Abiding, Affection, Blessing, Comfort, Compassion, Encouragement, Hugs, Intimacy, Peace, Safety, Salvation, Scripture

TENDER HANDS

HOSEA 11:11

“They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses, declares the LORD.”

I can remember as a little boy finding baby birds that had fallen out of their nest. Some didn’t even have their eyes open yet. They were so defenseless. Usually, the mama would be flitting around trying to protect her little ones. I would pick them up so tenderly and, if I could, put them back in their nest. If the nest was too high in the tree, we would try to raise them in a box.

I had this picture in my mind when I read this verse today. God tenderly picked up Israel from Egypt and Assyria and placed them in their land again. They were shaken from their exile. They were dazed and confused, but God reached down with His tender hands and picked them up and loved them.

APPLICATION

Are you dazed and confused? Have you fallen out your nest? God’s tender hands are waiting to pick you up. You need to call out to Him. He doesn’t want to see you on the ground vulnerable to attack. He wants to protect you. But our tender God will not force His love on you. He will not come in uninvited.

Oh, but when you do call out, He is right there. And when you feel His tender hands (and believe me, you can), you just relax and realize that He has you. He will never let you go. He will carry you to your home. He will place you in a place of safety created by Him just for you. Do you want to experience that today?

I know I need His tender hands in my life daily. I love the feel of His hands on my life. I love it because I trust Him. His hands will never crush me. He will not squeeze me into submission. Don’t you love that? I do. Call out to Him today and feel His touch. You won’t ever forget it.

Lord, thank You for Your tender touch. Thank You for picking me up and taking me home.

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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Destruction, Enemies, Judgment, Lies, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Punishment, Safety, Scripture

BAD INVESTMENT

HOSEA 8:10

“Even though they pay for allies among the nations, I will gather them up now; and they will begin to diminish because of the burden of the king of officials.”

I am sure most of us have made a least one bad investment. It seemed so sure at the time, but after making the decision and going through with the purchase, we found out the truth. A lot of online purchases will fall into this category. Everything looks better online, doesn’t it?

Israel had sent gifts to Assyria to try to gain favor with them and put off the judgment God had said would befall them by their hands. That was a bad investment, money poorly spent. Assyria couldn’t be trusted. They were pagans with no morals. They were power hungry. They may promise peace, but their word meant nothing.

APPLICATION

Have you ever trusted the wrong person? I have. There have been people in my life who have turned on me. They promised one thing but did another. To be totally honest, I have done that myself in the past. I have confessed that as sin both to my Father in heaven and to those I have wronged. There is no excuse for it. It’s just plain sin.

But we are promised that God will never turn against us. He will always support us. His word is always sure. Do you believe that? It’s true. There is nothing we can do to drive Him away. He will always have our back. But we do need to abide in Him. That is only possible through His Son Jesus Christ.

I pray you are drawing close to Him. I pray you have allied yourself with Him. There is no better ally. You can’t outrun Him. You can’t hide from Him. He knows your innermost thoughts. He longs to be with you. Come to Him today and trust Him to protect you. He always will.

You are my ally, Lord. For that, I am truly thankful. I know I can always depend on You.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Conceit, Deceit, Deception, Fighting, Flesh, Perfection, Safety, Scripture

BENT SIGHTS

HOSEA 7:16

They turn, but not upward, they are like a loose bow; their officials will fall by the sword because of the insolence of their tongue. This will be their derision in the land of Egypt.”

If you have read my blogs for any length of time, you know I love to hunt. I normally hunt with a gun, but during archery season, I hunt with a crossbow. I have spent time zeroing in that crossbow. I set up a target at different distances and practice shooting to make sure I can hit what I am shooting at when the time comes. There’s nothing much more frustrating than to have a great weapon and not have it sighted so you can shoot well.

Hosea compares Israel to such a weapon – a loose bow. A loose bow will not shoot the arrow correctly. It will miss its target. It won’t hit what you aim at because the bow is deceiving you. Not only is that frustrating, but it’s also dangerous. If you are facing an enemy, you want to be able to stop them with that bow. If you can’t shoot straight, you’re in trouble.

APPLICATION

Are you a straight shooter? Is your heart aimed toward God? If we aren’t consistent in our quiet times and our prayer lives, we will begin to get off mark. We will begin to target the wrong things. Our aim will be off. Before you know it, we are totally off course. We are pursuing the wrong things. God is no longer in our view. How did that happen?

You see, our sights can be just slightly off and cause us to miss God. It doesn’t take much. Just a little distraction can cause it. Our minds start to drift. We put off our quiet times. We neglect for a few days our time with the Lord. Whamo! We are off. We have to set our sights afresh each day. We have to make sure Satan hasn’t moved in and “tweaked” our sights to make us miss. Be sure your aim is right.

