Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Commands, Condemnation, Destruction, Discipline, Flesh, Forgiveness, God's Will, Judgment, Mercy, Obedience, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

THE LION GOD

HOSEA 5:14

“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, yes I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be no one to rescue.”

I hunt in an area known to have bears and an occasional mountain lion. We even have coyotes and wolves. You may ask me why I hunt there then. Well, I go in the woods fully armed. I am carrying a pistol and either a rifle, shotgun or crossbow. I walk in with my head on a swivel. I don’t want to end up breakfast or dinner for one of these critters.

God describes Himself as a lion tearing apart Ephraim and Judah. That’s pretty vicious. It gives you an idea how angry He was at them. Their rebellion had gone too far. He could not sit idly by and watch them relish in their pagan activities. Judgment had to fall and fall it did.

APPLICATION

Do you want to be torn apart by an angry God? Of course, not. No one does. And no one has to. When we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, that judgment is appeased. God no longer seeks to devour us because of our wickedness. Because of the blood of Jesus, our sins are covered. Hallelujah!

Do you know someone who has not surrendered to the Lord? They are at risk! Their sins are not covered. God will hold them accountable for their sins. There is nothing they can do to escape His wrath – except… They must come to Jesus. Are you playing a part in showing them that? Perhaps the Lord has put you in their lives for just that reason.

Wouldn’t it be glorious to be a part of someone you know coming to Christ? There is no better joy than to lead someone to Him and watch them respond. Their excitement of salvation is contagious. You will catch it. You will be on cloud nine. You will seek out others to share with. So, what are you waiting for?

Lord, I want to see many avoid Your wrath. Will You give me the courage and boldness to be Your witness to a lost world?

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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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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Destruction, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rejection, Scripture, Sin

MORE PEOPLE, MORE SIN

HOSEA 4:7

“The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.”

I’ve been in crowds that have gotten out of control. You may have heard of the mob mentality. People feed off of each other. One bad decision leads to another bad decision. Before you know it, evil is reigning freely. It’s not a comfortable situation in which to find yourself.

Hosea tells us in today’s verse that as the numbers of people grew in the nation, the sin grew. God had promised to multiply Abraham’s seed as the stars in the sky. But as the numbers increased so did their sin. Instead of praising God for blessing them, they increased their sinning against Him.

APPLICATION

We are the same. The more God blesses us, the more we seem to turn against Him. All we have belongs to God, but we claim it as our own. In times of affluence, we forget about the very one who has sent His blessings our way. Why do we do that? Because we are just like the Israelites.

As you awake each day, take a moment to thank the Lord for all He has blessed you with. Thank Him for the bed you just got out of. Thank Him for the food you are about to eat for breakfast. Thank Him for your family. We have so much to praise Him for, don’t we?

Maybe you are going through a hard time right now and find it hard to thank Him. How about your breathe? How about one more day? We can always find something to thank Him for. He blesses us because He loves us. He doesn’t need our thanks, but it sure is good to tell Him anyway. Stop being part of that thankless crowd and tell the Lord today just how thankful you are.

I am so thankful, Lord, for all the blessings You give me daily. There is no way words can express my thanks.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Brokenness, Christ's Return, Creation, Destruction, Scripture, Sin

CREATION MOURNS

HOSEA 4:3

“Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the animals of the field and the birds of the sky, and even the fish of the sea disappear.”

Have you ever seen a natural disaster? I, unfortunately, have seen this firsthand. I have seen the devastation of tornadoes and hurricanes. I have seen the effects of droughts and floods. I have seen animals suffering from lack of water or food. We forget how fragile our earth is in these circumstances. But do you realize how creation is tied to the fate of man?

Hosea is reminding us here how we are so knit together. God used nature to show man the effects of sin. I am not talking about the carbon footprint of men on the earth. I am referring to how God uses nature. We see it all around us. We are so dependent on each other. Just think about it. Scientist have warned us how the demise of the little honeybee could devastate crop production, thus bringing famine across the globe.

APPLICATION

Creation groans for the return of Jesus. We are told that in Scripture. We have seen the increase of earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, cyclones and the such. Creation is preparing. The question is are we. We seem to ignore these and blame it on global warming. Who do you think really controls the balance of nature? It’s not us.

We are a mere speck on the fabric of time. God orchestrates the heavens. He determines where and how much rain falls. He gives or withholds the snows. And even though we think we can change time by adding or taking away an hour in each day, there are still only twenty-four hours available to us.

So, what can we do about this? Very little, except to yield to the almighty hand of God. We must bow before Him, recognizing His power and majesty. Just as Israel ignored God’s hand on their nation and suffered the consequences, we are just as susceptible to the same ignorance. We have to acknowledge that it is He who is in control over everything.

Mighty God, I bow before You, recognizing You as the supreme power over all that exists. I praise You for allowing me to be a part of Your creation.

