Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Confession, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Guilt, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

UNDENIABLE

HOSEA 13:12

The guilt of Ephraim is wrapped up; his sin is stored up.”

You have probably heard the expression “Be sure your sins will find you out.” It’s true! Sooner or later (and later could be eternity), our sins will be exposed. Without divulging my sins to you, I can assure you that has been true in my life. Times when I thought my indiscretions were hidden proved to be false hopes. They always emerge and hopefully lead to confession.

Ephraim could not hide their sins against a holy God. The guilt of their sins was wrapped tight around them. They could not escape. It is interesting that the Hebrew word for “guilt” here is avon. It can mean guilt and iniquity, but it can also mean the punishment of iniquity. Their sins had bound them tightly. They could not deny their guilt.

APPLICATION

Are you guilty? Guilt is a tiresome thing. When we feel guilty, we can’t be confident in anything we do. We feel unworthy and even ashamed. As believers we aren’t meant to walk around with guilt. Our sins are forgiven. We need to walk in victory. Satan loves to keep us feeling “less than” so he can have his way with us.

Don’t fall for it. When you sin (and you will), confess that as soon as you can. Immediately go to Jesus and tell Him all about it. We shouldn’t be seeking out sin. That’s not right either. But when we fall, we get back up, dust ourselves off and go to the altar. When we are all confessed up, the guilt melts away. We walk in freedom.

I like that feeling. I can still remember going to the little prayer room we had at my home church in Pelham. It was always open, and I would slip in there quite often to spend time in prayer. After an extended time in prayer, confessing my sins, I would walk out feeling like I had just taken a shower. I felt clean and refreshed. If you haven’t done that lately, may I encourage you  to spend some extra time in prayer. You won’t regret it.

I walk in victory today, Lord, because of Your shed blood. I am guilt free because of You.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Confession, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Obedience, Prayer, Redemption, Relationships, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

FOOLISH THINKING

HOSEA 12:8

“And Ephraim said, ‘I have certainly become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no wrongdoing, which would be sin.’”

Have you ever gotten away with doing something wrong? You didn’t get caught, so you figured all was well. God didn’t zap you. When that happens, it is very easy to think that you are immune to punishment. Just call yourself “Teflon Joe.” Nothing sticks to you. We both know that is dangerous ground.

Ephraim was saying that about themselves. They were disobedient to God, but them seemingly were still being blessed. They exclaimed, “I have certainly become rich.” They had the midas touch. So, they assumed they were without sin. However, they soon realized that was not true. God’s punishments may be delayed, but they are not going to be withheld forever.

APPLICATION

You may be knee deep in sin right now. God has not disciplined you yet. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit within you is convicting you, but you may be tuning Him out. You figure you will deal with this sin later. You will confess later. You will get right with the Lord later. Listen to me – later is now. It’s time.

Just because the Lord does not immediately discipline us for our sins does not mean He is pleased with us. Sins have consequences. Some are immediate. Others may be delayed, but they all have consequences. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking God doesn’t care about your sins. He does. He sent His Son to die for them, all of them, past, present and future.

I desire to stay “confessed up.” I don’t want my sins, which are many, to come between me and my Lord. I need that direct line to the Lord open at all times and not full of the static of my unconfessed sins. Don’t you want that too?

Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and grace in my life. Show me my sins so that I can repent and have my fellowship restored.

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ANGEL WRESTLING

HOSEA 12:4

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and implored His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us,”

When I was growing up with my older brother, Tim, we used to wrestle a lot. I can still hear my mother screaming for us to stop. She hated when we did that. And in all those years, my brother would win. After all, he was over 4 years older than me. Until…he went away to college, and I started seriously lifting weights at school for football. I remember when he came home for Christmas during his freshman year at college. I pinned him. He was shocked. It felt great, lol.

Jacob wrestled the angel “and prevailed.” The angel of God or the man with whom Jacob wrestled is believed by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ. He gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he who contends with God. That sounds bad but it isn’t. Jacob was persistent in asking for his blessing, and he received it.

