Advice, Bible, Blessing, Confidence, Death, Encouragement, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Love, Scripture, Sowing

WHY WE SOW

HOSEA 2:23

“I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’”

In the past I enjoyed gardening. Have you ever thought about the process of sowing and reaping? We plant a certain seed in order to reap a certain crop. You don’t plant okra seed and expect to reap tomatoes. There is only one way that works. Plant the seed for the crops you want to enjoy later.

God says here in Hosea 2:23 that He is going to sow “her” for Himself in the land. He is going to sow Israel to reap Israel. Sowing requires something to die first before it sprouts. The seed has to die and give birth to new growth. There’s a waiting period.

APPLICATION

Therein lies the question. Are you willing to die to yourself in order to rise up as a new growth in Christ? Are you willing to lay aside all the stuff required to be sowed by God? You will never produce new growth or bring in a harvest if you don’t let yourself be buried by God. He has to sow you. But rest assured, what He sows, He waters, He nourishes. He doesn’t forget where He planted you.

Once when I was planting a row in my garden, I forgot to mark what I planted in that row. I had to wait until the plants began to sprout and grow to find out what it was. I kept watering and fertilizing the seed, though. I knew it was something I wanted. God doesn’t do that. He knows exactly where He planted you and He already has a purpose for your new life.

Seed have to get dirty in order to fulfill its purpose. Allow God to get you dirty. Let Him plant you and water you to bring you to a place of new growth. You will be amazed at the number of people who will benefit from your crops.

Bury me Lord so I can sprout. Let me produce new growth which will bring forth fruit.

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THE EARTH SINGS

HOSEA 2:22

“And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.”

I grew up in farm country in South Georgia. When I say “farm country” I mean that. My small hometown economy revolved around the farms that surrounded us. I loved seeing all those crops in the fields. It seemed to inspire life. Fields of corn, tomatoes, watermelons and etc. It did appear that the earth was singing.

Hosea 2:22 gives a similar picture. Grain, new wine and oil were about life during the time of Hosea. Everyone depended on the health of the harvest. When it was good, everyone celebrated. It was a festive time. When it was not, worry set in. They didn’t have the elaborate food economy we have today. It was literally hand to mouth.

APPLICATION

So, how does this apply to us today? We need to celebrate the life that the Lord has given us. Each day with Him brings new hope. We can face anything if we know He is with us. We do want the grain, new wine and oil, just like the Israelites. We may not call it that, but we live to celebrate new life.

What do you do, then, when things aren’t going so well? Do you pout and complain? Be honest – you probably do. But we shouldn’t. Even in the lean times, God is still on His throne. He is still with us. We can rest assured that He has not forgotten us and will once again bring in the harvest times.

What are you celebrating today? You can celebrate the fact that Jesus died for your sins. He hung on that cross to bear the sins of the whole world. He rose from that grave and ascended to His heavenly Father. He sits on His right hand interceding for you right now. Now, that’s worth celebrating.

Father, I praise You for giving me life. I praise You for promising life even on the darkest of days.

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A GOOD RESPONSE

HOSEA 2:21

“‘And it will come about on that day that I will respond,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,’”

Back in the 80’s I was serving at a children’s home in South Carolina. One of my responsibilities was to have a thirty minute counseling session with each of the children on my caseload (24 children). Nothing was more irritating than the child not responding when we met. I could handle yelling and even crying. But when they just sat there and said nothing, I was irritated.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t just sit there? He always responds. Look at today’s verse. The word “respond” is used three times. This word could be translated “sing.” Isn’t that cool? The Lord sings to us. He sings to the heavens. I just love that, don’t you?

APPLICATION

Have you ever responded in song to the Lord? Colossians 3:16 tells us to sing songs with gratitude in our hearts to God. What if you started each day with a song to God rather than a groan? That would be fantastic. Your husband or wife and children might wonder what happened to you.

Do you have a favorite hymn? Sing it now. Belt it out. Wake your neighbors (just kidding). Perhaps you have a favorite praise song. Then start your Quiet Time singing that. God is worthy of our praise. He delights in it. He will respond to it.

One of my favorite hymns is How Great Thou Art. If you know it, sing it with me now:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, 
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made; 
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, 
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Chorus:
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee, 
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

O God, You are great and my soul does sing to You. I can imagine You singing back to me.

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PEACE ALL AROUND

HOSEA 2:18

“On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground. And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.”

Have you ever been in a situation where everything is totally out of control? I mean, it is total chaos! You get one fire put out and another one springs up. You cannot get one moment of rest because of all the stuff you are having to deal with. Then…peace. The chaos ends. You can breathe. Isn’t that an awesome feeling?

