Abiding, Advocate, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Listening, Modeling, Protection, Scripture

THE SOUNDS OF JUDGMENT

JOEL 2:5

“With a noise as of chariots they leap about on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire consuming the stubble, like a mighty people drawn up for battle.”

Every seventeen years Cicadas make their descent on Tennessee. This year was one of those years. What is a Cicada? It’s an insect that looks like a huge, superfly. The biggest thing about Cicadas is the noise they make. Their mating call can reach 95 decibels. Compare that to an overhead plane that is around 80 decibels. When these Cicadas hatch in the thousands, you can imagine the noise. It can be quiet deafening.

So, I can imagine the noise of the swarms of locusts described here in Joel 2:5. Their noise must have been something for the people of Judah. The approaching swarms could be heard from as far away as six miles. That had to be quite scary for the little ones. An unseen noise that got louder and louder must have been terrifying.

APPLICATION

What noises scare you? Are you one of those who hears every little sound at night and jumps up to check all the doors and windows? My wife is a light sleeper. She hears every little sound. Me – I can sleep through a hurricane, lol. Things that go bump in the night do keep a lot of people awake. Some people are just restless. Others are just plain scared.

Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Do you believe that? Then rest in Him. He guards your soul. He is your great protector. Don’t let the noises of this world scare you.

I know I can rest in Him. I do need to be mindful to lock my windows and doors, but I can trust Jesus to protect me. When I lay down at night, I can truly say that I trust Him to keep me and my wife safe. That’s why I can rest so well. He is in charge. He never sleeps. He is watching over my well-being twenty-four seven. What a relief!

Thank You, Lord, for watching over me. Your watchful eyes are moving to and fro thoughout the whole world.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Hearing, Holy Spirit, Listening, Redemption, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

ROAR

HOSEA 11:10

“They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar, and His sons will come trembling from the west.”

I have had the privilege to go to Africa several times. In all those journeys I have never heard a lion roar. I have actually seen a couple of lions, but all they were doing was lying around sleeping. But I have friends there who tell me if you ever hear a lion’s roar up close and personal, you will never forget it.

God’s people returned to Him. Hosea says they will respond to His roar, His roar to repentance. They came trembling from the west. From all their exiled locations, God’s people returned. They came to walk after Him. Finally! They are following their God.

APPLICATION

We are just like that. God has to take many of us into “exile” before we finally hear His roar to repentance. Why does it take us so long to return? We are stubborn, obstinate people who just want our own way. We refuse to submit to His commands until we see that He was right all along.

Are there things in your life right now which God is calling you to repent of? Do you have that secret sin that is eating you up inside? You’re hiding it from family and friends, but God knows. Isn’t it time to repent of that? Do you hear His roar?

I hear His roar all the time. Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit I am led to repent. I am so thankful I can hear His roar. It doesn’t scare me. I am not afraid of it. I welcome it. It’s a reminder that He loves me and desires me to be with Him and not the world. Listen! Do you hear Him now?

Lord, thank You for “roaring” after me. I know I am Your child and that You desire me close.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Calling, Commands, Encouragement, Following, Listening

IGNORING THE CALL

HOSEA 11:2

The more they called them, the more they went away from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.”

I can so clearly remember my mama calling me to come home when I was out playing with my friends. I could hear her calling, but I would pretend I couldn’t so I could stay out a little longer. I knew I needed to go home, but I wanted to do that in my own time. When I tarried too long, there were always consequences.

Hosea makes a quick turn from verse 1 in this chapter to this verse today. From focusing on the one whom He loved and brought out of Egypt, he turned to the nation as a whole and their continued betrayal. It didn’t matter who it was who called them, they turned toward their idols. They turned their backs on Jehovah and knelt before the Baals. How quickly they forgot who had rescued them.

APPLICATION

Do you hear Him calling you? He is, you know. He always is. He wants us to come home to Him. He wants us to be safe in His arms. He knows if we don’t come home, we will stay in harm’s way. We will keep running.

Do you know what you have to do to hear His voice? You have to listen. That’s not hard, is it? Oh, but it is. We get so destracted from all the noise of the world that we don’t stop to listen. We are going here and going there. God just wants us to stop and listen. He’s calling our names.

I have learned to pause and listen more. In my quiet times it is always good to stop reading and talking and just listen. It’s amazing what I hear when I do that. That happened recently when I spent some time by myself camping. God’s voice was so clear. Let me challenge you to do the same.

I love to hear Your voice. Open my ears so I can hear You clearly.

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Advice, Comfort, Direction, Disciplemaking, Discipline, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Knowledge, Listening, Obedience, Scripture

IGNORED

HOSEA 8:12

“Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My Law,

they are regarded as a strange thing.”

I hate being ignored. It doesn’t matter if it’s an in person thing or someone’s lack of returning a text or phone call. Being ignored is irritating and can be down right hurtful. I try to return phone calls the same day or the very next day at the latest. I truly try to acknowledge people, whether I want to or not (to be honest). Everyone deserves that.

Israel had basically ignored God. Look what Hosea wrote in today’s verse. God had given them ten thousand precepts, but they ignored them. They treated them as strange or as not applicable to them. God was trying to guide them with His Law. They wanted nothing to do with it. They wanted to do what they wanted to do. And look where it landed them – in exile, defeated by a foreign power.

APPLICATION

God is trying to guide us today with His Word. There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. There are over 23,000 verses. There are between 750,000 and 800,000 words, depending on the translation you use. Why would God spend all that time inspiring so many writers to write His Word if He didn’t want us to live by it?

