Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Protection, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

PREPARE FOR BATTLE

JOEL 3:10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, “I am a warrior.”

I’ve never been to war. I’ve only had two fistfights in my life (both in high school before I came to Christ). So, the concept of gearing up for combat is foreign to me. I have known several men who bravely fought for our country. I respect them all. Their courage is admirable. They each had to prepare themselves for war, including getting the right arsenal.

Joel is telling the Judeans to get ready. Take whatever you have and make weapons. Plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. They had to have weapons to fight the enemy when they arrived. This passage may sound familiar. It’s the exact opposite of what you will read in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Take a minute and read those passages. But Joel is preparing for war, not peace.

APPLICATION

Are you prepared to fight the battles that are before you? Do you have the weapons you need? If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything you need to battle your adversary, the devil. God’s Word is the sword to wield. Your faith is the shield to protect you from his fiery darts. Your helmet of salvation guards your mind from any thoughts he might throw your way.

You see, you have the weapons. The question is are you ready to fight. The devil comes out each day with one goal – to defeat us. He wants to lay us out. He cannot stand it when we read the Bible and pray. He hates it when we share our faith with others. He will try anything to stop that. Don’t let him. Fight back.

I have learned lately just how determined he is. He has thrown all sorts of things in my path to try to discourage me. He wants me to lie down and quit. He cannot take away my salvation, but he can sure take me out of the fight – if I let him. But I won’t! Will you join me in the fight?

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead. I trust You as my Commander in Chief.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Commitment, Discipline, Faithfulness, Giving, Greed, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Praise, Sacrifice, Scripture

WHEN OFFERINGS CEASE

JOEL 1:9

“The grain offering and the drink offering have been cut off from the house of the LORD. The priests mourn, the ministers of the LORD.”

One side effect of the covid crisis that has pillaged our economy is the reduction in giving in many churches. When covid shut down churches in 2020, churches that were surviving week to week just couldn’t hang on financially. A lot of churches closed their doors due to empty pews and empty coffers.

The same thing happened in the days of Joel. When the locusts came and destroyed their agricultural economy, the offerings that were normally brought to the Lord’s house ceased. And when they ceased, the priests went hungry since they depended on these. When offerings cease, many suffer.

APPLICATION

Are you suffering loss today? Have you stopped giving to the Lord because of it? It’s understandable. God doesn’t expect you to give out of nothing. But He will provide. We have to believe that. Have you ever been down to your last bit of food only to have someone stop by with a bag of groceries? That’s God.

God does not desire for His children to suffer. He doesn’t want us to starve. He longs to meet our needs. Just let Him know what that is. He wants us to cry out to Him. You may just be amazed at how He provides. Then you can give Him the glory for His provision in your life.

I never cease to be amazed at how He provides for my family. There have been times when we did not see a way out of a dilemma, but He always came through. Just recently, when I thought we were facing some major car repairs, it turned out to only be a bad battery. You may not see that as a God thing, but I sure do. He wants to do the same for you.

Father, You are so good to me. Even in times of suffering, You provide.

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LISTEN UP

JOEL 1:2

Hear this, you elders, and listen, all inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this happened in your days, or in your fathers’ days?”

Each Sunday when I teach the children at the church where I serve, I have to say “listen” several times to get their attention. We have rules for children’s church to help prepare these little ones for the day when they start attending “big church.” One of those rules is “Listen Up.” In other words, tune your ears to what I’m about to say.

Joel is telling the people of Judah to listen up. He is about to give them a message. He is going to remind them of some things. He needs their undivided attention in order to get his message across. Let me correct that. It’s not his message. It’s God’s message, which makes it even that much more important.

APPLICATION

I bet you have had to tell someone to listen up, haven’t you? Have you ever been telling a story to someone and noticed they weren’t paying attention? If you have kids, I guarantee you have had to tell them to listen up. Now, listen to me. You have a message to share. People need to hear it.

We need to make sure people are listening. God’s message hasn’t changed. He still desires for all to come to Him. He still offers salvation to those who believe in His name and receive His Son as Savior. That’s a message we need to be shouting from the rooftops. Get their attention and deliver the message.

Right now, there is a lot of turmoil going on in the world. People are dying and going to hell. Believers are being persecuted for their faith. We are living in perilous times. But God is still faithful. He will deliver each and every one who turns to Him. Will you help spread the word today?

I am so thankful for the message of the cross. Give me the opportunity today to share that with someone.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Obedience, Relationships, Righteousness, Scripture, Waiting

THE WAYS OF THE LORD

HOSEA 14:9

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but wrongdoers will stumble in them.”

I can remember my dad teaching me some things about woodworking when I was growing up. My dad could build just about anything. And when it came to refinishing furniture, he was a master. He always told me to take my time. You can’t rush the process. Applying stain, varnish and sanding takes time. He showed me how and then let me try.

God’s ways are like that. We have to follow the process. We can’t just make up our own way. Sometimes God’s ways take time. You can’t rush it. Hosea is reminding us here in the last verse of the book that we need to reflect on all he has said. He says, “the righteous will walk in them, but the wrongdoers will stumble in them.” That’s a pretty, straightforward statement.