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Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Choices, Destruction, Direction, Following, Judgment, Leading, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender

LEADERLESS

HOSEA 3:4

“For the sons of Israel will live for many days without a king or leader, without sacrifice or memorial stone, and without ephod or household idols.”

I have had the displeasure of working in some places that were leaderless. In order to protect the “guilty” I won’t name those places. There is nothing more disconcerting than coming to work each day not knowing which direction you are headed. No one takes charge. No one leads. Everyone is just wandering aimlessly. It really is a helpless feeling.

Hosea shifts his thoughts back to Israel in today’s verse. Israel, as a result of its sin, would be without a king or leader. This prophecy, of course, came true. Israel and Judah were taken into exile. They had no king to lead them. They were left leaderless. They had lost sight of the fact that Jehovah was their only true king.

APPLICATION

Who is your leader? To whom do you look up to? If you place your trust in a man or woman, you will be disappointed. No one can lead you like the Lord. He is the only one that will never lead you falsely. He will always point you in the right direction. So, who are you following?

Perhaps you are a leader. Where are you leading those following you? Listen carefully. If you are leading, you are going to be held responsible. That’s right. You can’t claim you didn’t know. Leaders are held to a higher level of scrutiny. That means you must take your guidance from the Lord so you can lead biblically.

As a Pastor, I am held to a higher standard by my Lord. I am responsible for the flock He has given me to lead. I do not want to find out that I have been misled and have led poorly. I pray you don’t either. Will you join me in leading well? Will you join me in following Jesus? He is worthy to lead.

O Father, I do not want to be leaderless. I desire to follow You. I know You will always lead me correctly.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Choices, Destruction, Direction, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

MY WAGES

HOSEA 2:12

“And I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of which she said, ‘They are my wages for prostitution which my lovers have given me.’ And I will turn them into a forest, and the animals of the field will devour them.”

I remember getting my first job. I worked at a gas station in my hometown. I was only fourteen and was assigned to wash cars in an alley beside the gas station. I worked all day from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and made $12.00. I did get a half hour break for lunch, but the rest of the time was spent in that alley washing cars. It was hard work, and I learned a lot.

Gomer’s wages were a little different. You couldn’t exactly call her earnings honest. She was selling herself to others to get these things. She was continuing her unfaithfulness. But remember what this was all about. God was using her as a symbol, a message about Israel’s unfaithfulness. They thought all their earnings were their possessions, no matter how they got them. However, God was about to destroy all they held dear because of their unfaithfulness.

APPLICATION

The same applies to us today. We get so busy making a living and building a career that we forget about true worship. We throw a pitiful offering toward the Lord from our labor and think that is what God requires. God could care less about our tithes and offerings if they are offered in this manner. God desires our hearts, first of all.

What are you working so hard for? Well, Carl, I have to save so much money. I have to put enough money back to retire. Oh really? Do you think the God of the universe doesn’t know your needs in the future? Do you believe He will provide exactly what you need if you are following Him? Of course, He will.

Earned wages mean nothing if they are not earned according to God’s principles and direction. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away.” Why don’t you ask the Lord today how He wants you to earn your wage? Ask Him what He wants you to do with that wage once you get it. It might just surprise you.

Father, all I have is Yours. I want to please You in all I do. I want my work to be seen as worship of You.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Contentment, Destruction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Following, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

ON SECOND THOUGHT

HOSEA 2:7

“And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not reach them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, because it was better for me then than now!’”

We often have second thoughts about things. We buy a car that we wish we hadn’t. We quit a job hastily. We do things sometimes that we regret. We wish we could go back and do it again. I’ve done that. You probably have, too. Am I right?

In this real life analogy of Gomer and Hosea and God and Israel, we see this. The verse is pretty clear. In Israel’s case, they were always turning from God and then when judgment fell, they would cry out for deliverance. They wanted to come home. Isn’t that just like us today?

APPLICATION

Why do we do that? Why do we turn from what we know to be truth? It’s our flesh. It is strong. Left to its on device, it will lead us down a path of destruction. It will lead us right over the cliff. The only way to combat that fleshly pull and tug is to wrap ourselves in the Word. The sword of the Spirit can defend us.

Now, before you say that is too hard, let me remind you that you are not doing this alone. Several years ago, I embarked on a new way to combat my flesh. Memorizing and meditating on the Word is the key. I never realized the power of memorizing Scripture in this spiritual battle we are in. Those verses I have memorized and meditate on daily protect me from my own flesh.

Aren’t you tired of running and returning? Aren’t you sick of the consequences of your sins? You will never be sinless this side of eternity, but you can pursue a holy life. As you chase after righteousness and godliness, He discloses more and more of Himself to you.

Father, I want more of You so I can stop this lure of the flesh. I want to die to myself and live for You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Destruction, Faithfulness, Following, Forgiveness, Infidelity, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Relationships, Scripture

ILLEGITIMATE

HOSEA 2:4

“Also, I will take no pity on her children, because they are children of infidelity.”

