsh. You may not see that as lying about God. But anytime we don’t recognize His power we are basically calling Him a liar. We don’t believe He will do what He says He will do.

He says He will always love us and see us through the storms of life. He says He will rescue us from Satan’s barrages against us. He promises us that He is always listening to hear our prayers and to intercede according to His perfect will. You can believe these things about our holy God. He will always come through. To believe anything else is to believe a lie.

I may get accused of lying about a lot of things, but I do not want to ever be accused of lying about God. I want to always trust His Word and believe exactly what it says. If God says it, that settles it. There is no questioning Him. Praise be to God for His unshakeable truths.

I love knowing that You can always be trusted, Lord. Every word out of Your mouth is truth.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Faithfulness, Following, Intimacy, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture

SILLY DOVES

HOSEA 7:11

So Ephraim has become like a gullible dove, without sense; they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.”

There was an Eastern proverb that said, “There is nothing more simple than a dove.” Now being simple, in and of itself, is not bad. But when our simplicity is directed toward God, that is not good. When I first came to Christ in 1977, my understanding of the Word was pretty simple. I simply read it and went on with my life. I didn’t take the time to study deep.

Hosea compares Ephraim to a gullible dove for the same reasons. They did not take God seriously. They believed but simply, without reason. When in trouble, they called on Egypt to rescue them instead of God. As a result, they were carried off to Assyria.

APPLICATION

How do you believe? Do you believe because your parents did? Do you believe because your spouse does? Those are not reasons to believe. You have to develop your own faith. Your faith is your faith, not someone else’s. It takes time to grow your faith. It doesn’t happen overnight. I know my faith has continued to grow these past 41 years. I still have room to grow.

There are some things we must believe just because God said it. I don’t begin to confess that I have God figured out. He still amazes me. His Word blows my mind each day. But there are some things that I just have to accept by faith. I believe Christ’s blood covers my sins. I believe He was resurrected (even though I didn’t witness it) and lives now in eternity seated beside His Father. I just believe those things, but I also study His Word to learn more about them.

I pray you are digging deep. I pray you are sharing that with others. Simple faith is okay at the beginning of your walk with Christ, but you can’t stay there. You have to grow. You have to know who to call on for your rescue. It’s not Egypt or another Egypt look alike. Only He can rescue you.

I will turn to You, O Lord, to deliver me. There is no other person I can call on to rescue me. I commit to grow in Your Word and in my faith.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Satan, Scripture, Surrender

PRIDE

HOSEA 7:10

Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, yet they have not returned to the LORD their God, nor have they sought Him, despite all this.

Pride comes before the fall. Have you heard that? Well, it’s true. We get cocky and arrogant, and before you know it, we fall flat on our face. Pride can be a good thing. We should take pride in our country. We should be proud of our friends or family when they have a great achievement. But pride of self will always bring us down.

Hosea continues to speak against Ephraim and talks about their pride. They are caught in their sins, but their pride will not let them repent. Why should they? Their sins aren’t as bad as the pagans of the land (or so they thought). Surely, God would not judge them. They are special. They are chosen. Wrong! God did hold them accountable.

APPLICATION

How do we fight against the pride of our flesh? There is only one way – we have to die to our flesh every second of every day. I have said that a lot in my devotional blogs. But what exactly does that mean – to die to your flesh? It means recognizing that we are not capable of living a holy life on our own. It means humbling ourselves before Him. It means saying you can’t do this on your own.

When we do that, the Holy Spirit empowers us to do everything we just said we couldn’t. What? Yep! He lives in us and will live through us when we get out of the way. He will control our tongue. He will direct our eyes. He will… But we have to surrender our will to the Father’s Will. Then and only then can the Holy Spirit do those things for us.

Are you tired of your prideful life? Are you sick of picking yourself back up after another horrible stumble? Kill that self pride today. Don’t let Satan have an inch of real estate in your life. Jesus is waiting to give you a victory.

I am so tired of trying to prove myself, Father. I surrender my life to You to do with as You see fit. Use me today to glorify Yourself.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Deceit, Disciplemaking, Evil, Foolishness, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Holiness, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Testimony

DRUNKENNESS

HOSEA 7:5

“On the day of our king, the officials became sick with the heat of wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers,”

I have known a few drunks in my lifetime. These individuals were so addicted to alcohol, they couldn’t function in everyday life. They couldn’t hold a job. They had lost their right to drive. They were in and out of jail for public intoxication. Their life was a mess, all because of their appetite for drink.

Hosea is talking about that in today’s verse. The officials and even the king drank to excess. They became sick they drank so much. And to make matters worse, they teamed up with the scoffers. Who are they? They were the individuals who scoffed or scorned at God. They mocked Him and encouraged others to do the same.

APPLICATION

How do we avoid this? Avoid drunkenness. This is not a blog to debate if Christians can drink or not. I’m not going down that road. But there is no reason for a believer to become drunk. We know where that leads. It leads to no good. When we are in that condition we can’t represent Christ, which is our calling.

We should also avoid associating with those who mock and ridicule the things of Christ. In most drinking situations Christ will not be glorified. Isn’t that our purpose? If we can’t do that where we are, something’s wrong. Our actions and attitude should always point to Him.

I haven’t always lived up to that. There have been times when I have failed. I have not represented Christ well. I have asked for forgiveness for that. I truly want to please Him in all I do. My goal is to do that every day. So, my prayer each day is to keep me focused on Him and sharing the good news of the gospel to whomever will listen.

Lord, keep my heart in tune with Yours. I want to walk in such a way that I never bring shame on Your name.

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