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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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Direction, Encouragement, Faith, Fruit, Harvest, Hope, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience

NO ROOT, NO FRUIT

HOSEA 9:16

“Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will produce no fruit. Even though they give birth to children, I will put to death the precious ones of their womb.”

I had a great vegetable garden when I lived in South Carolina. I had both row gardens and raised beds. I could grow just about anything I wanted in that garden. But I discovered something about gardening there. If your vegetables don’t have a strong root system where they can absorb nutrients, you will get little if any fruit.

Hosea used this same imagery in today’s verse. God said Israel’s root was dried up so they couldn’t produce any fruit. Even if they were to give birth to children, they wouldn’t survive. The very fruit of their wombs would not last. They had no hope for a future.

APPLICATION

I hope you are rooted deep. What are you rooted in? If it isn’t Jesus and the word of God, then you are going to be fruitless. Isn’t that sad? Most of us want to be fruitful. We want to be used by the Lord, don’t we? So, we have to put down roots. How is that done?

We have to be committed to spending time with the Lord. We have to put down roots in prayer. We have to put down roots in studying His Word. Those roots will draw nourishment from that and produce fruit. Of course, any fruit we draw up belongs to the Lord. Our goal has to be to produce as much fruit as possible. And all that fruit is for others.

Fruit production is only as good as the soil and the plant. I have made the decision to guard my “plant” from being exposed to poor soil. I want to nourish it and allow it to flourish. I want to grow strong and produce as much fruit as possible. I pray that for you.

My roots will grow deep as I spend time with You, Lord. I know that healthy roots produce healthy fruit.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Examples, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Scripture, Worship

THE LORD’S DAY

HOSEA 9:5

“What will you do on the day of the appointed festival and on the day of the feast of the LORD?”

I had a drug problem as a child. I was drug to church every Sunday, lol. Now, I may have said that in jest, but the truth was every Sunday I was in church. It was just where we were on Sunday mornings. We were in Sunday School at 9:45 and worship at 11:00. It was the expected thing to do, and we did it. Sunday was the Lord’s day.

Sadly, the Israelites had forsaken the Lord’s festivals in exchange for the worship of other gods. They even combined some of the holy festivals with pagan worship. God, through Hosea, was asking them where they are. His chosen people had forsaken Him. They didn’t have time for Him. He was not a priority.

APPLICATION

We are seeing the same thing today. Covid has gotten a lot of people out of church. Many are content to remain at home and channel surf until they find a preacher they like. Others are content to live stream the service into their home. Going to church has become unimportant. Coming together with other believers to worship and praise our King is not a priority.

Church isn’t out of style. I am afraid we have become complacent. We are allowing the world to dictate our behaviors. Now, I am not talking about not attending while the pandemic was rampant. Most of us took precautions during that time. But that time as passed. Vaccines have been taken. The severe threat has come and gone. It’s time to return.

Don’t let the Lord ask you where you are on Sundays. Sure, you can worship God anywhere (I hear that a lot). But we need each other. We desire community. We grow stronger with other believers in our lives. You can’t do that in front of the tv or computer. If you are one of those who has become comfortable at home, I want to encourage you today to return to the Lord’s house. He wants you there. And others need you there.

Let us not forsake the assembling of the body of Christ, Lord. Remind us how important it is to be together in worship.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, Hell, Obedience, Promises, Repentance, Scripture

OUTCASTS

HOSEA 9:3

“They will not remain in the LORD’S land, but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.

There have been a few times in my life when I felt like an outcast, like I wasn’t wanted. I can remember being chosen last at recess for a game. I wasn’t the fastest kid when I was little. I was on the heavy side. So, if there were teams being picked that involved running fast, I was usually one of the last chosen. I hated that feeling.

It’s not the same, but here in Hosea we see that Israel or Ephraim would be cast out of their land. The Lord was not going to allow them to remain there. They would be taken away. I can’t imagine how that must have felt. They would have to leave their homes and their lands and be taken to a strange land as slaves, as exiles. All because they had not obeyed the Lord.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen to me. Without Christ in our lives, we will all be outcasts. We will be cast into hell. We will face eternal punishment for not obeying the Lord. He will hold us accountable for all the sins we have committed. We will not escape His wrath.

But…if we turn to Him in repentance and bow our knee to Jesus, He is quick to adopt us into His family. We will never be cast out. We will inherit His promises. We are heirs of His kingdom. We are commanded to obey, and by doing so He draws us close. So, we have a choice – outcast or drawn close.

