Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Condemnation, Deceit, Faithfulness, God's Will, Holiness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Reputation, Scripture, Testimony

MOVING THE LINE

HOSEA 5:10

“The leaders of Judah have become like those who displace a boundary marker; On them I will pour out My anger like water.”

There’s been a battle for a number of years over the official boundary marker on a part of the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. The battle is really about water rights to the Tennessee river. Georgia wants access to that water, mainly for their largest city, Atlanta. But the original boundary marker excludes that. They claim the line was drawn incorrectly and needs to be corrected. I doubt that boundary marker will ever be changed.

Hosea uses the idea of moving a marker to describe Judah. Anyone who would move a boundary marker without permission is dishonest. God does not tolerate that and certainly wouldn’t from Judah. Their deceit draws God’s anger. He says He will pour it out like water. Not good!

APPLICATION

Have you moved the line on someone? Have you been dishonest in your dealings with anyone? Have you been dishonest with God? God still does not tolerate that. As believers, we must be the most honest of all people. Why? Because we represent our Lord. Our dishonesty reflects on Him.

That is why God is angered over any dishonesty in our lives. Anything that brings dishonor to His name angers our holy God. His name means something. It stands for something. We have no right to associate Him with our behaviors. That’s why He tells us we are to be holy as He is holy. Again, we represent Him. Don’t forget that.

As for me, I don’t want to do anything to bring shame on myself from being deceitful or dishonest. I want my actions to reflect well on my Lord. I want Him to look at me and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I will not move the line, Lord. I want to honor You in all I do. I know my actions are a reflection of my testimony of my faith in You.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

TROUBLE’S COMING

HOSEA 5:7

“They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, for they have given birth to illegitimate children. Now the new moon will devour them with their land.”

Sometimes we think we have gotten away with stuff. Can you think of things in your life that you have done that you have yet to suffer the consequence? I don’t mean really bad stuff. It could be anything that you know you shouldn’t have done. It could have been years ago. You have never confessed and now think God has forgotten about it. Guess again.

Israel has “dealt treacherously with the Lord.” They have dealt in deception. They have birthed children from their pagan worship and with pagan people. They think they have pulled the wool over God’s eyes. But now God tells them through Hosea that within a month judgment is coming. Wow! I guess God wasn’t fooled.

APPLICATION

What are you attempting to hide from God? Do you really think you can do that? Let me save you some time and some trouble. You can’t. God sees all and knows all. You can waste your time trying to hide stuff from Him, but He knows it all before it happens.

God desires that we disclose all to Him. He wants us to live holy lives before Him. That requires transparency. That requires open and vulnerable hearts. When we do that, our lives are so much more in tune with Him. We can walk in victory and not fear repercussions from the Lord.

I don’t like to walk around looking over my shoulder. I prefer to walk facing straight ahead, knowing the Lord has my back. I have nothing to hide from Him. He knows everything I have done. He knows my motive for doing it. He knows my every little thought and knows my actions before I do them. I will trust Him. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for knowing me. I trust You because You know what is best for me each and every day.

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deceit, Following, Judgment, Life, Obedience, Scripture

NO RETURN

HOSEA 5:4

“Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a  spirit of infidelity is within them, and they do not know the LORD.”

Once while traveling on an interstate highway, I took an off ramp only to discover a very disturbing sign halfway up the ramp. It read “No northbound return ramp this exit.” What! Why wasn’t that sign posted before I got off the highway? Now what was I supposed to do. This was in the days prior to GPS, so I had to stop at a gas station and ask someone for directions.

Too bad Israel couldn’t get some directions to get back to God. Too bad there wasn’t a gas station to stop in. Israel had lost its way. They had taken an off ramp with no return ramp, or so it seemed. Their poor choices and their infidelity had taken them way off course.

APPLICATION

Are you off course? Have you taken the wrong exit? The good news is there is a way back. His name is Jesus. He will personally guide you back on the right path, if you just stop. You see, our problem is usually that we keep moving. We keep driving in the wrong direction. We think we can figure out how to get back on the road, but we just keep driving, getting further and further away.

Take your foot off of your life accelerator and slow down. Ask the Lord which direction He is going in. That’s where you want to head. Follow Him. Better yet, give Him the driver’s seat. Why don’t you just slide over and let Him drive awhile? I guarantee you will be in safe hands. He will never get lost, and He won’t take you anywhere you are not prepared to handle.

