Abiding, Accountability, Affection, Bible, Cleansing, Confession, Confrontation, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Intimacy, Mercy, Protection, Punishment, Redemption, Repentance

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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Advocate, Battles, Bible, Comfort, Contentment, Direction, Encouragement, Inspirational, Peace, Protection, Scripture

PEACE ALL AROUND

HOSEA 2:18

“On that day I will also make a covenant for them with the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the crawling things of the ground. And I will eliminate the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will let them lie down in safety.”

Have you ever been in a situation where everything is totally out of control? I mean, it is total chaos! You get one fire put out and another one springs up. You cannot get one moment of rest because of all the stuff you are having to deal with. Then…peace. The chaos ends. You can breathe. Isn’t that an awesome feeling?

The Lord is telling Israel that in today’s verse. Everything is going to calm down. Even the animals, birds and crawling things are going to cooperate. No more war. They can finally feel safe. Those must have been welcomed words from Hosea.

APPLICATION

Are you fighting a battle right now that seems impossible? Does it seem hopeless? Listen, brother and sister, there is hope. But you must come to Him. He can calm all the storms in your life. There aren’t any problems too big for Him. I’ve said it before, everything over our heads is under His feet. Never forget that.

Turn to Him now and say, “Lord, I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I need help. Will you help me through this storm I’m in?” What do you think He is going to say to that? He will come to you. Now, you may not like the way He works in that situation, but if you will trust Him, He will see you through.

Sometimes, peace comes only by navigating through a storm. Let Jesus do that for you. He knows where all the safe ports are. He wants to give you rest. I don’t know about you, but I want that in my life. I’ve had enough storms lately, lol. I am ready for some still waters.

Lord, I give you the helm. Guide me into the still waters of Your peace.

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Affection, Bible, Disciplemaking, Faithfulness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Passion, Protection, Relationships, Scripture

MY MAN

HOSEA 2:16

“‘And it will come about on that day,’” declares the LORD,

“‘That you will call Me my husband and no longer call Me my Baal.’”

I’ve been married for over thirty-five years now. I truly have to say that I love my wife more today than the day we got married. Why? Because I know her better. I just had this flashback of Sonny and Cher singing “I love you more today than yesterday.” Lol. I love it when my wife refers to me as her husband. I love that term. It’s intimate. It’s personal. I’m her man.

God is telling Israel (and Gomer) to call Him “my husband” or “my man.” He really is. That’s what the Hebrew word ish means. Why is He saying this? Because He didn’t want them using the word Baal which means lord. A husband was often called lord by his wife, but in this instance, God didn’t want any confusion on their part with Him and that pagan god named Baal. So just call Him my husband.

APPLICATION

Is God “your man”? I don’t mean that in any kind of derogatory way. I mean do you have an intimate, personal relationship with Him? My wife and I have been developing our relationship for over thirty-five years now, but we still have a long way to go. I will never fully know her because we are both limited by our humanness. God knows you fully and wants you to know Him.

How can you know God on a more intimate level? There is only one way. You have to spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer. If you don’t spend time with someone, you will never know them. It’s just not possible. Will you commit to spend some more time with the Lord this week?

The beauty of spending time with the Lord is that it can happen anywhere. Unlike my wife, who has to be physically with me to spend time with me, God is accessible 24/7. He is everywhere. He is always listening. That blows my mind, but it’s true. Just reach out and see what happens. He’s there waiting to commune with you.

O God, creator of the universe, I am amazed that You want to spend time with me. I will stop today and listen to Your voice.

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Abiding, Advocate, Affection, Bible, Comfort, Compassion, Direction, Encouragement, Following, Hope, Protection, Scripture, Trouble

DOOR OF HOPE

HOSEA 2:15

“Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope. And she will respond there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she went up from the land of Egypt.”

From September 2019 through around April 2020, I went through a pretty grueling physical test. I have a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. The treatment of this disease required me to go through my second stem cell transplant, this time with six months of chemotherapy beforehand. It was hard. I kept my hope in the fact that I had been down this path before in 2010 and knew the treatment could work.

The Israelites had seen God work in the past. They knew what God had done bringing them out of Egypt. They knew their hope was not a false hope. One scholar defines the Hebrew word for hope as “patient, enduring longing.” I kind of like that. I can relate. That’s exactly what I had last year – patient, enduring longing.

APPLICATION

What are you longing for right now? On what are you basing your hope? If you are hoping in anything by God, you are bound to be disappointed. There is no sure thing out there, except Him. Everything and everyone else will let you down. I don’t care how much someone may love you, they can’t give you the hope God can through His Son, Jesus Christ.

