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

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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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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Agreement, Bible, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Forgetting, Judgment, Obedience, Remembering

FORGETFUL

HOSEA 4:6

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Since you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the Law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

Have you ever heard the term “memory like an elephant”? Have you ever wondered what that means? I have, so I looked it up. Scientists have determined through multiple tests that elephants can remember other elephants they met only briefly decades earlier. It’s pretty amazing. Google “elephants’ memory” and you can find dozens of articles about this.

Why am I talking about remembering (and elephants)? Because the Israelites had forgotten. They had forgotten all they knew about God. They were living as if He didn’t exist. We know the results of that. God is not pleased. In fact, Hosea tells us if we forget Him, He will forget us. Now, we know God is not forgetful, but He will stop remembering these sinful Israelites.

APPLICATION

God desires for us to draw close to Him and know Him. When we choose to walk away from what we know is true, it breaks His heart. He will not protect us if we are willfully sinning against Him. He is holy. That would be against His very nature. He must maintain who He is. After all, He is God.

But we show our ignorance and lack of knowledge when we turn towards the world and away from Him. He is the only true source of wisdom. He is the only one who is worthy of our attention and praise. God is not trying to make us guess at who He is or what He expects. He fully discloses Himself to all who desire it.

So, what are you going to do today? Do you want to know Him more fully? Just ask Him. Do you want to go deep with God? Make the first step. He will meet you right there. Lack of knowledge of God is entirely our fault. He is not holding anything back. We just have to want it. Do you?

God, my Father, I want to know You fully. I want to learn all I can about You and how to share that with others.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Calling, Courage, Darkness, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Flesh, Gospel, Judgment, Obedience, Passion, Scripture, Testimony

THE WORLD

HOSEA 4:2

There is oath-taking, denial, murder, stealing, and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed.”

When I left my small hometown in 1978 to attend college, I had no idea what I was really getting into. My hometown was a pretty idyllic place. Sure, there was bad stuff that happened, but the town was a safe place to grow up. When I arrived at college, I entered a haven of immorality. At the time, I didn’t see that. Looking back now I can see all that I was exposed to and fell into.

Hosea is warning the people of Israel of all these things. He lists six different evil things the people were participating in. All of these are self-explanatory. This is our world today. We are living in a world where morality is relative, meaning everyone does just what they see best. God is not pleased, and I am afraid we will not go unpunished.

APPLICATION

What do we do? We can’t change the world, can we? Well, as a matter of fact, we can. We have to start with ourselves. We have to live our lives as Ephesians 5:3 says. “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexuality immorality, or any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” We have no room for these things.

Secondly, we have to disciple our families to follow Christ. This may not happen overnight. It may take some time to win our spouses and children, but they are our number one goal. Then we can turn our sights outward to others. One by one by one. That’s how the early church did it. So can we.

But if we just stay isolated and to ourselves, trying to avoid any contact with the world, we will never win our world for Jesus. Is it always safe? No! Is it always easy? Not by a long shot! But is it worth it? You had better believe it. And one day, when we enter those pearly gates, we will hear “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

I want to please You, Lord, as I share Your Word with others. Help me be bold and courageous in the presence of evil and continue to preach Jesus.

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Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Fear, Following, Godliness, Holiness

TREMBLING

HOSEA 3:5

“Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.”

When I read this verse I had the image pop into my head of the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz. Do you remember the scene when they finally get to Oz and they are approaching the Great Oz for the first time? When Oz shouts at them, the lion begins to tremble and shake. Then he takes off running and dives through a glass window to escape Oz.

Now, I don’t think that is what Hosea meant in this verse. But he did mean that Israel would be trembling before a holy God. They would be bowing before Him. They probably would not even lift their eyes to look upon Him, for fear of being struck down. They will realize they are in the presence of holiness.

APPLICATION

Sometimes I think we have relegated our God to a buddy. We don’t stand trembling in awe of Him. We don’t appreciate His holiness. In fact, we are way too comfortable. The reverence He is due has been forgotten.