I prefer to let the Lord lead. I have found through my six decades that He is a much better leader than I am. There are still occasions when I think I can drive better than Him, but it’s not long until I’m lost. But I have learned to stop and switch seats. And I’ve learned the sooner I do that, the better.

Lord, I am thankful that I can always trust Your directions. You keep me safe.

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Accountability, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Judgment, Satan, Scripture

TRAPS AND NETS

HOSEA 5:1

“Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, house of Israel! Listen, you of the house of the king! For the judgment applies to you, because you have been a trap at Mizpah, and a net spread out on Tabor.”

When I was a little boy, I loved to build traps and snares to try and catch small game, like rabbits or squirrels. I wasn’t very successful. My traps didn’t work too well. They looked good, but were not very productive.

Unfortunately, these priests referred to by Hosea had made “traps” on each side of the Jordan, at Mizpah and Tabor. These locations had become full of idols. People were lured there by these idols and became entrapped to these false gods. Hosea is calling them out. The judges will be judged.

APPLICATION

What has entrapped you? Is there something you have been pursuing that has now caught you? The trouble with traps and nets is when they are used against you, you will seldom see them. Who do you think is setting those traps? Your best friend? I don’t think so.

Satan will lay traps for us in seemingly safe places. He will lure us in and then slam the trap shut. The sad thing is many of us linger in these traps for years before we even know we are trapped. Where does he have you right now? Are you free or not?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling entrapped. I know I am free because of Christ. He has given me the path of freedom. There are not traps in my life, not because I am so smart. I am simply pursuing Christ daily, and He will never leave me into a trap. That’s the key! Follow Him. Live a life without traps.

Thank You, O Lord, for keeping me free from the traps of the devil. I will follow You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Condemnation, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Destruction, Direction, Encouragement, Infidelity, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Scripture

WHEN YOU REACH THE BOTTOM

HOSEA 4:18

“Their liquor is gone, they prostitute themselves continually; Their rulers dearly love shame.”

The church I serve has a homeless ministry in our city. I hear just about every week about an individual they are working with. Their stories are heartbreaking. Most of them are on the street due to a series of bad breaks or bad choices. Some of them, unfortunately, have made the choice to live on the street. They have fallen so low they cannot see themselves ever doing any better.

Hosea continues his words about those who have fallen away from God. He says, “their liquor is gone.” Their means to forget is now gone. They can’t numb themselves further. Hosea goes on to say, “they prostitute themselves continually.” Their self-respect is completely gone. Even their bodies mean nothing to them anymore. Finally, Hosea says they “love shame.” Wow! Now that’s low.

APPLICATION

Have you ever sunken that low? Have you ever felt there was no way out? I have had a couple of those moments in my life. My low points weren’t due to alcohol or prostitution, but my low was still low. I couldn’t see a way up. I was depressed. I felt alone. I thought my future was over.

But guess what? It wasn’t. I could not have imagined back then that I would be writing devotions and posting them so that literally thousands of individuals could read them annually. That blows my mind. God had a plan back then for me that I could not possibly understand. I just had to trust Him.

Are you feeling low today? Turn to Him. Let the Lord Jesus pick you up, dust you off and give you a new lease on life. He has never stopped believing in you. He has always had a plan for your life. Will you trust Him to show you? He will. And He will walk with you as you take those first steps.

Lord Jesus, I trust You. I want to live my life honoring and magnifying Your work in and through my life.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Devil, Idols, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Satan, Scripture, Sin

UNDER THE SHADE TREE

HOSEA 4:13

“They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains and burn incense on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is pleasant. Therefore, your daughters play the prostitute, and your brides commit adultery.”

Growing up in South Georgia I spent many lazy summer days under the shade of a tree with my buddies. After playing and riding bikes we would find a favorite spot under a tree and just lay around shooting the breeze. We could talk for hours about nothing. Those childhood memories will be with me forever.

That is not what the people of Israel were doing, however. They were offering sacrifices to false gods under those trees. These idols and their worship led them to do things that were abhorrent to God. They deserted the worship of the one, true God for the momentary pleasures of false ones. They were lulled into this by Satan himself. He wanted them to stray and offered every opportunity to do so.