I love the expression we have today in the verse that says “the valley of Achor. This valley was on the border of Judah. Achor actually means trouble or disturbance. God brings us through our valleys of trouble into hope. But we have to pass through it first. We can’t forget that if He leads us into a valley of trouble, He will lead us out. We just have to stay with Him.

I just got this picture in my head of an old western where the good guys have to ride through a desert canyon that is probably being watched by the bad guys. There is only one way through. They know trouble is ahead, but they have to ride anyway. Listen, God sent us Jesus to see us through those times. Stay close to Him. He will lead you to the door of hope.

I am so thankful that I know my hope lies in You. There is no one else I would yield my trust to.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advocate, Bible, Caregiver, Direction, Following, Obedience, Protection, Rescue, Scripture, Suffering, Testimony

NO ESCAPE

HOSEA 2:10

“So now I will uncover her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers, and no one will rescue her from My hand.”

Have you ever been in a place where you were trapped and couldn’t get out? It’s not a very comfortable feeling. Many years ago, while I was in high school, I was in a serious car wreck. After the car finally stopped, after flipping on its top and slamming the top down on the front seat, I was trapped. I couldn’t get out my door. Fortunately, the driver of the car was able to crawl out his window and help us out. We needed to be rescued.

If God withdraws His rescue, you are truly in a bad place. God has placed Israel (and Gomer) in a place where no one can rescue them. He has placed them where only He could. It is during these times that we realize He is the only source. We can sit in this place of uncomfortableness, or we can turn to the only one who can rescue us.

APPLICATION

The best way to avoid the need to be rescued is to not get in a place where it is necessary. How do you do that? By abiding in Him daily. There really is no other way. Most of the time when we are needing to be rescued, we have sought our own way. We have ignored the leading of the Lord. When we follow Him we are safe.

Now, we may face some hard times. God may lead us there. That’s okay. Because wherever He leads us, He will lead us through it. Don’t you believe that? I do. I have experienced that. I have had the privilege, yes, the privilege, to suffer for Him. But in every suffering circumstance, He has brought me through. He will do the same for you.

So, avoid those self-induced needs for rescue by remaining in Him. He will keep you close. And there is no better place to be. Read John 15:1-11 today. Take it to heart. Memorize it. Abide in Him.

Lord, I know You are there when I need to be rescued. Help me avoid those situations and remain close to You.

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Accountability, Advice, Alone, Bible, Courage, Devil, God's Will, Obedience, Protection, Satan, Scripture

GOD’S WALLS

HOSEA 2:6

“Therefore, behold, I will obstruct her way with thorns, and I will build a stone wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.”

Has God ever blocked you from doing something that you know was wrong? Without going into details (of course), I can think of a time or two when I was younger when my decision to pursue a course that was less than godly. At the time I was frustrated but looking back I can see God was protecting me.

In Hosea 2:6 the Lord is talking about one of two things. Scholars have varying opinions. Was He preventing Gomer (Israel) from pursing her sinful behavior or was He preventing Gomer from spreading her sinful behavior and influencing others to sin? Either way, God has put up walls.

APPLICATION

How does this apply to us? Aren’t you thankful for God’s walls of protection in your life? Think about it. He may be keeping you away from some wrong decisions in your life. He may be keeping evil away from you. Walls may seem constraining, but they are for your protection.

You see, the key is which side of the wall God is on. You want to be on the right side of the wall. And if you are on the side with God, walls are good. And you want them high. The devil may try to come over the walls, but God will knock him down every time. But you have to stay inside the walls. Don’t even peak over the wall.

We all need protection – from our own choices and from the evil one. Don’t moan and groan about the walls God puts in your path. Learn to see them as God’s love in action. He builds those walls with love because you are His child.

Lord, I thank You for walls. Your walls protect me. Help me see the walls as Your love in action.

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Accountability, Affection, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Faith, Following, God's Will, Hope, Obedience, Protection, Relationships, Scripture

YOU’RE NOT MINE

HOSEA 1:9

“And the LORD said, ‘Name him Lo-ammi, because you are not My people, and I am not your God.’”

I worked over thirty years in children’s homes ministries. Probably the saddest part of those years was when a biological mom or dad told their child they didn’t want them anymore. The hurt in the eyes of those children isn’t easy to forget. They felt thrown away and worthless. Our job at the children’s home was to love on them and bring them to Jesus. He would never leave them.