I have mentioned before that I worked over thirty years in children’s homes. Over these years I had the privilege to work with a lot of children who the world would call illegitimate. By that I mean, they were born out of wedlock. Their biological mother and father were not married. Early on in my ministry there was a lot more stigma attached to that. That’s really not the case now. In some ways that’s good, but it’s still not God’s design.

God knew (as did Hosea) that the children birthed by Gomer were probably not Hosea’s due to her infidelity. God used this extremely difficult human situation to portray to the nation of Israel that they were the same as Gomer. They had gone after other gods. They were being unfaithful to Him in the same way Gomer was to Hosea. As a result, children would suffer.

APPLICATION

We may not worship idols or other “gods,” but we are prone to be just as unfaithful. We worship our money, our careers, our churches, even our Pastors. We place them above our Lord way too often. We are no better than the Israelites. We are committing adultery with these “other gods.” We seek after them with more energy and zeal than we ever do after our God.

How do you not become a Gomer? By staying pure in heart. By seeking Him first in your heart. By staying faithful to Him. By…I could go on and on. Our pursuit of God is really not that complicated. We have to be laser focused. If anything gets in the way of that, it should be reprioritized. Hear me clearly. Nothing gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus.

What have you allowed to sneak in? What is disrupting your laser beam? Get it out the way. God has to come first, even before family or church. And when you put Him first, when you are faithful to Him, He will honor that. He will give you the strength and courage to do whatever is necessary to live for Him.

Keep me faithful to You and You only. Forgive me when I am not.

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Bible, Calling, Commitment, Confession, Destruction, Faithfulness, Hell, Husbands, Infidelity, Love, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

HUSBANDS AND WIVES

HOSEA 2:2

“Dispute with your mother, dispute, because she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; but she must remove her infidelity from her face and her adultery from between her breasts,”

My wife and I have been married thirty-five years. We could have never imagined back in 1985 how our lives would change. We have been through a lot together. We have lived in nine different homes in five different states. We have made so many friends and, thankfully, very few enemies, lol. Through it all, we have remained husband and wife.

In today’s verse, God uses the imagery of husband and wife and is referring to Hosea’s adulterous wife. Just as Gomer, Hosea’s wife, had been unfaithful to God, Israel had been unfaithful to Him. He is calling them to repentance. Sin must be confessed and expunged to restore the relationship.

APPLICATION

Do you understand how your unconfessed sin builds a wall between you and the Lord? Until you admit you are a sinner and ask Christ to save you, you are doomed to an eternal punishment. There really is no hope for you without Christ. But the moment you call on Him and confess your sins, believe in His name and surrender your life to Him, you are cleansed and become His child.

So many believers, however, stop there. No! You need to continue to confess and cleanse your heart each day. Now, you are only saved once, but because we are still human, we are going to sin and mess up. Those sins are forgiven under the same blood that saved you, but unconfessed sin can begin to be a barrier between you and God. Just like Gomer, we have to confess our sins and return to our “husband.”

Take a moment right now and pray. Ask the Lord to forgive you for the sins you have committed today or this week. Name them. Don’t just ask the Lord to forgive your sins. Name them specifically. If you don’t remember them, ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will. I guarantee you He knows. A clean heart restores fellowship with the Lord.

O Father, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. I want to fellowship with You .

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Destruction, Double-minded, Evil, Hatred, Holy Spirit, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Self-control, Testimony

HATE = MURDER

1 JOHN 3:15

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”

Have you ever hated someone so much you wanted to kill them? I am sure you quickly say No! Not many of us would ever let that thought cross our mind. But have you thought of ways to “payback” someone for something they have done to you? Come on, be honest. It’s not a far stretch from one to the other, in the eyes of the world. Hate is hate and only leads to wrong choices.

John is not saying everyone who hates is actually going to kill someone. But he is saying that spirit of hate harbored in your heart comes from the source. There’s no room for hatred in the life of a believer. Did Jesus hate? Of course, not. And if we are to emulate our Master, we must lie down anything that is contrary to Him.

APPLICATION

Your children are going to come in one day from school or play and say, “I hate…” You had better jump on that one. You need to find out what is going on and why. We cannot have our children hating others. We know people say and do things that hurt their feelings, but hatred can be no response.

So, what do we teach them during these times. To love. That’s it. We teach them to pray for those who have harmed them. We teach them to try to figure out why they have done or said those things. Sin has a reason. We know that. As you lead them to pray for those individuals, pray for those who have harmed you as well.

Children watch us forgive. They learn forgiveness best by forgiving. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. When we remember that it is the Lord who forgives through us, it is a lot easier. Allow Him to just love them as only He can. Make sure they know it is because of His love for them that you forgive. They may reject that. That’s okay. Their acceptance is not your responsibility. Your forgiveness is.

I will harbor no hatred in my heart toward others. I will love as You do, Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

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