December 4, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 11

My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all. (11:7, ESV)

Israel stands guilty. Not only are they turning from the Lord, but as the ESV translates it, they are “bent on turning away” from the Lord—and they pay the price.

It is, I think, fairly safe to assume that some time passes between verses 7 and 8. Like a good Father, God has allowed Israel to suffer the consequences of their sin. However, it hurts the heart of God to see his children suffer. God has a change of heart and compassion wells up that, despite the fact that they deserve it, Israel is not destroyed.

Although their nature will not change, Israel will continue to rebel against God. One day, “He will roar like a lion. [And] when he roars, his children will come trembling…” (11:10, NIV) I love this picture, because we can all relate.

I remember a time when things escalated between my sister and I to the point that we were about to throw-down. Boom, boom, boom—they weren’t so much footsteps from upstairs as crushing stomps, footfalls bringing our doom. My mom didn’t make it down the steps before she roared and the trembling began. Imagine the day when the roar comes from the Lord, whose wrath is infinitely more than Momma J.

God does not pass over sin forever. In his gracious forbearance (a word you should look up, use, and apply in your own relationships), God passed over sin until his wrath could be poured out (Romans 3:25). Christ received God’s wrath for the Israelites in Hosea’s day, and for you and me. One day, God’s voice will boom and all of his children will come trembling, but through Christ, we need not fear God’s wrath.

In the comments, what has God been teaching you through the book of Hosea? How will this study change you this Christmas season?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

December 2, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 10

Sin has consequences.

We see that in today’s reading, but first, let’s recap what has happened thus far.

In Chapters 1-3, we read the story of Hosea and Gomer as a representation of Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord. Gomer was an unfaithful wife to Hosea, going after other people in promiscuity. Hosea, commanded by the Lord, finds Gomer, pays off whatever debt she has, and lovingly brings her home.

In Chapters 4-9, we see the charge against Israel (Ch. 4), the failure of Israel’s leaders (Ch. 5), a partially repentant Israel (Ch. 6) that still loves wickedness (Ch. 7 & 8), and the pronouncement of punishment against Israel (Ch. 9).

In Chapter 10, Israel is unrepentant and in sin. They are materially prosperous, but idolatrous (v. 1) with a heart that wavers back and forth between worshipping God and worshipping idols (v. 2). In fact, Israel intentionally makes “covenants they don’t intend to keep” (v. 4), and has made “no progress whatsoever” in overcoming sin (v. 9). Because of Israel’s constant sinning, they are “guilty and must be punished” (v. 2).

We are much like the Israelites. We constantly make promises we cannot keep. We have hearts that waver back and forth between worshipping God and worshipping the idols we create. We love wickedness. Often times it feels like we have made no progress whatsoever in overcoming sin. We are guilty and deserve to be punished.

However, there is hope in the Gospel. Jesus lived the obedient life we should have lived and died a death that we deserved in our place. Jesus came back from the dead, defeating sin, death, Satan, hell, and darkness. Because Jesus took the punishment for our sin, we can now live forgiven and in a relationship with God as he changes us to be more like Him and gives us desires to obey Him. What a wonderful truth!  

It is by remembering, cherishing, and constantly reminding ourselves of the Gospel that we can overcome sin and the idols that we create for ourselves. It is through this constant refreshing of the Gospel that we do the hard work of planting the “good seeds of righteousness” in order to “harvest a crop of love” (v. 12).

It is my prayer that today with the Lord’s help we will “plow up the hard ground of [our] hearts” (v. 12) and seek the Lord.

Pray today:

For the Lord to show you what idols are in your life

For the Lord to plow up the hard ground of your heart and soften it towards Him

For the Lord to help you to plant the good seeds of righteousness (prayer, Bible-reading, etc.)

By: Lucas Taylor — Worship Ministries Intern

December 1, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 9

Hosea 9 without the context of Hosea 1-8 and 10-14 would be an awfully discouraging, depressing and hopeless chapter of Scripture. It’s just as true as the rest of Scripture and shows the God’s character concerning wrath and justice. It also reveals what we deserve when we treat our salvific covenant with God with the contempt of an adulterous prostitute instead of a beautiful, submissive bride. In fact, this chapter alone reminds me of the haunting interview with a prostitute that went viral about 9-10 months ago.

She sounded as hopeless as one could get while not excusing or justifying her actions and lifestyle. At the same time, one can’t read passages in Hosea 9 like

Rejoice not, O Israel!
    Exult not like the peoples;
for you have played the whore, forsaking your God.
    You have loved a prostitute’s wages
    on all threshing floors.

Hosea 9:1

10 Like grapes in the wilderness,
    I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
    in its first season,
    I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
    and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
    and became detestable like the thing they loved.

11 Ephraim’s glory shall fly away like a bird—
    no birth, no pregnancy, no conception!
12 Even if they bring up children,
    I will bereave them till none is left.
Woe to them
    when I depart from them!
13 Ephraim, as I have seen, was like a young palm[a] planted in a meadow;
    but Ephraim must lead his children out to slaughter.[b]
14 Give them, O Lord—
    what will you give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
    and dry breasts.

Hosea 9:10-14

Without thinking about this own prostitute’s confessions of being an unfit mother with similar consequences to Hosea 9:10-14 where children will not be able to grow and be nurtured under the God given gift of parenthood. We can’t forget the other chapters in Hosea and Jumpstart commentary from CPC staff of the overall tough (yet beautiful) purpose of Hosea. Christ wins the adulterous prostitute back. He wins us back when we go after other lovers. But as this chapter reveals, Oh the consequences that come in play with our spiritual adultery. How it effects family, friends and what God wants to do with us in the first place with those relationships. Let this chapter be a great lesson and warning for us all anytime we are tempted with idolatry.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

November 30, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 8

I hope it’s never said of me that I “rejected what is good.” That’s what Hosea 8:3 says about God’s people. The rest of the chapter is more detail about the same idea. It’s heartbreaking. The reality, though, is that describes me all too well. That’s where my sinful heart takes me when I don’t yield to the Holy Spirit. Hosea is documenting what we are like in our relationship with God.

What does Hosea’s overall story do to your heart? For me, it makes me thankful for grace. God has given me far too much in Christ, far more than I ever could imagine. Even when I stray, when I lust, when I get greedy, when I choose idols over Him, He welcomes me back into His arms. He seats me at His table. That’s the beauty of the gospel.

This chapter also convicts me. The Lord has set us apart. I need to pursue a holy life (Galatians 5, 1 Corinthians 13, Colossians 3) that is marked by gospel transformation (Romans 6:1-3, Romans 8:1-2). As our Lead Pastor, Tim Parsons, often says, “Holiness and grace are two sides of the same coin.” When we understand grace, we chase after righteousness rather than giving in to more and more sin.

That’s my 2¢ today… but what did God teach you? Share in the comments section below. Blessings, CPC!

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor