Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Cleansing, Comfort, Disciplemaking, Flesh, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Surrender

HAMMER AND CHISEL

HOSEA 6:5

“Therefore, I have cut them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and the judgments on you are like the light that shines.”

When I was growing up in my parents’ home, I used to love to go down to my dad’s workshop and use his tools. He only had one rule – put the tools back where you found them. My dad had a large assortment of hammers and chisels. Some of those chisels were for wood, some were for metal and some were for stone. As a little boy, I didn’t know which were which. I just grabbed one and started chiseling.

But the Lord knows which hammer and chisel to use. He used the prophets as an instrument to chisel away the hard hearts of the people. He often sent messages through them that would knock off huge chunks of their hard hearts. Other times He would use the more refining tools. But He always knew exactly what was needed to do the job.

APPLICATION

Does God need to use the 20 pound sledge on you? Is your heart that hard? Sometimes those blows are painful. You have to remember one thing. He is only knocking off what doesn’t look like Jesus. Those blows may seem relentless at times, but with each swing of the hammer, He is bringing you into a form that looks like Him.

Why would we complain about those blows then? Why do we fuss and fret and say God is not being fair with us? Because we don’t like pain. We don’t like discomfort. We want to be pampered. We want things to be easy. Well, guess what? Life isn’t easy. God never promised us that. But when we allow Him to shape us according to His Will, we understand life better.

I don’t like pain, but I welcome His chisel. I want to look like Jesus. I want to reflect His image. I want others to look at me and only see Jesus. Do they always? Not hardly. But that is my desire. How about you?

Lord, knock off all the junk in my life that hides Your Son. I want to look just like Him. Shape me and mold me.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Denial, Following, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

LITTLE BY LITTLE

HOSEA 5:12

“Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like rottenness to the house of Judah.”

Have you ever had a part of your house rot? It happens a lot around gutters or downspouts. You don’t notice the rot at the beginning. It’s pretty much imperceptible. The rot is happening beneath the paint. Everything looks fine. But the longer that water penetrates the wood, the more rot happens. Eventually, you have to tear out a section and replace it. The damage has been done.

Hosea is using two examples to describe the Lord’s judgment on Ephraim and Judah which are similar. A moth’s damage to fabric begins very small. You don’t really notice. Then the holes appear, and the fabric is ruined. And then Hosea refers to rottenness, similar to what I described above. God had been trying to correct them both little by little, but they had not responded. Now, the final judgment is upon them.

APPLICATION

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy being judged. I don’t like punishment. I never have. Now, I know I need to be disciplined at times. I am not perfect. God has to correct me. He does that through the Holy Spirit. I am convicted of my sins which leads me to confession. That’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

But there are times when I just bow up my back and am determined to have my way. I am convinced I am right, and God is wrong. I know that’s stupid. I didn’t say I am the brightest bulb in the pack. And when I do that, God will allow me to wander. He is still urging me to return and will turn up the heat for me to do so. I have to make that choice to stop and return.

You see, unconfessed sin doesn’t get better with time. It gets worse. We get accustomed to the sin. We ignore the Holy Spirit’s urgings. We begin to get tone deaf to God’s voice. Then the rot sets in. Then the moth begins to feed. Stop it right now. Come to Him in repentance. Let Him restore you to your right place.

I come to You today, Lord, and seek Your forgiveness. I long for freshness in my walk with You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Commands, Denial, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

BROKEN

HOSEA 5:11

“Ephraim is oppressed, broken by judgment, because he was determined to follow man’s command.

We can do things in this life that can leave us broken. Wrong decisions can lead to horrible consequences. Some of those consequences are natural. Other consequences are imposed by man. For instance, if we break the law, we can be found guilty and have to go to jail. But all consequences go back to our decisions. Do we obey or not?

Ephraim made the decision to pursue their own desires. They followed man rather than God. As a result, they faced God’s judgment. They fell under the oppression of man. They had a choice to begin with. They could have obeyed Jehovah. But, like us, they chose what seemed pleasing to them. So, consequences followed.

