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GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

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OUT OF EGYPT

HOSEA 11:1

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

There have been a few places from which I wanted to be out of. I won’t name them so as not to upset anyone, lol. You may have been in a similar situation but had no way out. You may have been kept there due to a job or family. Whatever it was, you felt trapped. Well, today’s verse ought to hit home with you.

God rescued Israel from Egypt. They had been there many years and were made into slaves. There seemed no way out, but God sent a deliverer by the name of Moses to set His people free. Many years later, He brought His Son out of Egypt. Joseph had taken his young family there to escape the wrath of Herod. But when the time came, He brought Jesus back to Israel to begin His plan for redemption.

APPLICATION

God can rescue you just as well. You may feel trapped in your Egypt, but there is a way out. Just as God sent a deliverer for Israel, He has sent a deliverer for you. His Son Jesus was sent so you can be free. But you can only be free if you follow the Deliverer. Only He knows the way out.

You may already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you still filled trapped by something. He can set you free from that too. Jesus wants you to walk in freedom each day. That requires you to lay down those burdens. He can handle them. He wants you free to live for Him without restraints. He wants you free to share Him with others. Accept that freedom He offers.

I am so thankful I am free. Nothing can chain me down. No troubles, no pain, no heartaches. I am free to be whatever the Lord wants me to be, as long as I surrender daily to Him. I know that, but each day I have to make a conscious decision to do that. I have pledged to do that. Will you?

I vow Lord to follow You daily. I want to walk in freedom.

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NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 10:8

Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed; thorns and thistles will grow on their altars; then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ And to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’”

Have you ever just wanted to crawl in a hole and hide? Things are going so bad and there seems to be no relief in sight. I have had a few moments in my life like that. I didn’t want to see anyone or have anyone see me. I just wanted to hide. Those feelings are tough.

Israel felt the same way. Hosea says they wanted the mountains to cover them and the hills to fall on them. They wanted to disappear. But from who? From God. They couldn’t handle being before Him. Their sins were too grave, and they were now paying the penalty.

APPLICATION

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you. Lol. Listen, there is always hope. As believers, we will face hard times. But we must remember that everything that touches us has gone through God’s hands first. He has allowed it. I don’t pretend to understand that. I wish some things hadn’t touched me, but they did.

God can see right through all our pain. He stands ready to send relief and comfort, if we only ask. He will send it when it’s time. Our suffering may seem to last forever, but it only lasts as long as the Lord allows. Trust Him in that. He will never give you more than you can handle. That’s His promise to you.

I have been through some harrowing times. My most recent health crisis brought me to the brink of despair. I really wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I was ready to go to heaven. I had no more strength. I was done. But my Lord saw me through. I know I can trust Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over.

Cover me with Your love. I don’t need to hide from You or anyone because You are my strength.

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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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GET OUT OF MY HOUSE

HOSEA 9:15

“All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deed I will drive them out of My house! I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebels.”

I can still hear my mama telling me to get out of the house with my nasty clothes. Lol. I worked at a gas station when I was in high school. I worked hard and my jeans and shirts got nasty. I mean real nasty. They smelled like gasoline and oil. Sometimes I had to work in another part of my boss’ business and got even nastier. So, I had to strip out of my clothes outside. My filth didn’t belong in her house.

God was sick of Israel’s filth – their filth of idolatry. They even used Gilgal, a place where God had met them before. They must have thought since God had been there in the past, that place was still holy. How could they think their pagan gods would enhance Gilgal? God, through Hosea, says, “I came to hate them there.” Pretty harsh words.

APPLICATION

What filth are you dragging into God’s house? Are you mingling the world with the divine? We do that sometimes without even realizing it. We are so accustomed to living in the world that we think we can drag all that stuff right into our worship. It’s no different than what the Israelites did.

I want you to think about how you worship the Lord. Are you letting the world influence you? Are you buying the lies of the devil that you have to embrace the world’s culture to reach the world? I am not referring to a people’s culture. I am talking about the fleshly side of culture. None of that belongs in God’s house.

Pure worship is holy worship. Holy worship is always pointed toward the Lord and not us. No part of worship should exalt us. When we are worshipping the Lord in Spirit and in truth, it all flows upward. Isn’t that what you want? It’s what I want and is what I pursue. Oh Father, You are holy!

Protect me, Lord, from any hint of false worship. Keep my flesh and my pride out of the way. I want to only worship You.

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ALTARS OF SIN

HOSEA 8:11

“Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin, they have become altars of sinning for him.”

I’ve never built an altar. Have you? It seems people do it all the time. You are probably thinking, What are you talking about?Altars are places of worship. People are bowing down all the time to things. They are putting their attention and time on priorities other than God.

Israel had built altars to all sorts of pagan gods. Altars, altars everywhere. And with all these altars they were sinning, sinning against a holy God. And they were not thinking anything about this. They were chasing after the gods of their pagan neighbors and turning their backs on Jehovah.

APPLICATION

What are you pursuing? What are you bowing before? You may not think you have altars in your life. You may think you are doing all the right things. But if you aren’t bowing only to Jesus, you have just built an altar. Your altar may not look like the ones the Israelites built, but it’s still an altar.

You are sacrificing your time on your false altars. You are sacrificing your money on those altars. Those altars are robbing you of your devotion to your Lord. Examine your life right now. Take a moment and look at where you are spending your time and money. Ask the Lord if you have built a false altar. He will tell you.

