Accountability, Battles, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Following, God's Will, Modeling, Obedience, Repentance, Scripture, Surrender

REPROACHED

HOSEA 12:14 

“Ephraim has provoked God to bitter anger; so his Lord will leave his guilt for bloodshed on him and bring his disgrace back to him.” 

Have you ever been reproached? Do you even know what that means? Well, Webster defines reproach as “to address someone with disapproval or disappointment.” Now, how do you answer that question? I can remember my parents being disappointed in me due to some of my behaviors. It is not encouraging. 

God has reproached Ephraim because of their sins. They had become immune, or so it seemed, to guilt due to their sins. They figured since they had forgotten them, God had also. Well, He hadn’t. God will not look the other way. He held them accountable.  

APPLICATION 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I like being reproached. I don’t want to disappoint my Lord. I want to please Him. One way to avoid being reproached is by doing that – pleasing Him. He really isn’t that hard to please. All we have to do is surrender to Him daily and allow Him to live through us. 

You may say Well, that’s not so easy, Carl. Sure, it is. We just die to self. We wake up each morning and decide to let God have His will that day. We lay down our agenda for His. We bow at His throne instead of sitting on ours. We yield to His Word to determine how to proceed. 

Don’t want to do that? Okay, live dangerously. I choose to bow. I want to live in victory, not defeat. It really is so much easier. I have fought against the Lord. I have been reproached. It’s not fun. I choose surrender.  

Lord, thank You for victory. Thank You for allowing me to walk with You. 

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THE PROPHET

HOSEA 12:13 

“But by a prophet the LORD brought Israel up from Egypt, and by a prophet he was protected.” 

Don’t you love the story of Moses? A baby is born in Egypt and doomed to die. Miraculously he survives a short voyage in the Nile among crocodiles to land in the arms of the Pharoah’s daughter. He grows up privileged and educated. Then God leads him away for forty years to prepare him for his role as liberator of the children of Israel.

Hosea is, of course, referring to Moses in today’s verse. This prophet, Moses, led and protected the nation. There was nothing special about Moses, except that he yielded to the will of God. He allowed God to use him, even though he felt unworthy. Remember, he even told God he stuttered so he couldn’t talk to Pharoah. But God used this humble man to be the leader of a nation. 

APPLICATION 

As I was reading this verse, I asked myself how the Lord may want to use me. How does He want to use you? Moses was tending sheep when he encountered the burning bush. Have you had a burning bush experience? I don’t mean you’ve seen an actual burning bush. But have you had a definite meeting with the holy God of the universe? Has He called you by name? 

He is calling us. He is calling us to do great and wonderful things on His behalf. Jesus told us we would do “greater things than these” as His followers. Are you willing? God will make you able. You just have to allow Him to. Ask Him today to use you in ways that you can’t imagine.  

I want to be used. I desire to be led by His Spirit. Often my own will and desires get in the way. It’s easy to get sidetracked and think I am doing His will, when in fact I am doing my own. That’s not my desire. My prayer today is to be that willing vessel surrendered to His will for my life – wherever that leads. 

Father God, I know I am headstrong and stubborn at times, but I want to yield to You. Led me as You led Moses to do great and mighty things for You. 

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GOD’S PROMISES

HOSEA 12:12 

“Now Jacob fled to the land of Aram, and Israel worked for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.” 

Sometimes the Lord directs us in ways that make absolutely no sense at the time. Years ago, the Lord led us to move to another state for a position in a ministry. We weren’t there very long, but during that short time I was exposed to information and training that prepared me for my next ministry. Looking back, it is clear, but at the time it was just a matter of trust. 

Jacob (Israel) was directed by his mother, Rebekah, to go back to her family to seek a wife. She was also trying to spare Jacob’s life after he had tricked his father, Isaac, into giving him his brother, Esau’s, birthright. But God used this whole messed up situation for good. Through Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah, the nation of Israel was birthed. 

APPLICATION 

You may be in a situation right now that makes no sense. You can’t see a way out. You certainly can’t see how God is going to make any sense out of it. This is where the trust comes in. God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t see things the way we do. Don’t you understand that He already sees you glorified in the heavens? He does! He sees the past, present and future at the same time.  

So, if that is true, we can trust Him with our future. He knows exactly what He is doing. Whatever you are going through right now has a purpose. There’s a reason for it. You may not like it, but God knows that. Instead of asking God “why me?”, ask Him “what now?”  

My older brother is going through some major health challenges right now. I told him those exact words this week. It is in those exact times of going through the valleys that God grows us up. He didn’t say it would be easy. But He did say He would be with us. Jacob labored decades for his wives and possessions before returning home. But God used him to father a nation. 

