December 11, 2017

Today you should read: Amos 3

You know the basic rule of cause and effect: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You have probably seen this be true in different areas of life, and that is no different in how we relate to God.

In Amos 3, God is warning that judgment is imminent on Israel.

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:  “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:1-2 ESV)

The passage goes on to list a series of questions designed to lead the people of Israel to understand how their actions of disobedience have brought about the harsh judgment that is coming to them. The coming judgment of the Lord is not on accident or coming out of no where, it is an effect of their disobedience.

Verses 9-11 show what the judgment would look like. Samaria at that point was the capital city of Israel, and for their capitol to fall would mean trouble. As strong of a city as Samaria was, its natural strength was nothing without the sovereign and supernatural protection of God.

Your sin and my sin has consequences. Yes, there is grace, but even with forgiveness, the consequences of sin can still be present. We should be thankful today, that though grace does not take away the practical consequences of sin, it does take away the eternal damnation of sin. The consequences of the cross are far more positive than the consequences of sin are negative.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

December 7, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 14

This is the last chapter of this beautiful book illustrating our spiritual adultery; Christ’s persistent, always fighting, redeeming love and His covenantal faithfulness is spite of our unfaithfulness. It’s a final plea for the unfaithful bride to return back to the faithful groom. In poetic language God gives Israel (and us) one final reminder of the fruit that comes from repentance, reconciliation and restoration.

It starts off with a reminder of how our words need to match up with our actions (v. 2). So many marriages start off with vows that are just empty words. If you look at marriage as a means for personal happiness over a picture of sanctification, you will not hold onto your spouse, through thick and thin, for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, until death do us part. Thin, worse, poor, sick times are not happy times and many people don’t mean what they say in their vows. Did you mean what you said when you said “Jesus I want you to be LORD of my LIFE.” When you entered into that covenant, was that with the same intentions when you go through less “happier” times in your relationship with Christ?

  1. 4 – 8 shows the fruit of not only repenting from idolatry (v. 8) but being forgiven and reconciled with God after running away from Him (v. 4 uses the word APOSTACY). God restores us to become the fruitful vine He intended us to be in the beginning of our covenant with Him or the fine wine He promised through the Gospel. Just look at the differences between the dead vineyard and the fruitful vineyard below? Which one would you rather be? (*And yes, that is a real picture of a fruitful vineyard in Germany called Kappelberg Vineyards)

The last verse of this book (v. 9) is God giving us the final choice. If you’re wise and discerning, your going to go back to your first and true love. The one who created love in the first place. His ways are right and you will walk in righteousness as you dwell in the abundance fruit from His love. But those who choose their idolatrous, adulterous false loves will stumble in them.

  • What’s the biggest thing that God taught you through this book?

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

December 6, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 13

What are your functional saviors? Let me define what I mean: a functional savior is something that you look to in your everyday life to bring you some kind of temporal satisfaction or pleasure. In the 10 commandments, it went by a different name: idol.

For me, it can be greener-grass syndrome; always looking at what others have or what others do and wish I could be them. Or another one I struggle with is the lust for vacations or down time, and I don’t mean biblical sabbath. I’m referring to the American Dream mentality of rest. For others, it could be a status achievement, or a financial goal. At the end of the day, though, it’s functional but not the real thing. It’s temporary. It doesn’t last.  It’s not a true Savior.

“I have been the Lord your God ever since I brought you out of Egypt. You must acknowledge no God but me, for there is no other savior. I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land. But when you had eaten and were satisfied, you became proud and forgot me.” Hosea 13:4-6

Well… that hit us like a ton of bricks. But that’s a good thing. Maybe on this fine Wednesday, we all need a quick wake-up call.

Two questions for us to dialogue about in the comments section: 

1) What are your functional saviors? Be honest and share. Someone here might benefit from knowing others struggle with the same idols.

2) How do you fight idolatry and push yourself to keep Jesus at the center of your life? Again, someone here might need the encouragement you could offer. 

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

December 5, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 12

In our passage today, God is reminding the people of Israel of his steadfast love for them. The mess of their continuous rebellion is paralleled throughout Scripture by the beauty of God’s gracious love towards them. We see that God is making his case by showing his kindness and love towards Jacob as a reflection for his kindness and love towards Israel as a whole.

This should serve as a simple reminder to us today of the graciousness shown to us by God. Reflect today, about what this means for you. Do you really believe that God is gracious? Do your actions reflect that belief? What does it really look like to live in light of God’s grace? You might’ve heard the quote by Jerry Bridges: “Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.” This frees us from the deceitfulness of our emotions being the basis of how we think we are relating to God. We do not come boldly to the throne of God because of feeling, but because of the blood of Christ.

In the comments, share how the grace of God has been shown to you tangibly in the last few weeks.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice