Accountability, Battles, Bible, Choices, Devil, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Forgiveness, God's Will, Godliness, Holy Spirit, Protection, Scripture, Sin

GOD KNOWS

AMOS 5:12

“For I know your offenses are many and your sins are great, You who are hostile to the righteous and accept bribes, and turn away the poor from justice at the gate.”

I remember when I was little trying to get away with something I had done to one of my siblings. Like typical siblings, we played hard and sometimes had little “fights.” One of us would run to Mom or Dad and tell and then… Well, you know the result. It seemed our parents always knew what was going on, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.

Amos reminds us today that God knows our offenses and sins. They are many. And there is nothing we can do to erase those iniquities. The Israelites were guilty, and they knew it. Only Jehovah could forgive those rebellious hearts, but they had to turn to Him.

APPLICATION

God knows every sin we have ever committed and every sin we will commit. Think about that! He knows it before we do it. So, why doesn’t He stop us? Wouldn’t that be great? Man, if every time I am tempted God would step in and say, “Whoa, there Carl.” Well, He does!

As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living in us. He is constantly reminding us of our walk with Christ. As we study and memorize God’s Word, the Spirit brings forth those verses to convict us before we step into that cesspool of sin. We just need to listen to Him.

I know when I am tuned in to the Spirit by meditating on the Word, I am able to avoid the sins which can so easily entangle me. When I don’t do that, I am an open target. Sin seeks me out. The devil wants to distract me and bring me down. But thanks be to God, I have the power to avoid those traps as I rely on the Holy Spirit that dwells within me. Will you tune in to the Spirit today?

Lord God, I am so thankful that You have given me the power to avoid those sins that await me. And I am also thankful for the forgiveness You offer when I fail.

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Accountability, Apologies, Bible, Commands, Condemnation, Evil, Failures, Holiness, Modeling, Prophesy, Repentance, Righteousness, Scripture, Sin

EVIL INFLUENCE

AMOS 2:12

“‘But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets, saying, “You shall not prophesy!”’”

Have you ever influenced someone to do evil? It’s not something to be proud of. Unfortunately, before I was a Christian, I did that. I don’t need to say what I did or to whom. Needless to say, I am so sorry for doing that. I have since apologized to those to whom I did that. You see, sin is so easily corruptible.

The Israelites were guilty of doing the same. The Lord says here that they made the Nazirites drink wink, which went against their vow to not let anything from the fruit of the vine touch their lips. They also commanded the prophets to not speak the word of the Lord. They didn’t want to hear it. The Lord rebukes the nation for these acts.

APPLICATION

Why do we do these things? Because we want to look better than others. The Nazirites lived holy lives. That shined light on the Israelites sins. They couldn’t have that. Prophets spoke against their sins. They couldn’t have that either. We are the same way. We don’t want others pointing out our sins. We don’t want others living lives that “show us up.”

However, we are in need of conviction. The Word says we all have sinned. That’s a fact. We need someone to point out our sins. Too many preachers today fail to do that. They gloss over sin. They condone sin. They openly accept the sins of others. That’s too sad. And it’s against what the Lord expects. God expects holy living among His people.

So, what’s it going to be for you? Are you going to influence towards evil or towards holiness? I may not always do the right thing, but it is my prayer that I always point others towards Christ. I pray they see Him in my walk. I pray they hear Him in my speech. May God continue to convict me when I fail Him.

Lord, I am so sorry for the many times I failed You. Continue to use Your Holy Spirit in my life to point me in the right direction.

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Accountability, Bible, Commands, Confession, Consequences, Deception, Discipline, Evil, Flesh, Godliness, Holiness, Holy Spirit, Modeling, Perversion, Scripture, Sin

PERVERSION

AMOS 2:7

“‘These who trample the head of the helpless to the dust of the earth also divert the way of the humble; and a man and his father resort to the same girl so as to profane My holy name.’”

Sin by any other name is still sin. I know I have called my sins things like “my rights” or “just my personality.” Listen, anything that goes against what the Lord commands is sin, plain and simple. Anything that seeks my will over His is sin. Anything that belittles another is sin. I could go on, but you get the picture. We call our sins other things to disguise them and feel better about them.

All the things mentioned in verse 7 today were sins against a holy God. The rich were trampling the helpless for the dust they had put on their heads in mourning. They were diverting the meek and humble away from God. A father was marrying his son’s widow and vice versa. And father and son were perhaps visiting the same temple prostitute. All abominations in the eyes of God. But Israel was blind to them.

APPLICATION

What perversions do you have in your life right now? Most of us would quickly deny we had any perversions. Those are only the gross sins, right? Wrong. Any sin against God is perverse. They all go against His holiness. So, let me ask you that question another way. What sin(s) do you have right now that God would see as against His holiness? Now, that changes everything, doesn’t it?

I want to encourage you to confess those “perversions” right now. Ask the Lord to reveal to your eyes the sins you have not confessed to Him. Take the time to evaluate your lifestyle. Are there things you are doing on a daily basis that bring your faith into question? Are you compromising your testimony to achieve something? The Lord will show you what you need to confess, if you will just ask.

Staying “confessed up” is the key for me. The Holy Spirit is quick to convict me. If He’s too busy, my wife is always available. Lol. Seriously though, I am thankful for a wife that will not hesitate to call me out on my sin. That’s special. I love her for it. I pray you have someone in your life who will do the same. If not, find someone.

Your conviction in my life is precious, O Lord. I want You to keep my accountable for my sin.

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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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