Thursday, September 29, 2022


 Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who as a heaven for every body, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and broad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all. -J.C. Ryle

Sunday, September 25, 2022



The book of Hosea is the first of 12 books of prophecy that are commonly called the minor prophets. They are also sometimes referred to collectively as The Twelve. 

They are called the Minor Prophets because the books are shorter than the  books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Evidently Augustine gave them this name. They are the books from Hosea through and including Malachi. 

The office of prophet goes back to the time of Moses and the Exodus. When God appeared on the mountain to give the covenant laws to Israel, there was thunder, lightening, smoke, and the sound of the trumpet. The people asked Moses to talk to God and then talk to them, because they were afraid hearing God would make them die. Exodus 20:18-19.

Moses referred to that event in his speech recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15-22. Moses said God agreed to the request and that he would raise up prophets like Moses and put his words in their mouths. The prophet would speak and the people were to listen to him. 

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

In the New Testament, it appears that the Israelites came to expect a prophet that would come around the time of the Messiah. They asked John if he was the prophet. (John 1:21) They thought Jesus was the prophet when he fed the five thousand. (John 6:14) They also called him the prophet when he spoke of living water on the temple grounds during the Feast of Booths. (John 7:37) 

When Jesus was transfigured, and appeared with Moses and Elijah, the Father spoke and said we are to listen to Jesus, showing that he was the fulfillment of the words of Moses. (Matthew 17:2) Although God spoke through the prophets in the past, he spoke to us in the last days by his son, whom he appointed as heir of all things. (Hebrews 1:2) Jesus fulfilled God’s promise and also ended the office of prophet for the expression of God’s word (revelation). 

Hosea spoke to Israel, the northern kingdom. At the death of Solomon, God took the ten northern tribes out from under the rule of the house of David. God did this because of Solomon’s breach of the covenant law, specifically the command that Israel would not worship other gods and would not create idols. Solomon let his many wives lead him astray. (1 Kings 11:3) He built altars for them to worship their gods and then began to worship with them.  

Because of God’s promise to David to put his son on the throne, God did not diminish the kingdom during Solomon’s reign, but did when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king. (1 Kings 11:11-13) God also allowed David’s house to continue to rule the tribe of Judah and have charge of Jerusalem. 

Jeroboam, who had been an official in Solomon’s government, became king of the northern tribes. The northern tribes took the name o”Israel”. Jeroboam immediately led them into idolatry by building two golden calves from them to worship so they would not go down to Jerusalem and worship at the temple. (1 Kings 12:25-33) It is chilling to read that he used the same words as Aaron when he presented the golden calves to his people. Both presented golden calves and said "behold your gods, who led you out of the land of Egypt". 

The Old Covenant (or Sinai Covenant) is important to the role of prophet. The prophets warned Israel of its violation of the covenant law and threatened punishments that were set out in the covenant as curses. Leviticus 26 sets out the blessings for obeying the covenant and the curses for disobedience. The ultimate curse or punishment is to be thrust out of the land. God considered the northern kingdom bound by the covenant and sent prophets to condemn their idolatry.

Hosea was no exception. His job was to warn Israel that God intended to enforce the terms of the covenant by imposing the curses for disobedience. Hosea spoke to the northern nation of Israel, which had a history of breaking the covenant. Hosea prophesied that God had decided to impose the punishments. 

Hosea’s Ministry


We see in verse 1 that Hosea is a prophet, as the first words are “the word of the Lord came to Hosea”. That is common for the first verses of the prophetic books. It tells us that the prophet received and spoke the words of God, not his own.

Verse 1 also gives us a general timeline for Hosea’s ministry. He ministered during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah. Only Jeroboam is listed as a king in Israel, but the prophecies clearly mention subsequent kings. 

Hosea’s ministry in the northern kingdom would have overlapped with Isaiah’s ministry in the south. Isaiah 1:1 says that Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, as did Hosea. Amos also ministered during the reign of Uzziah in Judea ad Jeroboam in Israel. (Amos 1:1) 

Enacted Prophecy


Sometimes God gave the prophets things to do to act out a prophecy rather than words. It was not easy being a prophet.

