Abiding, Affection, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Blasphemy, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Idols, Intimacy, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

A KISS

HOSEA 13:2 

“And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves cast metal images, idols skillfully made from their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. They say of them, ‘Let the people who sacrifice kiss the calves!’” 

A kiss seems harmful enough, doesn’t it? Have you ever blown someone a kiss? That’s one of the first things we teach our babies. It is so cute to see them blow you a kiss. But when you are an adult, you had better be careful to whom you blow kisses. Blowing those to the wrong person will get you in a whole heap of trouble. 

Ephraim was guilty of idolatry. They had multiplied their idols, even making them to represent any god they imagined. They covered them with silver and gold and bowed before them. They kissed them and when they couldn’t physically kiss them, they would blow a kiss towards them. Wow! How do you think God felt when He saw His chosen people kissing false gods? 

APPLICATION 

I know what you are thinking. But Carl, I don’t have any silver or gold idols in my house that I kiss and bow to. Most of don’t. We are too sophisticated for that. We would never have our idols placed out in front of everyone. We tend to hide our idols. We disguise our idols.  

What do you worship? Anything you place before God and His Son, Jesus, is an idol. Anything or anyone you prioritize over your worship of the only true God is an idol. So, what do you worship? It could be your family, your job, your possessions or even your health. Nothing can come between you and your Lord. Stop kissing the wrong thing. 

I have been guilty of placing things before God from time to time. I get busy and replace my quiet times with scheduling for the day. I get sidetracked and stop spending time with Him in prayer. It can happen to all of us. Take a minute right night and look at the day ahead of you. Make time with God your priority. Spend the time you need (and you need it) with Him today. Kiss Him today! 

I lavish You with my worship today, O Lord. I long to kiss Your hands and feet and pay homage to You for all You have done for me. 

Standard
Accountability, Battles, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

REPROACHED

HOSEA 12:14 

“Ephraim has provoked God to bitter anger; so his Lord will leave his guilt for bloodshed on him and bring his disgrace back to him.” 

Have you ever been reproached? Do you even know what that means? Well, Webster defines reproach as “to address someone with disapproval or disappointment.” Now, how do you answer that question? I can remember my parents being disappointed in me due to some of my behaviors. It is not encouraging. 

God has reproached Ephraim because of their sins. They had become immune, or so it seemed, to guilt due to their sins. They figured since they had forgotten them, God had also. Well, He hadn’t. God will not look the other way. He held them accountable.  

APPLICATION 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I like being reproached. I don’t want to disappoint my Lord. I want to please Him. One way to avoid being reproached is by doing that – pleasing Him. He really isn’t that hard to please. All we have to do is surrender to Him daily and allow Him to live through us. 

You may say Well, that’s not so easy, Carl. Sure, it is. We just die to self. We wake up each morning and decide to let God have His will that day. We lay down our agenda for His. We bow at His throne instead of sitting on ours. We yield to His Word to determine how to proceed. 

Don’t want to do that? Okay, live dangerously. I choose to bow. I want to live in victory, not defeat. It really is so much easier. I have fought against the Lord. I have been reproached. It’s not fun. I choose surrender.  

Lord, thank You for victory. Thank You for allowing me to walk with You. 

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Courage, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Surrender

THE PROPHET

HOSEA 12:13 

“But by a prophet the LORD brought Israel up from Egypt, and by a prophet he was protected.” 

Don’t you love the story of Moses? A baby is born in Egypt and doomed to die. Miraculously he survives a short voyage in the Nile among crocodiles to land in the arms of the Pharoah’s daughter. He grows up privileged and educated. Then God leads him away for forty years to prepare him for his role as liberator of the children of Israel.

Hosea is, of course, referring to Moses in today’s verse. This prophet, Moses, led and protected the nation. There was nothing special about Moses, except that he yielded to the will of God. He allowed God to use him, even though he felt unworthy. Remember, he even told God he stuttered so he couldn’t talk to Pharoah. But God used this humble man to be the leader of a nation. 

APPLICATION 

As I was reading this verse, I asked myself how the Lord may want to use me. How does He want to use you? Moses was tending sheep when he encountered the burning bush. Have you had a burning bush experience? I don’t mean you’ve seen an actual burning bush. But have you had a definite meeting with the holy God of the universe? Has He called you by name? 

