Abiding, Advice, Advocate, Battles, Bible, Confrontation, Courage, Demons, Devil, Encouragement, Enemies, Fear, Fighting, God's Will, Judgment, Punishment, Safety, Satan, Scripture, Victors

LOOK OUT

HOSEA 5:8

“Blow the horn in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah. Sound an alarm at Beth-aven: ‘Behind you, Benjamin!’”

I have never had to run from an enemy, but I can imagine the fear that must be in your mind when you find yourself being chased by someone who is intent on harming you. I love watching old westerns. I have seen many a cowboy being chased by a band of Indians. That’s the picture I have in my head as I read today’s verse.

Hosea is pronouncing judgment on the tribes of Israel. He tells them to blow the shophar, the horn they would blow to sound the alarm. He tells them to blow the trumpet which would be used to prepare for battle. And then he tells Benjamin to look behind them. The enemy was that close. That must have been a fearful sight.

APPLICATION

Who is chasing you? I will tell you. Satan is chasing you. He and his army of demons are always trying to chase us down and defeat us. He is always ready to attack. He is always looking for an opportune time, as it says in Luke 4:13. He is looking for a crack in our defenses, a small hole to establish that foothold.

But thanks be to God, we have a Savior who has already defeated him. His battle plans will not succeed. All we have to do is remain firmly grounded in Christ. We have to stay in His Word and surrendered to His Will. Oh, is that all, Carl? That’s not so easy. I didn’t say it was. But it is possible.

How do I know it is possible? Because God said so. The Lord will never ask us to do anything that is not possible through Him. We do not have to worry about the advancing attacks of Satan if we stay firmly in the grip of Jesus. Yes, Satan is real and wants to do us harm. But Satan can only do what God allows. Remain in Jesus. There is no safer place.

I will rest in Your arms, O Lord. I know I am safe there and no harm can come to me.

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Accountability, Belief, Bible, Blasphemy, Choices, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Lies, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture

TROUBLE’S COMING

HOSEA 5:7

“They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, for they have given birth to illegitimate children. Now the new moon will devour them with their land.”

Sometimes we think we have gotten away with stuff. Can you think of things in your life that you have done that you have yet to suffer the consequence? I don’t mean really bad stuff. It could be anything that you know you shouldn’t have done. It could have been years ago. You have never confessed and now think God has forgotten about it. Guess again.

Israel has “dealt treacherously with the Lord.” They have dealt in deception. They have birthed children from their pagan worship and with pagan people. They think they have pulled the wool over God’s eyes. But now God tells them through Hosea that within a month judgment is coming. Wow! I guess God wasn’t fooled.

APPLICATION

What are you attempting to hide from God? Do you really think you can do that? Let me save you some time and some trouble. You can’t. God sees all and knows all. You can waste your time trying to hide stuff from Him, but He knows it all before it happens.

God desires that we disclose all to Him. He wants us to live holy lives before Him. That requires transparency. That requires open and vulnerable hearts. When we do that, our lives are so much more in tune with Him. We can walk in victory and not fear repercussions from the Lord.

I don’t like to walk around looking over my shoulder. I prefer to walk facing straight ahead, knowing the Lord has my back. I have nothing to hide from Him. He knows everything I have done. He knows my motive for doing it. He knows my every little thought and knows my actions before I do them. I will trust Him. Will you?

Thank You, Lord, for knowing me. I trust You because You know what is best for me each and every day.

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Accountability, Apologies, Appeasement, Bible, Choices, Confession, Following, Forgiveness, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Repentance, Scripture, Sin

UNWANTED SACRIFICES

HOSEA 5:6

“They will go with their flocks and herds to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn from them.”

Have you ever tried to make amends to apologize to someone who wouldn’t accept it? It is really a difficult situation. You may be entirely sincere, but the hurt the other person is feeling is so real to them. They just can’t forgive. You are in a helpless situation. You can’t make them accept your apology. You have to prove yourself to them over time.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah could do nothing at this point. God wasn’t interested in their sacrifices of their flocks and herds. All the shed blood of their sacrifices could not appease God. His judgment was sure. They had to pay for their sins. He may forgive them in the future, but right now He was holding them accountable.

