Abiding, Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Contentment, Devil, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Peace, Relationships, Scripture

THE WRONG SIDE

HOSEA 13:9 

“It is to your own destruction, Israel, that you are against Me, against your help.” 

There have been times in my life when I have chosen the wrong side of a fight. I became emotionally involved about something and didn’t think things through. The end result wasn’t good. I lost. It doesn’t matter what the issue was. The problem was I had not prayed about it first. I thought it was a matter that I needed to decide without consulting my Savior. I was wrong. 

Israel had chosen the wrong side. They had sided against God. They had pursued the other gods. They had decided to follow the pagan gods of the nations around them, the very nations God had told them to wipe out when they came into the Promised Land. Even after seeing all that God had done for their nation, they chose the wrong side. Now, their destruction was upon them. 

APPLICATION 

Whose side are you on? I pray you are on the Lord’s side. He has so much to offer. It may appear that siding with the Lord limits you. You may think walking with Him means you can’t “have fun” anymore. That is so far from the truth. Living for Jesus is the most fun you could have. He fills our lives with joy and peace. He surrounds us with a family that loves us and wants to see us succeed. What more could you want? 

I just returned from my brother’s funeral. As I sat in the service and listened to the speakers share about my brother, I was amazed. My brother and I lived about six hours apart. I knew he was involved in his church, but I had no idea just how much he served. I was blown away at their accolades of my brother. My brother chose the right side. He had chosen to serve Jesus. He is enjoying the victory now. 

It’s never too late to join the winning side. The other side, the devil’s side, will never win. His side is doomed for defeat. And the simple truth is if you are not on the Lord’s side, you are on the devil’s side. Join the right side today. Come to Jesus. Repent of your sins. Ask Him to come and live inside of you through His Holy Spirit. Experience the joy and peace He has to offer.  

Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood. 

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ONE SAVIOR

HOSEA 13:4 

“Yet I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; and you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me.” 

I have been reading a book by Nik Ripken entitled, “The Insanity of Obedience.” It is an inspiring and convicting read. I highly recommend it. One thing Nik points out about the conversion of Hindu believers is the danger of incorporating Jesus into their many gods. True conversion of a Hindu will result in the removal of their altars to their other gods in their homes. There’s only room for one Savior. 

Israel struggled with the influence of pagan religions, the very thing God warned them about when they came into the Promised Land under Joshua. They allowed the nations they were supposed to defeat to defeat them from within by absorbing their beliefs. But God is a jealous God and would not allow that to continue. 

APPLICATION 

The same holds true for us today. God is still a jealous God. He will not share us with other gods. You may say, What other  gods?  The gods of our own making. As I have said before, we put all kinds of things before our Lord. We celebrate and worship the things of this world. We spend our time and money in places that have no eternal value. 

Have you torn down your altars and made room for just one Savior? Nothing or no one else can deliver you from the struggles of this life. No amount of Pure Barre or Orange Theory workouts can diminish the pain you are feeling. Only Jesus can remove what ails you. He can bring you into a perfect peace that will never leave you.  

I have tried different things in my life to get the peace that can only come through Jesus. Some of them actually seem to work for a while. I have even tried ministry to others to fill that void. Only time with Jesus can do it. Allow Him to occupy your mind and heart today. He is the only Savior you will ever need. 

Father, I am grateful for the Savior. Jesus is all I will ever need. 

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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. 

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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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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.

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YAHWEH

HOSEA 12:5

“And the LORD, the God of armies, the LORD is His name.”

People should be known for their name. When called on, people should use their name. That’s why I have always strived to learn children’s names that I served. Calling a kid by their name when you see them in the hallway or on the playground lets them know you know who they are and that they matter. Don’t you like to be called by your name?

In the verse today, it seems Hosea is reminding us just who God is. He is Yahweh. Both times the word LORD is used, it the Hebrew word Yahweh which basically means “He is” or “I am.” The word became too holy for Jews to say, so they used Adonai or Ha-shem. We have no trouble saying Yahweh. He is!

APPLICATION

But let me ask you something. Who is God to you? Do you recognize Him for who He is? He is everything. Nothing exists that didn’t come through Him. Nothing maintains existence unless He wants it to. He is all you need. When we recognize that, it all makes sense. Life takes on a whole new meaning.

The problem with most us (myself included) is we lose sight of our Biblical worldview. Without that, God does look different. But with that worldview, everything becomes crystal clear. When we understand that “God is,” we accept what the world throws at us with the understanding that God is in control. That makes all the difference in the world.

I have put my focus on that. I want to see the world through my God tinted glasses. When I see the world as He sees it, I understand things so much better. Knowing Yahweh is in control gives me peace of mind. It allows me to focus on serving Him rather than trying protect myself. Isn’t that awesome? Don’t you want that too?

Yahweh, You are my God and my Redeemer. I trust You with my life and know You are all I need.