I heard about a golfer this week who had an awful putting experience in his last tournament. Before he played in his next tournament, he was complaining about it. Someone asked him about his putter. It was only then that he noticed his putter was bent. There was no way he could have putted straight with it. Check out your tools and make sure you are aiming correctly.

Father, You are the only true way to measure whether I am shooting straight or not. I depend on You to be my guide.

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Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Agreement, Bible, Compassion, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Perseverance, Redemption, Safety, Scripture, Separation

REUNITED

HOSEA 1:11

“And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, for the day of Jezreel will be great.”

Don’t you just love reunions? I have been to a lot of family reunions, both on my side of the family and on my wife’s. There’s just something about going back home to your hometown or to a family home place and seeing relatives you haven’t seen in a while. Hugs and kisses are all around. And it’s not long until the stories start being told about “the good ole days.”

In today’s verse we see a prophetic statement about the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. When they return from their exile, they will be one nation, not two. The people who return will not see themselves as separate people. They will be reunited as one nation. This is as it should be.

APPLICATION

How does this verse relate to us today? We must be united as one in Christ. It doesn’t matter if we have petty differences. We have to come together as one for the cause of Christ. The world is watching the church. They are wondering why the Baptists and Methodists can’t get along. If we all believe Jesus is God’s Son and died for our sins, why can’t we worship as one?

I know we have doctrinal issues among the denominations. Some of those are worth discussing. But many of them really are not crucial. We tend to major on the minors, don’t we? I wonder what could happen in the world if we all came together and worshipped our Lord. I believe revival would break out, don’t you?

How can you be part of this? Reach out to someone from another church. Find your common ground. We have to agree on the basics, of course. But I challenge you to come alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to reach the lost, and that can only be done if we fight together.

Reunite us, God. Bring us together as one to battle the enemy and proclaim the good news of Christ.

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Advice, Advocate, Battles, Courage, Enemies, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Protection, Safety, Scripture, Soldiers, Victors

NOT BY FORCE

HOSEA 1:7

“But I will take pity on the house of Judah and save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”

Sometimes we have to fight to defend ourselves. Our enemies are bent on destroying us. The United States has been at war with terrorism since 2001, twenty years. We have fought wars in Vietnam, Korea, all over Europe and on and on. Sometimes war is required to obtain peace.

But not in this situation. Hosea is prophesying about the coming defeat of Assyria at the hand of God. The Assyrian arm had come to defeat Judah while Hezekiah was king. Do you remember what happened? God defeated 185,000 troops in one night. Hezekiah didn’t lift one sword or bow. Not a single man in Judah fought. God did it.

APPLICATION

Now, let’s apply that. So many times we want to fight others when God simply wants us to sit back and let Him defend us. We are quick to snap back when reviled. We may even want to get physical when we have been harmed. We get testy in traffic. But God still fights our battles. One of my favorite verses now is Exodus 14:14. It reads, “The LORD will fight for you, while you keep silent.” Isn’t that great?

How do you do that? By biting your tongue? No, I think the Lord wants us to get silent in prayer. It’s really hard to be upset and mad at someone when you are praying for them. Those individuals may need Jesus, and if you retaliate you could drive them further away from Christ. They may be a believer who is not walking with Christ right now. Your job is preserve the peace.

So, what do you do when you are faced with a fight? You go to God. You talk to Him. You listen to what He says in His Word. You may very well have to defend yourself, but you do it in a way that still honors the Lord. He will give you the words to say and the actions to take. Remember it is His battle after all.

I will submit to Your guidance, O Lord, when I am faced by my enemies. I will trust Your battle plan.

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Advice, Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Faithfulness, Foundation, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Parenting, Perseverance, Safety, Scripture, Surrender

SURE-FOOTED

2 PETER 1:10

“Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;”

I have never worked with donkeys, but I am told they are much more sure-footed than horses. Maybe because they are shorter and lower to the ground. Whatever the reason, they are less likely to stumble in rough terrain. God gave them that ability. Hmmm.

Peter tells us in today’s verse that if we do what God tells us to do, we will NEVER stumble. Did you get that? As long as we are practicing God’s principles and living according to His Word, we won’t stumble. How is that possible? Because He blazes the trail for us. He leads us along the right path even when the terrain is dangerous and wild.

APPLICATION

Why don’t you take your child on a hike this week? Choose the path carefully, but then mix it up with a few challenges. These will require you holding their hand or perhaps even carrying them. Talk to them carefully during these hard spots. Don’t worry, baby, I’ve got you. Don’t be scared, daddy’s got you.

You can see the application here, can’t you? When you get through with the hike, talk about this verse. Explain to them that in the same way you protected them on your hike, God will protect them on their journey with Him. They just have to trust Him to hold their hands and even carry them during the hard times.

Are you walking shakily on rough terrain right now? Trust Him. Call out to Him. He’s waiting to carry you, if you will let Him. When you walk through the valleys He’s there. When you walk along the mountain tops, He’s there. Just look!

