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OUR CARETAKER

HOSEA 14:8

Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant juniper; from Me comes your fruit.”

Isn’t it nice to have someone who looks after you? When I was growing up, my parents did that. Now, I liked that until I became a teenager. Then, not so much. Lol. I wanted my independence. I didn’t want anyone watching my every move. But my parents continued to do that, even when I went to college. They were always checking on me to make sure I was alright.

God says here, “It is I who answer and look after you.” Through all Ephraim’s rebellion, God was still look watching out for them. Even though there were consequences for their disobedience, God still loved them and wanted what was best for them. He says from Him comes their fruit. God was the source of their blessings.

APPLICATION

We need the Lord in our lives to give us purpose and power. It is only though His watchful gaze that we are able to do the things we do. Just like His care for Ephraim, He will care for us. But what does that mean? How does God care for us? Does He give us everything we want or desire?

The Lord puts His umbrella of protection over His children. That doesn’t mean we will never suffer. Just the opposite. We may be chosen by Him to suffer. Suffering is a privilege. God only allows suffering on those who can endure it. He will see you through it. His eye is on you constantly. If you believe that, then you know He cares for you.

I know through many situations in my life that the Lord is watching over me. I could name dozens of times in my life when the Lord showed His care for me. It is comforting. It is peaceful. And He does produce His fruit through me. All I have to do is let Him.

Father, thank You for watching over me. I want You to use me however You see fit.

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IT LOOKS GOOD, BUT…

HOSEA 10:1

“Israel is a luxuriant vine; He produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more altars he made; the richer his land, the better he made the memorial stones.”

My dad always had about three grape vines in our yard. They were muscadine vines. Every year we would pick those grapes and make jelly. My dad loved his jelly. But also, every year we had to cut back those vines so they could produce grapes and not just vines and leaves. A leafy vine is pretty but not very productive.

Today’s verse, at first glance, is confusing. It sounds like Israel is a good vine. But it actually means leafy and pretty, but not productive. And even when they did appear productive, they squandered their blessings on other gods, not Jehovah. Israel was not acknowledging their bounty as coming from the Lord.

APPLICATION

Your blessings are from above. You need to acknowledge that as a believer. And when you do acknowledge that, you need to give Him all the praise. It’s not about you. It’s all about Him. So, why do we try to toot our own horn? Why do we try to claim credit for it?

Maybe you’re one of those “leafy” Christians. You appear to be productive for the Lord, but you have no fruit. You look like a healthy Christian, but there is nothing in your life that points back to Jesus. You are all show and no go. You are missing out on the blessings He wants to bestow on you. He longs to show you how to be productive and bear fruit. But you must let Him in.

I have come to realize in my latter years that anything good in me is just Jesus. Anything I produce is for His glory and for the benefit of others. It has nothing to do with me. I am nothing outside of Christ. He deserves all the praise for any fruit in my life. I truly believe that. I don’t want any credit. It all belongs to Him.

Lord, I praise You for giving the opportunity to serve You and others. Help me be a productive believer for Your sake.

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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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SPOILED FRUIT

HOSEA 9:10

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved.”

My Grandma Carter had a fig tree in her yard in South Georgia. When I was a little boy, I loved to pick those ripe figs from that tree and eat them right there. I can still see that tree and those luscious, large figs. I would pick one, split is open and enjoy the sweetness of the fruit. Man, I love figs.

Israel was a sweet fruit on the tongue of God. He loved them. They were supposed to be that way. But they chose to chase after other gods and became detestable. They weren’t good for anything. Spoiled fruit isn’t worth picking. Spoiled fruit can’t be used. Israel became “uneatable.”

APPLICATION

Is that what you want to be like? I doubt it. But unless we walk with God and live for Him, we become that way. God delights in us. He wants to use us. But He can’t use spoiled fruit. He demands the first fruits. He expects us to produce good fruit. He expects us to be good fruit.

Take a minute and examine your walk with Him. Are you a fruit worth picking? Now, I am not calling you fruity. But I am asking you if you are useable. Does your fruit bring delight to those around you? Do they desire to be around you and learn from you? Or are you spewing out rotten fruit that no one wants to see, smell or taste?

I want others to come to my tree and pick my fruit. After all, any fruit I produce through the power of the Holy Spirit is for the benefit of others. A fig tree doesn’t eat its own figs, does it? I grape vine doesn’t drink its own wine, does it? Of course, not. We are “fruity” for others, not ourselves. So, start being fruity for Jesus. Share the sweetness of your fruit with others.

I know I must abide in the Vine to produce fruit. I want to produce fruit to honor You, Lord.

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