APPLICATION

What are you allowing Satan to lull you into? You see, we are in a spiritual battle every day. The devil loves to get our eyes off of Jesus. He puts things in our paths that seem to provide security. Right now, here in America, most of us have received stimulus checks to assist families during this covid economy. These checks can provide a false sense of security. Government funds are not the answer. God is.

Now, before you ask, yes, I did receive a check. Yes, I will accept it. And yes, I will spend it. The difference is I realize that check is not the answer to any financial concerns I may have. I can’t rely on any source of income to be my Savior. All those resources can dry up overnight. There is only one reliable source for me – Jesus. If I have nothing material, I will always have Him. He will provide for me. He has promised to do so. I must trust that.

I won’t ask you how you spent your stimulus check from the government. That’s none of my business. I will ask you who you are trusting, though. If it’s not your Lord, you need to stop and reassess your priorities. This may sound like I am brow beating you today. I don’t mean to. I only want to challenge you to trust Jesus with everything. Will you today?

Thank You, Lord, that You are my only source of provision. I am thankful how You use others to meet my needs when applicable, but I know it is You who are really my one true and safe source.

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Advice, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Judgment, Lawlessness, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

DON’T FOLLOW THE LEADER

HOSEA 4:9

“And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.”

Did you ever play the game Follow the Leader? I used to love playing that game as a child. We would try to make our path as hard as possible to weed out our followers. Up hills, through ditches, whatever it took. The path was crooked and could even be considered dangerous to some.

Hosea is warning the people. Don’t follow these leaders. They are leading the people in the wrong direction. Their lifestyles are nothing to emulate. In fact, go the opposite direction is essentially what Hosea is saying. There are times when you don’t follow the leader.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been under a bad leader? What do you do? Do you follow them, no matter what? Of course, you don’t. We do have to submit to our leaders unless their leadership is illegal, immoral or unbiblical. Will that be an hard decision to make? It sure will. But to be true to the Lord, you have to make it.

When you make the decision to not follow the leader, be prepared for repercussions. You could lose your job. You could suffer payback. Remember, Peter tells us in 1 Peter that is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Lord has your back. Trust Him.

I have faced this a couple of times. Each time I have prayed and then gone to the leader in question and made my opposition known. So far, each time the Lord had gone before me and had softened this person’s heart. They heard me. The turned from their announced course of action. That confrontation actually brought us closely.Lord, lead me down Your path, even when that means I have to stop following those over me. I have one Master – You.

DON’T FOLLOW THE LEADER

HOSEA 4:9

“And it will be, like people, like priest; So I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.”

Did you ever play the game Follow the Leader? I used to love playing that game as a child. We would try to make our path as hard as possible to weed out our followers. Up hills, through ditches, whatever it took. The path was crooked and could even be considered dangerous to some.

Hosea is warning the people. Don’t follow these leaders. They are leading the people in the wrong direction. Their lifestyles are nothing to emulate. In fact, go the opposite direction is essentially what Hosea is saying. There are times when you don’t follow the leader.

APPLICATION

Have you ever been under a bad leader? What do you do? Do you follow them, no matter what? Of course, you don’t. We do have to submit to our leaders unless their leadership is illegal, immoral or unbiblical. Will that be an hard decision to make? It sure will. But to be true to the Lord, you have to make it.

When you make the decision to not follow the leader, be prepared for repercussions. You could lose your job. You could suffer payback. Remember, Peter tells us in 1 Peter that is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Lord has your back. Trust Him.

I have faced this a couple of times. Each time I have prayed and then gone to the leader in question and made my opposition known. So far, each time the Lord had gone before me and had softened this person’s heart. They heard me. The turned from their announced course of action. That confrontation actually brought us closely.

Lord, lead me down Your path, even when that means I have to stop following those over me. I have one Master – You.

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Accountability, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Deception, Enemies, Following, Greed, Judgment, Lawlessness, Obedience, Scripture, Sin

DON’T STOP SINNING

HOSEA 4:8

“They feed on the sin of My people, and long for their wrongdoing.”

Some people urge people to sin. They want others to participate in the same behavior they are involved in, so they won’t feel so bad. They want to bring people down to their level. When I was saved, I had to choose to not hang out with some of my former friends because I knew their habits (my former ones) would hold me back from growing with Christ.

Hosea is talking about the sinful behavior of the priests. They were actually profiting from the people’s sins, so they didn’t really want them to stop sinning. The more sins, the more they benefitted. So, why would they want to stop this? They were essentially saying, “Keep on sinning. We like the offerings you bring us.”

APPLICATION

Now, before you become too judgmental, let’s look at ourselves. Does our behavior encourage people to sin or repent? Do they see us living in a manner that gives glory to God or ourselves? You see, we are no better than those priests in Hosea’s day if we aren’t doing everything we can to point others to Jesus.

Our lives aren’t our own. The very moment we gave our hearts to Jesus He took over. We live to honor Him. We love to honor Him. We work to honor Him. Do you see a theme here? It’s all about Him, not us. So, let me encourage you to do that.

Today live your life with one purpose – to give Him glory. Instead of encouraging others to sin by your behavior, how about encouraging them to walk with Jesus? Don’t be like the priests. Don’t profit off of someone else’s sin. Don’t rejoice in their sinful behavior. No! Turn them to Jesus.

Lord, help me point others to Jesus in all that I do. Let my every thought and action be done to honor You.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Darkness, Deceit, Deception, Judgment, Lies, Light, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture, Sin

STUMBLING

HOSEA 4:5

“So you will stumble by day, and the prophet also will stumble with you by night; And I will destroy your mother.”

Have you ever stumbled in the dark? Without a good light it is so easy. Since my chemotherapy I have developed pretty severe neuropathy in my feet. I can stumble so easily without shoes. I have to be very careful, whether I am walking in the dark or in the light. Stumbling is a real possibility.

Hosea is not referring to that kind of stumbling. He is talking about a spiritual stumbling. The Israelites had closed their eyes to God and were stumbling everywhere. Even the priests were stumbling. God warns them, through Hosea, that He was going to destroy their mother, referring to Jerusalem. That happened in the midst of their stumbling.

APPLICATION

How can you prevent spiritually stumbling? Just like physical stumbling, a good source of light can prevent most accidents. We have to keep the light of the Word shining brightly in our lives. That means we have to study it daily. You cannot get by with just an occasional quiet time. You need the equivalent of a million lumens shining on you daily.

The light of the Word exposes the darkness. It lets you see the approaching enemy. The beam of His Word points out the dangers lurking in your path, set by the devil, that could bring you down. But when you shine the light on the path, God directs each step you take.

I know I need a daily dose of God’s Word to keep me walking safely. It is amazing how clear your path becomes when you are seeing it through the lense of God’s Word. God’s Word always clarifies. Stop the stumbling.

Lord, keep my feet safe. Shine Your light on my path so I can avoid the devil’s snares.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deceit, Deception, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Mentoring, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

BY INVITATION ONLY

2 JOHN 10

“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;”

I have, on occasion, received invitations to exclusive events. These events had limited seating and only certain people were invited to attend. Those decisions to limit the number of people may have been due to the venue size or the budget of the event. Whatever the reason, I always feel honored to be invited.

However, John is talking about something we should do to limit our audience. He is basically telling us to not invite anyone into our home who does not agree with God’s teachings. Wow! I thought we were supposed to reach out to the lost. We are. John is guarding us against false teachers. They should not be invited. Others should be so we can teach them the truth. We have to be so careful who we listen to, especially today.

APPLICATION

I pray your children invite their lost friends to your home. What better way for them to hear truth than to be welcomed into your home. Now, we should not let our children sit under anyone who teaches anything contrary to Scripture. But we should welcome any of their lost friends to hear the Gospel in our home. We want our children to be the influencer, not the influenced.

Does that make sense to you? I hope so. Don’t assume that every teacher or small group leader at church is teaching correctly either. Check them out. Make sure you have the right to sit in on a class or small group to find out. Any leader who doesn’t allow that is not open to accountability. Talk to your child’s Children’s Pastor or Student Pastor to find out who will be leading your child. It is, after all, your responsibility to disciple your child spiritually.

Have you opened yourself up to wrong teaching? Sometimes we do that without knowing. We hear about this great Bible Study available on dvd or online, so we dig into it. Always check out any study before you begin. Check out the author. Check out the publisher. And as you start the study, be aware of any inconsistencies with Scripture. As John says, “Do not give him a greeting.”

O Lord, keep my eyes open to falsehood. I want to honor You in all my relationships. Guard my heart.

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