The Lord is telling Israel that in today’s verse. Everything is going to calm down. Even the animals, birds and crawling things are going to cooperate. No more war. They can finally feel safe. Those must have been welcomed words from Hosea.

APPLICATION

Are you fighting a battle right now that seems impossible? Does it seem hopeless? Listen, brother and sister, there is hope. But you must come to Him. He can calm all the storms in your life. There aren’t any problems too big for Him. I’ve said it before, everything over our heads is under His feet. Never forget that.

Turn to Him now and say, “Lord, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I need help. Will you help me through this storm I’m in?” What do you think He is going to say to that? He will come to you. Now, you may not like the way He works in that situation, but if you will trust Him, He will see you through.

Sometimes, peace comes only by navigating through a storm. Let Jesus do that for you. He knows where all the safe ports are. He wants to give you rest. I don’t know about you, but I want that in my life. I’ve had enough storms lately, lol. I am ready for some still waters.

Lord, I give you the helm. Guide me into the still waters of Your peace.

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THE PARTY’S OVER

HOSEA 2:11

“I will also put an end to all her joy, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her festivals.”

I’ll never forget when I came to Christ. Before I did, I was kind of a party guy. I grew up in the 70’s when drugs were big. I got caught up in that scene and liked to party with my friends. But…when Christ came into my life, I gave up all of that. I didn’t want that anymore. My friends I had at the time thought I was crazy for giving up that party scene. I knew better. Still do today.

God also took away the “parties” from the Israelites but in a different way. He couldn’t tolerate their false worship anymore. By leading them into exile, they were not allowed to celebrate the festivals. They had the right “parties” but were abusing them. God desires our worship, but He won’t accept false worship.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. What are you worshipping? I worshipped partying in my young life. I discovered true worship in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Are you going through the motions of worship? Do you do the “church thing” expecting that to suffice for your spiritual life? It won’t. You’re not fooling God. He knows your heart.

So, when are you going to seek Him in spirit and truth? Are any of these questions hitting home with you? Well, let me tell you a secret. They hit home with me, too. I have to constantly reflect on my worship. I want to make sure my worship is always pointed heavenward. I want my worship to be glorifying God. Anything else is just as bad as the Israelites.

Will you join me in true worship? Oh, how the Lord loves that. He loves to see His children honoring Him. He longs for our fellowship. Begin today. Stop what you are doing and spend some time worshipping Him. He is listening.

I worship You, O God. My heart is lifted before You today.

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UNSEEN BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:8

“Yet she does not know that it was I myself who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

Many years ago, my wife and I lost a baby girl, Cathleen. She was born premature and only lived six hours. It was a tragic thing in our lives, but one God used mightily. That’s another story. The part I want to share today is that we never received bills from the doctor or hospital. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that someone had paid all the bills for us. We eventually found out who had done that. They had blessed us without our knowledge.

God had done the same for Israel. They had no idea how God had been blessing them for years. As Hosea says here – “and lavished on her…” When God gives, He gives way beyond our comprehension. He makes sure we have what we need, and often times more than we need. He truly blesses us.

APPLICATION

I want you to sit down and think about the past year. How has God blessed you? For me, He got me through another stem cell transplant. He provided for me through multiple individuals the funds to pay my medical bills. He got me through covid-19 when I still had a compromised immune system. I could go on and on. How about you?

We often do not stop and count the blessings. There is an old hymn that talks about that.  Count Your Blessings goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the lord has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

Let me encourage you to do that today. You will be blessed when you stop and see al that He has done for you.

Lord, You bless me when I don’t deserve it. You see my need and move to meet it even before I am aware of it myself.

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WELCOME HOME

HOSEA 2:1

“Say to your brothers, ‘Ammi,’ and to your sisters, ‘Ruhamah.’”

Several years ago our daughter spent several months in Bomet, Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. We had the opportunity to FaceTime with her, when the internet worked, but that was still not the same as being with her in the same room. As her parents, we longed to hold her and love on her. When the day came for her to arrive back home in the U.S., we were ecstatic. We made the trip to the airport and waited anxiously for her to appear in the international flights waiting area. We almost choked her hugging her so tight.

God is doing the same for His people in this verse. They had not been His people, and now He calls them His people (Ammi). They had been shown no mercy, and now He is showing them compassion (Ruhamah). He is essentially embracing them and welcoming them back home. That’s what He promises to all His lost children. He wants us home. He wants to hug us tightly.

APPLICATION

Have you been welcomed home? I hope so. At salvation, we move from lostness to a place of security. We whom have seen no mercy can now experience the love of a merciful God. If you haven’t experienced this, I pray today you will turn to Him and allow Him to pour over you.

Perhaps you have strayed from His embrace. You have allowed the worries of this world to encompass you. You are drowning in despair. Stop where you are and turn back towards the Father. He is waiting to call you His child once again. He is longing to embrace you and show you mercy. What are you waiting for?

