Advocate, Affection, Bible, Forgiveness, Holiness, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture

UPSET HEART

HOSEA 11:8

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I surrender you, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled.”

There have been times in my life when my heart was torn between two decisions. I wanted to do one thing, but I was confused. Both choices were good choices. Trying to decide between the two was frustrating. I sought advice to no avail. Those kinds of decisions are hard.

Hosea portrays God as being torn between two decisions regarding Israel – judgment or mercy. Admah and Zeboiim were two cities in the plains of Gomorrah that were destroyed by the hail and brimstone. God is wanting to spare Israel. His mercy is apparent. This does not mean He was indecisive. It’s just that His two attributes of holiness and mercy were both active.

APPLICATION

God sees us the same way. He knows our sins must be judged, but He also desires to show us mercy. His compassion is kindled towards us as well. Aren’t you glad? Which do you prefer – judgment or mercy? That’s kind of a dumb question, isn’t it? Of course, you prefer mercy.

How do you obtain that mercy? There’s only one way – Jesus. Through Jesus God showed us mercy by putting all His judgment on His Son. Our sins were judged at the cross. We deserve be treated just like Admah and Zeboiim, but instead, Jesus paid the price. God’s mercy is so beautiful!

I am so thankful for His mercy. And it is new every day. I don’t deserve it. I never have. But because I have aligned myself with His Son, I am guaranteed mercy every day. I am so glad God’s mercy is mine. Without it I would be lost. I would be doomed. Praise be to God I am forgiven and free. How about you?

Your mercies are new each day. I praise Your holy name.

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NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

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INNOCENT

HOSEA 8:5

“He has rejected your calf, Samaria, saying, ‘My anger burns against them!’ How long will they be incapable of innocence?”

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is when Moses had gone up on the mountain to receive the ten commandments. While he was gone the people approached Aaron and demanded an idol to represent the god who led them out of Egypt. Aaron gathers their gold and forms the golden calf. When Moses returns, Aaron claims he just threw the gold into the fire and the calf came out.

In today’s verse, Hosea reminds them of this idolatry. God is angry. They continue to sin. They refuse to repent. He says they are incapable of innocence. Don’t forget the decades and decades of pagan worship. Don’t forget how they had turned their backs on the true God, the one who had led them out of slavery and into the promised land.

APPLICATION

But before you start judging the Israelites, look at your own faith walk. You may not have a golden calf in your living room that you bow down to each day, but are you innocent? I bet not (neither am I, by the way). None of us are. But the Lord calls us to be holy as He is. That is only possible as we bow before Him.

As believers, God’s wrath is satisfied. We don’t have to fear His wrath anymore. However, God is not pleased with our sinful behaviors. When we don’t stay “confessed up,” it affects our relationship with our Lord. He cries out to us, “Return to me.” That’s when we need to fall to our knees, confess our sins, receive His mercy and rise to walk in newness of life.

I don’t want to be accused of a lack of innocence. I want to be bold in my approach to our Lord. I want to come into His presence knowing I am living, to the best of my ability, a holy life, transformed by His Word. I want to hear those words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I know I am declared innocent only because of the blood of Christ. Help me live to honor You.

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BUT I DID NOT KNOW

HOSEA 7:9

Strangers devour his strength, yet he does not know it; gray hairs also are sprinkled on him, yet he does not know it.

It’s not unusual for someone to use ignorance as an excuse. Well, I didn’t know. No one told me. I am sure you have heard that before. But you have probably also heard that ignorance is no excuse. We can’t use that excuse in most situations. You may get by once or twice, but that excuse gets old very quick.

Ephraim, Hosea says, doesn’t know his strength is being devoured. He doesn’t even know his hair is getting gray. Wow! Ephraim seemed to have his head stuck in the sand, ignoring all that was going on around him. But that did not excuse his sin. That did not pass the Lord’s smell test. Ephraim knew what the Lord expected.

APPLICATION

It is so important for us, as believers, to be aware of how we live our lives. We need to know who is prowling around trying to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). We need to know how to respond to situations. We need to know God’s Word and how to apply it to our lives. Simply put, we need to know stuff.

So, how do you get to know stuff? Well, it depends on what you want to know. To know more about living holy, you have to spend time in the Word and in prayer. How much time? How much time do you have? I am not implying you need to spend every minute of the day in the Bible. But I am saying we could all spend more time devouring His words. Don’t you agree?

As for me, I don’t want to ever be caught not knowing something I should know. I want to dig deep. I want to walk closely. I long to be so in tune with the Lord, that my every decision, my every thought is in perfect alignment with His Will. Don’t you want that, as well?

