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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Accountability, Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deception, Harvest, Lies, Righteousness, Scripture, Surrender

IF YOU SOW WILD OATS…

HOSEA 10:13

You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your many warriors,”

I can remember my dad, before he became a believer, talking about young men sowing their “wild oats.” He was referring to guys living immorally. Of course, before my dad became a believer, he didn’t understand that kind of talk was wrong. He didn’t understand that kind of living was against the will of God. He was just living naturally, according to the world.

But if you sow wild oats, you are going to reap wild oats. Look back at the previous verse in Hosea 10. We were given the picture of how to sow and reap properly. Today’s verse shows us what happens when you sow wickedness. You reap injustice. You can’t rely on your own strength. You can’t trust your way. It will always let you down. It will always fill you with lies.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Which do you prefer, mercy or injustice, truth or lies? Unless you are really messed up, I know which you prefer. No one likes to be lied to. No one likes injustice. We all want to be treated fairly. So, we must sow the right seed in our lives.

Aren’t you tired of trying to do things your own way? Aren’t you sick of picking up pieces of your life? I am not promising you that your life will be a bed of roses if you accept the Lord as your Savior or surrender it fully to Him. You may still have struggles. But with Him, all the struggles make sense. You have someone to carry you through.

I have lived with enough lies and untruths in my life. I don’t want to live that way. Once I experienced the grace of Jesus, there was no turning back. A.W. Tozer said, “O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.” Amen!

O Lord, protect me from sowing wickedness. Keep me from reaping injustice. I want to trust only in You.

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WANDERERS

HOSEA 9:17

“My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I have always wanted to take a trip with no plans, just get in the car and drive and stop when I wanted to. That would be fun. But I would not want to wander around lost. That can be frightening and dangerous. I am thankful for Google Maps, for that very reason.

Part of God’s punishment for Israel was they were destined to be wanderers. Do you realize they stayed wanderers for generations? The nation of Israel vanished off the face of the earth for a while. In 1948 they became a nation again, and that was due to the extreme persecution of the Holocaust. Wandering is no fun when it is God’s judgment.

APPLICATION

Have you been wandering away from the Lord? What direction are you headed? Listen, stop and turn towards Him. Your wanderings will only get you nowhere. And nowhere is exactly where Satan wants you. He doesn’t want you near the Lord. He doesn’t want you being led by Him. The devil wants to drag you around and confuse you.

But, if you turn to Jesus, He will cease your wandering. He will lead you into green pastures and by quiet streams. And even when He leads you into the valley of the shadow of death, He will not leave you. His rod and His staff will comfort you. You can read the rest of this in Psalm 23. Trust the Shepherd to stop your wandering.

I have to be truthful here. I have wandered. There have been times in my Christian walk when I have left the Lord’s path. I decided to go my own way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit wouldn’t leave me alone. He drew me back to the Lord’s path. His path is safe. His path, though not necessarily smooth, will guide me straight to Him. Will you join me?

Father, I trust Your leading. Guide me in Your paths of righteousness today.

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SMOLDERING EMBERS

HOSEA 7:6

For their hearts are like an oven as they approach their plotting; Their anger smolders all night, in the morning it burns like flaming fire.”

If you have ever been camping, you know the danger of leaving a campfire with even a few embers. You have to take great care to make sure all those embers are out. You can use water or dirt, but you need to ensure there’s not a chance of the wind kicking that fire back up. That could lead to a wildfire which could destroy acres of timber and perhaps even endanger homes.

The people of Israel had smoldering embers of anger. Hosea said they plot, giving those embers a flame that burned. Anger is dangerous, especially when it is directed toward God. The Israelites were angry at God for their punishment. They didn’t think they deserved it. After all, they were God’s chosen people. How could He judge them?

APPLICATION

How’s your anger? Are you smoldering about something? Let me be quick to say that anger, in and of itself, is not sin. Jesus showed a righteous anger in the temple when He overturned the tables. He was mad at how they had turned His Father’s house into a den of robbers. But how many times is your anger righteous?

We tend to get angry about the dumbest stuff – traffic, the price of gas, our neighbors. You could probably name a few yourself. Don’t let that anger rule you. Let it go. There’s really no room for it in the life of a Christian. It doesn’t reflect Jesus. It doesn’t solve anything. And especially deal with any anger you have towards God.

Carl, I would never be angry at God. Oh really, well I have been. When I was going through my last stem cell transplant process, there were a few days that I was angry at God. I was tired of feeling sick and wanted to get better. I realized, though, that I was being refined. God was making me more like His Son through that trial. If you are dealing with anger towards God right now, stop and ask Him why. He will show you. I promise.

