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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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, Affliction, Bible, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Persecution, Punishment, Scripture

CARRIED BY THE WIND

HOSEA 4:19

“The wind wraps them in its wings, and they will be put to shame because of their sacrifices.”

The wind truly is amazing. We can’t see the wind, but we can see its effect. Gentle breezes over a lake are so peaceful, but you don’t want to be on that same lake if the winds get violent. I have had the displeasure of living through several hurricanes and tornadoes. No fun! Wind can be good, but it can also do a lot of damage.

Just ask the Israelites. They are being carried off to exile as if by an invisible wind. The nefarious forces that have swooped in like the wind are going to carry them away because of their disobedience and lack of faithfulness to our God. They never saw it coming before it was too late. Just like a tornado appears out of seemingly nowhere, they are wrapped up in the winds of exile.

APPLICATION

We may not have to worry about exile (notice I said “may not”), but we certainly have to be concerned about not being loyal to our heavenly Father. The same God who judged Israel and Judah judges us today. As a believer in Christ, your sins have already been judged. But don’t think that gives you the freedom to live as you want. We have commands to obey.

So, is God this ruthless, uncaring God who only wants to be obeyed? Of course, not. He loves us and wants us to want to obey Him. He won’t force us into submission. He desires that we willingly follow Him. That’s the way He operates.

But He still holds us accountable for following or not following His law. While we are under grace through Jesus, there are still expectations for holy living which the Lord places on us. He has given us these guidelines to follow to draw us closer to Him. Will you follow them today?

O God, I know You expect certain behaviors from me. Forgive me when I fall short. I do desire to 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, Accountability, Advice, Advocate, Alone, Bible, Blasphemy, Deception, Devil, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

LEAVE HIM ALONE

HOSEA 4:17

“Ephraim is allied with idols; Leave him alone.”

Some people have made up their mind about God. They refuse to believe in the Son of God. Nothing you can say will change their mind. You have preached to them. You have shared your testimony, and still they refuse to believe that Jesus died for their sins. We should still pray for them, but there comes a point when the Lord may just tell you to leave them alone. That’s hard.

Ephraim had reached that point. Nothing Hosea was going to say was going to tear them away from their idols. Isn’t that sad? They knew the power of Jehovah. They had been told about all the things He had done on behalf of Israel, yet they had been blinded by the devil to believe the false idols of the land were more worthy of their worship. It doesn’t make any sense.

APPLICATION

But we are just as bad. Don’t look at Ephraim and claim to be better than them. We do the same thing. We put our trust in false idols just as much. We trust people over God. We trust money over God. We trust medicine over God. We trust a lot of things rather than putting our trust in the Almighty.

I am not saying those things aren’t important. We need people in our lives, but we can’t trust them as we can Jesus. We need money to live in this world, but I know a lot of people who trust their paychecks and bank accounts more than the provisions of the Lord. We need medicine to fight diseases, but doctors and medicine only treat the disease. It is God who heals.

So, before we get all high and mighty and say we don’t act like Ephraim, check out your idols. Do you have anything you trust more than the Lord? When push comes to shove and you are in a deep hole, who do you turn to? It had better be Jesus because He is the only one who will always be there. He is the only true God. Amen?

Lord, You are my only source. I worship You and You alone.

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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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Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Deception, Fellowship, Greetings, Holy Spirit, Mentoring, Modeling, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture

WATCH YOUR FELLOWSHIP

2 JOHN 11

“for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”

Sometimes, when we read the English translation of a Bible verse it reads exactly the same as the original language. And other times the English just doesn’t quite get it. Today’s verse is the latter. Let me give you the literal translation of this verse. “The one telling for him to rejoice partakes in the works of him evil.” Now, I realize that doesn’t read too well. That’s why it is translated the way it is. But let’s look at it closely.

John seems to imply in the Greek that we actually rejoice at seeing this person. That’s a lot different than just saying “hi.” And the Greek word for “participates” is koinóneó, which has the idea of fellowship. That’s a lot more than just participating. See what I mean by the original.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply this verse. We mustn’t rejoice and fellowship with anyone who speaks against our Lord. Our worldview is different. Our purpose in life is different. Our passion and focus is different. How can you agree with someone who denies or denigrates our Lord? You can’t.

And we have to teach our children the difference. They need to know how to deal with such people. We need to be Jesus to them without agreeing with them. Jesus would show them love, of course. So, should we. But there’s a boundary we have to teach our kids not to cross. We can love unbelievers without condoning or agreeing with their views, especially about the Lord. The sooner our children learn that, the better.

Let me ask you a question today. Is there someone in your life who fits into that category? How do you relate to them? Are you friends? That’s okay. Just be careful you don’t compromise your beliefs for the friendship. It can happen so easily. Be firm in your beliefs. Let them see Jesus in you. Perhaps your faithfulness will draw them to Him.

Lord, help me recognize when I am compromising my beliefs for the sake of someone else. Help me remain firm and strong in order to influence them. I want to be influenced by the Spirit, not man.

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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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Accountability, Advice, Antichrist, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Following, Lies, Mentoring, Parenting, Salvation, Scripture

DON’T BE DECEIVED

2 JOHN 7

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.”

Have you ever been deceived? Has anyone ever led you down the wrong path? I remember a few occasions when I was. Yep, me! I don’t need to go into any details. Just suffice it to say, it was all my fault. I can’t blame the deceiver. It was my own flesh and failure to follow God that caused it.

John warns us here that there are many deceivers out there. These deceivers have one purpose – to cause us to veer off God’s course. They want to take us out of the battle. They can’t affect our salvation, but they can certainly put us in a place of uselessness to God. Now listen closely. You can prevent that solely by staying in His Word and asking the Lord before you do anything.

APPLICATION

I know you want to prevent your children from being deceived. Am I right? As a parent, you can see it coming. You can discern that some of their friends are not good for them. What do you do? Do you ban them from spending time with those friends? Depending on the age of your child, the answer may be “yes.” As your children get older, they have to make some tough decisions about that.

However, we still have to guide and direct our children during these times. Point them to the Word. Show them how others’ actions line up with what God expects of us as Christians. Just because someone claims to be a believer, don’t believe it. See how their life lines up with Scripture. I’m not talking about perfection. But I am talking about a consistent walk with Christ.

We have so many deceivers around us trying to distract us from following the Lord. They come in many shapes and sizes. The deceptions can be so subtle. However, they are there. Don’t assume they are not. Will you guard your heart and mind today? Protect yourself by walking hand in hand with the Master. He will always point out those who seek to deceive you.

At times, Lord, I can get my eyes off of You. I know that is dangerous. Help me keep my focus on following You.

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