March 20, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 14

As this book wraps up, there’s hope for Israel. This chapter is a great picture of the gospel in our lives. Chapter 14 flows like this:

  1. “Hey, Israel, you should repent.” (vs. 1)
  2. “Hey, Israel, here’s some advice on what to say to God when you repent.” (vs. 2-3)
  3. “Hey, Israel, when you repent, here’s the blessings that will follow.” (vs. 4-9)

All Israel has to do is return to the Lord and He will bless them. Verse 1 begins the process of reconciliation. It starts with repentance. What does this big churchy word even mean? Take a look at the first word of the verse (in almost every English version of the Bible) and you’ll see the word “return.”

To return means to go back, or to go the opposite direction. In military terms, it would mean to do an “about face” or to do a “180.” For the Israelites, they were to do an “about face” from their iniquity and to God to receive His mercy and reconciliation.

I heard the story of a Sunday School teacher who asked her children’s class, “What does repentance mean?” A little boy responded, “It means to be sorry.” The teacher applauded his answer, but a little girl interrupted the teacher’s praise of the boy and said, “It’s not just being sorry; it’s being sorry enough to quit.” What are the sinful thoughts, actions, in-actions, or attitudes that I need to turn from, confess, and quit doing in order to have proper fellowship with God?

Have you ever been so caught up in sin or feel so distant from God that you don’t even know what to say to Him? I’ve had those times and it feels hopeless. In verses 2-3, it seems like the Israelites are so messed up that they needed Hosea to tell them what to say to God when they confessed their sin. Hosea said, “Take these words with you and return to the Lord.” He tells them to confess some specific sin. Sometimes, I need to ask God to reveal specific sin so that I will know what to confess. Then instead of a generic, “God, I confess all my sin,” I can come to Him and confess specific sin to Him.

Verses 5-9 give a bright outlook for a repentant Israel. God says that He will heal them, love them freely, and provide abundantly for them. He would take a hopelessly sinful nation and restore them to Himself and bless them. What a great picture of the gospel! Could God really take a hopeless sinner like myself, offer forgiveness to me through Jesus, restore a broken relationship with me, and then bless me with an abundant life? Yes! That’s what He did!

Now, my RELATIONSHIP with God is secure and will never change, but I still sin and hinder my FELLOWSHIP with God. In order to restore proper fellowship, I must confess my specific sin by calling it sin, calling it forgiven, and calling on God to change my wrong attitudes and actions.

Practical application for today:

  1. Get some time alone with God and ask Him to reveal any specific sin.
  2. Get out a piece of paper and write down specifically what He reveals.
  3. Take the list and write over it the words of 1 John 1:9.
  4. Tear the list up and throw it away.
  5. Smile when you recognize how much lighter you feel.

Posted by: Rich Duffield

March 19, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 13

Remember the Titanic? The ship that could not be sunk but of course we know that it did sink. Why? Because of arrogance. The Titanic was deemed the un-sinkable ship which led to the carelessness of the captain and crew. The ship was over-crowed and only had enough life boats for a third of the passengers. So when the ship was headed toward an iceberg the captain did not see it until it was too late. Since the ship was overloaded with passengers many lost their lives in the freezing cold water because not all could get into a life boat. Too much trust was put into the creation of man and not enough respect was given to power of the ocean.

The sin of arrogance that is illustrated in the story of the Titanic is the same sin of arrogance and pride demonstrated in Hosea 13. Israel has turned from worshipping the one true God to worshipping man-made gods. Israel is now offering human sacrifices to Baal and making golden calf images that they were paying homage to. What would lead Israel to such a dark place? It is simply pride and arrogance. They had forgotten where they came from. We should ask ourselves: what false idols are we worshiping in place of God our savior?

