So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Bad company corrupts good character.
I was reminded of Ishmael when recently I saw a homeless teenage boy being interviewed on TV. He explained that he was on the streets because his step-father had thrown him out of the house.
Like Hagar, Paul, and Jesus, we may sometimes need to take the way of powerlessness in order to experience the power of God in our lives.
Being in the background does not absolve us from living by faith. Indeed, it is often in background roles that God can most effectively develop our character and our faith.
So was Abraham a superhero? In fact, he started life rather unpromisingly as a refugee from Iraq (Ur of the Chaldees), settling in Turkey (Haran), then he became a nomad in Palestine, and lived for a time as a foreigner in Egypt.
Noah was prepared to engage in a 100-year building project on the basis of a warning from God about things that he had not seen and could not yet see.
What are our hopes and aspirations for old age - if God allows us to reach that point in life? None of us can escape the ageing process: Outwardly we are wasting away, but inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
No longer is each day a struggle to work hard for Jesus, so that I can receive his approval. I know he accepts me because I have received his free gift of eternal life and grace.
When we react badly to a situation, do something that is wrong or mess up, how do we react? Cain’s example shows that we can either master sin, or we can let sin have us.
Abel was the first martyr for his faith; and his example, together with the words of Scripture, tells us that those who are killed for the sake of Christ do not lose their lives in vain.
God has given every one of us certain privileges, abilities and gifts. What are we going to do with them?
When you read a book, are you one of those people who, like me, love to be kept in suspense until the very last moment?
In this 13th chapter of Hosea we unexpectedly come across one of the most remarkable verses in the book, if not in the whole Old Testament. But first we need to see its context.
Will you, like Israel in Hosea's time, become increasingly confident in what you have gained? Or will you remember your origins, where you have come from, and so keep yourself humble before your God?
God is love. We often find this difficult to comprehend, especially when faced with hard circumstances, because our understanding of his love is so small. We find it hard to grasp how he can hold light and love in balance.
We can sow to please our sinful nature or sow to please the Spirit - in both cases we should be aware of what we are sowing for. Our sowing has consequences in the future.
So, what are your life goals at this moment in time? To get a better job? To get married? To move to a bigger house or flat? To get a better car? To have children? To pass your exams?
Why don't you ask God to give you a 'roadworthiness check' and see if there is anything that needs putting right? Like me, you may be surprised at what he puts his finger on.
When I worked in the European Commission one of the most tense times was when the annual promotion list was being published. The competition to get on the list and so rise up a grade was intense.
When a society turns its back on the true God, the reality is very different from the one envisaged by John Lennon and the optimists of the 1960s. Hosea lived that reality and describes it to us in this chapter.
When God wanted to buy us back from our slavery to sin and wrongdoing, it took much more than money - it took the most precious thing that he could ever find, the blood of his own Son.
If you are worried that you have committed a sin that cannot be forgiven, read this chapter and see how great is the Lord’s love for the human race; open yourself to him, so that you can receive that love.
Over 2,500 years ago the Lord used Hosea’s tangled family life to predict that he would adopt Gentiles - you and me included - into his chosen family.
The Lord Jesus wishes us all to experience much more of his love and his power. But before that can happen, we need to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings.
Please join with me on a voyage of discovery into the book of Hosea, into the heart of God, into the depths of his love, and into his dealings with a world which has turned its back on him.