Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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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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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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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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Accountability, Advice, Alone, Bible, Courage, Devil, God's Will, Obedience, Protection, Satan, Scripture

GOD’S WALLS

HOSEA 2:6

“Therefore, behold, I will obstruct her way with thorns, and I will build a stone wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.”

Has God ever blocked you from doing something that you know was wrong? Without going into details (of course), I can think of a time or two when I was younger when my decision to pursue a course that was less than godly. At the time I was frustrated but looking back I can see God was protecting me.

In Hosea 2:6 the Lord is talking about one of two things. Scholars have varying opinions. Was He preventing Gomer (Israel) from pursing her sinful behavior or was He preventing Gomer from spreading her sinful behavior and influencing others to sin? Either way, God has put up walls.

APPLICATION

How does this apply to us? Aren’t you thankful for God’s walls of protection in your life? Think about it. He may be keeping you away from some wrong decisions in your life. He may be keeping evil away from you. Walls may seem constraining, but they are for your protection.

You see, the key is which side of the wall God is on. You want to be on the right side of the wall. And if you are on the side with God, walls are good. And you want them high. The devil may try to come over the walls, but God will knock him down every time. But you have to stay inside the walls. Don’t even peak over the wall.

We all need protection – from our own choices and from the evil one. Don’t moan and groan about the walls God puts in your path. Learn to see them as God’s love in action. He builds those walls with love because you are His child.

Lord, I thank You for walls. Your walls protect me. Help me see the walls as Your love in action.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Commands, Devil, Exhortation, Imitation, Mentoring, Parenting, Satan, Scripture

IMITATION

3 JOHN 11

“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”

Some say imitation is the best flattery. To imitate someone means you want to be like them. I can’t think of anyone I would want to imitate except Jesus. Everyone else I know has flaws that would inevitably come out. No one is perfect, right? We imitate people. We have imitation products. We even imitate voices. But there is only one original.

John is telling us to focus on imitating good. That word “imitate” only appears four times in the New Testament (three positive and one negative). It is always in the Middle voice, which means you have to choose to do it. No one is going to make you do it or do it for you. So, John is saying it is our choice whether to imitate evil or good. One choice points to God and the other points to the evil one.

APPLICATION

Man, is this a message for our kids or what? Probably no other decision is going to face them more than this. They are going to be bombarded with choices like this. The evil one wants nothing more than to confuse and bring down our children. If he can get them to choose evil rather than good, he can control their lives.

So, what do we do as parents to protect them? After all, it’s their decision, their choice. We have to fill their minds with the Word of God to help ward off these attacks from the devil. There’s nothing we can say or do. But God’s Word is living and active. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. It lives within us. If it’s in us, we can ask anything of the Lord, and He will do it for us. That’s the secret weapon.

Are you hiding the Word in your heart to protect yourself from choosing evil? Don’t think just because you are an adult that you have the power to resist the lure of the evil one. No one is immune from his charms. But you can detect and avoid those evil choices simply by staying in the Word. Dig in today. Let it point you in the right direction.

O Father, You are the only one I wish to imitate today. Point me to Your Word so I can learn more and more about You.

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Advice, Agreement, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Enemies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Satan, Scripture

LINKING ARMS

3 JOHN 8

“Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”

We have all heard the expression “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” I heard that a lot from my football coaches. I was an offensive lineman and let me tell you, you have to link arms and work together to protect your quarterback and running backs. Those guys on the line must work together to keep the opposing team out.

John uses a term in today’s verse that is similar. He uses a word which is translated as “fellow workers.” In the Greek that is actually a two-part word, sun and ergon. Sun means “with” or “together, while ergon means worker. It gives the idea of workers who are joined together and inseparable. That’s how things are accomplished.

APPLICATION

Have you ever played Red Rover with your kids? It’s an old game and is best played in large groups. But the way that game is played is a line of people link hands/arms and try to stop someone from the other team from running through their linked arms. Get some kids and play. It’s a lot of fun and can last a long time.

But then explain to your kids how this game can be applied spiritually. We, as believers, have to link arms to stay strong. We have an enemy that is trying to break through our line. He wants to take us captive. Our kids need to know that our line of defense, however, does not depend on us. Jesus has linked arms with us, and no devil can break through. Hallelujah!

Have you linked arms with the brethren? Are you a fellow worker for the cause of Christ? Find other believers with whom you can do that. We need each other. We need to come to the aid of our fellow believers. You have the strength. Well…no you don’t. It’s not your strength. It’s God, but He gives it to you when you need it. Fight in His strength.

O Strengthener of my soul, give me the strength today to fight for You. Show me whom You desire me to link arms with.

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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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Advocate, Bible, Calling, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Comfort, Courage, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fear, God's Will, Godliness, Inspirational, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Prayer, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Trust, Victors

THE DEVIL’S WORLD

1 JOHN 5:19

“We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

Look around you. The world is a mess. Poverty, disease, racism, hatred and myriad of other horrible things are global. John tells us why right here in today’s verse. He says, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is?

So, what do we do? Hide and avoid it? No! We are of God. And if we are of God, we have so much more power. That power enables us to withstand any attack by Satan. His power is limited, and he knows it. Satan can’t stand that. He cannot destroy the world, but God has given him limited power over it. He wants to make us as miserable as possible. Don’t let him.

APPLICATION

The world, therefore, can be a scary place for our children. We can’t isolate them forever from its horrors. They will experience them through all kinds of ways. Even video games can expose them to it. Some parents try to put blinders on their kids and hide them away from the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong. We don’t need to expose them to it ourselves. But we need to prepare them.

How do we do that? By making sure they belong to the Lord. We have to spend all the time we can pouring Jesus all over them. We read them His Word. We teach them to study it for themselves. We pray with them. We teach them to pray. We live godly lives before them so they will follow our example. We teach them to live in the power of God, so the power of Satan will have no effect. That’s teaching them to walk in victory.

Are you walking that way? Or are you cringing in fear of what the devil might do? That’s no way to live. If you are a child of God, you have to live that way. God is not wringing His hands over what the devil might do. Neither should you. He has him right where He wants him. Trust God to handle the evil one. He always has.

I will walk in victory in an evil world. There is nothing that can come against me that You do not allow. It trust You in every step I take.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Devil, Disciplemaking, Faith, Family, Holy Spirit, Inspirational, Mentoring, Parenting, Righteousness, Salvation, Sin

ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

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