I know what I choose. I want to draw close. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you.” Spending time in the Word daily does that. Hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His precepts pulls me closer each day. I can just hear His still small voice. Can you hear Him?

I love to hear Your voice. I want to be drawn close to You. I praise You!

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Exalting, Glory, God's Will, Inspirational, Life, Modeling, Passion, Praise, Scripture, Thanksgiving

NO TIME TO PARTY

HOSEA 9:1

“Do not rejoice, Israel, with jubilation like the nations! For you have been unfaithful, abandoning your God. You have loved the earnings of unfaithfulness on every threshing floor.”

There is a time to party and a time not to party. All through my life I have experienced moments when celebrating was appropriate like after a huge victory on the football field or the birth of one of my children. But there were other times when celebrating wasn’t right like the death of a loved one or hurting someone’s feelings. You get the picture. You have to know when to party and when not to party.

Israel had everything backwards. They were celebrating the wrong things. They had embraced all the wrong festivals and religious celebrations, which meant they were worshipping the wrong thing. Those gods were no gods. There is only one God, Jehovah. But when the celebrations look inviting, you get pulled in a direction that can cost you dearly. It did Israel.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you what you are celebrating today. Now there is nothing wrong with a party. I can party with the best of them. I love a good party. We need to celebrate but only those things that bring glory to God. You see, our purpose as believers is to bring Him glory, not ourselves.

This time of the year here in the States, we are celebrating a lot of high school and college graduations. In fact, I was at a celebration last night. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s make sure in the celebration that we give Him all the credit. He is the one we need to celebrate. Last night we did that. We pointed people to Jesus and His Word.

Hey, I have an idea. Instead of waiting until Christmas, why don’t you have a Jesus celebration this week. Invite some friends over and have a party for Jesus. Celebrate what He’s done in your lives. Thank Him for saving you. Praise Him for His promises. Now, that’s a party.

Father, I praise You for rescuing me from the pit of darkness. I thank You for who You are in my life. I celebrate You today.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Busyness, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Godliness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Promises, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

PALACES

HOSEA 8:14

“For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities, but I will send a fire on its cities, and it will consume its palatial buildings.”

The closest I have been to being in a palace is the Biltmore House near Asheville, N.C. It was built by the Vanderbilt family and has been described as an American palace. It really is a sight to behold. The rooms and grounds are incredible. I can’t imagine what it cost, but it took over six years to build the 178,000 square foot mansion.

Palaces don’t mean a thing, though. Israel and Judah found that out. No matter how many they built, they would not stand. There is nothing man can build that can withstand the judgment of God. Perhaps they thought if they “impressed” God He might change His mind about judging them. It didn’t work.

APPLICATION

We tend to try to impress God by the things we do. We may not build mansions, but we build other things. We build up our worldly wealth – that won’t stand. We build beautiful churches and sanctuaries – they won’t impress Him. We build up our reputations – they also won’t sway God. God simply wants our hearts.

Have you surrendered your heart to Him? Perhaps you are struggling with that decision today. Give it to Him. Let Him build you up. Let Him use His Spirit to guide you in your decisions. That pleases Him. If your heart isn’t totally surrendered to Him, He can’t use you in ways He would like. He has such great plans for you. Don’t you know that?

I want Him to use me. I want to do His bidding. However, I know I can’t do that unless I yield to Him. I have to stop building my own palaces to impress Him and others. I have to stop spending so much time worrying about what others think about me. What truly matters is what the Lord thinks. Don’t you agree? If we are in His will, that is all that matters.

Tear down any palaces I have built from my own flesh. Tear down those things that put me above You. You are all that matters, Lord.

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Advice, Comfort, Direction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Knowledge, Listening, Obedience, Scripture

IGNORED

HOSEA 8:12

“Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My Law,

they are regarded as a strange thing.”

I hate being ignored. It doesn’t matter if it’s an in person thing or someone’s lack of returning a text or phone call. Being ignored is irritating and can be down right hurtful. I try to return phone calls the same day or the very next day at the latest. I truly try to acknowledge people, whether I want to or not (to be honest). Everyone deserves that.

Israel had basically ignored God. Look what Hosea wrote in today’s verse. God had given them ten thousand precepts, but they ignored them. They treated them as strange or as not applicable to them. God was trying to guide them with His Law. They wanted nothing to do with it. They wanted to do what they wanted to do. And look where it landed them – in exile, defeated by a foreign power.

