Bible, Blessing, Courage, Passion, Promises, Reward, Scripture

BLESSED BY GOD

HOSEA 12:3

“In the womb he took his brother by the heel, and in his mature strength he contended with God.”

Strength and power are seen as bad today in many places. If you are aggressive and ambitious, it is often perceived as a negative thing. It seems any exhibition of power in our society today means you are uncaring and/or ungrateful. Nothing could be further from the truth, if it is done according to God’s will.

Hosea is pointing out the strength of Israel that was evident in the life of Jacob, later renamed Israel. Even from birth he was pursuing his birthright over his brother by grabbing his heel. And later he wrestled with the angel of God until He blessed him. Jacob was a strong man. And the nation needed to be reminded of that.

APPLICATION

The Lord stands ready to bless you also. It is through His strength that He can do that. Have you asked for it lately? Don’t wait until you are knee deep in the mire of life to do that. There’s no need to wait. God’s strength is available to all His children every day. We just fail to receive it.

I bet you are facing something right now which could really benefit from God’s strength and blessing. Most of us face them all the time. But we continue to labor under our own strength and fail. What is so hard about asking for help from Jesus? Nothing! But we have to ask. You have to ask.

I know I have to ask every day. I can’t go one day with His strength and blessing in my life. Whether it is a physical challenge, emotional struggle or financial woes, He can give you the power to overcome. No, let me rephrase that. He will overcome through you.

Strengthen me today, O Lord. I praise You for the blessings You bestow on me every day.

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Belief, Bible, Encouragement, Faith, Following, Promises, Rescue, Salvation, Surrender

OUT OF EGYPT

HOSEA 11:1

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

There have been a few places from which I wanted to be out of. I won’t name them so as not to upset anyone, lol. You may have been in a similar situation but had no way out. You may have been kept there due to a job or family. Whatever it was, you felt trapped. Well, today’s verse ought to hit home with you.

God rescued Israel from Egypt. They had been there many years and were made into slaves. There seemed no way out, but God sent a deliverer by the name of Moses to set His people free. Many years later, He brought His Son out of Egypt. Joseph had taken his young family there to escape the wrath of Herod. But when the time came, He brought Jesus back to Israel to begin His plan for redemption.

APPLICATION

God can rescue you just as well. You may feel trapped in your Egypt, but there is a way out. Just as God sent a deliverer for Israel, He has sent a deliverer for you. His Son Jesus was sent so you can be free. But you can only be free if you follow the Deliverer. Only He knows the way out.

You may already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you still filled trapped by something. He can set you free from that too. Jesus wants you to walk in freedom each day. That requires you to lay down those burdens. He can handle them. He wants you free to live for Him without restraints. He wants you free to share Him with others. Accept that freedom He offers.

I am so thankful I am free. Nothing can chain me down. No troubles, no pain, no heartaches. I am free to be whatever the Lord wants me to be, as long as I surrender daily to Him. I know that, but each day I have to make a conscious decision to do that. I have pledged to do that. Will you?

I vow Lord to follow You daily. I want to walk in freedom.

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Abiding, Advice, Bible, Contentment, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Promises

TWIGS

HOSEA 10:7

Samaria will be destroyed with her king, like a twig on the surface of the water.”

There is just something fascinating about streams of water. You can sit and watch the current for hours. It is constantly changing. A ripple here, a ripple there. Bubbles pop up and then disappear. I used to love to put little twigs in the current and watch them disappear downstream. Some would float on top while others got submerged.

That’s the picture Hosea is painting here regarding Israel’s king. He would be swept away just like a twig in a stream. He would have no power to control where he was going. Assyria would come in and take him away. No man, no matter his position, could be trusted to lead Israel safely. After all, they were only human.

APPLICATION

I pray your trust is not in some person or thing. Some people think if they just get the right people in political power, all their problems will be solved. Some people believe government is the solution. Others put all their trust in their pastor or church. All of those will let you down. No human or manmade entity can be your source of strength.

There is only one true source of strength – Jesus Christ. He has the power to do what He desires when He desires. Everything He decides to do will be done. He has the perfect plan for your life if you will just trust Him. He is a benevolent king and a patient king. He won’t force Himself on you. He will wait. But do you have enough time?

I am old enough now to realize I need Jesus to direct me every day. The one day I try to go it on my own is the day that I blow it. When I am down, He lifts me up. When I am tearful, He wipes them away. When I am angry and upset, He stills me. He is my only source of strength and stability. Will you trust Him too?