APPLICATION

Have you ever wrestled with God? I don’t mean like my brother and I used to do. Have you wrestled with Him in prayer? There is nothing wrong with getting intense during your prayer time. When we do that we really have God’s ear. We already have it, but He knows when we are intense. He can feel our passion.

I want to encourage you to make a plan to do that. I am sure you have something which you need to come to the Father about. Maybe it’s something you have been praying about for years. Go to Him and don’t let go until you hear. God’s answers are always right on time. You need to pray expectantly, knowing He will answer, just like He did with Jacob.

Prayer for me is intimate. I love talking to my Lord. There have been times when I wrestled with Him over things. God has never let me down. He has always come through. He will for you also, if you trust Him with it. Are you ready to wrestle?

I am so thankful You hear my prayers when I wrestle with You. Give me the wisdom to wait on You.

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REPAYMENT

HOSEA 12:2

“The LORD also has a case against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds.”

You’ve heard all about paybacks, haven’t you? It’s when someone has done you wrong, and you get them back later. I’ve known people who wait weeks or even months to do that. They want that payback to really hurt that person. They plan every detail so that person knows exactly what is happening. Sounds cruel. Well, it is.

God is not that way. He is not plotting against Judah. He is simply holding them accountable for their “deeds.” Sin has consequences. Judah knew that, but they chose to sin anyway. I am sure they cried and bellyached about God’s discipline. However, God had to deal with their sin.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you glad Jesus has already paid the price for you? If you have received Him as your Lord and Savior, the repayment is done. Jesus took care of that for you. I love Psalm 103:10. It says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Whew!

My sins are many. If I counted up all my sins in just one year, it would stagger you. But I bet yours are the same. Then can you imagine if everyone’s sins were totaled? That number would be astronomical. But that’s what Jesus died for. His sacrifice took care of all those sins. We only have to come to Him and accept the free gift of salvation.

I am glad that on July 31, 1977 I did that. I have been far from perfect since then, but I know my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Do you know that for certain? You can. I pray today you will make sure of that. The freedom you can experience in knowing that is incredible. Come to Him today.

I am free because of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for saving me.

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VERY LIGHT DIET

HOSEA 12:1

“Ephraim feeds on wind and pursues the east wind continually; he multiplies lies and violence. Moreover, he makes a covenant with Assyria, and oil is brought to Egypt.”

I just got back from visiting my older brother in the hospital. He was in bad shape but is bouncing back. However, while I was there his hospital diet was very light. In fact, the first day I was there it consisted of nothing, not even water. Now, that’s a light diet. He did finally get some water and even some coffee, but that won’t sustain you long.

Ephraim had a light diet, too. Hosea said they fed on the wind. That east wind was horrible. It was dry and dusty. Hosea goes on to say Ephraim kept sinning and seeking help in all the wrong places. After all they had been through, they still sought help from anyone but God. How sad!

APPLICATION

We are the same way, aren’t we? We try to fix things ourselves. We try to manage things. Or we ask people to help who we shouldn’t ask. Why do we do that? All we need to do is turn to the Father. He has all the answers. He knows how to “fix” it. We need to stop feeding on the “light, windy diet” and turn to Him.

What happens when you do that? When you turn to the Lord through His Word and prayer, He directs you exactly where you need to be. He points out your sins, so you can repent and regain fellowship with Him. When you listen to the Holy Spirit, instead of the world, you are led down the right path.

My brother’s diet can’t remain as it was when I left the hospital. He would not get healthy on water and coffee. He will have to get nourishment again. And the source of that nourishment isn’t himself or outside the hospital. The hospital will give him what he needs when he’s ready for it. That sounds just like God, doesn’t it?

Thank You, Lord, for providing for me. I will feed on Your Word and allow it to nourish my soul.

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ALTARS OF SIN

HOSEA 8:11

“Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin, they have become altars of sinning for him.”

I’ve never built an altar. Have you? It seems people do it all the time. You are probably thinking, What are you talking about?Altars are places of worship. People are bowing down all the time to things. They are putting their attention and time on priorities other than God.