APPLICATION

God is trying to guide us today with His Word. There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. There are over 23,000 verses. There are between 750,000 and 800,000 words, depending on the translation you use. Why would God spend all that time inspiring so many writers to write His Word if He didn’t want us to live by it?

Did you know if you read three chapters a day you can read the entire Bible in a year? I know people who read through it three or four times in a year. I have personally read through it 34 times, every year since 1986. And guess what? Every year I find verses that I have never read. They seem to come out of nowhere. It’s like God had been saving them for me. The Bible is truly inexhaustible.

Will you join me in studying His Word? Get a Bible, if you don’t have one, and start reading. And before you read, ask the Lord to disclose to you what He wants. Let Him point you in the direction He wants you to go. You will never regret spending more time in His Word.

I love Your precepts, Lord. I want to live by them each day. Forgive me for slighting Your Word.

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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, Advice, Bible, Choices, Comfort, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Stubbornness

LIVESTOCK

HOSEA 4:16

“Since Israel is stubborn like a stubborn cow, will the LORD now pasture them like a lamb in a large field?”

My Grandma Carter raised cows. The funny thing was she didn’t like to eat beef. She spent hours tending to, feeding and watering her cattle, but didn’t enjoy the fruits of her labor. I remember going out in the pasture with her at times. She always carried a whip with her and did not hesitate to use it on the stubborn cows. As a little boy I thought that was cruel. Now I know it wasn’t. She was just trying to move them.

Hosea uses the imagery of cows and sheep here. The cows are stubborn, and the sheep are unprotected in a large field. The people who heard this message understood this. They understood how you handle stubborn cows. God was doing the same with Israel. They also knew you didn’t place sheep in large fields with no protection. Israel was heading toward exile (a large, unprotected field).

APPLICATION

Now, let me ask you a question. How stubborn are you? Are you “pulling against the yoke”? Do you know what that does? When you pull against the yoke rather than in it, you develop blisters and raw spots. The yoke is designed to not do that. If a cow gets raw spots on their skin from rubbing against the yoke, they will be in pain and not pull as effectively.

Stubbornness may seem like a good thing, but it’s not. It especially isn’t when you are being stubborn against God. The Lord gives us specific commands to follow. When we bow up and refuse to obey, we are going to suffer the consequences. We will develop those blisters that will bring pain.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like blisters. I don’t like the pain they bring. So, I have a choice. I choose to stay yoked to Jesus and follow His lead. When I do that, I will not develop those painful blisters. Following His lead will allow me to grow in my “pulling” status. I will get stronger and smarter as I follow Him.

Father, I thank You for discipline. When I am showing my stubborn streak, I ask You to correct it. I want to follow You.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Direction, Forgetting, Hypocrisy, Infidelity, Judgment, Lawlessness, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

NO DEVOTION

HOSEA 4:10

“They will eat, but not have enough; They will play the prostitute, but not increase, because they gave up devoting themselves to the LORD.”

I have been devoted to a lot of things in life. I was devoted to football when I was in high school. I loved the game. Truth be known, I loved to hit people. I did everything the coach asked of me. But as soon as high school ended that devotion ended. There was no future in it for me.

Israel gave up devoting themselves to the Lord and reaped the consequences. Their resources would not be enough. No matter how much they had, it would fall short. Hosea said they played the prostitute. They had sinned and deserted the Lord. God cannot bless that kind of behavior. Israel was judged for this.

APPLICATION

What happens to us when we stop devoting ourselves to Him? The same thing. God will cease blessing us. We may not “play the prostitute,” but sin is sin. Anything can lead us away from the Lord. What in your life is doing that? If it replaces the time you spend with the Lord, it is sin. If it becomes your first love, it is sin.

Devotion to anything besides the Lord will only lead you down the wrong road. Our Lord expects obedience, but He won’t make us obey. We have to choose to obey Him. We have to choose to devote ourselves to Him. And when we do, He is there to bless and lead us. He rewards our devotion.

Now, here me clearly. We devote ourselves to Him not for what we can get out of it. We devote ourselves to Him out of love for Him. His love draws us to this point of devotion if we will only yield to it. His love will never lead us to anything but devotion.

I have devoted myself to You, O Lord. My devotion is based on my love for Your love.

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