Lord, I don’t want to ever use the excuse that I didn’t know. I want to grow in knowledge of You more and more.

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SMOLDERING EMBERS

HOSEA 7:6

For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like flaming fire.”

If you have ever been camping, you know the danger of leaving a campfire with even a few embers. You have to take great care to make sure all those embers are out. You can use water or dirt, but you need to ensure there’s not a chance of the wind kicking that fire back up. That could lead to a wildfire which could destroy acres of timber and perhaps even endanger homes.

The people of Israel had smoldering embers of anger. Hosea said they plot, giving those embers a flame that burned. Anger is dangerous, especially when it is directed toward God. The Israelites were angry at God for their punishment. They didn’t think they deserved it. After all, they were God’s chosen people. How could He judge them?

APPLICATION

How’s your anger? Are you smoldering about something? Let me be quick to say that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus showed a righteous anger in the temple when He overturned the tables. He was mad at how they had turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. But how many times is your anger righteous?

We tend to get angry about the dumbest stuff – traffic, the price of gas, our neighbors. You could probably name a few yourself. Don’t let that anger rule you. Let it go. There’s really no room for it in the life of a Christian. It doesn’t reflect Jesus. It doesn’t solve anything. And especially deal with any anger you have towards God.

Carl, I would never be angry at God. Oh really, well I have been. When I was going through my last stem cell transplant process, there were a few days that I was angry at God. I was tired of feeling sick and wanted to get better. I realized, though, that I was being refined. God was making me more like His Son through that trial. If you are dealing with anger towards God right now, stop and ask Him why. He will show you. I promise.

Rid me of any anger towards You, Lord, or anyone else. Let me heart be like Yours. Give me insight into why I am angry and lead me into repentance.

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DRUNKENNESS

HOSEA 7:5

“On the day of our king, the officials became sick with the heat of wine; He stretched out his hand with scoffers,”

I have known a few drunks in my lifetime. These individuals were so addicted to alcohol, they couldn’t function in everyday life. They couldn’t hold a job. They had lost their right to drive. They were in and out of jail for public intoxication. Their life was a mess, all because of their appetite for drink.

Hosea is talking about that in today’s verse. The officials and even the king drank to excess. They became sick they drank so much. And to make matters worse, they teamed up with the scoffers. Who are they? They were the individuals who scoffed or scorned at God. They mocked Him and encouraged others to do the same.

APPLICATION

How do we avoid this? Avoid drunkenness. This is not a blog to debate if Christians can drink or not. I’m not going down that road. But there is no reason for a believer to become drunk. We know where that leads. It leads to no good. When we are in that condition we can’t represent Christ, which is our calling.

We should also avoid associating with those who mock and ridicule the things of Christ. In most drinking situations Christ will not be glorified. Isn’t that our purpose? If we can’t do that where we are, something’s wrong. Our actions and attitude should always point to Him.

I haven’t always lived up to that. There have been times when I have failed. I have not represented Christ well. I have asked for forgiveness for that. I truly want to please Him in all I do. My goal is to do that every day. So, my prayer each day is to keep me focused on Him and sharing the good news of the gospel to whomever will listen.

Lord, keep my heart in tune with Yours. I want to walk in such a way that I never bring shame on Your name.

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FRESH BREAD

HOSEA 7:4

They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by the baker, who stops stoking the fire from the time the dough is kneaded until it is leavened.”

I don’t think there is any smell quite as good as fresh baked bread. There is just something so comforting about it. I have a friend who bakes bread a lot. She gives it away to people to bless them. I love her bread heated with a pat of butter. Excuse me while I drool. Lol

What does this analogy of bread have to do with the people committing adultery? Just like the oven heated by the baker, they were heated in their lust to commit adultery both spiritually and physically. Once that “oven” is turned on and heated up, it can quickly burn whatever is put within it.

APPLICATION

Are you burning? Are you heated up? Our flesh is prone to go that way unless we turn the oven down. Do you understand that we have a temperature control knob on our flesh? Yep! As a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to do just that. When we yield to Him, He can control that knob. He can turn down the temperature.

The problem is we are in a spiritual arm wrestle for that knob. We want the temperature to stay up. We like the heat. Or so we think. When the heat gets too high and we start to burn, we want out. But Satan has one of those oven door locks that slams shut when the heat gets high. He wants us trapped in that oven.

So, what do we do? Stay out of the oven! Stay away from temptation. Know your surroundings. Ask the Lord each day to guard you from the evil one. He will. But stay out of the oven. It’s not that hard, if you yield to Him. If you don’t, watch out. That oven will burn you.