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STILL UNRULY

HOSEA 11:12

Ephraim surrounds Me with lies and the house of Israel with deceit; Judah is still unruly against God, even against the Holy One who is faithful.”

When I worked in children’s homes, it wasn’t unusual for a child or youth to come into the home very unruly and out of control. After a period of time and much love, they would begin to calm down and settle in. But quite often that same child would resort back to their old way of behavior. It seemed they just couldn’t maintain a calm demeaner. Even though the staff was consistent and loved them, they preferred chaos.

Hosea tells us Ephraim, Israel and Judah acted the same way. Even though “the Holy One” was faithful, they rebelled. Lies, deceit and unruliness were how they responded to a faithful Father. They gave way to flesh. They let their old sin nature take over. It didn’t matter how much God loved them, they acted out against Him.

APPLICATION

Now, if you don’t see yourself in today’s verse, well… We are all the same. We know how much the Lord loves us. He sent His Son to die for us. He gave us exactly what we needed – salvation. And we still rebel. We still take Him for granted. Oh, we say the right things. We go to church and throw a few dollars in the offering plate and think we have done enough. We don’t want to obey – just like the Israelites.

Aren’t you tired of living that way? God wants you to surrender to Him. He wants you to yield to His will. Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him. We are to take His yoke on us. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Will you trust Him today to lead you in His yoke. Stop the unruliness and yield.

I still battle that sometimes. I even think I am yielded only to discover I’m not. That’s a bit embarrassing, lol. But I truly want to be. I don’t want to rub against the yoke. I want to follow Him in the yoke. I want to learn to walk with the Master. Don’t you?

Oh Lord, I praise You for putting up with my stubbornness. I thank You for Your patience with me.

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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.

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I KNOW YOU

HOSEA 8:2

“They cry out to Me ‘My God, we of Israel know You!’”

I bet you’ve been in a crowd before and recognized someone. You know you know them, but you just can’t place their name. You can even remember where you met them. Their name, however, escapes you. So, what do you do? What do you say when they walk up and call you by name? If you are like me, I say, “Hey, it’s so good to see you again.” I purposely leave their name out of the conversation.

That’s not really knowing someone, is it? The people of Israel claimed to know God. Hey, they even knew His name. But they did not really know Him. They failed to recognize His commands. They ignored His guidance. They chased after other gods. If they had really known Jehovah God, I mean really known Him, they would have followed Him.

APPLICATION

So, do you know Him? Do you really know Him? If you do, you know He is a jealous God. He won’t tolerate us chasing after idols, whatever those are. He wants us to know Him. God isn’t this mysterious spirit hovering over the universe that dissipates every time we look His way. He wants to be discovered by us. The question is do we want to know Him.

If you really want to know Him, then you have to spend time with Him. You have to dig into His Word. You have to make Him a priority. And when you do, He unveils Himself. He says, “Here I am. Come closer. Get to know me.” You discover what He is really all about. Now you can say you know Him.

I want to know Him deeply. I want to experience Him in ways I have never experienced Him before. I want to be just like Him. Don’t you? Don’t you want that? I want to be loving, faithful, compassionate and forgiving. I want all those things. I pray you do, too. Let’s get to know Him together. Ready?

Oh, I want to know You more, deep within my soul I want to know you. Oh, I want to know You, to feel your heart and know Your mind. Looking in Your eyes, stirs up within me cries that say I want to know You, oh, I want to know You, more.

Steve Green

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TURNCOATS

HOSEA 7:15

Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me.”

Betrayal hurts, doesn’t it? If you live long enough, sooner or later, someone will betray you. It could be a friend you thought you could depend on. It might be a spouse who betrays your marital vows. However it happens, it hurts. When you put time and energy into a relationship only to have it squashed by a turncoat, it takes a while to get over that.

Ephraim had turned against God. Hosea says here in verse 15 that God had trained and strengthened them. Remember – God had chosen these people. He had made them a great nation. He had protected them from their enemies. He had enriched their boundaries. And yet, they turned. Not only that, Hosea says they “devise evil” against God. Wow!

APPLICATION

I want to ask you a hard question. Have you ever devised evil against anyone? Have you turned against them and tried to make them hurt? Not me, Carl. I am more spiritual than that. Right! Listen, we may not literally plot to do evil, but we have all had bad feelings toward someone and maybe even rejoiced when they fell on hard times.

As believers, our goal should be to lead others to Jesus at all times. That doesn’t give us the right to have any evil thoughts. When we have feelings, other than godly ones, towards someone, that flies in the face of God. How do you think He feels about that person? He desires them to come to Him. He may be wanting to use you to draw them, and you are refusing. You are fighting against Him. That, in a sense, is devising evil against God.

I want to be on the Lord’s side. Don’t you? I want to serve Him by serving others. I want Him to use me to bring His lost sheep home. May I never be found in conflict with God’s plan for the lost. Serving Him is a joy and pleasure. Won’t you join me?

I desire to remain loyal to You, Lord. I want to be on Your front lines serving Your kingdom.

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