Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Child Bearing, Confession, Forgiveness, Judgment, Repentance

CHILDBIRTH

HOSEA 13:13

The pains of childbirth come on him; he is not a wise son, for it is not the time that he should delay at the opening of the womb.”

Do you remember when you were born? Of course, you don’t. No one remembers that. However, I do remember my children’s births. I was there watching and holding my wife’s hand. She almost broke my finger with our first child. I can remember her birth pains. Even with medication they were rough. But when it was time for our children to be born, they came. There was no stopping them.

Hosea compares Ephraim to childbirth in today’s verse. He was not very smart in that he ignored the birth pains associated with God’s judgment on the land. He says he is out of time, just like you can’t delay the coming of a child. When it’s time, it’s time.

APPLICATION

Are you ignoring God’s coming judgment? Are you denying that there are consequences for your actions? You can’t do that. Ignoring and denying won’t make it go away. We all have to deal with our sins. Confession and repentance are the only way.

That’s where the good news comes in. Jesus is only a prayer away. When we come to Him admitting our need for forgiveness, He responds immediately. His grace is extended to us. His mercy covers us. And God’s wrath is appeased by the blood of the Lamb.

I am grateful I am forgiven. I am so thankful I can go the throne of grace anytime. The Father is listening. The Word tells us He inclines His ear to us. Do you believe that? He is! He is ready to hear your words. Honor God by talking to Him today.

You are a good God who is always listening to my prayers of confession and repentance. I thank You!

Standard
Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Commands, Eternity, Following, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture

MAMA BEAR

HOSEA 13:8 

“I will confront them like a bear deprived of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; I will also devour them there like a lioness, as a wild animal would tear them to pieces.” 

A friend of mine was hunting a couple of years ago and accidentally got in between a mama black bear and her cubs. He was walking to his deer stand when suddenly he was standing twenty yards from this bear. He could tell she wasn’t happy. Normally, black bears will try to avoid you in the woods, so my friend started looking around for cubs. Sure enough, off to his side he spotted two cubs. He slowly backed up to allow mama and babies to reunite, avoiding a very unpleasant situation. 

Israel was not able to avoid the situation. God was responding to them just as a mama bear would “deprived of her cubs.” Once again, Hosea is describing the wrath of God that was falling on the nation for their disobedience. It wasn’t as if they had not been warned. They had. They knew the Law. They knew He was a jealous God. Still they continued in their sins unabated until… 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad Jesus has paid the price for our sins? We have no need to fear God’s judgment. We are secure and protected. I cannot imagine going through life with the uncertainty of eternity. But there are so many people out there who do. They live each day racked with fear of God. Oh, how sad. 

Our mission is to help those living in fear to find the love and peace of our Savior. If you know Him personally, you have an obligation to share Him. The story is too good not to share. His love is too far reaching not to spread. The last thing we want is to see those we know and care about fall into an eternity separated from God. 

God’s wrath being compared to a mama bear is interesting. But think about it. What is that bear trying to do? She is trying to protect her children. God’s wrath is the same. He is protecting His children from the harm possible by unbelievers. He will furiously protect us. Doesn’t that bring you comfort? It does me. My God has my back. 

Father, thank You for protecting me. Help me show the love of Jesus to those around me in need of a Savior. 

Standard
Accountability, Appeasement, Bible, Commands, Confession, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Gospel, Inspirational, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Rescue, Salvation, Scripture, Surrender

SWIFT AND VICIOUS

HOSEA 13:7 

“So I will be like a lion to them; like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside.” 

My daughter had the opportunity to visit Masai Mara several years ago while she was living in Kenya. Going on a safari there was a thrill of a lifetime. She was able to see so many animals. As cute and adorable as the lion cubs appeared, she was reminded how deadly they are. When they attack it is swift and vicious. 

Hosea uses this same imagery when he describes God’s judgment of Israel. His would be a swift and ferocious judgment. He had tolerated the sins of the nation long enough. They would be completely caught off guard and powerless. God still loves them dearly, but He will not allow them to continue in their rebellion. 

APPLICATION 

We walk around the same way. We think we can ignore God’s law and skate through life unscathed. In fact, we might just do that. But judgment is coming. God will hold every single person accountable for their sins. There is no escape. When we take our last breath, we will come face to face with our decision to follow or not to follow the Lord. 

But praise be to God, there is a solution. God provided it. Jesus has shed His blood to cover our sins. All we have to do is claim that forgiveness. Have you done that? Have you asked Jesus into your life and surrendered your heart to Him? If so, that judgment is paid. God’s wrath is appeased. You are in His family. I pray you have made that decision. If not, do it today. 