He is calling us. He is calling us to do great and wonderful things on His behalf. Jesus told us we would do “greater things than these” as His followers. Are you willing? God will make you able. You just have to allow Him to. Ask Him today to use you in ways that you can’t imagine.  

I want to be used. I desire to be led by His Spirit. Often my own will and desires get in the way. It’s easy to get sidetracked and think I am doing His will, when in fact I am doing my own. That’s not my desire. My prayer today is to be that willing vessel surrendered to His will for my life – wherever that leads. 

Father God, I know I am headstrong and stubborn at times, but I want to yield to You. Led me as You led Moses to do great and mighty things for You. 

Standard
Accountability, Advice, Bible, Calling, Commands, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

SPEAK FORTH

HOSEA 12:10 

I have also spoken to the prophets, and I provided many visions, and through the prophets I spoke in parables. 

How many times have you asked someone to give a message to someone? I have done that a lot. And you know what? You have to be mighty careful who you entrust with your message. Some people can’t be trusted to deliver your message properly. Others tend to forget to deliver it. Still others may twist your words to suit themselves. Passing a message on for someone is important. 

God spoke through the prophets. Hosea is sharing God’s message which was given to him. He didn’t change it to suit his whims. He spoke exactly what God gave him. He spoke through visions and parables. God will use whatever means necessary to get His message to His people. 

APPLICATION 

God has given you a message to deliver. What is it? It’s the Gospel of Christ. As believers, we have been tasked with delivering this message of mercy and grace to a lost world. We have the benefit of having the Word of God available to us in ways unprecedented in history. 

We don’t have to rely on a scroll and ink. We literally have the Word at our fingertips. Smart phones, tablets and computers can access God’s Word instantly. There aren’t many places on the earth where you cannot get to the Word. Yet we still don’t share it as we should. What is stopping us? 

Let me encourage you today to share a verse with someone. You never know how much you can encourage another person by doing that. Pray and ask the Lord to open a door of opportunity for you today. You will be amazed what He does. Speak forth! 

Lord, give me boldness to share with others the lifechanging message of the Cross. Fill my mind with Your Word. 

Standard
Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Deception, Double-minded, Examples, Following, Lies, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

BAD SCALES

HOSEA 12:7

“A merchant, in whose hands are fraudulent balances, loves to exploit.”

I may have mentioned this before in an earlier blog, but it fits perfect with this verse. When I was growing up in South Georgia, I worked at gas station that also sold feed and seed. We had a scale which was used to weigh out loose seed for people who just needed some for a small garden. Well, that scale had to be calibrated to maintain true weights. Our boss insisted on that. He didn’t want to cheat anyone by using a false scale.

Hosea uses that same illustration. He says anyone who uses false scales loves to exploit others. They can’t be trusted. They love taking advantage of others. Of course, God detests that. This verse is in direct contrast to the previous verse which spoke of maintaining mercy and justice. Israel was guilty of using those fraudulent balances.

APPLICATION

Are you a cheater? Do you rob others? What do I mean by that? I am not implying you are some kind of evil person. But we tip the scales in our favor when we can, don’t we? That’s even evident in relationships. Husbands try to get something from their wives by false motives. Wives do the same. Our motives matter. Our heart matters. Unless we are relating with pure motives towards each other, it is all fraudulent.

Aren’t you glad that is not required? When we balance our scales with truth and treat each other as Christ would, no one is cheated. I quote this often concerning my wife. “It is my privilege to show my love for Jesus by caring for my wife, to love her, to show her honor, to try to understand her and to give up my life and rights for her.” When I do that, my scales are balanced.

Jesus is the answer to false scales. Let Him do the measuring. Let Him do the weighing. He will always pour out the exact amount of mercy and grace we need in our lives to show to others. Isn’t that a pretty picture? We simply pour out His grace and mercy.

Oh Father, don’t let me be use false scales to hurt anyone. Help me to be always true.

Standard
Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Following, Inspirational, Mercy, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture, Waiting

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.

Standard
Abiding, Bible, Disciplemaking, Following, Forgiveness, God's Will, Inspirational, Kindness, Mercy, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender

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.

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Bible, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Scripture

HUNGUP

HOSEA 11:7

So My people are determined to turn from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him.

There are some things that I can really be hung up about. Fishing is one. I love to fish. There are times when all I can think about is catching that big one. I can spend hours at the lake, pond or river casting and casting, just hoping to land one that I can talk about. I have to be careful, though, to not get too hung up on fishing. There are more important things out there.

