Abiding, Affection, Bible, Blessing, Death, Encouragement, Fellowship, God's Will, Heaven, Judgment, Promises, Redemption, Reward, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture

AND DIED

HOSEA 13:1 

“When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he incurred guilt and died.” 

My parents have both died. We grieved. We were heartbroken. Death seems to be so…final. But for a believer, it isn’t. My parents loved Jesus. We know they were instantly carried into the arms of Jesus. We did not “lose” them. We know exactly where they are and long to join them one day. 

Ephraim also died, but his death wasn’t so joyful. Ephraim had rebelled against God and was proud of themselves. They had invited Baal and Ashtoreth into their land. They had built elaborate temples for them both. His trembling wasn’t in humility. That would have been appropriate. Judgment was sure and certain. 

APPLICATION 

Pride certainly comes before the fall. How do we guard against being so prideful, like Ephraim? Our natural tendency is to be boastful and full of ourselves. That’s our sin nature. We fight that our entire lives. Outside the grace of God, we have no hope. 

But thanks be to God, through Jesus we can come before the throne of God and bow. Because of Christ’s shed blood we have forgiveness. Now, our trembling is in humility and gratefulness. We recognize God’s preeminence in our lives. We are nothing without Him. He gives us purpose. 

I want that, don’t you? I desire to be held in His arms and loved. My parents walked into their heavenly reward the day they died. Christ’s warm embrace enveloped them. And as they entered, I am sure they heard those words we all long to hear. “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into your reward.” 

Father, thank You for welcoming my parents. Love them well. 

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Abiding, Bible, Blessing, Calling, Commands, Contentment, Courage, Encouragement, Faith, Following, God's Will, Leading, Obedience, Reward, Scripture, Surrender

GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

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ANGEL WRESTLING

HOSEA 12:4

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; he wept and implored His favor. He found Him at Bethel, and there He spoke with us,”

When I was growing up with my older brother, Tim, we used to wrestle a lot. I can still hear my mother screaming for us to stop. She hated when we did that. And in all those years, my brother would win. After all, he was over 4 years older than me. Until…he went away to college, and I started seriously lifting weights at school for football. I remember when he came home for Christmas during his freshman year at college. I pinned him. He was shocked. It felt great, lol.

Jacob wrestled the angel “and prevailed.” The angel of God or the man with whom Jacob wrestled is believed by many scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ. He gave Jacob a new name, Israel, which means he who contends with God. That sounds bad but it isn’t. Jacob was persistent in asking for his blessing, and he received it.

APPLICATION

Have you ever wrestled with God? I don’t mean like my brother and I used to do. Have you wrestled with Him in prayer? There is nothing wrong with getting intense during your prayer time. When we do that we really have God’s ear. We already have it, but He knows when we are intense. He can feel our passion.

I want to encourage you to make a plan to do that. I am sure you have something which you need to come to the Father about. Maybe it’s something you have been praying about for years. Go to Him and don’t let go until you hear. God’s answers are always right on time. You need to pray expectantly, knowing He will answer, just like He did with Jacob.

Prayer for me is intimate. I love talking to my Lord. There have been times when I wrestled with Him over things. God has never let me down. He has always come through. He will for you also, if you trust Him with it. Are you ready to wrestle?

I am so thankful You hear my prayers when I wrestle with You. Give me the wisdom to wait on You.

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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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Bible, Blessing, Bondslaves, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Gospel, Harvest, Joy, Labor, Obedience, Reward, Scripture

HARVEST TIME

HOSEA 6:11

Also, Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people.

I grew up in a rural community. My hometown was surrounded by farms. One great part of that childhood was my grandmother’s garden. She lived out in the country and always had a huge garden. All of us children knew that when the vegetables were ready for picking, we would be right there with our mom and grandmother.

God is promising to restore Judah, and with that, He would restore the harvest. Crops would be gathered. Seed could be saved for another year. A bountiful harvest gave hope for the coming winter and even into the following spring. Harvest time gave joy to the people. God’s harvest time is even more joyful.

APPLICATION

One day God will reach down and reap the harvest of His people. We don’t know when that will come. He may do that right in the middle of our harvest season or in the dead of winter. We are His bounty. He wants to gather us home. But only He knows when the full crop will be ready.

While we are waiting, we have a job. We should be sowing and tending the seed He has given us to share. We are His bondservants with a specified job. We are to spread the Gospel, thus increasing the yield at the harvest. What an awesome responsibility. He will be well pleased at our efforts, if we are obedient and faithful.

I like gardening. I like sowing the seed of the Gospel even more. There is nothing more exciting than to see a seed you have sown take root and sprout. Then you see it come to maturity and reproduce 20, 60 or 100 fold. Wow! What a joy! Will you join me in the harvest?

Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves.

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HOW ARE YOUR EYES?

2 JOHN 8

“Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”

If you have read many of my blogs, then you know my love for hunting and fishing. It’s hunting season now, and I’m actually on a hunt in Mississippi as I write this. One thing I brought with me on this hunt was a pair of binoculars. Why do you think I did that? Because I might be in a place where I need a little extra vision to see what might be coming. I don’t want to miss a shot because I didn’t see something and prepare for it.

John tells us in verse 8 to “watch ourselves.” The Greek word for “watch” means to see something physical, with spiritual results. The verb is written as a command also. So, John is telling us to look closely with spiritual eyes. Why? To guard ourselves. To keep from losing what we’ve worked for. And by doing so, we will receive a reward. Who doesn’t want that?

APPLICATION

Children love rewards, don’t they? And there is nothing wrong with giving them rewards. When our kids do something good or right, we should praise them. Little rewards when they are young can give them the incentive to continue doing good. But all those rewards come only when they do what is good. That’s the hard part. Some kids want to be rewarded for breathing, lol.

So, how do you teach them to watch themselves? Most kids, left to watch themselves, will make a mess. We teach them to use the only guide, the only source that will help them. They must know how to use God’s Word. They must know where to turn to find the answers. I can’t stress this enough. This book has the answer to every question, if we will just take the time to look. Will you teach your children that?

How about you? How are you watching yourself? We adults are quick to point out our children’s failures and mistakes, but we overlook our own. Has your child ever pointed out something you’ve done that wasn’t right? How did that make you feel? I say it a lot but we have to model what we teach to our kids. They learn best by watching us. So, watch yourself today!

O Lord, thank You for giving me spiritual eyes to watch myself.  Do want to receive my reward, but only because I have pleased You. 

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