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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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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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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DID YOU HEAR THAT?

1 JOHN 5:15 

And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. 

I turned sixty this year. It’s hard to believe that. And with age comes the sure signs that my body is wearing down. One of those signs is my hearing. I have lost a lot of my hearing in my left ear and some in my right. I have to ask people to repeat what they say sometimes. That can be kind of embarrassing and aggravating. But that’s just the way it is. 

Aren’t you glad God is not hard of hearing? He hears our every cry. He hears the very tear drops that hit the ground. He is the most attentive listener ever. You will never hear God say, “Huh? I didn’t catch that.” He doesn’t have to mute the television to hear you. He is always listening. 

APPLICATION 

On the other hand, we have our children, lol. How many times have you had to repeat yourself to your kids? A dozen? A hundred? It probably seems that way. Our kids get so distracted by what they are doing that they totally tune us out. I have known children who required you to get right in their face for them to hear you. 

As important as it is for them to hear you, it is even more important for them to hear God. That can be tricky to teach, can’t it? Hearing God’s voice means you must be willing to hear it. Being tuned into the spiritual realm takes discipline. They need to be in the Word and have an active prayer life. God can speak whenever He wants, but He normally speaks when we are listening and attentive. Help your children understand that. 

Are you listening to Him today? Maybe you don’t want to hear from God because you’re afraid what He might tell you. Some believers are like that. They want to pray but they don’t want to listen. Communication with the Lord is not a one way thing. As we speak, He is listening. He will respond to us if we are listening. Will you today? 

I am all ears today, Lord. Fill my heart and my mind with Your desires for my life. I want to hear Your voice. 

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LISTEN UP

1 JOHN 4:6

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

Let me ask you a question to which I already know the answer. Have your children ever not listened to you? How many times, Carl? Yeah, I know. Isn’t that frustrating? You plainly tell them something, and it goes in one ear and out the other. They are so distracted with their computer or phone, they never hear you. Oh, they say they are listening, but they aren’t.

I love that John puts us in the speaking part. He doesn’t say that these people (the non-listeners) aren’t listening to God. No! They aren’t listening to us. What does that mean? That means we must be the ones declaring the truths of God. We are the ones God uses to share with them. But they don’t listen. Both times “listen” is used here it is in the Present tense. That means it is ongoing. They just don’t listen.

APPLICATION

Test out my question I asked you at the beginning. Ask your child to do something. Catch them at a time when they are absorbed with something they are doing. Get their attention and ask them to do something. But here’s the catch – ask them only once and leave the room. Give them a time to complete what you asked them to do. Then sit back and see if they do it.

Your children need to listen, of course. But they really need to really listen. They need to listen with the intent to obey. That’s the meaning of “listen” in today’s verse. Why is that so important? Because God is going to ask them to do things for Him. He won’t beg them to do it. He will ask and then let them choose. What will they do? We pray they will hear and then respond. Prepare them for that.

Are you listening? Better yet, are you telling others about Jesus? Our job is to tell. We can’t force the listening. That’s their choice. I wish sometimes I could force some people to listen. But I can’t. All I can do is be faithful to do what the Lord has told me to do. Will you join me?

Open my mouth to tell the good news of the gospel to anyone who will listen. Thank You, Lord, for the privilege to be Your mouthpiece.

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