Accountability, Bible, Confrontation, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender

WHIRLING SWORDS

HOSEA 11:6

And the sword will whirl against their cities, and will destroy their oracle priests and consume them, because of their counsels.”

When my son was small, he played all sorts of video games. Back then the games weren’t quite as elaborate as they are today. Some of those games had courses you had to get through to win. Of course, those courses were full of dangers. There were traps to fall in, lasers to dodge and even swords. They could end your “life” in the game and make you go back to the beginning.

God was sending whirling swords on the heads of the Israelites. Swords from warring nations would come upon them to deliver God’s judgment. But look at what caused this – their counsels. Actually, the Hebrew says “their own counsels.” They only listened to words that pleased them. They knew God’s law but ignored it.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want whirling swords to fall on you, do you? No one does. But we still all try to live our lives according to our own counsel. We think we know what is best. We have our lives all mapped out without any regard to the plan God has for us. Whirling swords come in all sizes and descriptions. What will it take for God to get your attention?

We can all avoid the whirling swords of judgment by turning to Jesus. When we are surrendered to His will, judgment has already been paid. Jesus took the punishment on Himself. He died so that we can avoid those swords. He not only destroyed those swords, but He also secured our future. We are promised that. Isn’t that great?

I don’t want my head taken off by a swirling sword. I had much rather rest in Jesus. I know I deserve judgment. I am just a sinner saved by grace. But it is so comforting to know my head is safe. My soul is safe. And because I know that, I want to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord. Don’t you?

I am thankful for Jesus taking my judgment. Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Punishment, Safety, Scripture

BAD INVESTMENT

HOSEA 8:10

“Even though they pay for allies among the nations, I will gather them up now; and they will begin to diminish because of the burden of the king of officials.”

I am sure most of us have made a least one bad investment. It seemed so sure at the time, but after making the decision and going through with the purchase, we found out the truth. A lot of online purchases will fall into this category. Everything looks better online, doesn’t it?

Israel had sent gifts to Assyria to try to gain favor with them and put off the judgment God had said would befall them by their hands. That was a bad investment, money poorly spent. Assyria couldn’t be trusted. They were pagans with no morals. They were power hungry. They may promise peace, but their word meant nothing.

APPLICATION

Have you ever trusted the wrong person? I have. There have been people in my life who have turned on me. They promised one thing but did another. To be totally honest, I have done that myself in the past. I have confessed that as sin both to my Father in heaven and to those I have wronged. There is no excuse for it. It’s just plain sin.

But we are promised that God will never turn against us. He will always support us. His word is always sure. Do you believe that? It’s true. There is nothing we can do to drive Him away. He will always have our back. But we do need to abide in Him. That is only possible through His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray you are drawing close to Him. I pray you have allied yourself with Him. There is no better ally. You can’t outrun Him. You can’t hide from Him. He knows your innermost thoughts. He longs to be with you. Come to Him today and trust Him to protect you. He always will.

You are my ally, Lord. For that, I am truly thankful. I know I can always depend on You.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Flesh, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture

WARNING! WARNING!

HOSEA 8:1

Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the LORD, because they have violated My covenant and rebelled against My Law.”

Picture yourself on the wall of a city. Your job is to watch for any approaching enemies. You have a trumpet to blow to warn the city if danger is sighted. So, when do you blow that trumpet? Do you wait until the enemy is at the gate or do you sound the alarm as soon as you spot them?

Here in Hosea the enemy has come. There is no time for the trumpet to be sounded. Judgment has fallen. God is holding them accountable for their breach of the covenant. They have rebelled against His Law. So, God is using their enemies to judge them.

APPLICATION

We must sound the alarm. In our society today we are surrounded by encroaching enemies. But we remain silent. We don’t warn our brothers and sisters about the danger that is all around us. We may run for cover ourselves, but we leave the rest to fend for themselves.

Who are these enemies? Anyone or anything that goes against God’s Word and His commands for our lives. Anyone or anything that speaks against Jesus is an enemy of the cross. Satan will use all these to try to tear us down. He is on the attack – always. We cannot let up for a second. We must be on guard. We must keep the trumpet in our hands ready to blow.

I am looking. Are you? I’m on the wall. Are you? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t think for a second he’s got your best interest in mind. He has one goal – to destroy you and other believers. Stand firm and strong.

I will blow the trumpet, Lord. I will sound the alarm. I will stand with You.

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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, 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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Advice, Advocate, Battles, Courage, Enemies, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Safety, Scripture, Soldiers, Victors

NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Confrontation, Enemies, Exhortation, Modeling, Parenting, Peace, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

CONFRONTATION

3 JOHN 10

“For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.”

