Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Enemies, Faithfulness, Fighting, Protection, Salvation, Satan, Scripture

PREPARE FOR BATTLE

JOEL 3:10

Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak man say, “I am a warrior.”

I’ve never been to war. I’ve only had two fistfights in my life (both in high school before I came to Christ). So, the concept of gearing up for combat is foreign to me. I have known several men who bravely fought for our country. I respect them all. Their courage is admirable. They each had to prepare themselves for war, including getting the right arsenal.

Joel is telling the Judeans to get ready. Take whatever you have and make weapons. Plowshares into swords and pruning hooks into spears. They had to have weapons to fight the enemy when they arrived. This passage may sound familiar. It’s the exact opposite of what you will read in Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3. Take a minute and read those passages. But Joel is preparing for war, not peace.

APPLICATION

Are you prepared to fight the battles that are before you? Do you have the weapons you need? If you are a believer in Christ, you have everything you need to battle your adversary, the devil. God’s Word is the sword to wield. Your faith is the shield to protect you from his fiery darts. Your helmet of salvation guards your mind from any thoughts he might throw your way.

You see, you have the weapons. The question is are you ready to fight. The devil comes out each day with one goal – to defeat us. He wants to lay us out. He cannot stand it when we read the Bible and pray. He hates it when we share our faith with others. He will try anything to stop that. Don’t let him. Fight back.

I have learned lately just how determined he is. He has thrown all sorts of things in my path to try to discourage me. He wants me to lie down and quit. He cannot take away my salvation, but he can sure take me out of the fight – if I let him. But I won’t! Will you join me in the fight?

I am ready to follow You, Lord, wherever You lead. I trust You as my Commander in Chief.

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Advice, Affliction, Battles, Bible, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Following, Opponents, Protection, Satan, Scripture, Soldiers

TIME FOR WAR

JOEL 3:9

Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare for holy war; stir up the warriors!

Have all the soldiers come forward, have them come up!

The United States just ended their longest war in history. We finally withdrew from Afghanistan after twenty years. Many say we should have never gone to war. That can be debated. The fact is we went and were there for twenty long years. In a way, this was also a holy war. We were fighting to protect our nation and our way of living from a group of people who are determined to destroy us. Their religion calls for the termination of all “infidels.”

So, in a way, we can relate to this verse today. Joel is calling for Judah to prepare for battle. A day is coming when they will be fighting a holy war against the nations. Judah, which is part of the nation of Israel today, has been preparing for war since that day. They are still preparing today. Every young person in Israel has to serve a period of time in the military. They are prepared.

APPLICATION

The question I have for us today is: Are we? Are we prepared to fight a holy war? Now, I don’t mean a physical war with physical weapons, even though that may be required one day. I mean, do we have the divine weapons in our arsenal to fight the battles we face every day against Satan? That is a holy war we fight every day, and if we aren’t armed properly, Satan will eat our lunch.

You need to read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 today. It will remind you that you do indeed have the weapons you need to fight the battle. But with any weapon, you first have to pick it up and then you have to know how to wield it. That takes practice. That takes time. I am glad you are reading this devotional blog today, but don’t let this be your quiet time. Let this inspire you to dig deeper in your quiet time.

I write this blog as part of my quiet time each day, but I also try to dig deeper in another passage. I need to know all I can to fight the battle. I spend time every day memorizing and reviewing passages. I want to keep my mind sharp when I need to recall a passage to protect my thoughts. It’s a battle, folks, each and every day. Don’t forget that.

O God, I am so glad You have given me divine weapons to demolish strongholds. I am thankful I can learn Your Word to fight off my enemy.

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Abiding, Advocate, Angels, Battles, Bible, Demons, Devil, Fighting, Holy Spirit, Opponents, Satan, Scripture

WORTHLESS DEFENSES

HOSEA 10:14

An uproar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were slaughtered with their children.”

If you have read very many of my blogs, you know I love to hunt. The area I hunt here in Tennessee has black bears. Now they aren’t known to be very dangerous, as long as you stay away from a mama bear and her cubs. But I always want to be prepared in case I run into one. I know if a bear really wants to hurt me, he will. I am no match for a bear. My best defenses fall short.

Hosea was reminding Israel of the Assyrian conquest of Beth-arbel. Any defenses they may have mustered on their own couldn’t hold them off. I am reminded, however, of the ONE angel that killed 185,000 Assyrians another time. Our defenses are worthless, but God has the power and resources to conquer all our enemies, if we will trust Him.

APPLICATION

Enemies come from all angles and directions. Satan scouts us out to find our weak spots and will send his demons to target those areas. Men, are you prone to look at pictures you shouldn’t? Be assured Satan will give you lots of opportunities. Ladies, do you gossip too much? Old Satan loves to whisper in your ear the latest juicy news to spread. Only by surrendering to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis will you overcome these temptations. Only God’s defenses are strong enough for victory.

I am just too old to try to fight these battles on my own. I know I need Jesus every day, or I will be whipped. I bet you are the same. Aren’t you tired of battling on your own? Step back and let the Lord fight for you. He will, you know. And when the victory is won, He gets all the glory.

Victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever! Thank You for the victory I have in Your Son, Jesus Christ.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Busyness, Commands, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Inspirational, Modeling, Obedience, Satan, Scripture

TAKE MY YOKE

HOSEA 10:11

Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh, and I passed over her lovely neck; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, Jacob will harrow for himself.”

I have never used a yoke and harness on an ox or horse. I have in my front yard a seed and fertilizer spreader that is meant to be used with an animal pulling it. It’s probably 150 years old, but it just sits there in my yard idle. It hasn’t been used in decades. It’s not much use except for a yard decoration.

Hosea tells us in this verse that God had harnessed and placed His yoke on both Judah and Israel. They had been trained to pull for Him. In fact, Hosea says Ephraim loves to thresh. That’s an image of threshing grain unmuzzled so they could enjoy the grain they were crushing. But we know they both rebelled in the end.

APPLICATION

What has the Lord “trained” you to do? Are you in His harness and yoke? Are you pulling for Him? If you aren’t, you are pulling for the devil. You can only pull for one master. Don’t you know that? Carl, I’m not in anyone’s harness. I’m free. Yes, you are. You are free to serve either master, but you will serve one or the other.

God only calls us to do tasks that are good and productive. We shouldn’t be wasting our time doing things that don’t really matter. Fruitless, unproductive, time-wasting activities bring no glory to the Father. After all, that is our purpose – to bring glory to Him. Ask yourself if the things you are so busy doing are doing that.

The older I get the more precious time becomes. It seems the days get shorter and shorter. I don’t want to waste my time not pulling for my Lord. I want to wear His harness proudly. I want to pull for Him boldly. I want to please the One who has done so much for me. Don’t you?

Thanks for placing Your yoke around my neck. When I get tired remind me who I am pulling for.

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Abiding, Alone, Bible, Comfort, Deceit, Devil, Direction, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Leading, Lies, Punishment, Righteousness, Satan, Scripture

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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Alone, Bible, Deception, Devil, Foolishness, Judgment, Loyalty, Obedience, Opponents, Satan, Scripture, Slaves

WILD DONKEYS

HOSEA 8:9

“For they have gone up to Assyria, like a wild donkey all alone; Ephraim has paid fees for lovers.”

We have all seen wildlife shows where lions or jackals attack a herd. Have you ever noticed which animal they go after? They attack the young, the weak and the ones who are isolated from the herd. Those animals are easy picking. They lack the protection of the herd.

Hosea compares Israel to a wild donkey that is all alone. They were carried off to Assyria and became a target. Being alone in a foreign land was scary enough but being alone was worse. Assyria carried them there and put them in cities as slaves. They were scattered. They were without their God. They were alone!

APPLICATION

Are you feeling alone? There is no need to feel that way. If you are a believer, you have a family of believers all around you. You need their fellowship and their support. You cannot walk safely on your own. Just like that lone wild donkey, you are a target for the enemy. Satan loves to find a lone believer. His schemes make us easy prey when we are alone.

I belong to a couple of men’s groups that I do life with. They are my allies. They encourage me in my daily walk with Christ and hold me accountable when I fall. They are my brothers. I would not want to even try to live without them. I can tell them anything and know they will hold it confidential.

Having fellow believers around you serves as protection. We can all be on the alert. We can all sound the alarm. When we see a fellow believer all alone, we need to reach out and surround them. They may not know how alone they are and how vulnerable they are. Don’t let them do this alone.

I am so glad I have a family of believers to walk with me, Lord. Help me reach out to those who need others.

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Accountability, Advice, Battles, Bible, Choices, Commands, Confrontation, Devil, Enemies, Fighting, Flesh, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Satan, Scripture

WARNING! WARNING!

HOSEA 8:1

Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the LORD, because they have violated My covenant and rebelled against My Law.”

Picture yourself on the wall of a city. Your job is to watch for any approaching enemies. You have a trumpet to blow to warn the city if danger is sighted. So, when do you blow that trumpet? Do you wait until the enemy is at the gate or do you sound the alarm as soon as you spot them?

Here in Hosea the enemy has come. There is no time for the trumpet to be sounded. Judgment has fallen. God is holding them accountable for their breach of the covenant. They have rebelled against His Law. So, God is using their enemies to judge them.

APPLICATION

We must sound the alarm. In our society today we are surrounded by encroaching enemies. But we remain silent. We don’t warn our brothers and sisters about the danger that is all around us. We may run for cover ourselves, but we leave the rest to fend for themselves.

Who are these enemies? Anyone or anything that goes against God’s Word and His commands for our lives. Anyone or anything that speaks against Jesus is an enemy of the cross. Satan will use all these to try to tear us down. He is on the attack – always. We cannot let up for a second. We must be on guard. We must keep the trumpet in our hands ready to blow.

I am looking. Are you? I’m on the wall. Are you? 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be of sober spirit. Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t think for a second he’s got your best interest in mind. He has one goal – to destroy you and other believers. Stand firm and strong.

