Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Confession, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Guilt, Prayer, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Testimony

UNDENIABLE

HOSEA 13:12

The guilt of Ephraim is wrapped up; his sin is stored up.”

You have probably heard the expression “Be sure your sins will find you out.” It’s true! Sooner or later (and later could be eternity), our sins will be exposed. Without divulging my sins to you, I can assure you that has been true in my life. Times when I thought my indiscretions were hidden proved to be false hopes. They always emerge and hopefully lead to confession.

Ephraim could not hide their sins against a holy God. The guilt of their sins was wrapped tight around them. They could not escape. It is interesting that the Hebrew word for “guilt” here is avon. It can mean guilt and iniquity, but it can also mean the punishment of iniquity. Their sins had bound them tightly. They could not deny their guilt.

APPLICATION

Are you guilty? Guilt is a tiresome thing. When we feel guilty, we can’t be confident in anything we do. We feel unworthy and even ashamed. As believers we aren’t meant to walk around with guilt. Our sins are forgiven. We need to walk in victory. Satan loves to keep us feeling “less than” so he can have his way with us.

Don’t fall for it. When you sin (and you will), confess that as soon as you can. Immediately go to Jesus and tell Him all about it. We shouldn’t be seeking out sin. That’s not right either. But when we fall, we get back up, dust ourselves off and go to the altar. When we are all confessed up, the guilt melts away. We walk in freedom.

I like that feeling. I can still remember going to the little prayer room we had at my home church in Pelham. It was always open, and I would slip in there quite often to spend time in prayer. After an extended time in prayer, confessing my sins, I would walk out feeling like I had just taken a shower. I felt clean and refreshed. If you haven’t done that lately, may I encourage you  to spend some extra time in prayer. You won’t regret it.

I walk in victory today, Lord, because of Your shed blood. I am guilt free because of You.

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MAMA BEAR

HOSEA 13:8 

“I will confront them like a bear deprived of her cubs, and I will tear open their chests; I will also devour them there like a lioness, as a wild animal would tear them to pieces.” 

A friend of mine was hunting a couple of years ago and accidentally got in between a mama black bear and her cubs. He was walking to his deer stand when suddenly he was standing twenty yards from this bear. He could tell she wasn’t happy. Normally, black bears will try to avoid you in the woods, so my friend started looking around for cubs. Sure enough, off to his side he spotted two cubs. He slowly backed up to allow mama and babies to reunite, avoiding a very unpleasant situation. 

Israel was not able to avoid the situation. God was responding to them just as a mama bear would “deprived of her cubs.” Once again, Hosea is describing the wrath of God that was falling on the nation for their disobedience. It wasn’t as if they had not been warned. They had. They knew the Law. They knew He was a jealous God. Still they continued in their sins unabated until… 

APPLICATION 

Aren’t you glad Jesus has paid the price for our sins? We have no need to fear God’s judgment. We are secure and protected. I cannot imagine going through life with the uncertainty of eternity. But there are so many people out there who do. They live each day racked with fear of God. Oh, how sad. 

Our mission is to help those living in fear to find the love and peace of our Savior. If you know Him personally, you have an obligation to share Him. The story is too good not to share. His love is too far reaching not to spread. The last thing we want is to see those we know and care about fall into an eternity separated from God. 

God’s wrath being compared to a mama bear is interesting. But think about it. What is that bear trying to do? She is trying to protect her children. God’s wrath is the same. He is protecting His children from the harm possible by unbelievers. He will furiously protect us. Doesn’t that bring you comfort? It does me. My God has my back. 

Father, thank You for protecting me. Help me show the love of Jesus to those around me in need of a Savior. 

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SWIFT AND VICIOUS

HOSEA 13:7 

“So I will be like a lion to them; like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside.” 

My daughter had the opportunity to visit Masai Mara several years ago while she was living in Kenya. Going on a safari there was a thrill of a lifetime. She was able to see so many animals. As cute and adorable as the lion cubs appeared, she was reminded how deadly they are. When they attack it is swift and vicious. 

Hosea uses this same imagery when he describes God’s judgment of Israel. His would be a swift and ferocious judgment. He had tolerated the sins of the nation long enough. They would be completely caught off guard and powerless. God still loves them dearly, but He will not allow them to continue in their rebellion. 