The peace that overwhelms me because of my decision to follow Jesus is indescribable. Knowing my eternity is settled allows me to concentrate on the present. I want to live in such a way that others are influenced to follow Him too. I know too many people who aren’t walking with Jesus. It breaks my heart. Will you join me in doing all we can to bring them along with us to Glory?  

You are all I need today, Lord. I am thankful You rescued me. 

Standard
Bible, Death, Encouragement, Eternity, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Obedience, Promises, Redemption, Scripture

DISAPPEARING

HOSEA 13:3 

“Therefore they will be like the morning cloud and like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor, and like smoke from a chimney.” 

Here in the Tennessee Valley, it is not uncommon to have low morning clouds that cover our mountains. A lot people like to drive up Lookout Mountain and welcome the day above the clouds. It doesn’t take long though, for the clouds to burn off to reveal the valley below. Those clouds are beautiful but fleeting. 

Hosea paints the same picture of Israel. Under Jeroboam it was a glistening nation, ripe with promise. But because of their continual sins, the nation quickly vanished just like the morning cloud and dew, just like chaff which is blown away and smoke from a chimney. All of these are quick to disappear. How sad, when all they had to do was obey Jehovah’s Law and worship Him. 

APPLICATION 

We don’t want our lives to disappear too quickly. We want to be around for a while. There are things we can do to assist in that. We can eat healthier. We can take our medications when prescribed. We can avoid situations where our lives are put at risk. But none of those things can guarantee a long life. There is only one person who can guarantee that – God. 

Now, just because we trust our lives to God doesn’t mean we will live to be in our 80’s or 90’s. God knows the number of our days. What we have to come to understand is when the Lord calls us home, that constitutes our long life. We have lived as long as He has planned. That could be short in the eyes of the Lord. But God does not make mistakes. He calls us home when we are ready, no sooner, no later. 

I had a friend die yesterday at 60. That’s young. In fact, that’s my age. I was surprised, shocked to say the least. But she was a believer and loved Jesus. She is in her heavenly home. And although her death caught us all by surprise, it did not surprise God. He was ready for her to come home. We will miss her, but we shall see her again. Welcome home, my friend. 

Though my days may be fleeting, I shall trust You, Lord. I long to be with You. 

Standard
Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Death, Encouragement, Fellowship, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Promises, Redemption, Reward, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

Standard
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.

Standard
Accountability, Bible, Confrontation, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Rescue, Scripture, Surrender

WHIRLING SWORDS

HOSEA 11:6

And the sword will whirl against their cities, and will destroy their oracle priests and consume them, because of their counsels.”

When my son was small, he played all sorts of video games. Back then the games weren’t quite as elaborate as they are today. Some of those games had courses you had to get through to win. Of course, those courses were full of dangers. There were traps to fall in, lasers to dodge and even swords. They could end your “life” in the game and make you go back to the beginning.

God was sending whirling swords on the heads of the Israelites. Swords from warring nations would come upon them to deliver God’s judgment. But look at what caused this – their counsels. Actually, the Hebrew says “their own counsels.” They only listened to words that pleased them. They knew God’s law but ignored it.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want whirling swords to fall on you, do you? No one does. But we still all try to live our lives according to our own counsel. We think we know what is best. We have our lives all mapped out without any regard to the plan God has for us. Whirling swords come in all sizes and descriptions. What will it take for God to get your attention?

We can all avoid the whirling swords of judgment by turning to Jesus. When we are surrendered to His will, judgment has already been paid. Jesus took the punishment on Himself. He died so that we can avoid those swords. He not only destroyed those swords, but He also secured our future. We are promised that. Isn’t that great?

I don’t want my head taken off by a swirling sword. I had much rather rest in Jesus. I know I deserve judgment. I am just a sinner saved by grace. But it is so comforting to know my head is safe. My soul is safe. And because I know that, I want to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord. Don’t you?

I am thankful for Jesus taking my judgment. Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me.

Standard
Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Commands, Confession, Discipline, Forgiveness, Guilt, Judgment, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture

DOUBLE GUILT

HOSEA 10:10

When it is My desire, I will discipline them; and the peoples will be gathered against them when they are bound for their double guilt.”

I have felt guilty plenty of times for not doing something I knew I should have done. I have also felt guilty for doing something I knew I shouldn’t have done. Now, before you raise your eyebrows and look down your nose at me, you have done the same thing. Am I right? Sure I am.