Keep me safe, Lord. I trust You to guide me. I desire to be out of the oven and safely in Your arms.

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HORROR SHOWS

HOSEA 6:10

“In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;

Ephraim’s infidelity is there, Israel has defiled itself.”

Before I came to Christ, I loved to watch horror movies. I loved the blood and gore. I know – that’s sick, right? But back then I didn’t really have a filter for what entered my mind. The Holy Spirit wasn’t guiding my thoughts and eyes and ears. The world had complete control of me, and everything seemed fine. Horror was okay with me.

But can you imagine how bad it must have been in the house of Israel for God to call something horrible? Think about it. God has seen the most horrible of horrible. How bad was it? Undoubtedly, pretty bad. God doesn’t tolerate horrible. He doesn’t allow it in His presence. He is holy and pure. Ephraim knew that. The people knew that, but they just kept on with the horrible lifestyles and choices.

APPLICATION

Nothing has changed much today. Our world is still making horrible choices. Look all around you. Marriage has been defiled by all the “alternative” lifestyles that are out there. Genders are being questioned and even reassigned outside God’s design. Babies in the wombs are not safe from our “choices.” I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

It doesn’t matter where you live on this terrestrial ball we call earth. People are still engaged in horror shows. So, what can we do about it? Stop watching! Stop participating! Start speaking up for truth. But Carl, if I do that I might face persecution. So what? We must stand up for the truth of God’s Word. He will tell when that is appropriate. He will give you the words to say. Be bold.

I know that is easy for me to say here in print. I can sit behind a computer screen and give you advice. But it’s more than that. I am also fed up with the horror show. I will join you in this battle. Can you claim your family in this fight? How about your city or state or country? Let’s begin, people. Let’s stop being horrible and start being holy.

Father, I am tired of the horrible state of our world. Give me the boldness to stand up for You.

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MOVING THE LINE

HOSEA 5:10

“The leaders of Judah have become like those who displace a boundary marker; On them I will pour out My anger like water.”

There’s been a battle for a number of years over the official boundary marker on a part of the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. The battle is really about water rights to the Tennessee river. Georgia wants access to that water, mainly for their largest city, Atlanta. But the original boundary marker excludes that. They claim the line was drawn incorrectly and needs to be corrected. I doubt that boundary marker will ever be changed.

Hosea uses the idea of moving a marker to describe Judah. Anyone who would move a boundary marker without permission is dishonest. God does not tolerate that and certainly wouldn’t from Judah. Their deceit draws God’s anger. He says He will pour it out like water. Not good!

APPLICATION

Have you moved the line on someone? Have you been dishonest in your dealings with anyone? Have you been dishonest with God? God still does not tolerate that. As believers, we must be the most honest of all people. Why? Because we represent our Lord. Our dishonesty reflects on Him.

That is why God is angered over any dishonesty in our lives. Anything that brings dishonor to His name angers our holy God. His name means something. It stands for something. We have no right to associate Him with our behaviors. That’s why He tells us we are to be holy as He is holy. Again, we represent Him. Don’t forget that.

As for me, I don’t want to do anything to bring shame on myself from being deceitful or dishonest. I want my actions to reflect well on my Lord. I want Him to look at me and say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?

I will not move the line, Lord. I want to honor You in all I do. I know my actions are a reflection of my testimony of my faith in You.

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TREMBLING

HOSEA 3:5

“Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.”

When I read this verse I had the image pop into my head of the cowardly lion from Wizard of Oz. Do you remember the scene when they finally get to Oz and they are approaching the Great Oz for the first time? When Oz shouts at them, the lion begins to tremble and shake. Then he takes off running and dives through a glass window to escape Oz.

Now, I don’t think that is what Hosea meant in this verse. But he did mean that Israel would be trembling before a holy God. They would be bowing before Him. They probably would not even lift their eyes to look upon Him, for fear of being struck down. They will realize they are in the presence of holiness.

APPLICATION

Sometimes I think we have relegated our God to a buddy. We don’t stand trembling in awe of Him. We don’t appreciate His holiness. In fact, we are way too comfortable. The reverence He is due has been forgotten.

How do you approach God? I am not implying that you need to be scared of Him. No! He is our friend and the lover of our soul. That it true. But we all need to recognize His divinity and holiness. We all need to see Him as the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of our soul. His majesty is beyond description.

I come before Him each day in awe of the fact that He would even look upon me. I don’t deserve anything but hell, and He has given me His only Son to rescue me from that fiery destination. May I encourage you today to stop and reflect on His holiness? It might just amaze you.

Father God, I stand in awe. Actually, I bow in awe of You. You are holy and worthy of my praise.

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