Abiding, Advice, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Commands, Deceit, Devil, Idols, Lies, Obedience, Relationships, Satan, Scripture, Sin

UNDER THE SHADE TREE

HOSEA 4:13

“They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains and burn incense on the hills, under oak, poplar, and terebinth, because their shade is pleasant. Therefore, your daughters play the prostitute, and your brides commit adultery.”

Growing up in South Georgia I spent many lazy summer days under the shade of a tree with my buddies. After playing and riding bikes we would find a favorite spot under a tree and just lay around shooting the breeze. We could talk for hours about nothing. Those childhood memories will be with me forever.

That is not what the people of Israel were doing, however. They were offering sacrifices to false gods under those trees. These idols and their worship led them to do things that were abhorrent to God. They deserted the worship of the one, true God for the momentary pleasures of false ones. They were lulled into this by Satan himself. He wanted them to stray and offered every opportunity to do so.

APPLICATION

What are you allowing Satan to lull you into? You see, we are in a spiritual battle every day. The devil loves to get our eyes off of Jesus. He puts things in our paths that seem to provide security. Right now, here in America, most of us have received stimulus checks to assist families during this covid economy. These checks can provide a false sense of security. Government funds are not the answer. God is.

Now, before you ask, yes, I did receive a check. Yes, I will accept it. And yes, I will spend it. The difference is I realize that check is not the answer to any financial concerns I may have. I can’t rely on any source of income to be my Savior. All those resources can dry up overnight. There is only one reliable source for me – Jesus. If I have nothing material, I will always have Him. He will provide for me. He has promised to do so. I must trust that.

I won’t ask you how you spent your stimulus check from the government. That’s none of my business. I will ask you who you are trusting, though. If it’s not your Lord, you need to stop and reassess your priorities. This may sound like I am brow beating you today. I don’t mean to. I only want to challenge you to trust Jesus with everything. Will you today?

Thank You, Lord, that You are my only source of provision. I am thankful how You use others to meet my needs when applicable, but I know it is You who are really my one true and safe source.

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Accountability, Advice, Affection, Bible, Choices, Commands, Compassion, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Husbands, Intimacy, Love, Mercy, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Wives

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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Affection, Betrothed, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Compassion, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Intimacy, Love, Modeling, Passion, Promises, Relationships, Scripture

MY BETROTHED

HOSEA 2:19

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion,”

Have you ever been betrothed? Here in the U.S. we would call it being engaged. When I asked my wife to marry me, we became engaged to be married. Ours was a short courtship. We only dated about two and half months before we were married. Hey, when you see a good thing… lol.

I love the image Hosea uses here. God betroths us to Him. That word literally means to pay the price and so gain the right of possession. When a dowry was given, the couple became betrothed. But look how He betrothed Israel (and us) – in righteousness and in justice, in favor and in compassion. Wow! Now, that’s a betrothal.

APPLICATION

Do you feel betrothed? Are you living your life as the betrothed of God? Oh, you should be. Look at who you are betrothed to. The God of the universe. The Creator of all things. The Beginning and the End. Jehovah God. I could go on and on and on.

People get excited about celebrities. They dream about being married to one. But these are finite, fallible people who will let you down. Look at how many celebrity marriages fail. Our betrothal to Almighty God will never fail. We are His betrothed forever!

Doesn’t that excite you? It does me. There is nothing that can separate me from Him. When God betroths us, that means we are His bride from now throughout eternity. Don’t you want to know your betrothed better? I sure do.

Lord, thank You for making me Your betrothed. You did purchase me with a price – Your Son. Amen.

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Bible, Choices, Commands, Commitment, Disciplemaking, Following, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

NAME RECOGNITION

HOSEA 2:17

“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will no longer be mentioned by their names.”

Remembering people’s names is a gift. I had the privilege of knowing Father Val Peters who was the Superintendent of Boys’ Home in Nebraska. He made it a point to know every child’s name at the home. That was over 500 children. He worked at it, but he did it. I have tried to do that myself everywhere I have served. Kids love it when you know their name and call them by it.

God didn’t want to hear the names of the false gods on the mouths of His children. He wanted them toconcentrate on His name. No other name matters. Calling on anything or anyone besides Jesus is equivalent to the Israelites worshipping Baal. It’s empty. It’s hopeless. Call on His name.