In Hosea 13:4, God calls Israel to remember who he is. He is the God who brought them out of slavery and into the land of promise. They have seen him do miracle after miracle. There is no savior other than Yahweh. However, once times were good, Israel became prideful and thought that they no longer needed God. Israel looks for prosperity through man-made gods and because of this, God is going to remind them of his great power through judgment (v.7-16). Israel will pay the price for their disobedience.

Now I often look at passages like these in judgment of Israel. I scoff at the rebellious people and think, “How could they be so arrogant.”  But I am reminded that I too am rebellious and God poured out the wrath that I deserved on his son Jesus. I have nothing to boast in but the cross. I urge you today to reflect on the gospel and let Hosea 13 be a reminder of the wrath that we all deserve. Allow this passage to humble you and produce a heart of gratefulness in you for your savior Jesus.

Meditate: Romans 5:8

 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

March 17, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 12

God’s grace in the Old Testament…

When you read the prophetic books of the Old Testament, you must pay attention to what is happening in the larger context.

Here, Israel is in a time of prosperity, at least in the sense of materials.  Everything seems to be going great.  They are faithful worshippers of Baal, who they believe will yield blessings by observing their detestable acts.  And they pursued their own passions.  Yet they didn’t know how close they were to being finished.

Keep in mind that some of Israel still sacrificed to the Lord, yet they thought it was ok for their worship to be synchronistic, which means that they could incorporate other beliefs and worship other things as well as God.  The Assyrians, who God threatened would take Israel down because of their disobedience, seems puny and weak.  They didn’t believe God’s words.

All of the prophets had this in common:  they were God’s mouthpieces to call the nation of Israel back into the covenant with the Lord.  A lot of this is scary, including the chapter we are reading.  It speaks of what God has done for them in the past and what God will do since they have turned away.

In all this, when reading this book, or any of the prophets, don’t miss the hope that God offers.  Always look for the message of hope.  God shows his patience with Israel for 800 years — that’s a patient God — yet they still don’t turn back.  And here again, in this chapter, God shows His grace and loving-kindness with a message of hope for Israel.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Here is what verse 6 says:

So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.

In this chapter, God recognizes that Israel is God’s chosen people.  He has delivered them continually because of that.  And by recounting that, it is the very reason why Israel is still able to turn back to the Lord and be restored.

This is a message of grace.  Yes, even in the Old Testament.  Most of us only think of law when we refer to the Old Testament.  But God was and is a gracious God.

This can be applied to us.  The fact that you are God’s chosen child through the salvation that comes in Christ means you are able to return.  God has been patient with you, yet wants to restore you.  You have not forfeited your right.  God is still faithful to his children.  You’re not too far gone.  Let this God of mercy and grace restore you.  Take the advice of the prophets and come back to the covenant that He made with you and that you made with Him.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

March 16, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 11

I have heard people talk about the idea that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are different. They say the Old Testament God is one of judgment, wrath and anger; while the New Testament God is one of love, mercy and compassion. It may seem like many of the stories of the Old Testament are about judgment and wrath, but this chapter might be one of the most descriptive in the entire Bible when it comes to God’s love for people.

When we read this, it sounds a lot like a parent talking about a child. God so desires for His people to return to Him but “the more they were called, the more they went away.” Doesn’t that sound like us sometimes? God puts people, situations, and trials in our lives to get our attention and “call” us back to Him but we constantly refuse to listen.

Is that you right now?

Are you being “called back” by God?

I encourage you to listen and go back to Him.

Israel did not listen and this chapter gives us an interesting picture into the heart of God as He is about to discipline them. They are going to be destroyed by outside countries — just as God told them it would happen.

We see in verses 8-11 one of the most descriptive passages about God’s love and compassion. God tells us that He is going to have compassion on Israel instead of judgment. God declares that He will lead them back to Himself.

How wonderful it is to know that our God loves us like this. His love for us is like a parent’s love for a child. Even when the child rebels and throws tantrums, the parent still loves them and takes care of them.

So thank God today for all the times in your life you have rebelled against Him and He had every reason to discipline you harshly but decided to lovingly teach you.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd