Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Bible, Compassion, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Grace, Judgment, Mercy, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

GOD IS…

JOEL 2:13

“‘And tear your heart and not merely your garments.’ Now return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.”

I have all kinds of ideas of what God is. First of all, He is everything to me. I can’t imagine a day without Him. He loves me and guides me each step each day. But what exactly is He like? There are so many words to describe Him. I am thankful that the Word of God tells us.

In today’s verse, Joel gives us an awesome description of God. Look at the verse again. He says the Lord is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and relenting of catastrophe.” Wow! Can I encourage you to do a word study on each of those words? It will bless your heart, I promise.

APPLICATION

When we return to the Lord, He shows us all these things. So, why do we wait to return to Him? We need His grace and compassion. We need His mercy. We need His forgiveness. Why wait to come back to Him? Every day you wait, you are missing out on these blessings from Him.

So many of us put off repentance because we don’t want to admit we are wrong. Our pride gets in the way. That was the downfall of Judah. They had become prideful and unrepentant. And for that, God brought judgment. I prefer mercy over judgment.

Therefore, part of my prayers every day is repentance. I confess all the sins I am aware of and ask the Lord to reveal to me those sins I may have committed out of ignorance. Perhaps I had failed to do something – a sin of omission. That’s just as bad. For that I need forgiveness. Will you join me today in turning back to that gracious, compassionate, forgiving, merciful God?

Why wouldn’t I come to You, O Lord, each day? Forgive me of my reluctance to repent and confess my sins to You.

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Battles, Choices, Cleansing, Confession, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

INFESTED

JOEL 2:9

“They storm the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter through the windows like a thief.”

Once, when I lived in Florida, our house became infested with ticks. We noticed a couple climbing up the wall in our den one night and killed them. The next day we saw more and killed them, but they just kept coming. We had the house sprayed a few times before they were finally contained. But they were everywhere. It was pretty creepy to live in.

The locusts Joel is describing here that came as part of God’s judgment on Judah were everywhere. One commentator’s description talked about them eating everything in the house, even clothing. The people had no rest from them. They couldn’t eat without battling them for the food. Can you imagine the scene? It must have been horrible.

APPLICATION

Sin is that way. It creeps in and infests our lives. If we do not deal with it quickly it will affect every area of our lives. We may think we can keep it isolated, but we can’t. It spreads. It penetrates even our most guarded areas. Sin seeps in and begins to cause decay. Just like those locusts in today’s verse, sin will devour everything in its path.

But we have the solution – Jesus. His blood covers all those sins. We will never be free from the presence of sin this side of glory. However, we do not have to live chained to sin. We have the power to live above it. We can close the windows and doors of our lives to its penetrating power through the Holy Spirit. His power trumps sin’s power every time.

So, you have a choice. You can choose to live in the stench of sin or in the aroma of our Savior. That’s pretty much a no brainer, if you ask me. I choose Jesus. I know He is my protector and defender. I trust Him to cover my sins with His precious blood. I am free because of that. How about you?

O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus! O, the blood of Jesus, it washes white as snow!

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Apologies, Asking, Bible, Brokenness, Confession, Forgiveness, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

IT TAKES WORDS

HOSEA 14:2

Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, ‘Take away all guilt and receive us graciously, so that we may present the fruit of our lips.’”

Apologizing to someone can be quite humiliating. Depending on what you are apologizing for, it can be hard to get the words out. I’ve known people who just couldn’t say they were sorry. It seemed impossible for them to form those words with their mouth. But to truly apologize you must. You have to tell that person just how sorry you are for whatever it was you did or said. Anything less just isn’t an apology.

Hosea gives Israel some good advice here. “Take words with you.” In other words, tell the Lord that you are sorry for your sins. Tell Him you want forgiveness. Tell Him you need Him. Israel was stubborn and rebellious, though. They thought they were okay just because they were God’s chosen. But God’s chosen can fall short too.