APPLICATION

What do you do when you have sinned against God? You need to make quick confession. We know that we should never sin intentionally against the Lord. But we may sin unintentionally. Sin, no matter how it is committed, must be confessed to our Lord. We need His forgiveness. We desire it. And the Lord is quick to give it.

Isn’t forgiveness sweet? Recall the feeling that comes with fresh cleansing from the Lord. There is nothing like it. I could write a list of analogies to compare it, but if you have experienced it, you know no words can really express it. If you haven’t come to Him lately to seek His forgiveness, come.

Let me remind you that when we choose not to seek forgiveness, we only put another brick in the wall that prevents us from hearing the Lord’s voice. The longer we go without confessing, the dimmer His voice becomes. Come to Him today. Confess all your sins to your Lord now and feel His warm embrace.

Father, never let me stray from the sound of Your voice. I want to stay “confessed up” and near to Your heart.

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Accountability, Advice, Affliction, Bible, Choices, Following, Judgment, Obedience, Punishment, Scripture, Stumble

WEAK ANKLES

HOSEA 5:5

“Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, and Israel and Ephraim stumble in their wrongdoing; Judah also has stumbled with them.”

When I was a sophomore in high school, I broke my left ankle at football camp. I had won a starting position as center and was determined to not miss that season. I didn’t treat my injured ankle as the doctor suggested and actually ended up doing more harm to it. That ankle has been sprained a number of times since because it was weakened due to my own stupidity.

Israel, Ephraim and Judah stumbled due to their own stupidity. You see, the word “stumble” means to be weak in the ankles. When you are weak in your ankles, you can’t walk too well. When you are weak in your spiritual ankles, you can’t walk with God well. That’s what happened to Israel, Ephraim and Judah. They had injured their own spiritual walk through their choices.

APPLICATION

How do you keep your ankles strong? I am talking about your spiritual ankles. How do you do that? As with any body part, you have to exercise them to keep them strong. You can’t just sit around and expect to have strong ankles. You have to walk. And you have to walk correctly. If you walk incorrectly, you can damage your walk. But if you walk as He walked, you will have strong ankles.

I suffer from neuropathy in both of my feet. This has been progressing ever since I had chemotherapy in the Fall of 2019 and early Winter 2020. The numbness and pain have progressed up past my ankles. I can’t go for a walk right now because of the pain in my feet, toes and ankles. That is frustrating.

But the physical pain and numbness in my feet and ankles do not affect my spiritual ankles. I have to accept this side effect of my chemotherapy. I have no choice. I will probably have to live with it for the rest of my life. That’s okay. God has allowed it for a reason. It’s now part of my spiritual walk. How are your spiritual ankles?

Lord, strengthen my ankles so I can walk with You. I want to walk with You daily.

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Appeasement, Belief, Bible, Comfort, Death, Encouragement, Faith, Joy, Life, Resurrection, Scripture

HE’S ALIVE

JOHN 20:8 “So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb also entered then, and he saw and believed.”

So many times we hear things we just can’t believe. Someone has done some magnificent show of strength perhaps. Or someone has invented some new creation. We hear it but don’t believe it. Then other times we actually see something we can’t believe. A magic act or a freak act of nature. But seeing is believing, they say.

Jesus had been telling the disciples He was going to die and rise again. They just couldn’t comprehend it. But when they found the empty tomb and the linen wraps lying there, they believed. Can you imagine being John or Peter or Mary that first Easter morning? Can you imagine the surge of excitement that ran through their veins?

APPLICATION

Sure you can! Look afresh at the empty tomb. It’s still empty. There are no bones of Christ to be found. He came, died and rose again! We should have just as much as excitement at Easter as Peter, John and Mary did. We should stand in awe of the miracle of the resurrection.

And the beautiful thing about the resurrection is this – He did it all for us. Jesus didn’t rise from the grave to prove how great He was. He didn’t need to do that. God is not a glory hound. He doesn’t need to lift Himself up. He is God – period.