APPLICATION

Who are you calling on? Family? They will let you down. Church? They are imperfect and filled with imperfect people. A Pastor? Don’t even go there. Too many of them are failing. Listen. There is nothing wrong with any of those. But we must make sure our first call is to Jesus. He is the only sure thing.

Aren’t you tired of being let down? Aren’t you frustrated with depending on people who are more concerned with themselves than you? God has you at the center of His mind. He always wants you to succeed. He will give you the skills you need to follow Him. Will you just let Him?

I don’t know about you, but I want His name on my lips. It is the sweetest name we know. When you are in a low time, call His name. When you are rejoicing, call His name. Call His name in every situation. He longs to hear it.

O God, I praise Your name. No other name means as much to me. You are worthy of my praise.

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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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RESTORATION

HOSEA 2:14

“Therefore, behold, I am going to persuade her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.”

It feels so good to be brought back into the fold. When you have lost favor with someone it hurts. You feel like there is nothing you can do to earn their trust again. In the world it’s hard. People don’t forgive that easily. Sometimes it may take years to restore a relationship. And it’s just not possible without forgiveness.

At this point in the book of Hosea, God is offering Gomer and Israel forgiveness. Listen to the words of this verse. They are tender words. God is going to “persuade” her. That word means to allure, to be wide open. He is going to “speak kindly to her.” What a change from the previous verses. God is a forgiving God.

APPLICATION

Have you wandered away from the Lord? Are you trying to find your way back? It only takes one step. The moment you make that first step, God is there. There’s a story in the New Testament called “The Prodigal Son.” Forget about the wayward son. Forget about the older brother. Look at the father in that story. The moment his son reappeared, the father ran to him and kissed him. That’s our God.

Now, what happens if you don’t return? You stay in that no man’s land. You are in despair. You are hopeless. God won’t beg you to come home, but He is always waiting. Just like He was with Israel. When they finally repented and came back, He spoke kindly to her.

Are you ready to return? I don’t want to be away from His presence one day. There is absolutely nothing like being in fellowship with the Father. There is nothing like His embrace. Come!

Lord, I praise You for the joy of my salvation. I know whenever I falter, You are there waiting for me to come back to You.

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UNSEEN BLESSINGS

HOSEA 2:8

“Yet she does not know that it was I myself who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”

Many years ago, my wife and I lost a baby girl, Cathleen. She was born premature and only lived six hours. It was a tragic thing in our lives, but one God used mightily. That’s another story. The part I want to share today is that we never received bills from the doctor or hospital. When I called to find out what was going on, I was told that someone had paid all the bills for us. We eventually found out who had done that. They had blessed us without our knowledge.

God had done the same for Israel. They had no idea how God had been blessing them for years. As Hosea says here – “and lavished on her…” When God gives, He gives way beyond our comprehension. He makes sure we have what we need, and often times more than we need. He truly blesses us.

APPLICATION

I want you to sit down and think about the past year. How has God blessed you? For me, He got me through another stem cell transplant. He provided for me through multiple individuals the funds to pay my medical bills. He got me through covid-19 when I still had a compromised immune system. I could go on and on. How about you?

We often do not stop and count the blessings. There is an old hymn that talks about that.  Count Your Blessings goes like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost

Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the lord has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God has done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God has done

Let me encourage you to do that today. You will be blessed when you stop and see al that He has done for you.

Lord, You bless me when I don’t deserve it. You see my need and move to meet it even before I am aware of it myself.

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ILLEGITIMATE

HOSEA 2:4

“Also, I will take no pity on her children, because they are children of infidelity.”

I have mentioned before that I worked over thirty years in children’s homes. Over these years I had the privilege to work with a lot of children who the world would call illegitimate. By that I mean, they were born out of wedlock. Their biological mother and father were not married. Early on in my ministry there was a lot more stigma attached to that. That’s really not the case now. In some ways that’s good, but it’s still not God’s design.

God knew (as did Hosea) that the children birthed by Gomer were probably not Hosea’s due to her infidelity. God used this extremely difficult human situation to portray to the nation of Israel that they were the same as Gomer. They had gone after other gods. They were being unfaithful to Him in the same way Gomer was to Hosea. As a result, children would suffer.