Israel had built altars to all sorts of pagan gods. Altars, altars everywhere. And with all these altars they were sinning, sinning against a holy God. And they were not thinking anything about this. They were chasing after the gods of their pagan neighbors and turning their backs on Jehovah.

APPLICATION

What are you pursuing? What are you bowing before? You may not think you have altars in your life. You may think you are doing all the right things. But if you aren’t bowing only to Jesus, you have just built an altar. Your altar may not look like the ones the Israelites built, but it’s still an altar.

You are sacrificing your time on your false altars. You are sacrificing your money on those altars. Those altars are robbing you of your devotion to your Lord. Examine your life right now. Take a moment and look at where you are spending your time and money. Ask the Lord if you have built a false altar. He will tell you.

I will bow only to Him. There is nothing as important as spending time with Jesus. Time in His word and time in prayer have to be my number one priority spiritually. I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have time for my quiet time in the morning. I can’t say I just don’t have time to pray. I will turn to Him first each day. Will you join me?

Thank You, Lord, for allowing me the privilege to worship You. I desire to bow before You every day to honor and glorify You.

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NO CALLS

HOSEA 7:7

All of them are hot like an oven, and they consume their rulers; All their kings have fallen. None of them calls on Me.”

It is so hard when you are expecting a call to go for days with nothing. Crickets! Silence! Perhaps it’s a call from a potential employer after a great interview. You are just waiting and waiting. Maybe it’s a call from a loved one. They are traveling and promised you a call upon their arrival. But nothing. That’s so hard.

God is crying out here in this verse. “None of them calls on Me.” Now, God doesn’t get His feelings hurt. He’s not worried about a missed call. No! He is just stating a fact. None of these people, who claim to know Him, are calling out to Him. They have forsaken Him.

APPLICATION

God wants you to call out to Him. He, in fact, bends His ear towards you. He longs to hear your voice. He wants to hear your outcries for His direction and guidance. So, why don’t we call on Him. We seem to be saying to Him, “Hey God, I’ve got this. I’ll let you know when I need You.” Are you kidding me? Seriously?

As sad as that may seem, that seems to be our response. Don’t you think He wants to be involved in your life? Call out to Him. Let Him know how you are feeling. Tell Him what you need. Of course, He already knows all of this, but He wants to hear it from you.

I can’t imagine not crying out to Him daily. I need Him in my life. There are times when I try to “do it on my own” only to cry out to God later. But at least I’m crying out. And God always answers. I never get a busy signal or His voicemail. That’s a promise. He is always ready to answer my call. He’ll answer yours too.

Father, thank You that You are always ready to hear me. I know You are listening and are ready to intercede on my behalf.

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WHOSE CHILD IS THIS?

HOSEA 1:8

“When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son.” 

My wife and I have three children. One of those, Cathleen, is in heaven, having only lived six hours due to a premature birth back in 1987. Our other two children are now 34 and 30. There is no doubt whose children they are. They were birthed by my wife, but they were conceived by us both. I know my children are my children.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though, about Hosea’s children. Here we have the birth of a third child, a son. Remember, Hosea was told to a marry Gomer even though God knew and told Hosea that she would be unfaithful. How did Hosea know if these children born by Gomer were his or someone else’s? He didn’t. He simply was staying with Gomer because the Lord told him to. He was being obedient in the face of doubt and mistrust. That took a powerful amount of faith.

APPLICATION

Have you ever had to trust the Lord during a dark time? Perhaps you were going through a period of testing and your faith was shaken. Maybe you were doubting whether God was there at all. I have talked to many a person who have had those feelings. How do you get through those times? It’s not easy. In fact, it’s impossible on your own.

So, what do you do? First, you turn to other believers for support and prayer. You need allies on your side who can love you and confront you, if needed. Secondly, you turn to the Word for guidance. You won’t find true deliverance from any other source. Those other sources may make you feel better, but they won’t provide lasting results. Finally, you come before your heavenly Father, begging Him for deliverance.