God told Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife. The emphasis here is not on sex for money, but on unfaithfulness in marriage to demonstrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. We see this in the words “for the land has committed great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” (2) The New International Version says “the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord”. 

We see behind this enactment to comparison of the covenant of marriage to the covenant between Israel and God. In the Old Testament, God is sometimes portrayed as a faithful husband and Israel as an unfaithful wife. 

In response to God’s instruction, Hosea married a woman named Gomer. (3) They had a son. God instructed Hosea to name his son Jezreel to symbolize God’s intention to end the northern kingdom. God intended to punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel. God appointed Jehu to take over as king after Ahab and instructed him to strike down Ahab’s house. Jehu did that, but also killed the king of Judah, who was with Ahab. (1 Kings 9) 

Hosea and Gomer had a second child, a daughter. The Lord told Hosea to name her No Mercy (Lo-Ruhamah) because he would no longer have mercy on Israel or forgive them. (6) He had determined to judge them. This happens later when the Assyrians conquer the northern kingdom and take the people into exile. 

In contrast, the Lord said he would show mercy to Judah and would save them. And he would not do so with weapons or horses. (7) God would save Judah miraculously when the Assyrians came to assault Jerusalem while Hezekiah was king. 

The third child born to Hosea and Gomer was a son. God said to name him “Not My People” because Israel would no longer be his people and he would no longer be their God. (9) This was God declaring the covenant to be void as to the nation of Israel, the northern tribes. They had continually broken the covenant by worshipping other gods and God had determined no longer to deal with them in mercy or forgiveness. 

So God let Assyria capture the Northern Kingdom. (2 Kings 16:9)

2 Kings 16 records the defeat of Israel, the exile of its people, and the resettlement of their country by the Assyrians. 


God keeps his word - both to bless and to punish.

God demands undivided love and loyalty - he does not share his glory with other “gods”. (Isaiah 42:8)

Men and women do not have the ability to keep the law in their own strength - their hearts must be changed.

Be thankful the Lord has given you salvation through Christ. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Prayer: the "ACTS" method


If you need structure in your prayer life, this outline may be helpful. It uses the acronym “ACTS”.

A is for adoration (praise).

C is for confession of sin.

T is for thanksgiving.

S is for supplication. 

The good thing of about using this outline is it prevents continual asking without thanking, and continual recognition that all we have comes from God. 

Pray without ceasing! 

Sunday, September 18, 2022



Praying At All Times


Paul instructs us to pray at all times because that is the key to being strong in the Lord. (18) He said this several times in his writings. He instructed the Thessalonians to “pray without ceasing”. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Temptation is best fought in prayer. When you are tempted, pray. When you have a problem to solve, pray. Trials are best endured when we are in constant prayer, depending on the Lord and trusting in him, asking him for strength and wisdom. Prayer keeps us close to God and keeps us from sinning. 

Paul practiced constant prayer. He wrote to Timothy that he remembered him constantly in his prayers night and day”. (2 Timothy 1:3) He told the Ephesians he did not cease to give thank for them, remembering them in his prayers. (Ephesians 1:16) He wrote the church at Philippi that he thanks God for them in every prayer with joy because of their partnership with him in the gospel.

How do we pray at all times? We cannot sit in our closet all day and pray. But, we can pray throughout the day. Paul says to keep alert, that is to be aware of the needs around you and pray. When you see a person hurting, pray for them. When you see something bad going on, pray that God will stop it. When you see something good, thank God for it. 

We are to pray in the Spirit. This means praying under the Spirit’s control or influence and with his assistance. We believers have the Holy Spirit within us. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?”. 

Paul instructed Timothy: “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you”. (2 Timothy 1:14) 

Paul wrote to the Galatians “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6. He gives us a sense of God’s presence and our relationship to him as his children. 