APPLICATION

We may not worship idols or other “gods,” but we are prone to be just as unfaithful. We worship our money, our careers, our churches, even our Pastors. We place them above our Lord way too often. We are no better than the Israelites. We are committing adultery with these “other gods.” We seek after them with more energy and zeal than we ever do after our God.

How do you not become a Gomer? By staying pure in heart. By seeking Him first in your heart. By staying faithful to Him. By…I could go on and on. Our pursuit of God is really not that complicated. We have to be laser focused. If anything gets in the way of that, it should be reprioritized. Hear me clearly. Nothing gets in the way of our relationship with Jesus.

What have you allowed to sneak in? What is disrupting your laser beam? Get it out the way. God has to come first, even before family or church. And when you put Him first, when you are faithful to Him, He will honor that. He will give you the strength and courage to do whatever is necessary to live for Him.

Keep me faithful to You and You only. Forgive me when I am not.

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HUSBANDS AND WIVES

HOSEA 2:2

“Dispute with your mother, dispute, because she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; but she must remove her infidelity from her face and her adultery from between her breasts,”

My wife and I have been married thirty-five years. We could have never imagined back in 1985 how our lives would change. We have been through a lot together. We have lived in nine different homes in five different states. We have made so many friends and, thankfully, very few enemies, lol. Through it all, we have remained husband and wife.

In today’s verse, God uses the imagery of husband and wife and is referring to Hosea’s adulterous wife. Just as Gomer, Hosea’s wife, had been unfaithful to God, Israel had been unfaithful to Him. He is calling them to repentance. Sin must be confessed and expunged to restore the relationship.

APPLICATION

Do you understand how your unconfessed sin builds a wall between you and the Lord? Until you admit you are a sinner and ask Christ to save you, you are doomed to an eternal punishment. There really is no hope for you without Christ. But the moment you call on Him and confess your sins, believe in His name and surrender your life to Him, you are cleansed and become His child.

So many believers, however, stop there. No! You need to continue to confess and cleanse your heart each day. Now, you are only saved once, but because we are still human, we are going to sin and mess up. Those sins are forgiven under the same blood that saved you, but unconfessed sin can begin to be a barrier between you and God. Just like Gomer, we have to confess our sins and return to our “husband.”

Take a moment right now and pray. Ask the Lord to forgive you for the sins you have committed today or this week. Name them. Don’t just ask the Lord to forgive your sins. Name them specifically. If you don’t remember them, ask the Lord to reveal them to you. He will. I guarantee you He knows. A clean heart restores fellowship with the Lord.

O Father, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. I want to fellowship with You .

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WELCOME HOME

HOSEA 2:1

“Say to your brothers, ‘Ammi,’ and to your sisters, ‘Ruhamah.’”

Several years ago our daughter spent several months in Bomet, Kenya serving as a Social Worker at Tenwek Hospital. We had the opportunity to FaceTime with her, when the internet worked, but that was still not the same as being with her in the same room. As her parents, we longed to hold her and love on her. When the day came for her to arrive back home in the U.S., we were ecstatic. We made the trip to the airport and waited anxiously for her to appear in the international flights waiting area. We almost choked her hugging her so tight.

God is doing the same for His people in this verse. They had not been His people, and now He calls them His people (Ammi). They had been shown no mercy, and now He is showing them compassion (Ruhamah). He is essentially embracing them and welcoming them back home. That’s what He promises to all His lost children. He wants us home. He wants to hug us tightly.

APPLICATION

Have you been welcomed home? I hope so. At salvation, we move from lostness to a place of security. We whom have seen no mercy can now experience the love of a merciful God. If you haven’t experienced this, I pray today you will turn to Him and allow Him to pour over you.

Perhaps you have strayed from His embrace. You have allowed the worries of this world to encompass you. You are drowning in despair. Stop where you are and turn back towards the Father. He is waiting to call you His child once again. He is longing to embrace you and show you mercy. What are you waiting for?

Too many of us struggle needlessly when the Father is right there. We allow the world to blind us to the reality of His love. Don’t be foolish like the Israelites. Don’t wander in exile. Come home to Him today. Welcome home.

I long to be at home with You, O Lord. In Your arms is where I belong.

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