Jesus rose from the grave to defeat death for us. When we place our faith in Him, all that He did becomes ours. His death on the cross and the blood He shed becomes our sacrifice to appease God. And His resurrection becomes our resurrection. We will defeat the sting of death because He did. We will live eternally with our Savior.

Father, I thank You for the resurrected Christ. I thank You for the power over the grave. And I thank You for the empty tomb. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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Abiding, Accountability, Belief, Bible, Deceit, Following, Judgment, Life, Obedience, Scripture

NO RETURN

HOSEA 5:4

“Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a  spirit of infidelity is within them, and they do not know the LORD.”

Once while traveling on an interstate highway, I took an off ramp only to discover a very disturbing sign halfway up the ramp. It read “No northbound return ramp this exit.” What! Why wasn’t that sign posted before I got off the highway? Now what was I supposed to do. This was in the days prior to GPS, so I had to stop at a gas station and ask someone for directions.

Too bad Israel couldn’t get some directions to get back to God. Too bad there wasn’t a gas station to stop in. Israel had lost its way. They had taken an off ramp with no return ramp, or so it seemed. Their poor choices and their infidelity had taken them way off course.

APPLICATION

Are you off course? Have you taken the wrong exit? The good news is there is a way back. His name is Jesus. He will personally guide you back on the right path, if you just stop. You see, our problem is usually that we keep moving. We keep driving in the wrong direction. We think we can figure out how to get back on the road, but we just keep driving, getting further and further away.

Take your foot off of your life accelerator and slow down. Ask the Lord which direction He is going in. That’s where you want to head. Follow Him. Better yet, give Him the driver’s seat. Why don’t you just slide over and let Him drive awhile? I guarantee you will be in safe hands. He will never get lost, and He won’t take you anywhere you are not prepared to handle.

I prefer to let the Lord lead. I have found through my six decades that He is a much better leader than I am. There are still occasions when I think I can drive better than Him, but it’s not long until I’m lost. But I have learned to stop and switch seats. And I’ve learned the sooner I do that, the better.

Lord, I am thankful that I can always trust Your directions. You keep me safe.

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Accountability, Advice, Bible, Commitment, Following, God's Will, Knowledge, Obedience, Sin

HE KNOWS

HOSEA 5:3

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; because now, Ephraim, you have been unfaithful, Israel has defiled itself.”

Do you ever really know someone fully? I have been married for over 35 years, but I am still learning things about my wife. I know a lot about her. I know her favorite candy bar is Heath. I know she loves birds and planting flowers each Spring. But she still surprises me with things she loves. I will never fully know her because I can’t know her thoughts.

God knew Ephraim. He knew Israel. He knew them intimately. He knew what they were going to do. He knew their hearts. There was nothing hidden from Him about them. And because He knew them, He would not let them get by with what they were doing.

APPLICATION

This is a good thing to remember about our God. He knows us. He knows everything about us. There is nothing about us that is hidden from Him. Now, that’s a good thing. He knows exactly what we need even before we know we need it. He knows our hurts and our dreams.

So, why do we think we can hide all this from Him? We try to figure it all out for ourselves and then complain when it doesn’t. If we truly believe He knows us so well, why don’t we just cry out to Him and seek His will?

I can rest today knowing that God knows me. I don’t want to try to hide anything from Him. That’s hopeless anyway. I want my life to be an open book. And I know when I open myself up to His Will, there is no limit to what He can do in and through me.

Lord, I lay my life before You to take and do with as You see fit. You know me so much better than I know myself.

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Accountability, Bible, Choices, Commands, Discipline, Faithfulness, Judgment, Opponents, Punishment, Rebuke, Scripture

REBUKED

HOSEA 5:2

“And the rebels have gone deep in depravity, but I will discipline all of them.”

There comes a time when wrong doers have to be confronted and put in their place. I worked for over thirty years with children and youth who had been abused and neglected. Some of those children were rebels. They fought against everything we did for them – at least for a while. Their past abuse damaged their ability to receive love and proper affection. We had to discipline them on occasion to point them towards the right path.

God is doing the same here in Hosea. These rebels in Israel had sunk deep in depravity. God said He will discipline all of them. Notice that. He said “all” of them. He couldn’t leave out one rebel. They all had to be disciplined. None would escape. Nothing’s changed! That’s still true today.