It is the Holy Spirit who, along with Christ gives us access to God the Father. Ephesians 2:18 says “For through him [Jesus] we both [Jews & Gentiles] have access in one Spirit to the Father”. 

 We depend on him and he helps us to pray. Romans 8:26 says:

 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words…the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God”. 


Sometimes it is difficult to know what to pray for. But, we express what we can to God and the Spirit intercedes to help us.

The Spirit also prompts us to pray. We have all had moments when a friend comes to mind unexpectedly. When that happens, stop and pray for them. I had a friend, Ernie Beshears, who practiced this. He told me he often woke up in the night. He believed it was God calling him to pray. So he would pray until he fell asleep again, indicating he had prayed for the things God had awakened him to pray for. 

When we feel the Spirit’s prompting, we should pray right then and there. Do not postpone it, as you are likely to forget. “We should not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)  

We are to keep alert as we pray for each other. (18) We need to be aware of the spiritual warfare around us, as Paul has said. (12) We need to be aware of the struggles of our fellow believers. We cannot pray effectively if we are not aware and alert. And we do this with perseverance. (18) We keep at it. Do not let days go by with no prayer. 

We are to pray for all the saints. “Supplication” means to ask, or even beg, earnestly. We should pray for those we know and those we do not know personally, but are persecuted or having difficulties. 

309 million Christians live in places with very high or extreme levels of persecution, up from 260 million in last year’s list. Another 31 million live in places with significant persecution. 1 in 8 Christians worldwide face persecution.

Finally, Paul sought prayer for himself, that he might be able to boldly proclaim the gospel (19) We should pray for our preachers and teachers in the same way. 

So, pray hard and pray often! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022


 "Either you and I are sovereign over our lives - or God is sovereign." There is no other option.

Chris Larson

"If God is not sovereign, the God is not God."

R. C. Sproul

Sunday, September 11, 2022



Paul’s final instruction is to be strong with the Lord’s power. It is in the Lord’s power, not in our own strength, that we are able to withstand the attacks and schemes of the devil. (10-11)

The devil and his fellow fallen angels were defeated by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Colossians 2:15 says Jesus disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him. And we know that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus. (Matthew 28:18) Hebrews 2:14 says “ Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…”.

Yet, God has allowed the devil to remain and have some power to oppose Christ and the church, though he is subject to some restraints. He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) His main tool is temptation to sin. As a long time observer of human nature, he is good at seeing our weaknesses and tempting us to follow him rather than God, just as he did with Adam and Eve.

The devil has other angels who followed him in rebellion against God. They are spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (12) There seems to be a structure of authority among them. Paul says there are rulers and authorities among these demons. They have some sort of  cosmic powers they exercise during this age. Paul calls it “this present darkness”. 

One of the schemes of the devil is to use strained relationships, hurt or angry feelings, to damage the fellowship of the church and the welfare of the believer. In 4:27, Paul urged the Ephesian believers to avoid continuing anger that gives opportunity to the devil. 

Another scheme is to turn the culture’s opinions away from and against Christianity. That was the case in the Roman Empire in the first century. It is the case in America and much of the world today. 

The Bible portrays Satan as a real being. He is not just a representation of evil in the world. Jesus spoke with him during his temptation. (Matthew 4:3-10). His name, Satan, means adversary. He is the adversary of God and his church. He has great power to tempt, deceive, and corrupt. He is a more powerful being that a human person in his or her own strength. 

In the power of the Lord, though, we believers may resist Satan. Paul tells us to stand against Satan and his schemes as Paul instructs. (10-11) Peter said to resist him and be firm in the faith. (1 Peter 5:9) Since Peter tells us to do it, we must be able to do it in the power of the Lord. 

In our passage, Paul tells us how to do that. He tells us to use all of the tools God has given us so that we may stand against the devil’s schemes. He calls these tools the armor of God.

The image Paul portrays here is of the believer standing firm against the attack of evil forces. The image is of a soldier outfitted for battle. The believer does not fall or retreat. He does not lose his faith or fall into sin. He stands firm in his faith. (13) He does this because of the armor and weapons the Lord gives him or her. To fight spiritual enemies, we must use spiritual resources. Our physical strengths are useless. 

