--In the Book of Hosea, 4:11 we read: "Harlotry, Wine and New Wine enslave the heart." --In essence, the things of this world cause us to stray from God. It may not be immediate; it may be 'a slow fade.' These 'things' may not be bad. But to excess, they may occupy so much of our time that they prevent us from spending quality time with God. Eventually, these activities may actually cause us to stray from God. These 'things' have now become 'Harlotry.' (Ex) Excessive work, an abundance of free time, abundance of possessions or wealth, the need for socializing to excess, or learning to become a pilot or other skill that takes up our time. --Hosea 4:11-12 tells us: "Harlotry, wine and new wine enslave the heart. ..." "For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God." --Harlotry does not have to be sexual. It can be any involvement with the world at the expense of 'spiritual nourishment.' --God gives to each of us. He provides for our every need. He gives us our gold and silver, food, clothing, job, health so we can provide for ourselves and loved ones. He gives each of us abilities, talents, beauty. He provides all we need to walk through this life. --Yet, how many times do we, both individually and corporately as a church, play the harlot and chase after the things of this world at the expense of spending time with the One who provides for us? --How many idols do each of us have that take our time away from God? Idols that cause us to play the 'Harlot'? --Do the idols we pursue provide for us the way God provides? The way God loves us and keeps us? --Does the Bible say, "I can do all things through our 'Harlotry' who strengthens us?" Or, rather: "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us!" --Does our 'harlotry' forgive us and take us back when we ask forgiveness as our Lord takes us back? In Hosea 3:1, "... just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans." (America, too!) --What is going on in the lives of so many Christians and in the church as a whole where God has to say in Hosea 4:1, "For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land." And in Hosea 4:6, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." --Why do so many Christians and churches treat God like this? --Why is there so much disregard for God and His Ways which He established for our benefit? --Why do we cave in to our fleshly desires or fears rather than rise up in the Spirit? --Why don't we have enough self-discipline to 'die to the flesh' in order that we may live in the Spirit for God? Gal 5:24 says, "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." --Why do so many Christians choose 'Harlotry, wine and new wine,' rather than committing ALL OUR WAYS to the Lord as He requires and with this promise written in Psalm 37:4-5, "Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." "Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." So, what are some of the things that get in the way of our thinking, causing us to become harlots to the Lord and commit harlotry? 1) Self-deception: "I'm a Christian." "I attend church on most Sundays." "The God I serve would never allow that to happen to me!" 2) Self-rationalization: This has got to be God's Will for my life." (ex. Pastor and a church secretary committing adultery, though both have spouses) But, what does the Bible tell us? --- "Thou shall not commit adultery." (One of the Ten Commandments) --- "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Gal 5:16) And what does the Bible tell us to do with such a brother or sister? Are we to stone him or her? Excommunicate them? NO! Gal 6:1 admonishes us: "Brother, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." Brothers and sisters, be alert to what we allow ourselves to partake in and what takes away our time from the Lord!