Advice, Affection, Bible, Compassion, Condemnation, Destruction, Evil, Godliness, Grandchildren, Horror, Idols, Scripture

THE CHILDREN SUFFER

HOSEA 13:16

Samaria will pay the penalty for her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God. They will fall by the sword, their children will be slaughtered, and their pregnant women will be ripped open.”

As a parent and grandparent, my utmost desire has always been to protect my children or grandchildren. It would bring me horror to think I ever did anything to bring harm to them. As a minister to children for over forty years, the same holds true for any children under my care. Let me suffer, but never the children.

Hosea ends this chapter with some pretty, horrible descriptions of the coming judgment against Israel. Samaria was the capital city of Israel. It had been the center of the idolatry and rebellion against God, so God’s wrath upon that city would be harsh. Hosea is predicting what the Assyrians were going to do when they came. It’s one thing to slaughter men in war, but to kill innocent children, even the unborn, was unthinkable.

APPLICATION

You are probably thinking Carl, I would never do that or tolerate that! That’s good. I didn’t think you would. But are you protecting your children’s spirits? Are you guarding them from being influenced by evil? In our world today, we have to be so diligent to monitor and protect our children from this world. They can’t live in a bubble, but we can sure keep them safe in our homes.

Are you aware of what is on your child’s phone? Are you comfortable with the video games they are playing? How about their friends? Do you know them? Do you know their parents? We can’t just take our kids to church and think that gives them some kind of holy shield the rest of the week. That’s not how it works. You must guard their minds.

As an adult, I have to guard my mind. It is so easy to get off track when I am online. One little side post or ad can divert my eyes and before I know it, I can be chasing rabbits into a hole I can’t get out of. Scripture keeps my mind focused on Him and puts that shield over my eyes. Let Jesus keep your mind pure (1 Timothy 6:11).

Lord, help me protect the innocent as well as keep my own mind pure.

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Abiding, Affection, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Blasphemy, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Idols, Intimacy, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

A KISS

HOSEA 13:2 

“And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves cast metal images, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. They say of them, ‘Let the people who sacrifice kiss the calves!’” 

A kiss seems harmful enough, doesn’t it? Have you ever blown someone a kiss? That’s one of the first things we teach our babies. It is so cute to see them blow you a kiss. But when you are an adult, you had better be careful to whom you blow kisses. Blowing those to the wrong person will get you in a whole heap of trouble. 

Ephraim was guilty of idolatry. They had multiplied their idols, even making them to represent any god they imagined. They covered them with silver and gold and bowed before them. They kissed them and when they couldn’t physically kiss them, they would blow a kiss towards them. Wow! How do you think God felt when He saw His chosen people kissing false gods? 

APPLICATION 

I know what you are thinking. But Carl, I don’t have any silver or gold idols in my house that I kiss and bow to. Most of don’t. We are too sophisticated for that. We would never have our idols placed out in front of everyone. We tend to hide our idols. We disguise our idols.  

What do you worship? Anything you place before God and His Son, Jesus, is an idol. Anything or anyone you prioritize over your worship of the only true God is an idol. So, what do you worship? It could be your family, your job, your possessions or even your health. Nothing can come between you and your Lord. Stop kissing the wrong thing. 

I have been guilty of placing things before God from time to time. I get busy and replace my quiet times with scheduling for the day. I get sidetracked and stop spending time with Him in prayer. It can happen to all of us. Take a minute right night and look at the day ahead of you. Make time with God your priority. Spend the time you need (and you need it) with Him today. Kiss Him today! 

I lavish You with my worship today, O Lord. I long to kiss Your hands and feet and pay homage to You for all You have done for me. 

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Accountability, Advice, Altars, Bible, Choices, Destruction, Double-minded, Faithfulness, Idols, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Sincerity

GOD THE DESTROYER

HOSEA 10:2

“Their heart is deceitful; now they must suffer for their guilt. The LORD will break down their altars and destroy their memorial stones.”

There is something about tearing something down. I can remember as a boy using my dad’s big sledgehammer. I used to ask my dad if I could swing it when he had to tear apart stuff. Man, when that big hammer hit the wood, it would just splinter that stuff. Tearing down stuff was fun.

But here in today’s verse, the Lord is tearing down some stuff, and He wasn’t having fun. He was angry at Israel’s sin, at the way they had built these altars to their false gods. He was determined to destroy any sign of their idolatry. And He didn’t need a sledgehammer.

APPLICATION

Are there things in your life that you need to tear down? We all have things that we have built up that get between us and God. They may just be small things, but anything between you and the Lord is an idol, a distraction. It must come down. It has to be removed. If you leave it there, it will affect your walk with Him.

Now, you don’t need a sledgehammer to do that. You just need to turn to the Lord. It seems when we prioritize Jesus in our lives, all those other things seem to disappear or take a back seat. The “altars” and “memorial stones” we have placed in our lives have to come down. There is only room for Jesus.

From time to time I have built up “altars” in my life. I have placed too much emphasis on things at the expense of worshipping the Lord. One by one the Lord showed me those “altars” had to come down. As I got rid of them, my love for the Lord grew stronger. Sole devotion to Jesus is what is required. My knee will bow to no one else.

Help me Lord to keep my altars torn down. I desire to worship only You.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Deception, Devil, Faith, Following, Idols, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Worship

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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Accountability, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Commands, Devout, Faith, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Prayer, Scripture, Surrender

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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Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Commands, Faith, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin

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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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Idols, Knowledge, Relationships, Scripture, Testimony

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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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, 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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LEAVE HIM ALONE

HOSEA 4:17

“Ephraim is allied with idols; Leave him alone.”

Some people have made up their mind about God. They refuse to believe in the Son of God. Nothing you can say will change their mind. You have preached to them. You have shared your testimony, and still they refuse to believe that Jesus died for their sins. We should still pray for them, but there comes a point when the Lord may just tell you to leave them alone. That’s hard.

Ephraim had reached that point. Nothing Hosea was going to say was going to tear them away from their idols. Isn’t that sad? They knew the power of Jehovah. They had been told about all the things He had done on behalf of Israel, yet they had been blinded by the devil to believe the false idols of the land were more worthy of their worship. It doesn’t make any sense.

APPLICATION

But we are just as bad. Don’t look at Ephraim and claim to be better than them. We do the same thing. We put our trust in false idols just as much. We trust people over God. We trust money over God. We trust medicine over God. We trust a lot of things rather than putting our trust in the Almighty.

I am not saying those things aren’t important. We need people in our lives, but we can’t trust them as we can Jesus. We need money to live in this world, but I know a lot of people who trust their paychecks and bank accounts more than the provisions of the Lord. We need medicine to fight diseases, but doctors and medicine only treat the disease. It is God who heals.

So, before we get all high and mighty and say we don’t act like Ephraim, check out your idols. Do you have anything you trust more than the Lord? When push comes to shove and you are in a deep hole, who do you turn to? It had better be Jesus because He is the only one who will always be there. He is the only true God. Amen?

Lord, You are my only source. I worship You and You alone.

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