I don’t understand all that You are doing in my life, Lord, but I trust You. I only want to serve You. 

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ROAR

HOSEA 11:10

“They will walk after the LORD, He will roar like a lion; indeed He will roar, and His sons will come trembling from the west.”

I have had the privilege to go to Africa several times. In all those journeys I have never heard a lion roar. I have actually seen a couple of lions, but all they were doing was lying around sleeping. But I have friends there who tell me if you ever hear a lion’s roar up close and personal, you will never forget it.

God’s people returned to Him. Hosea says they will respond to His roar, His roar to repentance. They came trembling from the west. From all their exiled locations, God’s people returned. They came to walk after Him. Finally! They are following their God.

APPLICATION

We are just like that. God has to take many of us into “exile” before we finally hear His roar to repentance. Why does it take us so long to return? We are stubborn, obstinate people who just want our own way. We refuse to submit to His commands until we see that He was right all along.

Are there things in your life right now which God is calling you to repent of? Do you have that secret sin that is eating you up inside? You’re hiding it from family and friends, but God knows. Isn’t it time to repent of that? Do you hear His roar?

I hear His roar all the time. Through the conviction of the Holy Spirit I am led to repent. I am so thankful I can hear His roar. It doesn’t scare me. I am not afraid of it. I welcome it. It’s a reminder that He loves me and desires me to be with Him and not the world. Listen! Do you hear Him now?

Lord, thank You for “roaring” after me. I know I am Your child and that You desire me close.

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IN OUR MIDST

HOSEA 11:9

I will not carry out My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”

We are all prone to get upset and show our emotions, aren’t we? When we get mad at someone, we want to let them have it. It’s hard for us to hold back how we feel. We think we have the right to do that, but we don’t. I know I have been guilty of that in the past.

God was showing His mercy in a mighty way in today’s verse. Ephraim deserved punishment, but He chose to show mercy instead. Hosea explains why. God is not a man! He doesn’t operate in the same way we do. He doesn’t make decisions based on emotion. He chose to not show His wrath.

APPLICATION

To whom do you need to show mercy? Maybe you’re too busy scheming to get them back. Someone has hurt you and all you can think about is getting even. Let me ask you a question. Do you believe in God’s mercy which He has shown you? If you are a believer, you should be telling everyone about it. Better yet, you should be showing it.

Have you tried that? Now, I know you’re not God. You are full of emotions that are hard to control. But God is in your midst. His Holy Spirit lives in you. He can show you how to be merciful to others. He can do through you what you could never do yourself.

I have to admit that I struggle with this. I know the Lord has given me the ability to show mercy. I have even done that at times. But my old, ugly flesh gets in the way too many times. I truly want to be more merciful. I know the only way to do that is to surrender daily to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Father, You are merciful to me in so many ways. Help me show mercy to others.

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WHIRLING SWORDS

HOSEA 11:6

And the sword will whirl against their cities, and will destroy their oracle priests and consume them, because of their counsels.”

When my son was small, he played all sorts of video games. Back then the games weren’t quite as elaborate as they are today. Some of those games had courses you had to get through to win. Of course, those courses were full of dangers. There were traps to fall in, lasers to dodge and even swords. They could end your “life” in the game and make you go back to the beginning.

God was sending whirling swords on the heads of the Israelites. Swords from warring nations would come upon them to deliver God’s judgment. But look at what caused this – their counsels. Actually, the Hebrew says “their own counsels.” They only listened to words that pleased them. They knew God’s law but ignored it.

APPLICATION

I don’t think you want whirling swords to fall on you, do you? No one does. But we still all try to live our lives according to our own counsel. We think we know what is best. We have our lives all mapped out without any regard to the plan God has for us. Whirling swords come in all sizes and descriptions. What will it take for God to get your attention?

We can all avoid the whirling swords of judgment by turning to Jesus. When we are surrendered to His will, judgment has already been paid. Jesus took the punishment on Himself. He died so that we can avoid those swords. He not only destroyed those swords, but He also secured our future. We are promised that. Isn’t that great?

I don’t want my head taken off by a swirling sword. I had much rather rest in Jesus. I know I deserve judgment. I am just a sinner saved by grace. But it is so comforting to know my head is safe. My soul is safe. And because I know that, I want to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord. Don’t you?

I am thankful for Jesus taking my judgment. Thank You, Lord, for rescuing me.