APPLICATION

So, the question for us today is what will be choose to do. Will you take the time to understand God’s way? Are you wise? Are you discerning? I believe you are. Let me encourage you to go back and read all my blogs on Hosea in one sitting. Discover God’s way of doing things. Be patient in the process.

God’s ways aren’t always our ways. In my case, they seldom are. I want to figure it out myself. I want to get things done. I don’t like waiting. And because of that, God makes me wait a lot. He knows what I need and will do what is necessary to help me learn it. Do I like that? No! But I know He only wants what is best for me.

So, I will be patient as I learn the process, just like I was when my dad taught me how to refinish furniture. I have to follow each step and not rush it. I have to wait for the first coat of paint or varnish to dry first. I have to wait for… Well, you get the picture. It’s a process. Will you follow God’s ways today?

I am thankful, Lord, for the process even though I don’t particularly like it. I trust You.

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Accountability, Bible, Blessing, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gifts, Giving, God's Will, Goodness, Obedience

INDIAN GIVER

HOSEA 13:11

I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.”

Do you remember as a child what we called someone who gave you something and then took it back? We called them an “Indian giver.” That phrase was really offensive to someone (not to mention how offensive it is to Native Americans). To give someone a gift and then demand it back is not very nice.

God had given Israel a king. He gave them Saul after they demanded one. He wasn’t happy about that. Hosea even says He did it in anger. Then after their repeated disobedience, His wrath fell. He sent them into exile. He removed their king, never to return again.

APPLICATION

Let me clarify something. God is NOT an Indian giver. That is not His style. That’s not what He did to Israel. God wants to give good gifts to you. In fact, He is just waiting to bless you. You can’t even begin to imagine how much He wants to bless you. He always has your best in mind. Every gift He gives you is custom made just for you.

So, why aren’t you asking for His blessings? I don’t mean you can just name it and claim or blab it and grab it. No! The problem most of us have with asking for God’s blessings is we aren’t living worthy of those blessings. We pretend to live for Him or we are outright living in sin. How can we expect Him to bless us?

I want His blessings. Therefore, I choose to live in such a way that He is able to bless me. What does that mean? It means I live for Jesus each day by surrendering my will to His. Just like our earthly fathers love to bless their obedient children, God desires the same. I don’t obey in order to be blessed. I obey because I love Him. And when I do, He give His good gifts.

Thank You, Lord, for Your good gifts. Help me live in such a way that Your blessings flow.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Contentment, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Inspirational, Life, Obedience, Pride, Scripture, Surrender

PROUD HEART

HOSEA 13:6 

“As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and as they became satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot Me.” 

There is nothing wrong with being satisfied. Being content with things of life can be a good thing. Paul tells us in the New Testament to be content. He said godliness with contentment is great gain. But when we become satisfied with ourselves to the exclusion of God, that is not good. Our soul should always strive for more of Him. 

Israel had become self-satisfied. They had, in fact, become proud of heart. The word “proud” in the Hebrew can have the idea of exalted or puffed up. They didn’t need God anymore. After all, they had everything they needed, or so they thought. Hosea even says they forgot God. How sad! 

APPLICATION 

How do you avoid getting proud and satisfied? You have to acknowledge your need for a holy God. Have you done that? Do you realize how much you need Him in your life? I pray you have. We can accomplish a lot of things in this world. We may even think we have done it on our own. But every blessing you receive as a believer is the direct result of God in your life. 

Not me, Carl. I have worked hard for everything I’ve gotten. God never gave me anything. Oh really? How about the very breath you take? How about your heartbeat? Without those you certainly couldn’t go far. If you will stop and look at all the blessings in your life, you will see the source. He is the one who sends those blessings into your life.  

Without Jesus in my life, I know I am nothing. I owe all I am to Him. I am not worthy of one single thing. But I am a child of the King. Therefore, He sees me as worthy. He counts me as an heir of His kingdom. Of that I am proud – proud to be His.  

O Lord, keep my heart proud only of You. Let my satisfaction come in You alone. 

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REMEMBER

HOSEA 12:9

“But I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of the appointed festival.”

Oh, how quick we forget the Lord’s blessings. I have been guilty of that. In the past, I have prayed about a certain thing and received a blessing from the Lord. At the time, I was so full of praise and thankfulness, but as time passed, I forgot about that blessing. I began to take it for granted

Hosea is reminding Israel of their feast of tabernacles, the festival which commemorated their dwelling in tents during their wilderness years. They were reminded of God’s abundant provisions during all those years (water, manna, quail). As the decades had passed, the people had forgotten His blessings.

APPLICATION

Take out a sheet of paper and start listing all the blessings you have received from the Lord this past week. Think about the little things, not just the biggies. Hey, you woke up each day, right? You had food to eat. You had clothes to wear. Just start listing them.