Through Hosea’s children, God was sending a message to Israel. This latest birth, a son, sent a harsh message to them. God said, “I am not your God.” Wow! After all the years of God directing them and protecting them, He had enough. He was done with their rebellion. He was no longer their Father. I wonder how the Israelites’ faces looked. Were they crushed like the children I dealt with? Or were they clueless of what they had done?

APPLICATION

As believers, we can never escape the presence of our God. He will never leave us. We have a covenant relationship with Him through Christ. We may choose to rebel and not walk as we should, but He will never leave us. Any separation between us and God is because we have moved, not Him.

Don’t you want to be closer to Him today? I do. I want to feel His embrace. I need to know He is there beside me each day. I do not want to face one second without Him. So, I spend time each day in His Word. I spend time each day talking to Him. I want to hear His voice. I want Him to hear mine. I can’t imagine hearing, “I am not your God.”

However, there are millions around us every day who don’t know our Savior. If they should die today, they would hear those words from God. How can we prevent that from happening? By taking the time to share with everyone around us. Tell others what He has done for you. Tell others of His love. Let them hear God say, “I love you. I am your God.”

Father in heaven, hear my cry today. I beg You for the lives of those around me. Send me to share with them the love You have for all.

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Advice, Advocate, Battles, Courage, Enemies, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Safety, Scripture, Soldiers, Victors

NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

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Accountability, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Following, Inspirational, Love, Mentoring, Modeling, Parenting, Protection, Scripture, Self-control, Testimony

WHAT A STORY

1 JOHN 3:12

“not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.”

Have you ever heard a story told over and over? My brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Barber, was a master storyteller. He just had a way of bringing you right into the story. He famously told his beaver dam story more times than I can count, but each time he told it, I was sucked right in. Some stories are just that memorable.

John is reminding us of a story we have all heard before. Cain killed his brother. Wow! He was jealous of his brother. And when he was confronted by God after he killed him, what did he say? Am I my brother’s keeper? Why yes, Cain, you are. That’s John’s point. We are all our brother’s keeper.

APPLICATION

If you have more than one child, don’t you teach your older children to keep an eye on the younger ones? I don’t mean they should be responsible for them. But they do have an obligation to watch over them, to help protect them. It’s just the right thing for siblings to do.

I will never forget defending my little sister on a school playground when I was in the second grade and she was in the first grade. The class bully had decided to pick on her during recess, and I was going to have none of that. After our confrontation (let’s leave it at that), he didn’t bother her again. Now, I am not advocating fighting. Please don’t hear me say that. But I am saying we have to teach our children to look after each other.

Is there a weaker brother who could use your support? Maybe someone is going through some marriage struggles right now and needs advice. Perhaps someone is struggling with a wayward child and you’ve got some experience in that area. Don’t turn your back. Ask the Lord to use you to lighten their load.

Use me, Lord, however you wish to come to the aid of those around me. I want to honor You.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Choices, Deceit, Deception, Encouragement, Exhortation, Following, Lies, Mentoring, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Protection, Relationships, Scripture

FAIR WARNING

1 JOHN 2:26

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you.”

I told you not to touch that.Have you ever heard that before? Boy, I have. Too many times. My daddy warned me about grabbing an electric fence. But what did I do? That’s right – I grabbed the electric fence. My daddy also gave me fair warnings about other stuff. Some of those I listened to. Others I didn’t. My dad was trying to point me in the right direction.

John, however, is warning us about those who want to lead us on the wrong path. That word “deceive” means that. These individuals are trying to mislead you. That want you to mess up. They want you to fail. They don’t want you living for Christ or doing what is pleasing to Him.

APPLICATION

I think the application is pretty plain here. As parents, we are constantly guiding and directing our children in the right way. God forbid that we should ever teach them to do the wrong stuff. I’ve known parents like that. I once knew some parents who taught their children how to go into Walmart, get a buggy full of stuff and just push it right out the door. After all, who suspects little kids of stealing like that.

We must continue to show our children why we need to stay on the right path. There is nothing wrong with pointing out the consequences of bad behavior. Sin has consequences. Our kids need to know that. Allowing ourselves to be misled by others can, and most often does, lead directly into sinful behavior. That’s what we are trying to help them avoid.

What’s your excuse? Carl, I didn’t realize it until it was too late. Let me ask you a question. Did you stop and ask if what you were about to do would glorify God? If the answer is “No” or “I’m not sure,” then you should stop right there. There is no gray line with sin. It is either sin or it’s not. Period. Live that way.

Forgive me, Father, for making excuses for my sin. Forgive me for allowing anyone but the Holy Spirit to guide me.

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