I am thankful I can rely on You for my strength, Lord. You are the one true foundation.

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Bible, Blessing, Born, Child Bearing, Commands, Double-minded, Godliness, Holiness, Joy, Life, Obedience, Promises, Sanctification, Scripture, Testimony

NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

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Abiding, Accountability, Alone, Bible, Blessing, Choices, Commands, Direction, Disciplemaking, Eternity, Following, Forgiveness, Hell, Obedience, Promises, Repentance, Scripture

OUTCASTS

HOSEA 9:3

“They will not remain in the LORD’S land, but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and in Assyria they will eat unclean food.

There have been a few times in my life when I felt like an outcast, like I wasn’t wanted. I can remember being chosen last at recess for a game. I wasn’t the fastest kid when I was little. I was on the heavy side. So, if there were teams being picked that involved running fast, I was usually one of the last chosen. I hated that feeling.

It’s not the same, but here in Hosea we see that Israel or Ephraim would be cast out of their land. The Lord was not going to allow them to remain there. They would be taken away. I can’t imagine how that must have felt. They would have to leave their homes and their lands and be taken to a strange land as slaves, as exiles. All because they had not obeyed the Lord.

APPLICATION

Oh, listen to me. Without Christ in our lives, we will all be outcasts. We will be cast into hell. We will face eternal punishment for not obeying the Lord. He will hold us accountable for all the sins we have committed. We will not escape His wrath.

But…if we turn to Him in repentance and bow our knee to Jesus, He is quick to adopt us into His family. We will never be cast out. We will inherit His promises. We are heirs of His kingdom. We are commanded to obey, and by doing so He draws us close. So, we have a choice – outcast or drawn close.

I know what I choose. I want to draw close. James 4:8 says, “Come close to God and He will come close to you.” Spending time in the Word daily does that. Hearing His voice as He speaks to me through His precepts pulls me closer each day. I can just hear His still small voice. Can you hear Him?

I love to hear Your voice. I want to be drawn close to You. I praise You!

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Busyness, Contentment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Godliness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Promises, Scripture, Surrender, Testimony

PALACES

HOSEA 8:14

“For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities, but I will send a fire on its cities, and it will consume its palatial buildings.”

The closest I have been to being in a palace is the Biltmore House near Asheville, N.C. It was built by the Vanderbilt family and has been described as an American palace. It really is a sight to behold. The rooms and grounds are incredible. I can’t imagine what it cost, but it took over six years to build the 178,000 square foot mansion.

Palaces don’t mean a thing, though. Israel and Judah found that out. No matter how many they built, they would not stand. There is nothing man can build that can withstand the judgment of God. Perhaps they thought if they “impressed” God He might change His mind about judging them. It didn’t work.

APPLICATION

We tend to try to impress God by the things we do. We may not build mansions, but we build other things. We build up our worldly wealth – that won’t stand. We build beautiful churches and sanctuaries – they won’t impress Him. We build up our reputations – they also won’t sway God. God simply wants our hearts.

Have you surrendered your heart to Him? Perhaps you are struggling with that decision today. Give it to Him. Let Him build you up. Let Him use His Spirit to guide you in your decisions. That pleases Him. If your heart isn’t totally surrendered to Him, He can’t use you in ways He would like. He has such great plans for you. Don’t you know that?

I want Him to use me. I want to do His bidding. However, I know I can’t do that unless I yield to Him. I have to stop building my own palaces to impress Him and others. I have to stop spending so much time worrying about what others think about me. What truly matters is what the Lord thinks. Don’t you agree? If we are in His will, that is all that matters.

Tear down any palaces I have built from my own flesh. Tear down those things that put me above You. You are all that matters, Lord.

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Bible, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Inspirational, Promises, Sacrifice, Scripture

WASTED SACRIFICES

HOSEA 8:13

“As for My sacrificial gifts, they sacrifice the flesh and eat it, but the LORD has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their guilt, and punish them for their sins; they will return to Egypt.”

Too often our “sacrifices” we make to the Lord are more about us than Him. We think we are making this great sacrifice, but it is really nothing. Our idea of a sacrifice pales in comparison to what Jesus did for us. We aren’t making animal sacrifices anymore, but we can still offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.