Rid me of any anger towards You, Lord, or anyone else. Let me heart be like Yours. Give me insight into why I am angry and lead me into repentance.

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NAKED

HOSEA 2:3

“Otherwise, I will strip her naked and expose her as on the day she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and put her to death with thirst.”

Have you ever been caught naked by someone? It can be quite embarrassing. I have had dreams of being caught somewhere without clothing. Now, don’t ask me why I am dreaming such things. I have no idea. But being without clothing can be humiliating. It’s not a situation in which you want to find yourself.

God is dishing out judgment here. He is laying out the punishment for Israel if they do not return. It wasn’t unusual for defeated people to be stripped naked before they were marched off into exile. It demeaned the people. It shamed them. God was warning them what was to come if they didn’t repent.

APPLICATION

Today is Valentine’s Day. I can’t say this verse fits that. Being humiliated and embarrassed isn’t exactly what that day is all about, is it?  That day is about love. Now, hold on for a second. Why do you think God is warning Israel about the encroaching judgment? Because He loves them.

If God didn’t love us, He wouldn’t discipline us. He would let us go on our merry way and live like we want to. Because He loves us, He gave us His Word to live by. It points us in the right direction. He tells us the consequences of our actions. God is constantly drawing us to Himself. We have to decide if we want to obey or not, but we don’t get to choose whether or not to receive consequences.

Do you think you are getting by thumbing your nose at God? Do you think He is simply ignoring your behaviors? Think again. Don’t find yourself one day naked and humiliated. God will hold true to His Word. He has to. He’s God. And when His patience is done, you will receive His just wrath. That is not a threat. It’s a promise.

I do not want to be naked and alone, God. I want to be clothed by Your righteousness. I cling to You.

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ARE YOU SINNING?

1 JOHN 5:18

“We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

I don’t know about you, but I sin. I don’t try to. It’s not my intention, but I occasionally mess up and sin. I think something about someone I shouldn’t. I say something hurtful to someone. I drive too fast (yes, that’s sin). So, today’s verse would concern me greatly, if I didn’t dig a little deeper.

When John says, “that no one who is born of God sins,” you have to look at the verb tense of “sins.” Now, hang on. You are going to want to see this. That verb tense is in the Present tense which indicates ongoing activity. John is saying if anyone practices sin, they are not saved. You can’t have a lifestyle of sin and be saved. Why? The next phrase tells us. Because if you are saved, Jesus keeps you and guards you from the devil’s influences.

APPLICATION

You can almost always tell when your child comes to Christ. Their attitude changes. They are remorseful when they have done wrong. They will respond to correction differently. They won’t argue and fight with their siblings as much. They are beginning to learn what it means to walk in the Spirit.

Now, they won’t be perfect. Don’t put that on them. Are you perfect? I am afraid not. So, don’t expect them to be. But now you have the chance to disciple them through their failures. When they mess up (and they will) show them in the Word how to overcome that. They will be more amenable to your teaching. Watch them grow as they learn these lessons.

Aren’t you glad Jesus keeps you and guards you? I sure am. There are dozens of times per day that the Spirit nudges me towards correction. He is constantly on guard to protect me from making those wrong choices. That’s how I know I am born again. I am in the family of God and am protected by His power (1 Peter 1:5). Hallelujah.

I know I am born again, Lord. I am thankful for Your power in my life which directs me towards righteous living.

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WHAT IS SIN?

1 JOHN 5:17

“All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.”

The Bible talks a lot about righteousness and unrighteousness. We Christians use these terms when we are talking about God. But have you ever stopped to think what these terms mean? What use is it to talk about something we can’t define?

Righteousness has to do with abiding by God’s standards, meeting His expectations. Unrighteousness, of course, means just the opposite. It means deviating from what God expects. This results in God’s disapproval of our choices. In short, it’s sin.

APPLICATION

Your children should know your expectations, right? They can’t follow rules they aren’t clear on. Now, for children we need to keep our rules and guidelines short and to the point. Complicated rules only confuse them. When we make our expectations clear and concise, they are more likely to obey.

We are laying the groundwork for them to obey God. When they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and accept Him as their Savior, His righteousness is bestowed on them. We teach them to pursue this and not the unrighteous deeds that are so prevalent. We hold them to His standards. We show the benefits of pursuing a godly lifestyle. This is a process that takes years. We model it for them and live our lives pursuing the very things we are teaching them.