How do you approach God? I am not implying that you need to be scared of Him. No! He is our friend and the lover of our soul. That it true. But we all need to recognize His divinity and holiness. We all need to see Him as the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of our soul. His majesty is beyond description.

I come before Him each day in awe of the fact that He would even look upon me. I don’t deserve anything but hell, and He has given me His only Son to rescue me from that fiery destination. May I encourage you today to stop and reflect on His holiness? It might just amaze you.

Father God, I stand in awe. Actually, I bow in awe of You. You are holy and worthy of my praise.

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Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Confrontation, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Intimacy, Mercy, Protection, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance

QUARANTINED

HOSEA 3:3

“Then I said to her, ‘You shall live with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute, nor shall you have another man; so I will also be toward you.’”

Don’t you just hate that word “quarantine”? Over this past year chances are you have been quarantined due to the covid-19 virus. If you haven’t, you must have been living on a desert island all by yourself. It has been just about impossible to avoid at least one quarantine period due to infection or exposure. Frankly, I am a little tired of it. How about you?

Hosea brought Gomer back but basically quarantined her. She would not be given access to him or any other man. He provided for her and treated her kindly, but she had to remain quarantined for a period of time. Her past behavior required it. She needed a cleansing period before reentering her husband’s home.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you grateful that God doesn’t require us to go through a cleansing period after we sin? We come to Him just as we are and confess our failures. He forgives us and casts our sins away. It says in Psalm 103:12 that He removes them as far as the east is from the west. We are washed whiter than snow.

With that said, we are not free to sin and just confess it. Sin does have consequences. Deliberate sin even more. Let me ask you to take a look at your sin life. My what? you say. Your sin life. Look at the patterns of sin in your life. Is sin accidental or planned? God may just put you in quarantine to get some of that sin out of you. He will not let you just sin willy nilly and think it’s nothing. He does expect obedience from His children.

Just like Hosea still cared for Gomer, God cares for us despite our sin. But it does break His heart when we sin against Him. He wants to love us and care for us. If we are insistent on living how we want, we restrict how much love He is able to show us. Sin is deplorable to God. Don’t ever forget that. Come to Him today and confess whatever is on your heart.

Lord, I know you love me despite my failures. Help me walk in victory today and only come to You for forgiveness when I have tripped up and fallen into sin.

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Accountability, Advice, Affection, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

TAKE HER BACK

HOSEA 3:1

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

I have known several men who have reconciled with their wives after their wives had committed adultery. That is a hard pill to swallow. To take a woman back as your wife after she has cheated on you takes a lot. But each of these men were led by the Lord to do that. Some had children in the marriage. Others didn’t. But each decided to be obedient and bring their wife back to their marriage bed.

God told Hosea to do the same. He instructed Hosea to restore Gomer to his home as his wife after she had chosen willingly to be unfaithful. This was a symbolic move to show Israel the plan God had to restore them to Him following their exile in Babylon. After rejecting their false gods, they were seeking to return to Jehovah.

APPLICATION

You may have never had to reconcile with a wayward spouse. You may have never been that wayward spouse. My guess, though, is you have known someone who has. It’s all about forgiveness. There is no possible way to do this without the power of forgiveness. I am not talking about forgiveness powered by you. This takes a godly forgiveness.

When we think about what God has forgiven us, there is nothing that we should not be able to forgive. He has forgiven us of sins that would cause us to spend eternity in hell. There is nothing that has been done to us by anyone that can equal that. So, the question is will you forgive.

You may need to forgive someone today for something that you feel in unforgiveable. It’s not. With God, you can forgive anyone of anything. It won’t be easy. But it is possible because He can give you that power. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Will you?

Help me forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength today to give that forgiveness to anyone who needs it.

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THEN YOU WILL KNOW HIM

HOSEA 2:20

“And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”

I have known a lot of people in my life. I have probably met a few thousand over 60 years. Some I have known better than others. But there have been only a handful that I have known well. Those are the ones you want to spend time with and share life’s moments.

The same is true about God. I just love this verse. God tells us here that because He betroths us in faithfulness, we will know Him. This Hebrew word for “know” has a multitude of meanings, but it can also mean an intimate knowledge. God wants to know us. Isn’t that amazing?