O Lord, I praise You for Your strong arms and hands. I trust You to carry me.

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Bible, Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Deception, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Evil, Fighting, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Safety, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

A ROARING LION

1 PETER 5:8

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Have you ever seen and heard a roaring lion? I don’t mean one on television. I mean in real life. I saw a lion in Uganda once on a safari, but it wasn’t roaring. It was lying in the shade sleeping. It didn’t seem very scary. In fact, it looked very calm and peaceful. But believe me, I wasn’t about to jump out of that jeep and go over and scratch its belly. I knew what it was capable of.

Peter is warning about the dangers of the devil. We can’t let our guard down. He says to be sober and alert. The devil can lull us into thinking there is no danger and then he attacks. Just like a lion, he stalks his prey. He doesn’t present himself as he really is. He disguises himself and slips in for the kill. Don’t let him devour you or those around you.

APPLICATION

The last thing I want you to do is scare your children about the devil. However, they do need to know he is real and not some imaginary figure. We don’t want him to be talked about in the same company as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. They must know the devil has one goal – to take as many souls to hell with him as possible. He knows he has already lost the war, but he wants to cause as many casualties as possible along the way.

How do you protect your child from this? By pouring the Word of God into them from birth. We raise our children to love and honor their God. And when they come to Christ and accept Him as their Savior, they are secure from the grasp of the devil. Then we must continue to disciple and mentor them to walk in the light and avoid those dark recesses where Satan dwells.

Living sober and alert may sound draining, but it’s not. The key is to stay in the Word. The moment we start living for ourselves and we put down the Word, we open ourselves up to attacks. The Word is called the sword for a reason. Use it to protect yourself and others from that nasty roaring lion.

I thank You for giving me the Word to defend against the schemes of the devil. I will watch carefully as I advance the kingdom, knowing he will do all he can to distract and attack.

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Child Raising, Child Rearing, Commands, Courage, Encouragement, Evangelism, Following, God's Will, Inspirational, Mentoring, Obedience, Parenting, Persecution, Prayer, Reputation, Safety, Suffering, Testimony, Witnessing

FALSELY IMPRISONED

ACTS 12:5

“5 So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.”

Peter seemed to be in and out of prison a lot. The religious leaders did not want him preaching the Gospel. So, they threw him in jail time and time again. Peter was not hindered. God kept using him. He wasn’t afraid of prison bars because he knew he was free in Christ.

Let me ask you a question. If you were threatened with jail if you didn’t stop preaching about Jesus, what would you do? That probably won’t happen in the United States (and I say probably because things seem to be changing quickly). But it is a real threat in many parts of the world. People are praying for those who face this threat, just like people were praying for Peter.

APPLICATION

One thing we need to teach our children is to not fear sharing Jesus. It is hard for many of us to do that. We are afraid the person may get mad at us or that we may hurt their feelings. Help your children develop way to share without being harsh. Living for Jesus daily speaks volumes. Help your children tell others what Jesus has done for them.

But most importantly, help them to understand that if they are faithful to share His good news with others, God will take care of them. Now, that doesn’t mean they will be spared from insults or ridicule. It could even lead to more serious consequences. But we are safe in the arms of Jesus.

Are you willing to face the consequences for obeying Jesus? Or are you more concerned with your reputation? Peter had a mission, and nothing could keep him from it. You and I have that same mission – to spread the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

I am ready, Lord, to suffer for You. I don’t like saying that, but I know You will see me through whatever comes my way. I want to be obedient to share Jesus.

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WALKING AWAY

1 PETER 2:25

“For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”

Sheep get lost by walking away. They don’t run away. They simply stop watching their shepherd and wander away. Before they know it, the shepherd is nowhere in sight. Unless the shepherd comes and finds them, they will most likely stay lost.

We are the same way. We can become hopelessly lost unless we turn our eyes on the Shepherd. Only He can save us from a life spent in the wilderness, away from the watchful gaze of the “Guardian of your souls,” as Peter describe Him. He knows where the green pastures are and will lead us to them.

APPLICATION

Have your children ever gotten lost? They didn’t mean to, but they wandered away from you in a shopping mall or amusement park. Their eyes were fixed on something that intrigued them. Instead of watching you or holding your hand, they were pulled away by their own interests.

We need to remind our children that Satan has a way of luring us away from what we know to be safe and sound. Before we come to Christ, Satan doesn’t usually bother us much. He has us where he wants us. But once we come to Christ, he tries to entice us away from following Him. He can’t unsave us, but he can sure can distract us and make us feel unusable.

Have you strayed away from the safe and gentle embrace of the Shepherd? He desires for you to return to Him. He won’t force you, though. Your return is up to you. If that’s you, repent today and watch how quickly He picks you up. He longs for your embrace as well.

Father, forgive me for wandering. Fix my eyes on You so I can stay near to Your side. I want to spend my days close to You.

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