Now think back further. Think about all the blessings He has bestowed on you since your salvation. When you start doing this, it is pretty amazing. How soon we forget. Maybe you could start writing down these blessings as they happen. At the end of each year you could sit down with your family and read through the list and praise Him.

I have known people who kept a blessing box. They would write down on a slip of paper each time they received some kind of blessing. They would put that slip of paper in a shoe box or something and then pull them all out and read them at the end of the year. If you have kids, get them involved in this. I bet when you reflect back, you will be amazed at just how blessed you are.

Father, You bless me in so many ways. I am sorry I am so ungrateful and forgetful. Forgive me.

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WAITING ON GOD

HOSEA 12:6

“So as for you, return to your God, maintain kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.”

Don’t you hate to wait? I sure do. I am bad about going to a fast food place (don’t judge, lol) and driving straight through if there are more than two or three cars in line. I used to hate to wait at red lights, but I’ve learned to work on my memory verses while doing that. So, reading this verse bothered me a little. I don’t want to wait continually.

Hosea tells them to do three things – return, maintain and wait. Look at the order. They had to return to God first. They couldn’t do the second and third things unless that happened first. And once they did, he told them to maintain kindness (mercy) and justice. Then the waiting starts. God required them to preserve mercy and justice until He responded.

APPLICATION

What are you waiting on? Have you prayed this lately? “Dear God, I am so tired of waiting on You. Why won’t you answer my prayers?” We’ve all prayed that at one time or another. Waiting is hard. We feel like we are wasting time. We have so much to do and waiting on God just doesn’t fit our schedule.

Well, let me ask you this. Have you returned to God? Are you maintaining kindness and justice? If you do those things, you will be able to wait. How? You will be so busy preserving kindness and justice, you will totally forget about the waiting. And the more you do that, the closer you will grow towards God.

We have to remember this. God is always on time. If we remember this, then we should know that waiting is His plan for us. He will do what He is going to at just the right time. Waiting is good if we understand His plan is to make us more like Him. Isn’t that something you want? I sure do.

Waiting on You, Lord, is alright by me. I trust Your timing.

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STILL UNRULY

HOSEA 11:12

Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is still unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.”

When I worked in children’s homes, it wasn’t unusual for a child or youth to come into the home very unruly and out of control. After a period of time and much love, they would begin to calm down and settle in. But quite often that same child would resort back to their old way of behavior. It seemed they just couldn’t maintain a calm demeaner. Even though the staff was consistent and loved them, they preferred chaos.

Hosea tells us Ephraim, Israel and Judah acted the same way. Even though “the Holy One” was faithful, they rebelled. Lies, deceit and unruliness were how they responded to a faithful Father. They gave way to flesh. They let their old sin nature take over. It didn’t matter how much God loved them, they acted out against Him.

APPLICATION

Now, if you don’t see yourself in today’s verse, well… We are all the same. We know how much the Lord loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us exactly what we needed – salvation. And we still rebel. We still take Him for granted. Oh, we say the right things. We go to church and throw a few dollars in the offering plate and think we have done enough. We don’t want to obey – just like the Israelites.

Aren’t you tired of living that way? God wants you to surrender to Him. He wants you to yield to His will. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him. We are to take His yoke on us. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Will you trust Him today to lead you in His yoke. Stop the unruliness and yield.

I still battle that sometimes. I even think I am yielded only to discover I’m not. That’s a bit embarrassing, lol. But I truly want to be. I don’t want to rub against the yoke. I want to follow Him in the yoke. I want to learn to walk with the Master. Don’t you?

Oh Lord, I praise You for putting up with my stubbornness. I thank You for Your patience with me.

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HUNGUP

HOSEA 11:7

So My people are determined to turn from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him.

There are some things that I can really be hung up about. Fishing is one. I love to fish. There are times when all I can think about is catching that big one. I can spend hours at the lake, pond or river casting and casting, just hoping to land one that I can talk about. I have to be careful, though, to not get too hung up on fishing. There are more important things out there.

Why am I talking about getting hung up? Because the Hebrew word translated “determined” in today’s verse means just that. The people of Israel were hung up on turning from God. They were dead set on not following His commands. They were bent that way due to their flesh and were not going to obey. Sound familiar?

APPLICATION

Are you that way? Being “hung up” on something is not a bad thing, if the thing you are hung up on is in God’s will.  It’s okay to be hung up on reading the Word or praying. It’s okay to be hung up on sharing the Gospel with the lost. But when you get so hung up on something that you forget to ask the Lord about it, you need to back off.

What are you “hung up” about? Family? That can become a problem. Money? That can certainly lead you wrong. Being happy? What’s that got to do with anything? Check out your hang ups. You may just need to loosen the line a bit and take the hook out for a while (to borrow some fishing jargon).

I am hung up on Jesus. I just want to please Him. I figure if I concentrate on that He will take care of the rest. Jesus likes us being hung up on Him. He can handle it. He can use that. How about putting all your hang ups down and just hang on to Him?

Jesus, I am hung up on You. I want nothing more than to please You in my words and deeds.

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