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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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IF YOU SOW WILD OATS…

HOSEA 10:13

You have plowed wickedness, you have harvested injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your many warriors,”

I can remember my dad, before he became a believer, talking about young men sowing their “wild oats.” He was referring to guys living immorally. Of course, before my dad became a believer, he didn’t understand that kind of talk was wrong. He didn’t understand that kind of living was against the will of God. He was just living naturally, according to the world.

But if you sow wild oats, you are going to reap wild oats. Look back at the previous verse in Hosea 10. We were given the picture of how to sow and reap properly. Today’s verse shows us what happens when you sow wickedness. You reap injustice. You can’t rely on your own strength. You can’t trust your way. It will always let you down. It will always fill you with lies.

APPLICATION

Let me ask you a question. Which do you prefer, mercy or injustice, truth or lies? Unless you are really messed up, I know which you prefer. No one likes to be lied to. No one likes injustice. We all want to be treated fairly. So, we must sow the right seed in our lives.

Aren’t you tired of trying to do things your own way? Aren’t you sick of picking up pieces of your life? I am not promising you that your life will be a bed of roses if you accept the Lord as your Savior or surrender it fully to Him. You may still have struggles. But with Him, all the struggles make sense. You have someone to carry you through.

I have lived with enough lies and untruths in my life. I don’t want to live that way. Once I experienced the grace of Jesus, there was no turning back. A.W. Tozer said, “O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.” Amen!

O Lord, protect me from sowing wickedness. Keep me from reaping injustice. I want to trust only in You.

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POISONOUS LIPS

HOSEA 10:4

“They speak mere words, with worthless oaths they make covenants; and judgment sprouts like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.”

Have you ever known people who can’t seem to say one good thing about anyone? They are always critical. They find fault in everyone. They question everyone’s motive. You can almost see the poison dripping from their lips. These are not people you want to be around. To do so can cause you to “catch” their poison.

Israel was reeking of poison. Their oaths and covenants with pagan gods were a stench in the nostrils of the Lord. He promised judgment on them because of this. Judgment was sure. Today’s verse even says it will be like poisonous weeds in the field. That wasn’t good for man or animal. God’s judgment will affect them all.

APPLICATION

I am sure you have never spoken evil of anyone. Right? Come on, be honest. We have all been guilty of spewing poison, haven’t we? But as believers, we can’t do that. We must speak love to others, even those who harm us. Now, that’s hard. It is actually impossible, unless you allow the Lord to be your spokesman.

Don’t you think the Lord loves all those people you have spoken evil of? Of course, He does. He wants them to walk in the Spirit as much as He wants you to do that. If we would stop and look at others as Christ sees them, we would not speak poisonous words about them.

I have been guilty of this more times than I want to say. My flesh rises up when I have been offended. I want to “get back” at them. I take up a loved one’s offense and demand justice. I know the Lord isn’t pleased with that attitude. Sooner or later, I have to come to Him and confess that as sin, which it is.  Poisonous lips always poisons the one who speaks.

Father, forgive me for my poisonous lips. Remind me through Your Holy Spirit that my tongue belongs to You.

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NOSE THUMBER

HOSEA 10:3

“Certainly now they will say, ‘We have no king, for we do not revere the LORD. As for the king, what can he do for us?’”

I have known a few people who thumbed their nose at God. I had a coworker once who wanted nothing to do with God or me. I was the Chaplain at a children’s home, so I represented God to him. He really didn’t like me because of that. He was constantly speaking badly about our chapel services and ridiculed the decisions the children were making. He did not revere the Lord.

Israel did not revere the Lord. They had no respect for their king either. They had lost all their allegiance to anyone except themselves, and that was failing. So, they were also thumbing their noses at God. He wasn’t doing what they wanted, so they were done with Him. They wanted God to serve them, to meet all their needs. Anything less was useless to them.

APPLICATION

What is your view of God? You may expect God to meet all your needs when you want Him to. You may think the Lord is kind of like Santa Claus. And when He doesn’t “perform” you put Him aside. That is not the way God works. He is not on your timetable.

But, oh listen to me. God wants to work in your life. He has such grand plans for you and me. We have to lay down our plans and allow Him to work in and through us. We will never know the heights to which He can take us unless we lay down our own self made plans. Will you do that today?

I am still learning how to lay down my plans. I am a planner and there are times when I get tired of waiting on God. Don’t judge me. I am sure you have done that. But when I do wait on Him, His plan makes so much better sense. You would think I would have learned this by now. Keep me in your prayers, and I will pray for you, too.

Father, I don’t want to ever caste You aside. You are the center of all I do. I want to honor You.

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