Would you classify your lifestyle as one of righteousness or unrighteousness? I know, I know. We all say righteousness. We would never admit unrighteousness. But if we are not pursuing God’s standards in every area of our lives, it is so easy to drift into unrighteousness. If we sin in one area, it affects our entire life. Live righteously today. Pursue God wholly.

Help me, Lord, to flee from all unrighteousness. I want to pursue You. Your righteousness is all I need.    

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BORN OF GOD (TIMES 2)

1 JOHN 3:9

“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

They say the key to getting someone to remember something is repetition. I will never forget Mrs. McCracken. She was my teacher who taught me the multiplication tables. Now back in those days you had to know them. We didn’t have many alternatives to learn them. You had to repeat them and repeat them. We had drills in class and competed against each other. It was hard, but I learned them. I can still recite most of them all these years later.

John repeats the phrase “born of God” twice in this short verse. He wants to make sure we understand what he is saying here. If we are born of God, if we have asked Jesus to come into our life through the power of the Holy Spirit, then we don’t practice sin. John is NOT saying we won’t ever sin. Accidents happen. But our birth into His family gives us a whole new spiritual DNA which draws us to Him.

APPLICATION

Ask your kids how long they think they can go without sinning. Remind them that sin is not just something we do. It can be something we say or even think. Jesus told us that. The only way some kids could go a day without sinning would be to lock them in their rooms, lol. Most adults are the same way.

John wants us to value our birth. Why else would he say “born of God” twice in such a short verse. It was obviously on his mind. John had experienced the joy of that new birth and wanted all those around him to know it too. God does the birthing, not us. And if God did it, we sure can’t undo it. We are secure in His family.

Are you thankful for your new life in Christ? Have you thanked Him today? Take a minute right now and tell Him. You are born of God, not of man, not of church, not of religion. You are forever a part of His family. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? It should. It does mine every time I think about it.

I am a child of the King, born into His kingdom through His glorious Son. Thank You, Lord.

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THE PROOF’S IN THE PUDDING

1 JOHN 2:29

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

What do I mean by that title? It comes from a very old proverb. I’ve read that the original version is “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It means you have to try out the food in order to know whether it is good. I agree with that. Something may look good, but how does it taste. Have you ever experienced that?

John knew that not everyone who said they were a Christian really were. They had to show it. They had to live righteously. That’s what he means when he says, “practices righteousness.” The Greek word for “practices” means to do, to live it. And when you do that, you show you are born again.

APPLICATION

Don’t you just hate it when you ask your children to do a chore, they promise they will do it, and then they don’t? When they say they will, you expect it, right? The next time they let their chores slide after promising to do them, take them to this verse. Let me explain.

God has expectations of us when we become His child, just like you do of your child. He expects righteous living. If we say we are His, we need to live like it. Remind your children that part of living righteously before God is obeying their parents. After all, you have to do the same thing. You have to obey your Father.

How are you living righteously? Do you find it difficult? You don’t need to struggle. Let Jesus live through you. He IS righteousness. Righteousness is not something you do. It’s who you are in Christ. He has made you righteous. Live like it.

I am righteous because of You, O Lord. Thank You for living through me.

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ASHAMED

1 JOHN 2:28

“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.”

Have you ever been caught red-handed doing something you knew was wrong? Don’t answer that, lol. Well, I have. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I will never forget it. My dad caught me one night up town doing some stuff I shouldn’t have been doing. He was not a happy camper, to say the least. And it wasn’t just that I was in trouble. I could see the disappointment on his face.

That’s what John is talking about in today’s verse. We need to stay close to Christ daily and walk with Him. So, when He appears (and it could be any day), we aren’t caught off guard and feel ashamed at what He finds us doing. That doesn’t mean we have to be in a perpetual kneeling position with our hands folded in prayer. But we should be about His business.

APPLICATION

Okay, you are going to catch your children doing stuff. Our granddaughter was caught recently coloring on the walls downstairs. She thought her masterpiece was so beautiful until she found out that was a no-no. I am not sure she felt ashamed, but she soon realized this was not acceptable. Your children are going to do stuff and get caught, too.

That is a perfect time to read them this verse. Unlike you, God sees all. There is nowhere they can hide to do things He won’t know about. This is especially important as they get older and spend more and more time out of your sight. They need to know God is aware. He is not waiting to zap them, but He is watching. We want them to please Him in their actions and decisions.

What are you sneaking around doing right now? Anything? Don’t be doing those things. Stop it. You are not fooling God. He knows. He wants you to walk hand in hand with Him all the time. If you are doing that, there is no room for mischief. Right?

I want to honor You, Lord, in all my steps. Help me make the decisions daily that bring You glory. Forgive me when I fail You.

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