READ: Hosea 7-10
THINK: How do you handle success? Does it inspire your confidence? Does it motivate you to higher achievement? Does it go to your head? While people strive for success, they often fail to realize that the most difficult part is what to do after they've achieved it. That's the point where many people fail-particularly in regard to God. Because of God's blessings, the people in this passage had become satisfied and self-reliant, thinking they didn't need God or His Word. In a similar way, when things are going well and we have more than we need, we tend to forget God and stop relying on Him for help. With many people, the more they accomplish, the more they struggle with pride, taking God for granted, neglecting His plans, and becoming self-centered rather than God-centered.
RESPOND: What did the people fail to realize about their rebellious ways (7:2)? (See 7:2 note.) What positive affects can a constant awareness of God's presence have in your life? (See 7:2 note.) How did mixing with other nations (7:8) contribute to Israel's downfall? (See 7:8 note.) To whom did Ephraim (Israel) turn for help instead of relying on God (7:11)? (See 7:13-16 note.) What does it mean to "sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" (8:7), and how is this a warning to us? (See 8:7 note.) How would Israel's dependence on other nations come back to destroy them? (See 8:7 note.) In what way do people today-both in and out of the church-treat God's Word like people did in 8:12? (See 8:12 note.) How did the rebellious people view those who truly spoke God's message (9:8), and how is this similar to people's attitudes today? (See 9:7 note.) How had success affected the people's relationship with God (10:1), and why must we be cautious of success? (See 10:1 note.) What does it mean to "break up your unplowed ground" (10:12), and what needs to be "planted" in order to bring God's renewed blessing? (See 10:12 note.)
PRAY: Pray for a stronger awareness of God's presence, to keep you from sin and inspire your faith. Pray that as God gives you success you won't become proud, complacent or take Him for granted.
ACT: Has some form of success or accomplishment made you more self-reliant and less dependant on God? If so, ask God to forgive you, then express gratitude for His help and provision. Then find ways to honor Him with the abilities, opportunities and resources He's given you.
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