Hosea 8 to 10 If you listen carefully, you will hear that the world says: “do not judge.” Jesus used that verse to remind us of the standard of judgment and that the standards we apply to others God applies to us. Jesus is teaching that we are not God and we don’t know the motives behind a person’s heart. So what does that have to do with Hosea chapters 8 to 10? God is saying I am the ultimate judge, and I alone can judge the heart.
When God looked at the northern tribes, he saw sin and judged it. Outwardly the people were saying, “God, we acknowledge you!” But, God says, let’s look at the evidence. I found you and raised you only to see that your eyes drifted to man-made idols. This should not be! What you have sown, you will also reap. I spelled out my law for you in great detail, but you regarded it as nothing. I sent you wise prophets, but you called them fools. My prophet was sent to you as a watchman to remind you of where you have fallen. Like the Ephesians, they had lost their first love. God reminds them to seek Him early while He may be found! Repent and return to the Lord
This is a wake-up call to us as well. Where have we taken our eyes off God and look to the world of its man-made idols and structures? Have we lost our first love?
Ezekiel 25 to 27 God chose Israel to carry His message of love and forgiveness to the world. However, she decided to allow the foreign gods to infiltrate her land and her worship of Yahweh. Know this truth: judgment begins at God’s house, but He also sees others’ contempt and in His righteousness will also judge them.
God patiently sent prophets and priests to warn Israel that He would discipline. First, the northern tribes were scattered to the north. God hoped that Judah would learn, but she did not. She became even more immoral, so God sent the Babylonians and sent them into exile. One would think that the nations to the east would see this and learn. Instead, they scoffed, aided the Babylonians, and rushed in to take Judah’s land, cities, and crops. In their pride, they fell for the lie that God would not discipline them. Our prisons today are an example of this thinking.
Ezekiel explained that it was because they rejected God and His children; they too would face God’s hand. Like a maid dries a plate, He wiped them clean from east to west, beginning with Ammon and ended with Tyre.
The lesson for us is that there is a day of reckoning for all that the world may know that He is God.
Isaiah 61 Have you ever said: What does God want me to do? Messiah didn’t have that problem. He knew that the Lord had chosen and commissioned him. We may be centuries apart, but the Israelites to whom Isaiah was writing and speaking had the same questions you have.
Listen as Isaiah allows Messiah to speak. “I have been anointed for the service of the Lord.” Centuries later, the Apostle John wrote: “Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One,” [1 Jo 2:20] Peter wrote: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1 Pet 2:9]
Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, and the reason God chose Him. He would encourage the poor, help the brokenhearted, and free those imprisoned by sin. God gave him spiritual insight to see men’s desperate need for healing of the soul, mind, and body. Today, this same Holy Spirit has anointed you to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you.
Has God shown you someone that needs a refreshing word from the Lord? It might be a parent who has a child that has made a wrong choice, or someone has lost their job, a pastor who has heavy responsibilities, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely—or just perhaps a friend or an acquaintance.
Remember, God has called each of us to fulfill the Great Commission.
Do you talk to yourself? Let’s listen in on Asaph’s self-conversation.
Listen, God, life is not fair. You tell me to be humble, but I see the prosperous, and they are not! They are proud and pompous while I am poor and suffer adversity. They lack for nothing and live life with a “God owes me ” mentality. I am a man of integrity, and yet here I am facing problems. Where is my material prosperity, God? Why do I face challenges? If you are God, why am I suffering? Does this sound familiar? Asaph has a problem and we do as well. We fail to see life through the lens of the eternal perspective.
There are three lessons we should note. First, Asaph was envious. Envy is a sin that began in the Garden of Eden and is alive and well today. Secondly, Asaph shares, “If I had publicized these thoughts, I would have betrayed your loyal followers.” Today’s translation: I would become a stumbling block! Do we do the same without thinking what our grumbling might do to a young believer’s faith? Asaph then realized as he entered the precincts of God’s Temple; what he needed was cleansing. He pondered the consequences of being a stumbling block to others, so wisely, he sought God’s counsel. Lastly, in God’s presence, he saw the reality: We are here for one purpose:
to behold His beauty and to worship Him in all of His fullness.
In the parable of Luke 16, we see the point of it all. Lazarus was poor and needy, but in the end, he was the one whom God blessed. The rich man, not hardly. You see, he had the “God owes me mentality.” So, where are you in your thinking?
Psalm 50 & 51 People, we are in deep trouble. Instead of peace and quiet, our world is swirling with anxiety, greed, grumbling, and all the “vices” of Galatians 5. There is strife, jealousy, and outbursts of anger. We are swimming in sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, and idolatry—all because we are worshiping the creation more than the Creator.
God says we are in debt, but He also says: My Son has paid your debt. The world is striving to do the right “things,” but God says come apart with me and listen to what I have to say. You lack the one thing I desire, which is a humble spirit, a repentant heart, or a heart transplant.
Without the sacrifice of our Savior, we remain indebted. We are guilt, but Jesus paid our sin debt; if we accept His gift of salvation. Then our sin debt is canceled. But—we are never debt-free of offerings of thanksgiving to Him for this beautiful and precious gift. God does not desire sacrifices, for if He did, we could never repay our debt. Indeed, God wants is a heart that is receptive and thankful for this unspeakable gift.
Today step aside and evaluate your worship and your lifestyle. Pray that God would create in you a pure heart and a resolute spirit.