Now, you may say those are in the wrong order. Perhaps. But I know that most people won’t go to God first. They turn to those close to them first for help. Any true friend will immediately point them to God. So, these can actually be happening at the same time. Don’t get stuck on the order. Just follow them.

Are you going through a time of questioning God? I bet Hosea had a few of those moments while married to Gomer. Who wouldn’t have? But he remained faithful to God and to Gomer. He was obedient to God’s original calling. Will you do that? Go back to that original calling on your life. Let the Lord remind you of who you are in Him.

Lord, I don’t understand everything You ask me to do. I simply have to trust that You are faithful and will see me through.

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NO CHARGE

3 JOHN 7

“For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles.”

One of my joys in life has been going to teach national Pastors and church leaders in Uganda and Kenya. I had been making that trip every year since 2013 until health reasons and then covid stopped those trips in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to go back. But one thing I have never done is ask those to whom I am going to teach to support me financially. I go without cost to them.

That is what John is talking about in verse 7. Those brethren Gaius is assisting were going to share the Gospel with the Gentiles. They did not want to receive anything from the Gentiles so that they would not be seen as trying to profit off of them. Now, a teacher of the Word is worthy of “double honor” according to 1 Timothy 5:17, but they never want to be seen as financially motivated to teach.

APPLICATION

So how do we apply this verse to us today? Well, in one sense John is telling us to be aware of whom we can help go teach the lost. We can help send them on their way as they raise support. We can continue to support them once they get there. The one thing that can stop a missionary’s work quickly is the lack of funds. I wish I had the financial means to support all the missionaries I know.

We can also pray for those who will be hearing the Gospel from these missionaries. We need to pray for fertile soil. We need to pray for receptive hearts. Missionaries need to see fruit from their labors. That encourages them in their journey. We may not be able to go help them in their work there, but we can sure pray for those to whom they are ministering. If possible, get names from the missionary of people they are witnessing to. That would be a great way for our children to learn how to pray for missionaries and their work.

Make a list of missionaries you know and get them to send you a list of names of people you can pray for. Keep that list updated and celebrate with your family when someone you have been praying for comes to Christ. And I believe that will happen. God honors our prayers, and nothing thrills His heart more than to see one of His children return to Him. He wants to answer those prayers.

Father, I lift up all the missionaries who are faithfully serving today. Encourage them with a harvest of souls.  

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A PARENT’S JOY

3 JOHN 4

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.”

I have been in ministry over forty years. That’s a long time. Sometimes I feel like Moses – herding sheep for forty years or wandering in the wilderness for forty years. But sometimes I hear from someone I had the privilege to lead to the Lord, and they tell me how they are still walking with Jesus. That brings me such joy. It really warms my heart.

John was expressing the exact same feeling. He was thrilled to hear about Gaius. It is obvious from this verse that John had played some part in Gaius’ salvation experience. We don’t know exactly where or when that was, but John was a spiritual father to Gaius. As a father to Gaius, John longed to see him grow spiritually. Nothing thrilled his heart more.

APPLICATION

If you have not experienced this joy as a parent, I pray you will. Watching our children come to Christ is awesome. Praying with them to receive Christ is stupendous. But watching them walk with Christ daily thrills your soul. This is especially true as they get older and start making more and more of their own decisions. Watching them choose Christ makes all the bedtime prayer rituals worth it.

One big question we face as parents as our children get older is how do we continue to influence them spiritually. How do we help them in their walk? Our role changes from caregiver to coach to cheerleader to consultant. In this last stage we have to wait for them to come to us for advice. Advice not asked for is seldom followed. Continue to pray and be ready when asked.

Do you have a “child in the faith” whom you are praying for? Is there someone you are watching walk with Jesus whom thrills your soul? I pray you are investing in others daily. I pray you are encouraging them. I promise as you encourage them, you will be encouraged. Be obedient to Jesus as you follow His example to disciple others.

Oh Lord, nothing thrills me more than to see my children walk with You. Help me encourage them daily as they trust You.

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