Promises, Relationships, Suffering, Widows

WIDOWED

JOEL 1:8

“Wail like a virgin clothed with sackcloth for the groom of her youth.”

My brother died recently, leaving behind his wife of 35 years. She has been grieving over this loss. They were very close and spent most of their time together. I have been watching her these past few weeks as she processes this loss and reimagines her life without my brother. It’s hard. Losses are difficult. But I know through the Lord’s strength, she will endure.

Joel is comparing the loss of the Lord to Judah to a wife losing her husband. The Hebrew word here for “virgin” is better translated “young woman.” Joel is picturing her being robbed of her husband through death, perhaps having been killed in battle. Sudden, unexplained death is hard. Judah had lost its first love, Jehovah, and was now mourning that loss.

APPLICATION

As followers of Christ, we will never suffer that loss. We will never lose our Savior. He is ours forever. We may drift away or fail to walk as closely as we should, but we will never lose Him. That’s the beauty of the Christian walk. We have been sealed with the promise. The Holy Spirit seals us until we are delivered to glory.

Some don’t believe that. Some believe we can lose that seal. I am not going to debate theology here. I simply choose to believe what the Word tells me. Knowing I am sealed forever does not give me license to do as I please. In fact, knowing that gives me joy inexpressible and the joy to please Him in all I do. I am eternally thankful.

We will all suffer losses in our life. We will lose loved ones to the grave. But, if they are one with us in Christ, we will be reunited one day. My sister-in-law and brother will see each other again one day. It will be a glorious reunion. We will see Jesus one day also. Can you imagine? Hallelujah, praise His name!

I am eternally thankful for the promises You give, Lord. I rest secure in those promises.

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Accountability, Bible, Calling, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Gospel, Grandchildren, Inheritance, Mentoring, Relationships, Scripture

FOUR GENERATIONS

JOEL 1:3

“Tell your sons about it, and have your sons tell their sons, and their sons the next generation.”

I am involved with a men’s ministry called Every Man A Warrior. In fact, I am going to be making a change in my ministry to serve with them full-time in a few months. One verse we talk about a lot is 2 Timothy 2:2 which says, “These things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who be qualified to teach others.”

Joel is saying the same thing in verse 3 above. Fathers tell sons who tell their sons who tell their sons. Four generations. But Joel is telling these dads to pass on the warning he is about to give. Judgment was falling on Judah, and it was going to last a while, for generations. They needed to know what was coming.

APPLICATION

The application is pretty straightforward. We need to be passing down our faith to our future generations. Replication of our faith is key. It’s been said that Christianity is one generation away from vanishing. We have to invest in our children. Some of us have the privilege to invest in our grandchildren, as well.

If you have children, are you discipling them in the ways of our Lord? Men, have you spent some time with another man or group of men discipling them into disciplemakers? Don’t tell me you don’t have time. We all have the same number of hours in a day. It’s really just a matter of priorities.

I love investing in men’s lives. I love seeing them “get it.” As men become disciplemakers, they can begin to find other guys to invest in. Replication has started. Generations of faith are being built. That is what it is all about. This excites me. I pray it excites you.

Give me others to invest in. Help me continue the story.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Blessing, Commitment, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, God's Will, Obedience, Relationships, Righteousness, Scripture, Waiting

THE WAYS OF THE LORD

HOSEA 14:9

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but wrongdoers will stumble in them.”

I can remember my dad teaching me some things about woodworking when I was growing up. My dad could build just about anything. And when it came to refinishing furniture, he was a master. He always told me to take my time. You can’t rush the process. Applying stain, varnish and sanding takes time. He showed me how and then let me try.

God’s ways are like that. We have to follow the process. We can’t just make up our own way. Sometimes God’s ways take time. You can’t rush it. Hosea is reminding us here in the last verse of the book that we need to reflect on all he has said. He says, “the righteous will walk in them, but the wrongdoers will stumble in them.” That’s a pretty, straightforward statement.

APPLICATION

So, the question for us today is what will be choose to do. Will you take the time to understand God’s way? Are you wise? Are you discerning? I believe you are. Let me encourage you to go back and read all my blogs on Hosea in one sitting. Discover God’s way of doing things. Be patient in the process.

God’s ways aren’t always our ways. In my case, they seldom are. I want to figure it out myself. I want to get things done. I don’t like waiting. And because of that, God makes me wait a lot. He knows what I need and will do what is necessary to help me learn it. Do I like that? No! But I know He only wants what is best for me.

So, I will be patient as I learn the process, just like I was when my dad taught me how to refinish furniture. I have to follow each step and not rush it. I have to wait for the first coat of paint or varnish to dry first. I have to wait for… Well, you get the picture. It’s a process. Will you follow God’s ways today?

I am thankful, Lord, for the process even though I don’t particularly like it. I trust You.

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Affection, Bible, Blessing, Caregiver, Comfort, Encouragement, Fruit, God's Will, Intimacy, Loyalty, Protection, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender, Trust

OUR CARETAKER

HOSEA 14:8

Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant juniper; from Me comes your fruit.”

Isn’t it nice to have someone who looks after you? When I was growing up, my parents did that. Now, I liked that until I became a teenager. Then, not so much. Lol. I wanted my independence. I didn’t want anyone watching my every move. But my parents continued to do that, even when I went to college. They were always checking on me to make sure I was alright.

God says here, “It is I who answer and look after you.” Through all Ephraim’s rebellion, God was still look watching out for them. Even though there were consequences for their disobedience, God still loved them and wanted what was best for them. He says from Him comes their fruit. God was the source of their blessings.

APPLICATION

We need the Lord in our lives to give us purpose and power. It is only though His watchful gaze that we are able to do the things we do. Just like His care for Ephraim, He will care for us. But what does that mean? How does God care for us? Does He give us everything we want or desire?

The Lord puts His umbrella of protection over His children. That doesn’t mean we will never suffer. Just the opposite. We may be chosen by Him to suffer. Suffering is a privilege. God only allows suffering on those who can endure it. He will see you through it. His eye is on you constantly. If you believe that, then you know He cares for you.

I know through many situations in my life that the Lord is watching over me. I could name dozens of times in my life when the Lord showed His care for me. It is comforting. It is peaceful. And He does produce His fruit through me. All I have to do is let Him.

Father, thank You for watching over me. I want You to use me however You see fit.

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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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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Choices, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture, Surrender

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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Abiding, Affection, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Blasphemy, Commitment, Devout, Disciplemaking, Idols, Intimacy, Modeling, Obedience, Relationships, Scripture

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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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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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Deception, Double-minded, Examples, Following, Lies, Modeling, Relationships, Scripture

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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Belief, Bible, God's Will, Inspirational, Intimacy, Relationships, Scripture

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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