The Israelites were good at offering the sacrifices. Morning and evening, festivals and celebrations. Every time it was required, they would offer the prescribed sacrifice. But it meant nothing. Why? Because God knew their hearts. It says in today’s verse, “the Lord has taken no delight in them.” So, these were wasted sacrifices. They were made with the wrong intentions.

APPLICATION

What are you offering the Lord right now? Most of us offer Him our scraps. If we get time, we will read the Word. If we have some money left over at the end of the month, we will throw a few dollars in the plate. If we… You get the picture. We generally offer the Lord our leftovers when He demands the first fruits.

What is your first fruits? It’s your best. We should think of the Lord first each day. We should think of Him first when we are spending our money. After all, He is the one that gives us that new day and gives us our money. He provides for us. He deserves our best. Take a look at your offerings to Him today.

I want to give Him my very best. Do I always do that? No, and for that I am sorry. I truly desire to do it. But my flesh gets in the way. I don’t die to myself. I don’t surrender my will to His. I am just like the Israelites sometimes. But the Spirit always draws me back. He reminds me of whose I am. He deserves my all every day in every way.

I give You my all today, Lord. You deserve my very best, and I desire to give it to You.

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Devil, God's Will, Guilt, Heaven, Lying, Mercy, Promises, Redemption, Satan, Scripture, Truth

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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Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Heaven, Hell, Joy, Life, Promises, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

ON THE THIRD DAY

HOSEA 6:2

“He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.”

We just celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago. I have always loved Easter. I loved the Easter baskets, hiding and finding the Easter eggs and I especially loved Easter lunch after church. Of course, the older I got the more I understood about Easter and the importance of the resurrection on the third day. We truly have something to celebrate.

I just love the words in today’s verse. I had forgotten these words were spoken here in Hosea. Hosea was prophesying about the Messiah here. Jesus was revived, and He was raised up on the third day. These Israelites were placing their hope in a resurrection from Jehovah God. We do the same.

APPLICATION

So, if you are a believer in Christ, you have hope in the resurrection Christ. His shed blood on Calvary covers our sins, but His resurrection gives us eternal life. There is nothing else into which we put our hope. There is nothing else that can give us eternity. We will be changed into a glorified body and live forever with our God.

Sadly, some people don’t believe in that. They think when we die, we just die. Our lives end. There is nothing beyond the grave. How depressing! The fact is our lives are just beginning at death. Death is just a portal into our eternal home. If we love Jesus and have given our lives to Him, then that home is heaven. If we have not done that, then that eternal home is hell. Either way, we have an eternal destiny.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad I have secured my room in my mansion in the heaven. I will be happy with the closet in the mansion, honestly. Just to be in the presence of my God is good enough for me. How about you? Have you punched your ticket for heaven? Are you ready? Are you longing for your heavenly home?

O Father, I long for heaven. But while I am here, let me be about Your business.

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Comfort, Encouragement, Giving, Inspirational, Life, Perseverance, Promises, Scripture

THE EARTH SINGS

HOSEA 2:22

“And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine, and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.”

I grew up in farm country in South Georgia. When I say “farm country” I mean that. My small hometown economy revolved around the farms that surrounded us. I loved seeing all those crops in the fields. It seemed to inspire life. Fields of corn, tomatoes, watermelons and etc. It did appear that the earth was singing.

Hosea 2:22 gives a similar picture. Grain, new wine and oil were about life during the time of Hosea. Everyone depended on the health of the harvest. When it was good, everyone celebrated. It was a festive time. When it was not, worry set in. They didn’t have the elaborate food economy we have today. It was literally hand to mouth.

APPLICATION

So, how does this apply to us today? We need to celebrate the life that the Lord has given us. Each day with Him brings new hope. We can face anything if we know He is with us. We do want the grain, new wine and oil, just like the Israelites. We may not call it that, but we live to celebrate new life.

What do you do, then, when things aren’t going so well? Do you pout and complain? Be honest – you probably do. But we shouldn’t. Even in the lean times, God is still on His throne. He is still with us. We can rest assured that He has not forgotten us and will once again bring in the harvest times.

What are you celebrating today? You can celebrate the fact that Jesus died for your sins. He hung on that cross to bear the sins of the whole world. He rose from that grave and ascended to His heavenly Father. He sits on His right hand interceding for you right now. Now, that’s worth celebrating.

Father, I praise You for giving me life. I praise You for promising life even on the darkest of days.

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