I will bow only to Him. There is nothing as important as spending time with Jesus. Time in His word and time in prayer have to be my number one priority spiritually. I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have time for my quiet time in the morning. I can’t say I just don’t have time to pray. I will turn to Him first each day. Will you join me?

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me the privilege to worship You. I desire to bow before You every day to honor and glorify You.

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IDOL MAKING

HOSEA 8:4

“They have set up kings, but not by Me; they have appointed officials, but I did not know it. With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves, so that they will be eliminated.”

Idols come in all shapes and sizes. Now, I am not talking about the little statues that people used to bow down to and worship. I’m talking about all those things we put on the top of our priority list. We put all sorts of things up there and never realize what we’ve done. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Israel had literally made idols for themselves. They had turned to the false gods of the land and worshipped them. They turned their backs on God and decided to go after the newest craze. They loved the pagan worship they witnessed in the land and were drawn into it by the people around them. Idols were everywhere.

APPLICATION

We know that as believers Jesus must be our Lord. Nothing must come between Him and us. But we let things slide in. Many of those things are good things. There is really nothing wrong with them. It’s just we start to put them higher and higher and all of a sudden, they’ve taken first place.

Mom and Dad, are you prioritizing your relationship with Jesus? Do you spend time every day reading and studying His Word? Well Carl, I would but Jenny has dance and Robert has soccer. We are just busy with sports. What have you done? You’ve replaced time with God with busy activities. Anything that replaces God is an idol. Anything!

I am at the age now that I realize just how important time with Jesus is. I desire it so much. For me, first thing in the morning is best. There are fewer interruptions. I don’t let things get in the way of that time. That’s my time with Jesus. How about you? Will you take a look at what is important in your life? Ask yourself if anything has taken over Jesus’ spot in your life.

Father, You must always be the most important person in my life. I vow to put You first and keep You in that spot.

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I KNOW YOU

HOSEA 8:2

“They cry out to Me ‘My God, we of Israel know You!’”

I bet you’ve been in a crowd before and recognized someone. You know you know them, but you just can’t place their name. You can even remember where you met them. Their name, however, escapes you. So, what do you do? What do you say when they walk up and call you by name? If you are like me, I say, “Hey, it’s so good to see you again.” I purposely leave their name out of the conversation.

That’s not really knowing someone, is it? The people of Israel claimed to know God. Hey, they even knew His name. But they did not really know Him. They failed to recognize His commands. They ignored His guidance. They chased after other gods. If they had really known Jehovah God, I mean really known Him, they would have followed Him.

APPLICATION

So, do you know Him? Do you really know Him? If you do, you know He is a jealous God. He won’t tolerate us chasing after idols, whatever those are. He wants us to know Him. God isn’t this mysterious spirit hovering over the universe that dissipates every time we look His way. He wants to be discovered by us. The question is do we want to know Him.

If you really want to know Him, then you have to spend time with Him. You have to dig into His Word. You have to make Him a priority. And when you do, He unveils Himself. He says, “Here I am. Come closer. Get to know me.” You discover what He is really all about. Now you can say you know Him.

I want to know Him deeply. I want to experience Him in ways I have never experienced Him before. I want to be just like Him. Don’t you? Don’t you want that? I want to be loving, faithful, compassionate and forgiving. I want all those things. I pray you do, too. Let’s get to know Him together. Ready?

Oh, I want to know You more, deep within my soul I want to know you. Oh, I want to know You, to feel your heart and know Your mind. Looking in Your eyes, stirs up within me cries that say I want to know You, oh, I want to know You, more.

Steve Green

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NETTED

HOSEA 7:12

When they go, I will spread My net over them; I will bring them down like the birds of the sky. I will discipline them in accordance with the proclamation to their assembly.

I have never used a net to catch birds, but I have used a cast net to catch fish. There’s quite an art to it. You need to know how to fold it in your hands and swing it just right to cause the net to open as it hits the water. Otherwise, you just have a mess of a net in a wad in the water. When you throw it correctly, you have the potential to catch some bait fish to use later.

The Lord has cast His net over the dove mentioned in verse 11. Ephraim may have thought they could escape capture and judgment just like a dove to quickly fly off and escape. But the Lord’s net it sure. He knows exactly how to throw it. His cast is always perfect. He would hold them down to earth to face the consequences of their sins.

APPLICATION

Oh, be sure, my brothers and sisters, you will not escape the wrath of God. Unless we all turn to Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will all face His wrath. We will pay for our sins. We have no excuse. We can’t claim ignorance. We can’t say we were too busy and meant to get to it. No! We will face judgment one day.

But thanks be to God, He has provided a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) for us. All we have to do is turn to Jesus, admit we are a sinner, believe He is the Son of God who died on that cruel cross for us, was buried and rose again. Then we confess our sins and ask for His shed blood to cover them. Then God extends His loving arms to us and grants us forgiveness and gives us the faith to live obediently to Him.

You have a choice today. You can be a netted dove, caught in your sins, awaiting judgment or you can be set free by the blood of Jesus. Which is it? I am so thankful I am free. I am free to live a life dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. My life is in His hands. I am secure and protected. What a feeling. I feel just like that dove soaring high in the sky, knowing I am protected by my loving Father. How about you?

I am free because of Jesus’ blood. Thank You, Lord, for cutting loose the net that bound me to my sins.

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HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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