Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins to You.

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Abiding, Accountability, Bible, Brokenness, Cleansing, Confession, Forgiveness, Inspirational, Mercy, Prayer, Repentance, Scripture

RETURN TO ME

JOEL 2:12

“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping, and mourning;’”

I love to return to places that I have visited in the past, if I enjoyed them the first time. For instance, I am planning to return to Kenya this year. I love my brothers and sisters there. Due to my illness in 2019-20, I have not been there since 2018. My heart literally aches to be there. Would you pray with me that Kenya remains open to travel and our team can make the trip?

I love today’s verse. When the Lord says here for us to return, that implies we have been there before. I look up the Hebrew word for “return.” It literally means to turn back or return. And the verb tense implies some kind of force is involved. He is asking us to forcibly return to Him. Don’t be slow about it. And He says to return with fasting, weeping and mourning. We come back recognizing our sins and asking for forgiveness.

APPLICATION

Fasting, weeping and mourning aren’t things we enjoy doing. It implies brokenness. Are you? Are you broken over your sins? Most of us can strut sitting down. We are too proud to repent. We are too full of ourselves to fast and weep and mourn. But God asks us to come to Him that way.

Let me urge you today to do that. If you are unsure of your sins (I can’t imagine someone not knowing their sins), ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will, I promise. He has seen your sins. His forgiveness and mercy if ready. Just ask. Our unconfessed sins just serve to separate us from fellowship with our Master. Remove that barrier through confession and repentance.

I am thankful the Lord stands ready to forgive. I know I sin daily through word and/or deed. I long to live a life of godliness free from sin and its influence. Until then, I will come to my Savior and seek cleansing. I will cleanse my hands and purify my heart. I will seek to know Him better through His word.  Return to Him! Are you ready?

Thank You, Father, for saving my soul. Thank You, Lord, for making me whole.

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WAITING ON GOD

HOSEA 12:6

“So as for you, return to your God, maintain kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually.”

Don’t you hate to wait? I sure do. I am bad about going to a fast food place (don’t judge, lol) and driving straight through if there are more than two or three cars in line. I used to hate to wait at red lights, but I’ve learned to work on my memory verses while doing that. So, reading this verse bothered me a little. I don’t want to wait continually.

Hosea tells them to do three things – return, maintain and wait. Look at the order. They had to return to God first. They couldn’t do the second and third things unless that happened first. And once they did, he told them to maintain kindness (mercy) and justice. Then the waiting starts. God required them to preserve mercy and justice until He responded.

APPLICATION

What are you waiting on? Have you prayed this lately? “Dear God, I am so tired of waiting on You. Why won’t you answer my prayers?” We’ve all prayed that at one time or another. Waiting is hard. We feel like we are wasting time. We have so much to do and waiting on God just doesn’t fit our schedule.

Well, let me ask you this. Have you returned to God? Are you maintaining kindness and justice? If you do those things, you will be able to wait. How? You will be so busy preserving kindness and justice, you will totally forget about the waiting. And the more you do that, the closer you will grow towards God.

We have to remember this. God is always on time. If we remember this, then we should know that waiting is His plan for us. He will do what He is going to at just the right time. Waiting is good if we understand His plan is to make us more like Him. Isn’t that something you want? I sure do.

Waiting on You, Lord, is alright by me. I trust Your timing.

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IN OUR MIDST

HOSEA 11:9

I will not carry out My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”

We are all prone to get upset and show our emotions, aren’t we? When we get mad at someone, we want to let them have it. It’s hard for us to hold back how we feel. We think we have the right to do that, but we don’t. I know I have been guilty of that in the past.

God was showing His mercy in a mighty way in today’s verse. Ephraim deserved punishment, but He chose to show mercy instead. Hosea explains why. God is not a man! He doesn’t operate in the same way we do. He doesn’t make decisions based on emotion. He chose to not show His wrath.

APPLICATION

To whom do you need to show mercy? Maybe you’re too busy scheming to get them back. Someone has hurt you and all you can think about is getting even. Let me ask you a question. Do you believe in God’s mercy which He has shown you? If you are a believer, you should be telling everyone about it. Better yet, you should be showing it.

Have you tried that? Now, I know you’re not God. You are full of emotions that are hard to control. But God is in your midst. His Holy Spirit lives in you. He can show you how to be merciful to others. He can do through you what you could never do yourself.

I have to admit that I struggle with this. I know the Lord has given me the ability to show mercy. I have even done that at times. But my old, ugly flesh gets in the way too many times. I truly want to be more merciful. I know the only way to do that is to surrender daily to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Father, You are merciful to me in so many ways. Help me show mercy to others.

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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.

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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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LYING ABOUT GOD

HOSEA 7:13

Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they have spoken lies against Me.”

When you read my title for the blog today you may have thought that to be a strange title. Who, after all, lies about God? Oh, don’t get me started. Look all around you. There are people everywhere who are lying about God. They say He accepts all kinds of lifestyles – nope. They say He will accept everyone into heaven – nope. Some even say He doesn’t really exist – nope.

God would love to redeem Ephraim. He would love to extend His mercy and grace, but they are lying about Him. They are refusing to acknowledge His power of creation and them. They are not bowing to His total control over their circumstances and are thereby lying about Him. God will not redeem the unrepentant.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you have lied about God? Oh Carl, I have never lied about God. Oh really? Have you never questioned His power to save you from a situation? Have you never believed Satan’s whispers that God was too busy for your prayers? You may call my words a little harsh. You may not see that as lying about God. But anytime we don’t recognize His power we are basically calling Him a liar. We don’t believe He will do what He says He will do.