APPLICATION

So, for us as believers who are seeking to know the Lord, how do we do that? It takes an investment of time. You have to be willing to spend time with the Lord in prayer and studying His Word. How much time are you willing to invest? An hour a day? How about a half hour? It is not necessarily the quantity of the time as much as the quality of time.

But you have to turn off the distractions. No cell phone. No FaceBook or Instagram. You need to be diligent and dedicated. The payoff is huge. The more intense your time with the Lord becomes, the more you look forward to it. You will find yourself absolutely craving these times. Go for it.

Knowing the Lord is a sweet thing. It’s really a shame that so many Christians go their whole lifetime not really knowing Him. Why would not want to know the God who created you and gave His Son to die for you? Why would you not want to spend as much time as you could with Him? I pray today you will spend some time getting to know Him better.

Thanks for giving me the desire, Lord, to know You deeper. I want to know You more and more.

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Bible, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Following, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

NAME RECOGNITION

HOSEA 2:17

“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will no longer be mentioned by their names.”

Remembering people’s names is a gift. I had the privilege of knowing Father Val Peters who was the Superintendent of Boys’ Home in Nebraska. He made it a point to know every child’s name at the home. That was over 500 children. He worked at it, but he did it. I have tried to do that myself everywhere I have served. Kids love it when you know their name and call them by it.

God didn’t want to hear the names of the false gods on the mouths of His children. He wanted them toconcentrate on His name. No other name matters. Calling on anything or anyone besides Jesus is equivalent to the Israelites worshipping Baal. It’s empty. It’s hopeless. Call on His name.

APPLICATION

Who are you calling on? Family? They will let you down. Church? They are imperfect and filled with imperfect people. A Pastor? Don’t even go there. Too many of them are failing. Listen. There is nothing wrong with any of those. But we must make sure our first call is to Jesus. He is the only sure thing.

Aren’t you tired of being let down? Aren’t you frustrated with depending on people who are more concerned with themselves than you? God has you at the center of His mind. He always wants you to succeed. He will give you the skills you need to follow Him. Will you just let Him?

I don’t know about you, but I want His name on my lips. It is the sweetest name we know. When you are in a low time, call His name. When you are rejoicing, call His name. Call His name in every situation. He longs to hear it.

O God, I praise Your name. No other name means as much to me. You are worthy of my praise.

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MY MAN

HOSEA 2:16

“‘And it will come about on that day,’” declares the LORD,

“‘That you will call Me my husband and no longer call Me my Baal.’”

I’ve been married for over thirty-five years now. I truly have to say that I love my wife more today than the day we got married. Why? Because I know her better. I just had this flashback of Sonny and Cher singing “I love you more today than yesterday.” Lol. I love it when my wife refers to me as her husband. I love that term. It’s intimate. It’s personal. I’m her man.

God is telling Israel (and Gomer) to call Him “my husband” or “my man.” He really is. That’s what the Hebrew word ish means. Why is He saying this? Because He didn’t want them using the word Baal which means lord. A husband was often called lord by his wife, but in this instance, God didn’t want any confusion on their part with Him and that pagan god named Baal. So just call Him my husband.

APPLICATION

Is God “your man”? I don’t mean that in any kind of derogatory way. I mean do you have an intimate, personal relationship with Him? My wife and I have been developing our relationship for over thirty-five years now, but we still have a long way to go. I will never fully know her because we are both limited by our humanness. God knows you fully and wants you to know Him.

How can you know God on a more intimate level? There is only one way. You have to spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. If you don’t spend time with someone, you will never know them. It’s just not possible. Will you commit to spend some more time with the Lord this week?

The beauty of spending time with the Lord is that it can happen anywhere. Unlike my wife, who has to be physically with me to spend time with me, God is accessible 24/7. He is everywhere. He is always listening. That blows my mind, but it’s true. Just reach out and see what happens. He’s there waiting to commune with you.

O God, creator of the universe, I am amazed that You want to spend time with me. I will stop today and listen to Your voice.

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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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