I will blow the trumpet, Lord. I will sound the alarm. I will stand with You.

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Accountability, Advice, Belief, Bible, Confession, Deceit, Devil, God's Will, Guilt, Heaven, Lying, Mercy, Promises, Redemption, Satan, Scripture, Truth

LYING ABOUT GOD

HOSEA 7:13

Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they have spoken lies against Me.”

When you read my title for the blog today you may have thought that to be a strange title. Who, after all, lies about God? Oh, don’t get me started. Look all around you. There are people everywhere who are lying about God. They say He accepts all kinds of lifestyles – nope. They say He will accept everyone into heaven – nope. Some even say He doesn’t really exist – nope.

God would love to redeem Ephraim. He would love to extend His mercy and grace, but they are lying about Him. They are refusing to acknowledge His power of creation and them. They are not bowing to His total control over their circumstances and are thereby lying about Him. God will not redeem the unrepentant.

APPLICATION

When is the last time you have lied about God? Oh Carl, I have never lied about God. Oh really? Have you never questioned His power to save you from a situation? Have you never believed Satan’s whispers that God was too busy for your prayers? You may call my words a little harsh. You may not see that as lying about God. But anytime we don’t recognize His power we are basically calling Him a liar. We don’t believe He will do what He says He will do.

He says He will always love us and see us through the storms of life. He says He will rescue us from Satan’s barrages against us. He promises us that He is always listening to hear our prayers and to intercede according to His perfect will. You can believe these things about our holy God. He will always come through. To believe anything else is to believe a lie.

I may get accused of lying about a lot of things, but I do not want to ever be accused of lying about God. I want to always trust His Word and believe exactly what it says. If God says it, that settles it. There is no questioning Him. Praise be to God for His unshakeable truths.

I love knowing that You can always be trusted, Lord. Every word out of Your mouth is truth.

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Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Following, God's Will, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Satan, Scripture, Surrender

PRIDE

HOSEA 7:10

Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, yet they have not returned to the LORD their God, nor have they sought Him, despite all this.

Pride comes before the fall. Have you heard that? Well, it’s true. We get cocky and arrogant, and before you know it, we fall flat on our face. Pride can be a good thing. We should take pride in our country. We should be proud of our friends or family when they have a great achievement. But pride of self will always bring us down.

Hosea continues to speak against Ephraim and talks about their pride. They are caught in their sins, but their pride will not let them repent. Why should they? Their sins aren’t as bad as the pagans of the land (or so they thought). Surely, God would not judge them. They are special. They are chosen. Wrong! God did hold them accountable.

APPLICATION

How do we fight against the pride of our flesh? There is only one way – we have to die to our flesh every second of every day. I have said that a lot in my devotional blogs. But what exactly does that mean – to die to your flesh? It means recognizing that we are not capable of living a holy life on our own. It means humbling ourselves before Him. It means saying you can’t do this on your own.

When we do that, the Holy Spirit empowers us to do everything we just said we couldn’t. What? Yep! He lives in us and will live through us when we get out of the way. He will control our tongue. He will direct our eyes. He will… But we have to surrender our will to the Father’s Will. Then and only then can the Holy Spirit do those things for us.

Are you tired of your prideful life? Are you sick of picking yourself back up after another horrible stumble? Kill that self pride today. Don’t let Satan have an inch of real estate in your life. Jesus is waiting to give you a victory.

I am so tired of trying to prove myself, Father. I surrender my life to You to do with as You see fit. Use me today to glorify Yourself.

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Adultery, Bible, Blasphemy, Commands, Deceit, Devil, Fire, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Obedience, Satan, Scripture, Self-control, Sin

FRESH BREAD

HOSEA 7:4

They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by the baker, who stops stoking the fire from the time the dough is kneaded until it is leavened.”

I don’t think there is any smell quite as good as fresh baked bread. There is just something so comforting about it. I have a friend who bakes bread a lot. She gives it away to people to bless them. I love her bread heated with a pat of butter. Excuse me while I drool. Lol

What does this analogy of bread have to do with the people committing adultery? Just like the oven heated by the baker, they were heated in their lust to commit adultery both spiritually and physically. Once that “oven” is turned on and heated up, it can quickly burn whatever is put within it.

APPLICATION

Are you burning? Are you heated up? Our flesh is prone to go that way unless we turn the oven down. Do you understand that we have a temperature control knob on our flesh? Yep! As a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to do just that. When we yield to Him, He can control that knob. He can turn down the temperature.

The problem is we are in a spiritual arm wrestle for that knob. We want the temperature to stay up. We like the heat. Or so we think. When the heat gets too high and we start to burn, we want out. But Satan has one of those oven door locks that slams shut when the heat gets high. He wants us trapped in that oven.

So, what do we do? Stay out of the oven! Stay away from temptation. Know your surroundings. Ask the Lord each day to guard you from the evil one. He will. But stay out of the oven. It’s not that hard, if you yield to Him. If you don’t, watch out. That oven will burn you.

Keep me safe, Lord. I trust You to guide me. I desire to be out of the oven and safely in Your arms.

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