The Lord gives us a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness and shoes of readiness to share the gospel. Paul may have used these metaphors based on the picture in Isaiah of God as a warrior standing for justice and defending the truth. Isaiah 59:17 says:

He (God) put on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

First, we are to put on the belt of truth. (14) One of Satan’s schemes is to defame God’s character and motives. For example, in the Garden, Satan disputes God’s motives in forbidding Adam and Eve to each of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan said God wanted to prevent them from becoming like him. He also disputed the truth of God’s words, saying “you will not surely die”. (Genesis 3:4-5)

We know that Jesus is the truth. He said that in John 14:6. Jesus also called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth who guides us into all the truth. (John 16:12) In his high priestly prayer, he asked the father to sanctify us in the truth, which is his word. (John 17: 17) We know the truth and stand on it.  

This scheme of Satan also requires that we know God’s word, the truth, so that we may know Satan’s falsehoods and resist them. Remember that Jesus resisted the temptation of Satan by quoting Scripture to him. (Matthew 4) 

For example, we know God’s design for the family, as we just studied in Ephesians. Many in our culture dispute the validity of this structure. That is an attack of Satan. When Believers doubt what God says about the family in the Bible, and begins to adopt the contrary ideas of the culture, they are not standing firm, committed to putting on the truth of God. 

In our time, it is also popular to believe that all religions are equal and all lead to heaven. However, Jesus said he was the only way to the Father, hence, to heaven. (John 14:6) Peter preached that there is no other name given under heaven by which we may be saved. (Act 4:12)

Any time a believer embraces ideas of the culture that are in opposition to the truth of God as expressed in the Bible, he or she has failed to stand firm and is subject to further attacks by Satan. They become those whom Paul said would fall away from the faith by devoting themselves to  deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. (1 Timothy 4:1)

Further, since Jesus is truth and the Holy Spirit within us is the Spirit of Truth, we should strive to always speak the truth. 

We also put on the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate was a piece of armor that protected the torso from injury. This image is likely taken from Isaiah 59:17, where the Lord wears the breastplate of righteousness for battle. 

This refers to our practical righteousness, our living in obedience to God as expressed in his word.  If we are not living righteous lives, we have a weakness for the devil to exploit. We see this in the encounter of the sons of Sceva, who were not believers, yet tried to cast out demons “in the name of Jesus whom Paul proclaims”. They were all beaten by the possessed man and had to flee naked and wounded. (Acts 19:11-20) 

We put on the breastplate of righteousness by living in continual obedience to God. When we live in sin, we give Satan an opening with which to attack us. He may attack our reputation as a Christian, or seduce us to fall into sin, disgracing ourselves and the church. He may attack us by causing us to doubt God and his word in favor of the sin to which we are attracted. That is why Peter urged us to abstain from fleshly lusts that wage war against the soul. (2 Peter 2:11)

Next, Paul describes the shoes of the soldier. They are the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (15) The gospel of peace is the good news that believers are at peace with God. 

We have sure footing in the gospel. We stand in confidence of God’s love for us and his ability to fight for us. “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. As Paul wrote: 

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39.

There is also an allusion here to Isaiah 52:7, which says:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, 

who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,

who publishes salvation,

who says to Zion, “Your God reigns”. 

In addition to the armor worn by the believer, there is the shield that is held. It is the shield of faith that shield allows you to extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one. (16) That is a reference to arrows fired by the enemy that are on fire. This is the unshakable faith of the believer that repels attacks of doubt and fear sent by the devil. 

There are many people today who throw these arrows or darts at you on behalf of the devil. The so called “new atheists” are on every social media platform telling you why you should not believe. Television shows feature critics who offer alternative explanations to the accounts of the Bible, or even misstate what the Bible says. 