Why am I talking about getting hung up? Because the Hebrew word translated “determined” in today’s verse means just that. The people of Israel were hung up on turning from God. They were dead set on not following His commands. They were bent that way due to their flesh and were not going to obey. Sound familiar?

APPLICATION

Are you that way? Being “hung up” on something is not a bad thing, if the thing you are hung up on is in God’s will.  It’s okay to be hung up on reading the Word or praying. It’s okay to be hung up on sharing the Gospel with the lost. But when you get so hung up on something that you forget to ask the Lord about it, you need to back off.

What are you “hung up” about? Family? That can become a problem. Money? That can certainly lead you wrong. Being happy? What’s that got to do with anything? Check out your hang ups. You may just need to loosen the line a bit and take the hook out for a while (to borrow some fishing jargon).

I am hung up on Jesus. I just want to please Him. I figure if I concentrate on that He will take care of the rest. Jesus likes us being hung up on Him. He can handle it. He can use that. How about putting all your hang ups down and just hang on to Him?

Jesus, I am hung up on You. I want nothing more than to please You in my words and deeds.

Standard
Accountability, Belief, Bible, Commands, Encouragement, Hope, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Scripture, Submission

OUR KINGS

HOSEA 11:5

They will not return to the land of Egypt; but Assyria—he will be their king because they refused to return to Me.

I have never lived under a monarchy. I am an American, which means I live under a representative government. We elect our officials. Every four years we elect a President of the United States. Some years the person I vote for wins. In other years, the other candidate wins. That’s the way it works here.

Israel pushed to have their own king (instead of God) and got Saul. Numerous kings came and went over the generations. They eventually got kings from other nations who defeated them. Assyria was one such kingdom that forced their king on them. You have to remember, though, that it was God who allowed these kings to conquer Israel as part of their judgment. It is God who establishes kings and kingdoms.

APPLICATION

We should not complain about our President here in America. We are getting exactly what the Lord allows. Though I may not like the policies of a certain President, I am still told to pray for my leaders. There is a reason for the Lord establishing our current presidential administration. What is He trying to teach us, as believers?

One thing is for sure. We cannot and should not depend on the person sitting in the oval office to solve our problems. God is the only one we can turn to for that. Our politicians, whether President, Senator, Representative or Governor, are just flesh and bones. They are not infallible. They will make mistakes. They need Jesus to guide them.

So, our response to our “kings” has to be one of submission and obedience, unless they attempt to lead us in an unbiblical direction. Then we have a choice to make. For me, I will always choose Jesus. That may get me in trouble one day with the government, but that’s okay. God’s got my back. I can always count on Him. How about you?

Thank You, Lord, for placing people in authority over me whom You wish to use to draw me closer to You. I trust You.

Standard
Abiding, Advice, Bible, Christ's Return, Destruction, Encouragement, Eternity, Gospel, Heaven, Modeling, Scripture

DOOMS DAY

HOSEA 10:15

So it will be done to you at Bethel because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.”

I have often wondered what it would be like to know the day you were going to die. I wonder what I would do on those days leading up to it. Would I quit work and do all the things I have always wanted to do? Or would I continue doing all the things I am presently doing? I don’t fear that day. I am ready for it.

Hosea gave the warning to Israel. “At dawn the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.” Wow! What a warning! Because of their wickedness their kingdom would be destroyed. There was nothing they could do to change that fact. God had spoken. Dooms day was upon them.

APPLICATION

There is coming a day when we all will face our last day. What is your plan for that day? If God is not a part of that plan, you are in a heap of trouble. Let me ask you the question I pondered at the beginning of the devotional. If you knew the day you were going to die, would you change your behavior? Why not change it now?

God wants us to live each day as if it’s our last. We never know when He is going to call us home. We have to be ready. We have to be doing His work until the very end. What has the Lord asked you to do for Him? Do it today. Don’t wait. You may not have another chance. I pray you will not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

I know the days are drawing to a close. It can’t be too long until the Lord returns. I want to be found doing His work on that day. There are so many people who need to hear about Him. I want to be caught telling someone about Jesus. Don’t you? What better way to enter glory that the words of Jesus on your lips?

I do not know when I will meet You face to face, Lord. But I do know I am looking forward to that day. Help me share that story with many before I come.

Standard