APPLICATION

Do you enjoy the consequences of your sin? Now, if you say you do, you must be a little crazy. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that. It makes you wonder why we choose to follow after our own desires then. We know that doing that will almost always result in consequences. But we still do it.

Look at those words again in today’s verse. Oppressed, broken, judgment. Those aren’t words I want spoken over me. I prefer blessed, raised up, forgiven. Both lists of words are the result of choices. Choices, choices, choices. Why must we choose? Why doesn’t the Lord just make us do the right thing? Because He wants us to freely come to Him. He desires us to choose Him.

Well, today, I choose Jesus. I choose to follow Him. I want to please Him. That’s today. I know my flesh is strong. I know I must make this choice every day. I have to choose Him each and every day. And each time I do that, He smiles. Then He can bless me and raise me up. Those are consequences I can embrace.

I choose You, Lord. And in my choosing I realize it may not be easy to follow where You lead. But I go with You trusting You to see me through.

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Accountability, Bible, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Following, Judgment, Lies, Punishment, Scripture, Sin

TRUSTWORTHY GOD

HOSEA 5:9

“Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke; Among the tribes of Israel I make known what is trustworthy.”

Being trustworthy is a character trait we should all aspire to. Is it so hard? Giving our word and sticking to it shouldn’t be. However, for so many it is. Even believers tend to fall back to their fleshly ways at times and prove untrustworthy. We must remember who we represent.

The Lord is saying through Hosea in today’s verse that what He says will come true. Ephraim truly became a desolation. After their exile, they never returned as a tribe of Israel. God’s word is always true. We may not choose to believe it, but that does not negate its truthfulness.

APPLICATION

The question for us today is do we believe the Lord. Do you believe He is as trustworthy today as He was back in the day of Israel? If you believe that, there is nothing that He says that you shouldn’t believe. Where do you find those words? In His Word.

You must spend time in His Word to find those trustworthy statements. As you spend more and more time with Him you will discover just how trustworthy He is. There is nowhere He will take you where you can’t trust Him. Just as Jehovah God proved trustworthy in the days of Israel, He is still trustworthy today.

If we are to emulate Him, we must prove to be just as trustworthy. We cannot do that in and of ourselves. It is only through becoming more and more like Him that we can become trustworthy. Our trustworthiness is His trustworthiness. People can trust us because we are trusting Him.

Father, I do trust You with all my heart because You are trustworthy. Let me prove to be trustworthy to draw others to You.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

TROUBLE’S COMING

HOSEA 5:7

“They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, for they have given birth to illegitimate children. Now the new moon will devour them with their land.”

Sometimes we think we have gotten away with stuff. Can you think of things in your life that you have done that you have yet to suffer the consequence? I don’t mean really bad stuff. It could be anything that you know you shouldn’t have done. It could have been years ago. You have never confessed and now think God has forgotten about it. Guess again.

Israel has “dealt treacherously with the Lord.” They have dealt in deception. They have birthed children from their pagan worship and with pagan people. They think they have pulled the wool over God’s eyes. But now God tells them through Hosea that within a month judgment is coming. Wow! I guess God wasn’t fooled.

APPLICATION

What are you attempting to hide from God? Do you really think you can do that? Let me save you some time and some trouble. You can’t. God sees all and knows all. You can waste your time trying to hide stuff from Him, but He knows it all before it happens.

God desires that we disclose all to Him. He wants us to live holy lives before Him. That requires transparency. That requires open and vulnerable hearts. When we do that, our lives are so much more in tune with Him. We can walk in victory and not fear repercussions from the Lord.

I don’t like to walk around looking over my shoulder. I prefer to walk facing straight ahead, knowing the Lord has my back. I have nothing to hide from Him. He knows everything I have done. He knows my motive for doing it. He knows my every little thought and knows my actions before I do them. I will trust Him. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for knowing me. I trust You because You know what is best for me each and every day.