APPLICATION

When’s the last time you came humbly before your Lord asking for forgiveness? I pray it was today. You need to do this every day. I am reminded of David’s words at the end of Psalm 139. He asks the Lord to search him and show him his sins so he can confess them to Him. Have you ever done that? Try it.

I practice the ACTS method in praying. It’s just my habit. A-Adoration, C-Confession, T-Thanksgiving, S-Supplication. This method keeps me focused in my prayer time. Do you know what I’ve found out by doing this? When I spend all that time in adoration, confession and thanksgiving, I have less supplication. It’s more about me talking to God than asking from Him.

Will you join me in prayer today asking the Lord to reveal to you the sins you have tucked away? Come to Him in humility asking Him to cleanse you. As Hosea said to Israel, take words with you and return to the Lord. And come knowing He is waiting to receive you. He wants you to come home.

Father, forgive me today of those sins I have committed against You. Forgive me and cleanse me so that I can be Your vessel to be used to advance Your kingdom here on earth.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Confession, Deceit, Devil, Encouragement, Fellowship, Forgiveness, Obedience, Prayer, Redemption, Relationships, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

FOOLISH THINKING

HOSEA 12:8

“And Ephraim said, ‘I have certainly become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they will find in me no wrongdoing, which would be sin.’”

Have you ever gotten away with doing something wrong? You didn’t get caught, so you figured all was well. God didn’t zap you. When that happens, it is very easy to think that you are immune to punishment. Just call yourself “Teflon Joe.” Nothing sticks to you. We both know that is dangerous ground.

Ephraim was saying that about themselves. They were disobedient to God, but them seemingly were still being blessed. They exclaimed, “I have certainly become rich.” They had the midas touch. So, they assumed they were without sin. However, they soon realized that was not true. God’s punishments may be delayed, but they are not going to be withheld forever.

APPLICATION

You may be knee deep in sin right now. God has not disciplined you yet. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit within you is convicting you, but you may be tuning Him out. You figure you will deal with this sin later. You will confess later. You will get right with the Lord later. Listen to me – later is now. It’s time.

Just because the Lord does not immediately discipline us for our sins does not mean He is pleased with us. Sins have consequences. Some are immediate. Others may be delayed, but they all have consequences. Don’t let the devil fool you into thinking God doesn’t care about your sins. He does. He sent His Son to die for them, all of them, past, present and future.

I desire to stay “confessed up.” I don’t want my sins, which are many, to come between me and my Lord. I need that direct line to the Lord open at all times and not full of the static of my unconfessed sins. Don’t you want that too?

Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and grace in my life. Show me my sins so that I can repent and have my fellowship restored.

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Accountability, Bible, Blameless, Confession, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Judgment, Redemption, Repentance, Salvation, Scripture, Sin

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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Accountability, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Deceit, Foolishness, God's Will, Judgment, Obedience, Rebuke, Scripture, Sin

DON’T BET ON IT

HOSEA 9:2

“Threshing floor and wine press will not feed them, and the new wine will fail them.”

Back in 2008 our economy went through a downturn. A lot of people lost a lot of money in those months. In fact, my wife and I lost about one third of our retirement funds. It happened quickly. It was unexpected. Funds we thought would be there in years to come year were gone almost overnight.

Israel thought their harvest and wine would be there for them to enjoy. After all, they had worked for those harvests. They had produced that wine. Why wouldn’t it be there for them to enjoy? They really thought they could do as they pleased and still be blessed by God. Not so!

APPLICATION

Are you betting on your future? Are you relying on what you’ve achieved or on God? We put so much energy in planning for our future. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s smart to plan ahead. But we can’t leave God out of the equation. He has to be part of what we are planning. God may have plans for you that you can’t even begin to imagine.

So, how do you plan for your future? You start on your knees. You ask the Lord what He would have you do. This goes for your money, as well. Don’t you think the Lord wants you to be provided for? Of course, He does. He doesn’t want to see His children struggle unless…. Perhaps He wants to use you to show others how to depend on Him. Perhaps He wants to use you to be that example of faith that can only we experienced as we go through trials and hardships. But He still loves you and wants what is best for you.