Too many of us struggle needlessly when the Father is right there. We allow the world to blind us to the reality of His love. Don’t be foolish like the Israelites. Don’t wander in exile. Come home to Him today. Welcome home.

I long to be at home with You, O Lord. In Your arms is where I belong.

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A PROMISE IS A PROMISE

HOSEA 1:10

“Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or counted; and in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’”

Sometimes making a promise can come back to bite you. Have you ever made a flippant promise to your child or to a friend, never dreaming that you would have to produce what you promised? Too many of us have done that. We should learn a lesson from that. Once you make a promise, you should keep it.

Well, God is a promise keeper. He had promised Abraham generations earlier that his offspring would be like the sand of the sea. Although Israel now deserves punishment, that promise is still true. God would restore the remnant. Those who were penitent and remorseful would be made into a great nation. We actually can see that promise being fulfilled today.

APPLICATION

Look at the last phrase of this verse. It says God said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.” Notice it says “living God.” Do you understand this? Only a living God can keep promises. Our God is living and active. He wants to keep His promises. He wants to see us blessed.

What are the promises He has made you? He has promised you, as a believer, to live with Him in eternity. Do you get that? You will live with Him forever. He has promised to love and protect you. Just like the promises He made Abraham, His promises are true. His word is true. Believe Him.

The next time you make a promise think about His promises. Think about how true He is to His promises. Make the commitment to keep yours. Remember you are representing Him. Promises should be carefully made and then kept. I know the Lord is pleased when we represent Him well by keeping our promises – just like Him.

Thank You for being a promise keeper, O God. I will rest in Your words.

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THE WORD OF THE LORD

HOSEA 1:1

“The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.”

I could concentrate on the length of Hosea’s years or the kingdom in which he lived. But what hits me the most about this first verse of Hosea are the first five words – “The word of the LORD.” After all, isn’t that what matters? It’s not about the messenger. It’s all about the message.

Hosea was one of many messengers or prophets God used to pronounce judgment on Israel or Judah. Hosea’s message is still ringing true for us today. There are passages in this book which should convict us of our commitment to God and His Son, Jesus. But let me ask you, “Has the Lord spoken to you lately? What is He saying to you?”

APPLICATION

Men, what are you doing? Are you so busy you are missing His voice? When He speaks, are you listening? You may be complaining that you are hearing God anymore. You have to be silent to hear Him. He will not compete with all the clamor in your life. Silence your world.

How do you do that? Try shutting down your computer. Turn off your phone. For goodness sake, turn off the television. Pick up your Bible and have a Quiet Time. He speaks through His Word. If you’re waiting for a voice to come booming from heaven, you might be a while. He can do that, but He usually speaks in His still, small voice. You have to be listening to hear that.

Make a plan this week to have three to four Quiet Times. Find a spot where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. And then get ready. If you really want to hear from Him, He will speak. Listen closely and be prepared to respond. He has lots to say if we will just listen.

Father, I want to be a man after Your heart. Help me be disciplined enough to hear You today.

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WORDS

3 JOHN 13

“I had many things to write to you, but I am not willing to write them to you with pen and ink;”

How many times have you written an email or text and decided it was best to not send it? Boy, I have. In some of those occasions I found out my information had been wrong and if I had sent that message it would have made matters worse. Other times a face-to-face conversation was better so the other party could feel my emotions. That’s hard to express in words.

John had much to say to Gaius and some things just couldn’t be expressed in the written word. Perhaps there were some things that he just didn’t want written. They were more heart words. John loved Gaius and wanted to express them personally. I can just picture John putting down the quill and ink (or whatever he was writing with) and saying a prayer for Gaius.

APPLICATION

Don’t let your children become so comfortable with texts and other social media that they forget how to talk to others. This is not usually a problem until they get into those tween and teen years, but it can start earlier. FaceTime and Zoom have helped us connect with our faces more. It’s real time, too, so we can see each other as we talk. I am not advocating for this, but it works if you can’t get together personally.

Let me ask you a question that you can pose to your children. Do you think Jesus would have chosen zoom over a face-to-face conversation? I don’t think so. I truly believe He would have wanted to sit around that campfire and talk. I believe He would have wanted to put His arm around your shoulder and walk with you. That’s how I want to talk to others.

May I encourage you to reach out to at least one person this week in this way? I know it’s hard in this covid world we are in right now. But I bet there is someone with whom you can get with and talk. We need personal touch. Do it in the name of Jesus. Let His love flow through you. Put down the phone or tablet and talk face to face with someone.

Lord, I am so glad You are a personal God who desires to talk with me. Lead me to someone today who just needs to spend time with a believer.

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