APPLICATION 

We walk around the same way. We think we can ignore God’s law and skate through life unscathed. In fact, we might just do that. But judgment is coming. God will hold every single person accountable for their sins. There is no escape. When we take our last breath, we will come face to face with our decision to follow or not to follow the Lord. 

But praise be to God, there is a solution. God provided it. Jesus has shed His blood to cover our sins. All we have to do is claim that forgiveness. Have you done that? Have you asked Jesus into your life and surrendered your heart to Him? If so, that judgment is paid. God’s wrath is appeased. You are in His family. I pray you have made that decision. If not, do it today. 

The peace that overwhelms me because of my decision to follow Jesus is indescribable. Knowing my eternity is settled allows me to concentrate on the present. I want to live in such a way that others are influenced to follow Him too. I know too many people who aren’t walking with Jesus. It breaks my heart. Will you join me in doing all we can to bring them along with us to Glory?  

You are all I need today, Lord. I am thankful You rescued me. 

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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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REPAYMENT

HOSEA 12:2

“The LORD also has a case against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; He will repay him according to his deeds.”

You’ve heard all about paybacks, haven’t you? It’s when someone has done you wrong, and you get them back later. I’ve known people who wait weeks or even months to do that. They want that payback to really hurt that person. They plan every detail so that person knows exactly what is happening. Sounds cruel. Well, it is.

God is not that way. He is not plotting against Judah. He is simply holding them accountable for their “deeds.” Sin has consequences. Judah knew that, but they chose to sin anyway. I am sure they cried and bellyached about God’s discipline. However, God had to deal with their sin.

APPLICATION

Aren’t you glad Jesus has already paid the price for you? If you have received Him as your Lord and Savior, the repayment is done. Jesus took care of that for you. I love Psalm 103:10. It says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Whew!

My sins are many. If I counted up all my sins in just one year, it would stagger you. But I bet yours are the same. Then can you imagine if everyone’s sins were totaled? That number would be astronomical. But that’s what Jesus died for. His sacrifice took care of all those sins. We only have to come to Him and accept the free gift of salvation.

I am glad that on July 31, 1977 I did that. I have been far from perfect since then, but I know my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Do you know that for certain? You can. I pray today you will make sure of that. The freedom you can experience in knowing that is incredible. Come to Him today.

I am free because of Your Son, Jesus. Thank You, Lord, for saving me.

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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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OUT OF EGYPT

HOSEA 11:1

“When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”

There have been a few places from which I wanted to be out of. I won’t name them so as not to upset anyone, lol. You may have been in a similar situation but had no way out. You may have been kept there due to a job or family. Whatever it was, you felt trapped. Well, today’s verse ought to hit home with you.

God rescued Israel from Egypt. They had been there many years and were made into slaves. There seemed no way out, but God sent a deliverer by the name of Moses to set His people free. Many years later, He brought His Son out of Egypt. Joseph had taken his young family there to escape the wrath of Herod. But when the time came, He brought Jesus back to Israel to begin His plan for redemption.

APPLICATION

God can rescue you just as well. You may feel trapped in your Egypt, but there is a way out. Just as God sent a deliverer for Israel, He has sent a deliverer for you. His Son Jesus was sent so you can be free. But you can only be free if you follow the Deliverer. Only He knows the way out.

You may already know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, but you still filled trapped by something. He can set you free from that too. Jesus wants you to walk in freedom each day. That requires you to lay down those burdens. He can handle them. He wants you free to live for Him without restraints. He wants you free to share Him with others. Accept that freedom He offers.

I am so thankful I am free. Nothing can chain me down. No troubles, no pain, no heartaches. I am free to be whatever the Lord wants me to be, as long as I surrender daily to Him. I know that, but each day I have to make a conscious decision to do that. I have pledged to do that. Will you?

I vow Lord to follow You daily. I want to walk in freedom.

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HORRIBLE SINS

HOSEA 10:9

“Since the days of Gibeah you have sinned, Israel; there they stand! Will the battle against the sons of injustice not overtake them in Gibeah?”