APPLICATION

Are you a rebel against the commands of God? Of course, not, Carl. I would never rebel. Really? I ask that question because we are all prone to wander, as the old hymn said. Our flesh wants what it wants when it wants it. We may think our rebellion is too small to be labeled as rebellion. So, how do you know if you’re a rebel?

It’s pretty simple. If you are not following the Lord’s commands that He has laid out in His Word, you are rebelling against Him. Does that sound harsh? It is. You can’t partially follow Him. You can’t have one foot in the world and one foot following Jesus.

Will you join me in confessing our rebellion? We’ve all done it. The good news is He is there ready to forgive our rebellion. He wants to place us where we need to be. He wants us to follow Him. He wants to drive out any spirit of rebellion we may have in our hearts. And through Jesus we can do that.

Father, I confess my rebellion against Your commands. Lead me and direct me each day.

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Accountability, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Deceit, Deception, Devil, Judgment, Satan, Scripture

TRAPS AND NETS

HOSEA 5:1

“Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, house of Israel! Listen, you of the house of the king! For the judgment applies to you, because you have been a trap at Mizpah, and a net spread out on Tabor.”

When I was a little boy, I loved to build traps and snares to try and catch small game, like rabbits or squirrels. I wasn’t very successful. My traps didn’t work too well. They looked good, but were not very productive.

Unfortunately, these priests referred to by Hosea had made “traps” on each side of the Jordan, at Mizpah and Tabor. These locations had become full of idols. People were lured there by these idols and became entrapped to these false gods. Hosea is calling them out. The judges will be judged.

APPLICATION

What has entrapped you? Is there something you have been pursuing that has now caught you? The trouble with traps and nets is when they are used against you, you will seldom see them. Who do you think is setting those traps? Your best friend? I don’t think so.

Satan will lay traps for us in seemingly safe places. He will lure us in and then slam the trap shut. The sad thing is many of us linger in these traps for years before we even know we are trapped. Where does he have you right now? Are you free or not?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like feeling entrapped. I know I am free because of Christ. He has given me the path of freedom. There are not traps in my life, not because I am so smart. I am simply pursuing Christ daily, and He will never leave me into a trap. That’s the key! Follow Him. Live a life without traps.

Thank You, O Lord, for keeping me free from the traps of the devil. I will follow You.

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Accountability, Affliction, Bible, Blasphemy, Condemnation, Deception, Following, Forgiveness, Idols, Judgment, Obedience, Persecution, Punishment, Scripture

CARRIED BY THE WIND

HOSEA 4:19

“The wind wraps them in its wings, and they will be put to shame because of their sacrifices.”

The wind truly is amazing. We can’t see the wind, but we can see its effect. Gentle breezes over a lake are so peaceful, but you don’t want to be on that same lake if the winds get violent. I have had the displeasure of living through several hurricanes and tornadoes. No fun! Wind can be good, but it can also do a lot of damage.

Just ask the Israelites. They are being carried off to exile as if by an invisible wind. The nefarious forces that have swooped in like the wind are going to carry them away because of their disobedience and lack of faithfulness to our God. They never saw it coming before it was too late. Just like a tornado appears out of seemingly nowhere, they are wrapped up in the winds of exile.

APPLICATION

We may not have to worry about exile (notice I said “may not”), but we certainly have to be concerned about not being loyal to our heavenly Father. The same God who judged Israel and Judah judges us today. As a believer in Christ, your sins have already been judged. But don’t think that gives you the freedom to live as you want. We have commands to obey.

So, is God this ruthless, uncaring God who only wants to be obeyed? Of course, not. He loves us and wants us to want to obey Him. He won’t force us into submission. He desires that we willingly follow Him. That’s the way He operates.

But He still holds us accountable for following or not following His law. While we are under grace through Jesus, there are still expectations for holy living which the Lord places on us. He has given us these guidelines to follow to draw us closer to Him. Will you follow them today?

O God, I know You expect certain behaviors from me. Forgive me when I fall short. I do desire to follow You.

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