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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Abiding, Belief, Bible, Commands, Disciplemaking, Encouragement, Examples, Following, Hypocrisy, Intimacy, Testimony

ROCK PILES

HOSEA 12:11 

“Is there injustice in Gilead? Certainly, they are worthless. In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls, yes, their altars are like stone heaps beside the furrows of a field.” 

Here where I live in Eastern Tennessee, it is not uncommon to pass a field where years earlier a farmer had cleared that field of rocks so he could cultivate the soil. Some of those rock piles are decades old. Those rocks were in the way of the task and had to be removed. The pile meant nothing, except maybe a source of stone to be used elsewhere on the farm. 

But here in today’s verse we see the stone heaps being used for altars. In a similar way, stones were removed from their fields. But they made them into altars, going directly against the word of God. Their sacrifices on these piles of rock meant nothing. They thought they were being religious, but they were, in fact, being sacrilegious in their actions. 

APPLICATION 

We often do “religious” stuff to make ourselves feel better. How many of us pray out of habit without any true communication with the Lord? People attend church because they are supposed to. They don’t go to worship as much as they go to be seen and check the box for the week. We may feel better by doing those things, but that is not the point. 

What is the point? The point is this – we have to come to God in Spirit and in Truth. We have to come to Him worshipping, not to worship. We pray to hear from Him, not to tell Him things. When our motives change our heart changes. We can experience a true relationship with the Lord. We can stop building rock piles. 

I desire the deeper things of God, don’t you? I want to know Him more each and every day. I want to know Christ so well that when I see Him face to face in glory, it will be just another day. Now, I know that day will be like none other, but you get my point. Make your faith real today. Stop playing religion.  

Father, I want to know You in a way in which I have never known You. Show me Yourself. 

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Accountability, Blessing, Encouragement, Foolishness, Greed, Inheritance, Modeling, Scripture, Testimony

WASTED BLESSING

HOSEA 9:13

“Ephraim, as I have seen, is planted in a pasture like Tyre; but Ephraim is going to bring out his children for slaughter.”

So many people waste their parents’ inheritance. I have seen people scrimp and save for decades to give something to their children, only to see it used up in months, if not weeks. They were blessed by their parents, but they just ignored the sacrifice their parents made for them. How sad is that?

Ephraim had been blessed by Jacob. Remember, Ephraim was one of Joseph’s sons who received the blessing, along with his brother, Manasseh. And when the tribe of Ephraim received their inheritance of the land in the Promised Land, they received a beautiful land. But they abused it. They turned their back on the Lord.

APPLICATION

What blessing are you wasting? Look at your life. Look at all the Lord has done for you. Look at all He has given you. We are so incredibly blessed. Just to have a roof over our heads and food in our stomach is enough. Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:8 “But if we have food and clothes, we will be content with that.”

I want to challenge you to take an inventory of your blessings today. Get out a sheet of paper or grab your laptop or tablet and start listing them. You will be amazed. We overlook the little things like a bed to sleep in or a bathroom to get cleaned up in. How about taking a look in your closet? How many pairs of shoes do you own? Blessing!

I am overwhelmed when I walk into my house each day. I do not deserve it. I am thankful for it and realize it is a gift from God, but I don’t deserve. I don’t want to ever forget the blessings I have received from the Lord. I want to share them with others. I want to pass on the blessings to those who are less fortunate than I am. Let’s do that today.

God, I am so unworthy. I don’t deserve all You have blessed me with, but I am thankful. You are a mighty God, worthy of my praise.

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NO LIFE

HOSEA 9:11

“As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird— no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!”

I have the privilege to be the father of two great kids. They are grown now, but I can still remember the moment my wife and I learned we were going to have a child. Each pregnancy was a joy (not counting my wife’s morning sickness). We couldn’t wait for the day of their birth. I was actually in the room both times. It was amazing!

For Ephraim, their glory was gone. They couldn’t experience the joy of the Lord because they had forsaken Him. Their actions against Jehovah had caused Him to withdraw His blessings. Just like barren wombs with no conception, no pregnancy and no birth, there was sorrow. No hope! No life! No future!

APPLICATION

What is your life centered on? If it’s not the Lord, then you too are in despair. I’m not in despair, Carl. My life is going just fine. Oh really? Any life not centered on Jesus is headed for disaster. Yes, I said disaster. We can pretend everything is fine. We may believe all is well, but it’s not.