Did you know if you read three chapters a day you can read the entire Bible in a year? I know people who read through it three or four times in a year. I have personally read through it 34 times, every year since 1986. And guess what? Every year I find verses that I have never read. They seem to come out of nowhere. It’s like God had been saving them for me. The Bible is truly inexhaustible.

Will you join me in studying His Word? Get a Bible, if you don’t have one, and start reading. And before you read, ask the Lord to disclose to you what He wants. Let Him point you in the direction He wants you to go. You will never regret spending more time in His Word.

I love Your precepts, Lord. I want to live by them each day. Forgive me for slighting Your Word.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Intimacy, Listening, Love, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sincerity, Tears

CRY BABIES

HOSEA 7:14

And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn against Me.”

I have to admit – I’m a cry baby. I cry at Hallmark commercials. There is nothing wrong with tears. I like to say crying keeps your tear ducts open. Am I right? Of course, I am. But no one should cry just to cry. I’ve known people who did that. They use those tears to control people.

In today’s verse we see the people crying, but not out to God. They are just crying because of their situation. They are crying out for grain and new wine, perhaps to use in their pagan worship. Their tears are misplaced. Any tears they could shed should have been tears of repentance. But that is not what is happening here. They are just being cry babies.

APPLICATION

What are you crying about? Sometimes we just want to throw a pity party and cry about our situation. We don’t want to hear what the Lord has to say about our situation because we don’t want to admit our errors. We just want to feel bad. Doesn’t that sound strange?

However, the Lord is waiting to heal our hearts. He loves our tears, but not the attention-seeking ones. He loves tears of remorse. When we open our hearts and bare our souls, He is there to listen and comfort. Why don’t you do that? Let Him wipe your tears and pull you close. Don’t just rail at Him for “not seeing you.” He does. He knows.

It’s been a while since I cried deeply. The last time was back when I was going through my chemotherapy. I sobbed for healing. I didn’t think God was listening, but He was. He healed – in His time. He always does – in His own way.

Father, I praise You for Your comfort in the midst of my tears. May my tears always be received by You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Calling, Commands, Direction, Encouragement, Hearing, Listening, Obedience

EARS OPEN

HOSEA 4:1

“Listen to the word of the LORD, you sons of Israel, because the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, for there is no faithfulness, nor loyalty, nor knowledge of God in the land.”

Guilty! That’s me! I am guilty! Too many times my wife will be talking to me, and I fake attention. I pretend to be listening but really my mind is a thousand miles away. This works beautifully until she wants an answer to a question she just asked. Then I am busted.

The word “listen” in today’s verse means to hear intelligently. In other words, it means to pay close attention. Hosea is telling Israel and us to listen closely. We need to tune in to hear God’s Word speaking to us. He was warning them about the inhabitants of the land. He wanted to make sure they understood they could not allow them to stay.

APPLICATION

Have you ever faked attention to God? Come on, be honest. God is telling you to do something and you nod your head yes but you really mean no or you’ll think about it. You aren’t really listening. Do you really think you can fake it with God? He knows your innermost thoughts.

Will you listen intelligently? Will you not only listen but will you obey? Will you do what He says? Listening without obeying is merely hearing. We need to do more than that. Do what He says. Trust His direction. If He is talking to you, it’s worth listening to.

The next time my wife starts talking to me I need to stop whatever I am doing and listen to her. I need to do the same when the Lord is talking. He won’t scream at me. He speaks in a quiet way through His Word and my prayers. I will listen.

I am listening, Lord. Talk to me. I want to do what You say.

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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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Advice, Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Listening, Obedience, Scripture

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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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Encouragement, Fellowship, Friends, Greetings, Hugs, Listening, Modeling, Parenting, Relationships, Scripture

MOUTH TO MOUTH

3 JOHN 14

but I hope to see you shortly, and we will speak face to face.”

Now, when you read the title for today’s blog you may think I am going to talk about kissing. Nope! I didn’t have that in mind at all. I am just translating the last phrase of the verse literally. John could have said “we will speak mouth to mouth.” I agree “face to face” sounds better, lol.  In this day we are in right now, though, we are missing that. The masks we are having to wear block that, don’t they?

I wonder what John needed to tell Gaius. We don’t know. But if you will read the entire letter of 3 John, you can pretty well guess. John would have words of encouragement for him. He would have probably hugged him, kissed him on each cheek and sat down for a great meal together. They would have fellowshipped for hours. Hmmm, I wonder if that phrase “mouth to mouth” hinted at a potluck dinner, lol.

APPLICATION

During these days of covid-19 don’t let your children forget what you look like behind these masks. That may sound funny to say, but I have been concerned about our younger children especially spending this past year staring at people with masks on. Facial expressions are important. Just think about how you communicate with small children using them. I am not advocating being unsafe or spreading the virus. I am just saying let your kids see your face.

Explain to your children the importance of face-to-face communication. Explain to them the importance of being able to see someone’s face to communicate. You don’t know behind a mask if someone is smiling or frowning. You don’t know if they are sticking their tongue out at you or not. There’s a reason John wanted that face to face or mouth to mouth visit with Gaius.

Who do you want to go see “mouth to mouth”? I hope there is someone on your list. When you see them, talk about Jesus. Take off that mask safely and express yourself. Let them see your smile. Communicate fully. Love them with your face. That sounded kind of weird, didn’t it, but I think you get my drift.

Thank You, Lord, for meeting me face to face. I long one day to see You in heaven and behold Your glorious face and see Your smile.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Fellowship, Inspirational, Listening, Mentoring, Relationships, Scripture

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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