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Accountability, Apologies, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Confession, Following, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

UNWANTED SACRIFICES

HOSEA 5:6

“They will go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them.”

Have you ever tried to make amends to apologize to someone who wouldn’t accept it? It is really a difficult situation. You may be entirely sincere, but the hurt the other person is feeling is so real to them. They just can’t forgive. You are in a helpless situation. You can’t make them accept your apology. You have to prove yourself to them over time.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah could do nothing at this point. God wasn’t interested in their sacrifices of their flocks and herds. All the shed blood of their sacrifices could not appease God. His judgment was sure. They had to pay for their sins. He may forgive them in the future, but right now He was holding them accountable.

APPLICATION

What do you do when you have sinned against God? You need to make quick confession. We know that we should never sin intentionally against the Lord. But we may sin unintentionally. Sin, no matter how it is committed, must be confessed to our Lord. We need His forgiveness. We desire it. And the Lord is quick to give it.

Isn’t forgiveness sweet? Recall the feeling that comes with fresh cleansing from the Lord. There is nothing like it. I could write a list of analogies to compare it, but if you have experienced it, you know no words can really express it. If you haven’t come to Him lately to seek His forgiveness, come.

Let me remind you that when we choose not to seek forgiveness, we only put another brick in the wall that prevents us from hearing the Lord’s voice. The longer we go without confessing, the dimmer His voice becomes. Come to Him today. Confess all your sins to your Lord now and feel His warm embrace.

Father, never let me stray from the sound of Your voice. I want to stay “confessed up” and near to Your heart.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Stumble

WEAK ANKLES

HOSEA 5:5

“Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, and Israel and Ephraim stumble in their wrongdoing; Judah also has stumbled with them.”

When I was a sophomore in high school, I broke my left ankle at football camp. I had won a starting position as center and was determined to not miss that season. I didn’t treat my injured ankle as the doctor suggested and actually ended up doing more harm to it. That ankle has been sprained a number of times since because it was weakened due to my own stupidity.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah stumbled due to their own stupidity. You see, the word “stumble” means to be weak in the ankles. When you are weak in your ankles, you can’t walk too well. When you are weak in your spiritual ankles, you can’t walk with God well. That’s what happened to Israel, Ephraim and Judah. They had injured their own spiritual walk through their choices.

APPLICATION

How do you keep your ankles strong? I am talking about your spiritual ankles. How do you do that? As with any body part, you have to exercise them to keep them strong. You can’t just sit around and expect to have strong ankles. You have to walk. And you have to walk correctly. If you walk incorrectly, you can damage your walk. But if you walk as He walked, you will have strong ankles.

I suffer from neuropathy in both of my feet. This has been progressing ever since I had chemotherapy in the Fall of 2019 and early Winter 2020. The numbness and pain have progressed up past my ankles. I can’t go for a walk right now because of the pain in my feet, toes and ankles. That is frustrating.

But the physical pain and numbness in my feet and ankles do not affect my spiritual ankles. I have to accept this side effect of my chemotherapy. I have no choice. I will probably have to live with it for the rest of my life. That’s okay. God has allowed it for a reason. It’s now part of my spiritual walk. How are your spiritual ankles?

Lord, strengthen my ankles so I can walk with You. I want to walk with You daily.

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deceit, Following, Judgment, Life, Obedience, Scripture

NO RETURN

HOSEA 5:4

“Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a  spirit of infidelity is within them, and they do not know the LORD.”

Once while traveling on an interstate highway, I took an off ramp only to discover a very disturbing sign halfway up the ramp. It read “No northbound return ramp this exit.” What! Why wasn’t that sign posted before I got off the highway? Now what was I supposed to do. This was in the days prior to GPS, so I had to stop at a gas station and ask someone for directions.

Too bad Israel couldn’t get some directions to get back to God. Too bad there wasn’t a gas station to stop in. Israel had lost its way. They had taken an off ramp with no return ramp, or so it seemed. Their poor choices and their infidelity had taken them way off course.