The helmet of salvation refers to our ultimate victory. Believers have already been rescued from slavery to sin and have a firm hope in Christ’s final victory, our vindication as believers, and eternity with him. In 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Paul says we have as a helmet the hope of salvation. When the battle rages, that hope keeps fear and confusion away.  

There is only one offensive weapon mentioned in this passage. It is the sword of the Spirit. That sword is the word of God, the Bible. Our example is Jesus: in the wilderness, Jesus battled and defeated Satan solely by using God’s word. (Matthew 4:1-11) 

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would strike the earth with the rod of his mouth. (Isaiah11:4) Revelation 19 shows us the picture of the conquering Christ making war on all of the enemies of God. “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations”. (Revelation 19:11) He will destroy his enemies with his word. We may repel the devil now using the word of God just as Jesus did during his temptation. 

That should be a great motivation for us to read, study, and memorize the Word of God. When temptation or trials come, nothing elevates the believer better than calling Scripture to mind and saying it out loud. 

You know the enemy.

You have the armor & weapons.

Fight the good fight!

Friday, September 09, 2022

Fight The Good Fight

Fight the good fight with all thy might;

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right.
Lay hold on life and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.
Run the straight race through God's good grace,
Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;
Life with its way before thee lies.
Christ is the path and Christ the prize.
Cast care aside, lean on thy Guide;
His boundless mercy will provide;
Trust, and thy trusting soul shall prove,
Christ is its life and Christ its love.
John Monsell

Sunday, September 04, 2022





After addressing the marriage relationship, Paul addressed the parent-child relationship. He said for children to obey their parents. He said it is right to do and quoted the fifth commandment, which says that children should honor their parents. Exodus 20:12 says “honor your father and your mother that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. Deuteronomy 5:16 restates the commandment. 

Obedience is part of a child’s honoring their parents. A child could hardly be said to honor their parents if they defy them. After the child becomes an adult, they must still honor their parents, giving them proper respect. 

Modern culture frequently turns this upside down. TV shows and movies portray old people as stupid. Parents, especially fathers, are portrayed as unwise and unduly restrictive on children who should be allowed to follow their own desires.

The Disney movies are notorious for this. In “The Little Mermaid”, for example, the daughter defies her father. She suffers some, but in the end gets what she wants. One of the other characters summarizes that a child has to follow her heart. The problem is, what a child wants and what is best for the child are often not the same thing. The parent is to keep the child from doing what is wrong and harmful and the child is to obey the parent, understanding that the parent is more experienced and is acting in the child’s best interest. 

Paul gives an additional instruction to fathers, telling them not to provoke their children to anger, but to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. So, the point is the father does not make overly restrictive or arbitrary rules to enforce on the child, but raises them correctly as befits a Christian family. 

Slaves and Masters


Slavery was common in the Roman Empire. The peoples conquered by the Romans were enslaved. Others were enslaved in payment of debts. Slaves performed all kinds of jobs from the menial to professional..

Paul instructed Christian slaves to obey their masters in a sincere way. As with the submission of women to their husbands, slaves were to submit to their masters as if they were servants of Christ. Paul promised they would received good from the Lord if their services was good. 

Paul also instructed Christian masters, or slave owners, telling them to stop threatening their slaves with harm. He pointed out that the Lord was their master just as he was the master of the slave and that God showed no partiality based on this status. (9) 

Paul is sometimes criticized because he did not oppose slavery or demand its abolition. In this passage, however, we see the focus in on how the Christian household operates and how believers are to act in their households. 

Paul did make some statements regarding slavery in other passages. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7:21, he told slaves that, if they can gain their freedom, they should avail themselves of the opportunity. Paul instructed Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother rather than as a slave. (Philemon 16) He instructed slave owners to treat their slaves justly and fairly. (Colossians 4:1) 

Paul’s interest was not to seek upheaval of the political order, but to evangelize and to have the behavior of Christians witness to their changed lives. 

You can apply these principles to the employee\employer relationship. But, realize the burden on the slave was much greater. 

Paul has given us the standards by which we should live at home and at work. Living accordingly will witness to your faith and draw others to you.