I have had too many people tell me they were too wicked or bad for God to forgive. They have claimed their atrocities were so bad that even the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough to wash them away. These individuals were convinced they would spend eternity in hell and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Today’s verse refers to a horrible sin committed by the men of Gibeah (Benjamites) that brought the entire nation of Israel against them (Read Judges 19-20). The entire tribe was wiped out except for six hundred, which God saved as a remnant of the tribe. I believe it’s a picture of God’s mercy, even in the face of seemingly unforgiveable sins.

APPLICATION

I won’t ask you what sins you have committed. That’s between you and God. Aren’t you glad? None of us want our sins plastered on a billboard for all to see, do we? You may be one of those who can’t believe God could forgive you. You may even be a Christian, but you still can’t forgive yourself. You must let it go. God has.

There’s only one sin that is unforgiveable. That’s the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin will take you to a spot where you no longer feel the drawing of the Spirit. You no longer feel any conviction for your sins. But as long as you feel the Spirit nudging you toward repentance, you can rest assured you have hope.

I know I am saved and sealed. I believe Jesus’ blood rescued me. All my past, present and future sins are forgiven. To say God can’t save me is to say God has limited powers. We know that’s not true. His power to save reaches beyond what we can ask or think. I am so glad because my flesh is wicked beyond description and is only redeemed through His grace. How about you?

What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

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LOST CHILDREN

HOSEA 9:12

“Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them of their children until not a person is left. Yes, woe to them indeed when I depart from them!”

My wife and I have a little girl in heaven. Cathleen Marie only lived six hours. She was born and died on September 11, 1987. There’s not much more sorrowful than to lose a child. The pain can seem intolerable. You feel deserted. You feel hollow. Praise God, we knew Him then to get us through that dark valley.

The people of Israel were going to experience that pain. Their children would be taken away from them. Some of them would be killed by their invaders. Others would be carried off into exile as slaves, separated from their parents. All of this because of the nation’s disobedience and betrayal to their Lord.

APPLICATION

No one wants to lose a child, physically or spiritually. Our main job as parents is to lead our child to Christ and then disciple them to walk with Him. All our efforts in child raising should point to that. Do you agree? Anything else is really superfluous. You are not always going to be around, so they need to know how to live in this world.

Perhaps your children are grown. Do You have grandchildren? How about kids in your church or neighborhood? Whatever your situation, you have an opportunity to invest in the lives of children. While they are young we have the chance to teach them the Word of God and how to apply that to their lives.

I don’t want to see a child lost to this world. I will do all I can to point them to Jesus. Nothing gives me more joy than to see a little one give their heart and lives to Him. How about you? Will you join me in reaching out to the children in your circle of influence? Talk to their parents. Talk to the children. Share Jesus with them today.Father, I love to tell the story to everyone, but especially children. Lord, allow me to see Your children come to You.

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GOD REMEMBERS

HOSEA 9:9

“They are deeply depraved as in the days of Gibeah; He will remember their guilt, He will punish their sins.”

My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have gone through chemotherapy a couple of times and now suffer with what is known as “chemobrain.” Some people don’t think that is real, but believe me, it is. I have to make a lot of lists now to get things done. I want to remember things but can’t.

God, however, remembers our sins. Hosea says so right here in today’s verse. He couldn’t forget the sins of Israel because they hadn’t repented. Their unconfessed sins were before Him. He had to hold them accountable. Hosea says “He will punish their sins.” They is true for us, unless…

APPLICATION

When we come to Jesus and admit we are sinners, when we confess those sins and ask for forgiveness, God forgives them. And not only does He forgive them, He choses to forget them. They are remembered no more. Psalm 103: says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Isn’t that incredible? The God of the universe choses to remove our sins from us and from His recollection. Our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus. He remembers our sins no more because of His Son. They are wiped away. Isn’t that worth sharing? Isn’t that something that the lost need to hear?

You and I can walk in freedom from sin because of the power of His forgiveness. I don’t have to feel guilty from past sins. I can walk in power over sin because of His Spirit who lives within me. I am no longer under the threat of damnation because of the shed blood of the Lamb. That is shouting ground. Amen?

I am so thankful for Your forgetfulness, Father. You have washed me clean by the blood of the Lamb, Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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