God will not bless those who are not following Him. He just can’t. It would go against His whole person. If He blessed everyone for just doing their own thing, then His commandments and statutes would be meaningless. God demands holiness, but He gives us the means to live that way. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, it’s His divine power that gives us everything we need to live that way. And when we do, He loves to bless us.

I try to live my life to honor Him. I don’t do it perfectly. I never will, but I certainly strive to do that. I want to experience the joy of the Lord. Don’t you want that same joy? I know you do. I pray today you can know Him fully, that you can be filled with so much joy that it just overflows.Thank You, Lord, for life. Thank You for giving me such joy. Help me spread it to others.

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SPOILED FRUIT

HOSEA 9:10

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved.”

My Grandma Carter had a fig tree in her yard in South Georgia. When I was a little boy, I loved to pick those ripe figs from that tree and eat them right there. I can still see that tree and those luscious, large figs. I would pick one, split is open and enjoy the sweetness of the fruit. Man, I love figs.

Israel was a sweet fruit on the tongue of God. He loved them. They were supposed to be that way. But they chose to chase after other gods and became detestable. They weren’t good for anything. Spoiled fruit isn’t worth picking. Spoiled fruit can’t be used. Israel became “uneatable.”

APPLICATION

Is that what you want to be like? I doubt it. But unless we walk with God and live for Him, we become that way. God delights in us. He wants to use us. But He can’t use spoiled fruit. He demands the first fruits. He expects us to produce good fruit. He expects us to be good fruit.

Take a minute and examine your walk with Him. Are you a fruit worth picking? Now, I am not calling you fruity. But I am asking you if you are useable. Does your fruit bring delight to those around you? Do they desire to be around you and learn from you? Or are you spewing out rotten fruit that no one wants to see, smell or taste?

I want others to come to my tree and pick my fruit. After all, any fruit I produce through the power of the Holy Spirit is for the benefit of others. A fig tree doesn’t eat its own figs, does it? I grape vine doesn’t drink its own wine, does it? Of course, not. We are “fruity” for others, not ourselves. So, start being fruity for Jesus. Share the sweetness of your fruit with others.

I know I must abide in the Vine to produce fruit. I want to produce fruit to honor You, Lord.

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UNCLEAN BREAD

HOSEA 9:4

“They will not pour out drink offerings of wine to the LORD, nor will their sacrifices please Him. Their bread will be to them like mourners’ bread; All who eat it will be defiled, because their bread will be for themselves alone; It will not enter the house of the LORD.”

Have you ever grabbed the bread out of the panty and made an awesome sandwich only to discover that the bread was molded? I’ve done that a couple of times, so I try to examine the slices I pull out before I assemble my sandwich. Even then, if I don’t have my glasses on, I can miss some mold on the edge. Not very appetizing.

Hosea is comparing their sacrifices, specifically their bread sacrifices, to bread that is unclean. It is not acceptable to God. In fact, when they were taken into exile, they were told not to offer any sacrifices. Their drink offerings and burnt sacrifices were unpleasing to Him. They didn’t have the right motives behind them.

APPLICATION

The same applies to us today. Our sacrifices to God (not animal sacrifices or drink offerings) have to be given with the right heart. We can give thousands of dollars to the church, but if we do it grudgingly, we have not offered the right offering to Him. We can sacrifice time to the kingdom, but if it is done out of guilt, that too is not pleasing.

We give because of our love for the Lord. We offer our sacrifices of praise because of all He has done for us. Examine why you offer any offerings, tithes or sacrifices of any type. If they aren’t offered in the spirit of devotion and love, don’t bother. God is not pleased. You are no different than the Israelite.

I want my gifts to the Lord to be given to honor and give glory to Him. I want to pray over each and every gift I give, whether that be my time or my money. I want all my offerings to be a sweet aroma in the nostrils of God. How about you?

\I offer myself and all I give to You to honor You, Lord. I want You to know the smell of my offerings and recognize them immediately.

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PALACES

HOSEA 8:14

“For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities, but I will send a fire on its cities, and it will consume its palatial buildings.”

The closest I have been to being in a palace is the Biltmore House near Asheville, N.C. It was built by the Vanderbilt family and has been described as an American palace. It really is a sight to behold. The rooms and grounds are incredible. I can’t imagine what it cost, but it took over six years to build the 178,000 square foot mansion.