Psalm 16-18 “Innocent” When you see this word what comes to mind? What is the standard we use to determine whether one is innocent or guilty? The Hebrew defines that word as what is right, rightness, justness. When we look at David’s life we read and see his sin of adultery, his faithlessness in disciplining his son for rape. We cry guilty but what does God cry? He cries innocent. Does that seem contradictory?
David writes You I call to you because you will answer me, O God. The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer. My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, and my refuge
Truth: God looks NOT at outward appearances but at the heart. We judge by what we see, God judges by what we DO NOT see.
Outwardly we see a failing individual but inwardly God sees a man fully consecrated to Him. Outwardly we see a man who is faltering but God sees a man who chooses faith. Outwardly we see just a man but God sees a man who chooses to trust Him. God sees a man who allows God to examine him during the night hours while the world swirled around him.
No matter how the world sees you, (or you see yourself), know this, the Everlasting God sees you and your heart. Our question then is when He looks into your heart what does He see?
1 Chronicles 21 King David decides he wants to know how big his army was, but we aren’t told why. The backdrop note is that God allowed the adversary to slip in unnoticed. To alert David to the sin he was about to commit, God sent wise a counselor through Joab, His General. Joab pleaded with David to not do a census, but his words fell on deaf ears. David insists, and so finally, Joab follows through. God, in His patience, allowed this sin to fester for over a year and a half. Not always does God allow us to see the fruit of our sin.
We all need a Joab in our life to challenge us as to our
motives in decision making. God uses them to discern where our hearts lay. For
David, his heart was in his pride of the army he had amassed. What he had not
counted on was the price that would he would have to pay for his sin. David was
“like someone who gazes at his face in a mirror. For he gazes at himself
and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was.”
[James 1] It is because of his filtered view that God sent Joab into his life.
David didn’t back down, but somewhere along the path of
foolish decisions; the Spirit came to him to prick his heart. Although God
forgave David, the price for his sin was grievous. The same goes for us when we
sin. There is always a price to be paid. God set the price for our sin with the
body and blood of His Son.
This week we honor women across our globe for their
accomplishments and their witness. Yet, today in the last part of Judges, God
has us meet someone who is voiceless but pays the price of the sins of
humanity. The author of judges walks us through the life of a Levite who is
deceitful, selfish, and a liar. God wants us to see the depravity and reality
of Romans 1:18-31. It is hard to read these chapters.
This Levite has failed to follow Levirate law by acquiring a
concubine. He has a temper. He lacks the basics of caring for another human
individual. He is the sex-trafficker personified. God’s mirror reveals the sin
nature of mankind minus His righteousness. Today we see it front and center in
our world, and we, like the Levite, are failing in our protection for the most
God reveals the concubine as a woman who has no voice in this sex-trafficking scenario. The Levite has lost all decency when he lies and then dismembers her to make us aware of the reality of the horror of our sinful nature. He sleeps through the night, but the concubine is left alone to face the rape and torture of her person. We see his uncaring attitude as he dismembers her and sends her body parts around the nation.
There are some questions we need to be asking. Where is the
honor for the one whose voice is never heard? Where is our outrage? Where is
our compassion for those caught up in this wicked cycle? Take time today to ask
Joshua 7 Joshua fell flat on his face seeking answers as to the reason they had victory in Jericho but defeat in Ai. Surely this small city could be taken with a small force. Joshua failed to consult God first, and behind the scenes, we find that our archenemy had been busy. The result was that 36 men died in that battle, and the residents of Ai had a victory party.
Joshua and the leaders fell on their faces before God and asked: “why?” The Lord responded to his prayer: “Get up! Why are you lying there face down?” Like us, Joshua failed to consider that behind every failed circumstance, Satan is busy blinding us. We begin by asking “why” instead of seeking the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit. Why did Joshua not consider sin? We do the same. We want to blame God when God is not responsible. It takes a listening heart to hear God when we are wailing and asking why.
Even though the Israelites had heard of God’s directive of the ban on all things in Jericho, Achan had casually dismissed it. Like us, we know what God desires but fail to consider the consequences of disobedience. Do you dismiss sin? Do you think, “God will understand?” Unlike us, God does not dismiss sin but demands purity and righteousness. We foolishly believe our sin only affects us. Be forewarned; “be sure your sin will find you out.” [Num 32:23]
Keep short accounts with God. Go to Him as Joshua did; locate the sin, and seek cleansing.
Deut 7-8 Isaiah wrote that God is a promise keeper. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners. That could mean literally or spiritually and perhaps both. Our arch adversary seeks to keep God’s children both blind and imprisoned. But, when God delivers us, we should remember Jesus’ words: do not return to the adversary lest something worse happen. We must destroy the works of the enemy because if we do not, he and his demons will turn away our children from the faith to serve other gods. That was the warning Moses gave the children of Israel.
Secondly, God wants us to remember that he did not set his love upon us or choose us because of anything within us, but only because He loves us. It is because of his love that he promised to keep his oath and redeemed us from the prison of sin. We also need this reminder that within us lies no good thing yet because of His faithfulness He chose us from eternity past for His purpose. “The promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend” [Is 55]
So why do we not experience full pardon and freedom to see all that God has for us? It is because we simply do not want to destroy that which binds us utterly. We are comfortable in our sins. Until we come to the place that we desire God more than our sin that we will be free.