My future is in the Lord’s hands. Stepping out at sixty years old and starting to raise support for a new ministry is not something I planned. But He has led me to do just that. It’s an exciting adventure. I can’t wait to see what He does in and through me in the months and years to come. I can’t count on the threshing floor or winepress. God has other plans, and I’m all in.

I am thankful that my blessings are promised through You. I will love and serve You because I know You will walk with me through the hardest times.

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Belief, Betrayal, Bible, Choices, Commands, Faith, Following, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Scripture, Sin

IDOL MAKING

HOSEA 8:4

“They have set up kings, but not by Me; they have appointed officials, but I did not know it. With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves, so that they will be eliminated.”

Idols come in all shapes and sizes. Now, I am not talking about the little statues that people used to bow down to and worship. I’m talking about all those things we put on the top of our priority list. We put all sorts of things up there and never realize what we’ve done. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Israel had literally made idols for themselves. They had turned to the false gods of the land and worshipped them. They turned their backs on God and decided to go after the newest craze. They loved the pagan worship they witnessed in the land and were drawn into it by the people around them. Idols were everywhere.

APPLICATION

We know that as believers Jesus must be our Lord. Nothing must come between Him and us. But we let things slide in. Many of those things are good things. There is really nothing wrong with them. It’s just we start to put them higher and higher and all of a sudden, they’ve taken first place.

Mom and Dad, are you prioritizing your relationship with Jesus? Do you spend time every day reading and studying His Word? Well Carl, I would but Jenny has dance and Robert has soccer. We are just busy with sports. What have you done? You’ve replaced time with God with busy activities. Anything that replaces God is an idol. Anything!

I am at the age now that I realize just how important time with Jesus is. I desire it so much. For me, first thing in the morning is best. There are fewer interruptions. I don’t let things get in the way of that time. That’s my time with Jesus. How about you? Will you take a look at what is important in your life? Ask yourself if anything has taken over Jesus’ spot in your life.

Father, You must always be the most important person in my life. I vow to put You first and keep You in that spot.

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Anger, Apologies, Battles, Bible, Choices, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Holiness, Inspirational, Judgment, Modeling, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin, Testimony

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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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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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Condemnation, Confession, Death, Demons, Destruction, Devil, Disciplemaking, Evil, Following, Holy Spirit, Judgment, Obedience, Rescue, Salvation, Satan, Scripture, Sin

SURROUNDED

HOSEA 7:2

“And they do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their deeds surround them; they are before My face.”

The story goes that one day the Lone Ranger caught himself surrounded by a band of angry Indians. He had no way of escape. He looked at his trusty Indian sidekick, Tanto, and said, “Well, Tanto, I guess this is the end for us.” Tanto calmly turned to the Lone Ranger and said, “What do you mean, pale-face?”

I know, I know, not too funny. But hear me out. Just like the Lone Ranger, the people of Israel suddenly found themselves surrounded by their wickedness. They had to be aware of their evil deeds but had become blinded to the dangers around them. All of a sudden, God’s judgment fell. There was no escape. Payment was due.

APPLICATION

Our sins will find us out. There is no escaping the consequences of rebellion. Everything we have ever done is known to God. But…thanks be to Him, He has provided a way of escape for us. He sent His precious Son, Jesus, to die for us on the cross. He paid the price for our sin. His blood covers our unrighteousness. He gives us His righteousness when we turn to Him.

But if you have never done that, if you have never asked Christ to be your Savior, you are surrounded by encroaching sins. None of your sidekicks can save you. Your family can’t save you. The preacher can’t save you. Only Jesus can save you. Rest in that. Receive that free gift from the Father. He will rescue you.

I am so thankful I can walk in victory. Aren’t you? When Satan sends his little minions to surround me, I just have to look to the hills where God’s army has come to defend me. I fear no evil because my Father in heaven knows my name. He is my deliverer. He is my stronghold and place of safety. Amen? Amen!

O Lord, I praise You for rescuing me. I give You all the glory for the victories in my life.

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