Israel was guilty of turning away from Jehovah and also turning to the pagan gods. Double guilt! That’s what Hosea is referring to in today’s verse. They had no excuse, and God is going to discipline them when He was ready. Hosea even says God desires to do that. He wants to straighten them out. That may not sound good, but everything God does is good.

APPLICATION

Are you guilty? God, through the Holy Spirit, will convict us of sin. He uses that guilt to draw us back to Him. I have discussed before the difference between guilt and shame. Shame is not of God. The devil uses that to make us feel unworthy, to make us feel unusable. Don’t accept that.

But when you feel guilty remember that is the Lord’s desire for you. What?! Are you crazy, Carl? I don’t think so. He, just like He did with Israel, is desiring you to return to Him. He draws you through His Spirit. Don’t you recall the feeling when you are cleansed. That is waiting for you.

I am thankful for the Holy Spirit’s conviction in my life. Without it I am not sure where I would be. No, that’s not true. I know exactly where I would be – in deep sin. My flesh is weak, but the Spirit in me is strong. If you are a believer, you have that strength too.

Lord, thank You for convicting me when I am in sin. I want to be drawn back to You.

Standard
Advice, Bible, Condemnation, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Gossip, Guilt, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Lies, Lying, Poison, Rebuke, Scripture, Surrender

POISONOUS LIPS

HOSEA 10:4

“They speak mere words, with worthless oaths they make covenants; and judgment sprouts like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.”

Have you ever known people who can’t seem to say one good thing about anyone? They are always critical. They find fault in everyone. They question everyone’s motive. You can almost see the poison dripping from their lips. These are not people you want to be around. To do so can cause you to “catch” their poison.

Israel was reeking of poison. Their oaths and covenants with pagan gods were a stench in the nostrils of the Lord. He promised judgment on them because of this. Judgment was sure. Today’s verse even says it will be like poisonous weeds in the field. That wasn’t good for man or animal. God’s judgment will affect them all.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never spoken evil of anyone. Right? Come on, be honest. We have all been guilty of spewing poison, haven’t we? But as believers, we can’t do that. We must speak love to others, even those who harm us. Now, that’s hard. It is actually impossible, unless you allow the Lord to be your spokesman.

Don’t you think the Lord loves all those people you have spoken evil of? Of course, He does. He wants them to walk in the Spirit as much as He wants you to do that. If we would stop and look at others as Christ sees them, we would not speak poisonous words about them.

I have been guilty of this more times than I want to say. My flesh rises up when I have been offended. I want to “get back” at them. I take up a loved one’s offense and demand justice. I know the Lord isn’t pleased with that attitude. Sooner or later, I have to come to Him and confess that as sin, which it is.  Poisonous lips always poisons the one who speaks.

Father, forgive me for my poisonous lips. Remind me through Your Holy Spirit that my tongue belongs to You.

Standard
Advice, Betrayal, Bible, Denial, Foolishness, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Respect, Scripture, Surrender

NOSE THUMBER

HOSEA 10:3

“Certainly now they will say, ‘We have no king, for we do not revere the LORD. As for the king, what can he do for us?’”

I have known a few people who thumbed their nose at God. I had a coworker once who wanted nothing to do with God or me. I was the Chaplain at a children’s home, so I represented God to him. He really didn’t like me because of that. He was constantly speaking badly about our chapel services and ridiculed the decisions the children were making. He did not revere the Lord.

Israel did not revere the Lord. They had no respect for their king either. They had lost all their allegiance to anyone except themselves, and that was failing. So, they were also thumbing their noses at God. He wasn’t doing what they wanted, so they were done with Him. They wanted God to serve them, to meet all their needs. Anything less was useless to them.

APPLICATION

What is your view of God? You may expect God to meet all your needs when you want Him to. You may think the Lord is kind of like Santa Claus. And when He doesn’t “perform” you put Him aside. That is not the way God works. He is not on your timetable.

But, oh listen to me. God wants to work in your life. He has such grand plans for you and me. We have to lay down our plans and allow Him to work in and through us. We will never know the heights to which He can take us unless we lay down our own self made plans. Will you do that today?

I am still learning how to lay down my plans. I am a planner and there are times when I get tired of waiting on God. Don’t judge me. I am sure you have done that. But when I do wait on Him, His plan makes so much better sense. You would think I would have learned this by now. Keep me in your prayers, and I will pray for you, too.

Father, I don’t want to ever caste You aside. You are the center of all I do. I want to honor You.

Standard