A lot of people do not like confrontation. They will do anything to stay away from it. Others dive right in before knowing all the facts and can make matters worse. Of course, the best approach is to gather all the facts before confronting someone to make sure what you have heard is true. Your purpose for confronting is to correct a wrong and set things straight.

John had gathered his facts. He had been informed about Diotrephes’ actions against him, others and the church. With the apostolic authority he possessed, he planned to confront Diotrephes. Why? Did John just want to get him back? I don’t believe so. I believe John wanted to restore a brother. We don’t know what happened between John and Diotrephes. I guess we will find out in heaven if this was settled biblically.

APPLICATION

Children have to be taught how to settle disputes according to Scripture. That does not come naturally. Our flesh almost always wins out. How do we teach them this life skill? I can think of two ways. Let’s make that three ways. Prayer, God’s Word and modeling the behavior.

You are probably saying Okay Carl, I like the first two, but I am so tired of you telling me to model behavior. I understand, but it does no good to teach them to pray for others and search God’s Word for direction if we aren’t living that out before them. We have to show them what it looks like to confront in love. We have to be their example to follow during difficult times. That’s parenting.

Is there someone in your life whom you need to confront in love? Perhaps there is a family member who professes Christ but is not living like it. Confront them. Maybe a co-worker consistently takes the name of the Lord in vain. Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is with you and will guide you. He will give you the words to say at just the right time. Follow His lead.

It is not easy to confront others, Lord. Give me the courage to speak truth in love.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Enemies, Humility, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture, Submission, Testimony

GOT TO BE FIRST

3 JOHN 9

“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.”

Some people just have to be first. They push to be first in line. They insist on being recognized first in meetings. They give their opinion loudly even when no one wants to hear it. Don’t those people aggravate you? Be honest. You probably try to avoid them. Am I right?

Well, it appears Diotrephes was that kind of person. He rejected John’s counsel that was sent to the church in a previous letter. Obviously, Diotrephes wanted to be in charge and discounted John’s advice. We don’t know why he did that. Perhaps he didn’t like John. Maybe he just wanted control of the church himself. Whatever the reason, John called him out (check out verse 10).

APPLICATION

While it is good for our children to be ambitious and push themselves, it is never good for them to let their ambitions run over others. I am reminded of the story Jesus told about the wedding guests. He said it was better to sit at the lower seats of the table and be asked to move up than to sit at the best seat and be asked to move down.

This is really about humility and submission. Diotrephes refused to humble himself and submit to John. John! A disciple of Jesus Himself. The disciple Jesus loved, probably more than any other disciple. That was the person Diotrephes was rejecting. Teach your children to respect those who have walked the walk. They need to show honor to such followers of Christ.

Do you find yourself pushing for recognition or are you content to serve unnoticed? The Lord will exalt the humble, but He will also humble the exalted. If we insist on “tooting our own horn,” we may find ourselves without a horn to toot. Don’t be a Diotrephes. Submit yourself to those in authority over you. Allow them to direct you. This honors our Lord, and He will honor you.

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in my life to lead me. I want to honor You by submitting to their leadership.

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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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Advice, Affliction, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Courage, Encouragement, Enemies, Lies, Mentoring, Opponents, Parenting, Scripture, The World

WORLD TALK

1 JOHN 4:5

They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.”

I have had the privilege to travel some. The strange thing about traveling to other countries – they all have different accents and often different language. Of course, I don’t think I have an accent at all, lol. I have dear friends in Uganda and Kenya. We’ve known each other for years now, but when I am there, I have to change the way I talk, or they can’t understand me. They hear me, but they can’t understand what I am saying.

John is saying that those who are of the world talk different. They sound different. They speak a whole different language than us. Do you know why? Because of their world view. When we see things differently, we talk differently. I honestly cannot understand some people. Oh, I understand their words, but I do not understand what they are saying. It just doesn’t make sense.

APPLICATION

Our children are going to face this issue. Hopefully, you are teaching them to have a biblical world view. That is going to clash with others. It is just a matter of time. Adults and kids alike will challenge them. They may even face persecution in school because of their world view. That’s okay. Support them. If need be, defend them.

We have to teach our children to hold fast. The world speaks a different language. The world will not agree with your child’s language about the world and God. If our children can learn to defend their faith at an early age, they will be prepared for a lifetime.

Are you being challenged by your speech because of your world view? If you aren’t, maybe you aren’t making your view known. Why not? Are you afraid of persecution? Are you afraid for your job? Don’t you think the God of the universe is big enough to take care of you. God is the one who fights our battles. Trust Him. Will you do that?

Lord God, I confess sometimes I avoid speaking up for fear of ridicule or being shamed. Forgive me for not being more bold in Your name.

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