APPLICATION

Are you off course? Have you taken the wrong exit? The good news is there is a way back. His name is Jesus. He will personally guide you back on the right path, if you just stop. You see, our problem is usually that we keep moving. We keep driving in the wrong direction. We think we can figure out how to get back on the road, but we just keep driving, getting further and further away.

Take your foot off of your life accelerator and slow down. Ask the Lord which direction He is going in. That’s where you want to head. Follow Him. Better yet, give Him the driver’s seat. Why don’t you just slide over and let Him drive awhile? I guarantee you will be in safe hands. He will never get lost, and He won’t take you anywhere you are not prepared to handle.

I prefer to let the Lord lead. I have found through my six decades that He is a much better leader than I am. There are still occasions when I think I can drive better than Him, but it’s not long until I’m lost. But I have learned to stop and switch seats. And I’ve learned the sooner I do that, the better.

Lord, I am thankful that I can always trust Your directions. You keep me safe.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commitment, Following, God's Will, Knowledge, Obedience, Sin

HE KNOWS

HOSEA 5:3

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; because now, Ephraim, you have been unfaithful, Israel has defiled itself.”

Do you ever really know someone fully? I have been married for over 35 years, but I am still learning things about my wife. I know a lot about her. I know her favorite candy bar is Heath. I know she loves birds and planting flowers each Spring. But she still surprises me with things she loves. I will never fully know her because I can’t know her thoughts.

God knew Ephraim. He knew Israel. He knew them intimately. He knew what they were going to do. He knew their hearts. There was nothing hidden from Him about them. And because He knew them, He would not let them get by with what they were doing.

APPLICATION

This is a good thing to remember about our God. He knows us. He knows everything about us. There is nothing about us that is hidden from Him. Now, that’s a good thing. He knows exactly what we need even before we know we need it. He knows our hurts and our dreams.

So, why do we think we can hide all this from Him? We try to figure it all out for ourselves and then complain when it doesn’t. If we truly believe He knows us so well, why don’t we just cry out to Him and seek His will?

I can rest today knowing that God knows me. I don’t want to try to hide anything from Him. That’s hopeless anyway. I want my life to be an open book. And I know when I open myself up to His Will, there is no limit to what He can do in and through me.

Lord, I lay my life before You to take and do with as You see fit. You know me so much better than I know myself.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Persecution, Punishment, Scripture

CARRIED BY THE WIND

HOSEA 4:19

“The wind wraps them in its wings, and they will be put to shame because of their sacrifices.”

The wind truly is amazing. We can’t see the wind, but we can see its effect. Gentle breezes over a lake are so peaceful, but you don’t want to be on that same lake if the winds get violent. I have had the displeasure of living through several hurricanes and tornadoes. No fun! Wind can be good, but it can also do a lot of damage.

Just ask the Israelites. They are being carried off to exile as if by an invisible wind. The nefarious forces that have swooped in like the wind are going to carry them away because of their disobedience and lack of faithfulness to our God. They never saw it coming before it was too late. Just like a tornado appears out of seemingly nowhere, they are wrapped up in the winds of exile.

APPLICATION

We may not have to worry about exile (notice I said “may not”), but we certainly have to be concerned about not being loyal to our heavenly Father. The same God who judged Israel and Judah judges us today. As a believer in Christ, your sins have already been judged. But don’t think that gives you the freedom to live as you want. We have commands to obey.

So, is God this ruthless, uncaring God who only wants to be obeyed? Of course, not. He loves us and wants us to want to obey Him. He won’t force us into submission. He desires that we willingly follow Him. That’s the way He operates.

But He still holds us accountable for following or not following His law. While we are under grace through Jesus, there are still expectations for holy living which the Lord places on us. He has given us these guidelines to follow to draw us closer to Him. Will you follow them today?

O God, I know You expect certain behaviors from me. Forgive me when I fall short. I do desire to follow You.

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