He says He will always love us and see us through the storms of life. He says He will rescue us from Satan’s barrages against us. He promises us that He is always listening to hear our prayers and to intercede according to His perfect will. You can believe these things about our holy God. He will always come through. To believe anything else is to believe a lie.

I may get accused of lying about a lot of things, but I do not want to ever be accused of lying about God. I want to always trust His Word and believe exactly what it says. If God says it, that settles it. There is no questioning Him. Praise be to God for His unshakeable truths.

I love knowing that You can always be trusted, Lord. Every word out of Your mouth is truth.

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THE LION GOD

HOSEA 5:14

“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, yes I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be no one to rescue.”

I hunt in an area known to have bears and an occasional mountain lion. We even have coyotes and wolves. You may ask me why I hunt there then. Well, I go in the woods fully armed. I am carrying a pistol and either a rifle, shotgun or crossbow. I walk in with my head on a swivel. I don’t want to end up breakfast or dinner for one of these critters.

God describes Himself as a lion tearing apart Ephraim and Judah. That’s pretty vicious. It gives you an idea how angry He was at them. Their rebellion had gone too far. He could not sit idly by and watch them relish in their pagan activities. Judgment had to fall and fall it did.

APPLICATION

Do you want to be torn apart by an angry God? Of course, not. No one does. And no one has to. When we come to Jesus and accept Him as our Savior, that judgment is appeased. God no longer seeks to devour us because of our wickedness. Because of the blood of Jesus, our sins are covered. Hallelujah!

Do you know someone who has not surrendered to the Lord? They are at risk! Their sins are not covered. God will hold them accountable for their sins. There is nothing they can do to escape His wrath – except… They must come to Jesus. Are you playing a part in showing them that? Perhaps the Lord has put you in their lives for just that reason.

Wouldn’t it be glorious to be a part of someone you know coming to Christ? There is no better joy than to lead someone to Him and watch them respond. Their excitement of salvation is contagious. You will catch it. You will be on cloud nine. You will seek out others to share with. So, what are you waiting for?

Lord, I want to see many avoid Your wrath. Will You give me the courage and boldness to be Your witness to a lost world?

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QUARANTINED

HOSEA 3:3

“Then I said to her, ‘You shall live with me for many days. You shall not play the prostitute, nor shall you have another man; so I will also be toward you.’”

Don’t you just hate that word “quarantine”? Over this past year chances are you have been quarantined due to the covid-19 virus. If you haven’t, you must have been living on a desert island all by yourself. It has been just about impossible to avoid at least one quarantine period due to infection or exposure. Frankly, I am a little tired of it. How about you?

Hosea brought Gomer back but basically quarantined her. She would not be given access to him or any other man. He provided for her and treated her kindly, but she had to remain quarantined for a period of time. Her past behavior required it. She needed a cleansing period before reentering her husband’s home.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you grateful that God doesn’t require us to go through a cleansing period after we sin? We come to Him just as we are and confess our failures. He forgives us and casts our sins away. It says in Psalm 103:12 that He removes them as far as the east is from the west. We are washed whiter than snow.

With that said, we are not free to sin and just confess it. Sin does have consequences. Deliberate sin even more. Let me ask you to take a look at your sin life. My what? you say. Your sin life. Look at the patterns of sin in your life. Is sin accidental or planned? God may just put you in quarantine to get some of that sin out of you. He will not let you just sin willy nilly and think it’s nothing. He does expect obedience from His children.

Just like Hosea still cared for Gomer, God cares for us despite our sin. But it does break His heart when we sin against Him. He wants to love us and care for us. If we are insistent on living how we want, we restrict how much love He is able to show us. Sin is deplorable to God. Don’t ever forget that. Come to Him today and confess whatever is on your heart.

Lord, I know you love me despite my failures. Help me walk in victory today and only come to You for forgiveness when I have tripped up and fallen into sin.

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TAKE HER BACK

HOSEA 3:1

“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet is committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’”

I have known several men who have reconciled with their wives after their wives had committed adultery. That is a hard pill to swallow. To take a woman back as your wife after she has cheated on you takes a lot. But each of these men were led by the Lord to do that. Some had children in the marriage. Others didn’t. But each decided to be obedient and bring their wife back to their marriage bed.

God told Hosea to do the same. He instructed Hosea to restore Gomer to his home as his wife after she had chosen willingly to be unfaithful. This was a symbolic move to show Israel the plan God had to restore them to Him following their exile in Babylon. After rejecting their false gods, they were seeking to return to Jehovah.

APPLICATION

You may have never had to reconcile with a wayward spouse. You may have never been that wayward spouse. My guess, though, is you have known someone who has. It’s all about forgiveness. There is no possible way to do this without the power of forgiveness. I am not talking about forgiveness powered by you. This takes a godly forgiveness.

When we think about what God has forgiven us, there is nothing that we should not be able to forgive. He has forgiven us of sins that would cause us to spend eternity in hell. There is nothing that has been done to us by anyone that can equal that. So, the question is will you forgive.

You may need to forgive someone today for something that you feel in unforgiveable. It’s not. With God, you can forgive anyone of anything. It won’t be easy. But it is possible because He can give you that power. You will be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Will you?

Help me forgive those who have hurt me. Give me the strength today to give that forgiveness to anyone who needs it.

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