Palaces don’t mean a thing, though. Israel and Judah found that out. No matter how many they built, they would not stand. There is nothing man can build that can withstand the judgment of God. Perhaps they thought if they “impressed” God He might change His mind about judging them. It didn’t work.

APPLICATION

We tend to try to impress God by the things we do. We may not build mansions, but we build other things. We build up our worldly wealth – that won’t stand. We build beautiful churches and sanctuaries – they won’t impress Him. We build up our reputations – they also won’t sway God. God simply wants our hearts.

Have you surrendered your heart to Him? Perhaps you are struggling with that decision today. Give it to Him. Let Him build you up. Let Him use His Spirit to guide you in your decisions. That pleases Him. If your heart isn’t totally surrendered to Him, He can’t use you in ways He would like. He has such great plans for you. Don’t you know that?

I want Him to use me. I want to do His bidding. However, I know I can’t do that unless I yield to Him. I have to stop building my own palaces to impress Him and others. I have to stop spending so much time worrying about what others think about me. What truly matters is what the Lord thinks. Don’t you agree? If we are in His will, that is all that matters.

Tear down any palaces I have built from my own flesh. Tear down those things that put me above You. You are all that matters, Lord.

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HANDMADE

HOSEA 8:6

“For from Israel comes even this! A craftsman made it, so it is not God; assuredly, the calf of Samaria will be broken to pieces.”

There is just something about handmade items. I don’t care if it’s a jar of jelly or piece of furniture. There is usually a quality to those items that you don’t get from mass produced items. I can still taste my mom’s homemade mayhaw jelly. Yum! But sometimes, someone’s homemade products just don’t measure up.

That’s the case with this wretched calf handmade by craftsmen. It could never measure up to God. They may have made it to represent a god, but there is only one true God. This calf was not Him. Hosea says it will be broken to pieces. No idol can stand up to the standard of God. It will literally fall apart. It is no god. And it is not God.

APPLICATION

What are you making with your hands for God? I am not talking about using glue and glitter. I am referring to kingdom work. One of the best things we can make is disciples. In fact, we are commissioned to do just that by our Lord (Matthew 28:18-20). Every disciple we make is truly handmade. We do it one by one. We invest in their lives and teach them how to be a disciple maker.

As we make disciples who make disciples, we are fashioning something that is lasting. It is being built upon God’s Word, which we know will never fail. When we teach them to pour into others, we are building God’s kingdom into future generations. That is a quality handmade product. Don’t you agree?

Nothing gives me much more joy than investing in other men. I love watching them grow in their passion for Jesus. I especially love seeing them grow in their passion to disciple other men. I love knowing I had the privilege to pour into them. In a sense, I have laid my hands on them in the name of Jesus. May He be glorified.

Lord, help me continue to hand make disciples for Your glory. I know disciples made in Your name will last.

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I KNOW YOU

HOSEA 8:2

“They cry out to Me ‘My God, we of Israel know You!’”

I bet you’ve been in a crowd before and recognized someone. You know you know them, but you just can’t place their name. You can even remember where you met them. Their name, however, escapes you. So, what do you do? What do you say when they walk up and call you by name? If you are like me, I say, “Hey, it’s so good to see you again.” I purposely leave their name out of the conversation.

That’s not really knowing someone, is it? The people of Israel claimed to know God. Hey, they even knew His name. But they did not really know Him. They failed to recognize His commands. They ignored His guidance. They chased after other gods. If they had really known Jehovah God, I mean really known Him, they would have followed Him.

APPLICATION

So, do you know Him? Do you really know Him? If you do, you know He is a jealous God. He won’t tolerate us chasing after idols, whatever those are. He wants us to know Him. God isn’t this mysterious spirit hovering over the universe that dissipates every time we look His way. He wants to be discovered by us. The question is do we want to know Him.

If you really want to know Him, then you have to spend time with Him. You have to dig into His Word. You have to make Him a priority. And when you do, He unveils Himself. He says, “Here I am. Come closer. Get to know me.” You discover what He is really all about. Now you can say you know Him.

I want to know Him deeply. I want to experience Him in ways I have never experienced Him before. I want to be just like Him. Don’t you? Don’t you want that? I want to be loving, faithful, compassionate and forgiving. I want all those things. I pray you do, too. Let’s get to know Him together. Ready?

Oh, I want to know You more, deep within my soul I want to know you. Oh, I want to know You, to feel your heart and know Your mind. Looking in Your eyes, stirs up within me cries that say I want to know You, oh, I want to know You, more.

Steve Green

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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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