November 29, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 7

What would you say are the qualities (for lack of a better word) of a healthy, growing disciple? You might say consistent time in God’s Word and prayer, sharing the Gospel, discipling others, and you would be right! But I want to suggest that one of the greatest markers of spiritual health that we rarely define as an important marker is repentance. Why do I say that? A life that is marked by repentance is a life marked by continual pursuing God.

In our passage today, we see a negative example of repentance—meaning they weren’t actually repenting at all. The people of Israel show no remorse for their sin. What does it look like to live an unrepentant life? Verse 8 gives us a clue: “Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples.” Unrepentance makes you look like the world—there is nothing that sets you apart from it.

This should serve as a warning to us. In this passage we see a negative example of what it looks like to not repent from sin. I want to leave with an encouragement and vision for what it looks like to live a life of continuous repentance. One of the most helpful things I’ve found in regards to repentance I found from Heath Lambert. It comes in the form of an acronym:

CARConfess your sin, Accept the Gospel, Request grace to change.

I love this way of thinking of repentance because it really gives some meat to what it means to turn from your sin. It begins with confessing your sin to the Lord; this in itself is an acknowledgement that you are in need and recognizing that only God can meet it. But confessing your sin must be met with accepting the Gospel. Yes you are a sinner, but you are never far enough to be out of reach of the Gospel, and you’re never so good that you don’t need it. Finally, we have to acknowledge that only the grace of God can truly bring about the life change that we desire to have.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice


November 28, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 6

Hosea’s life was a picture of the sin of the nation of Israel. His wife was horribly unfaithful to him, so also, the nation of Israel had betrayed their side of the covenant with God. This leads God to the point where he said, “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.” (5:15)
God is omnipotent, which means he is all-powerful. If God turns away, His presence and influence are still present. Thus, the idea of God returning to His place (or turning away in general) is a metaphor for God allowing people to reap the consequences of their actions.

The sin of Israel breaks the heart of Hosea because he intimately understands the devastation of unfaithfulness. This leads the prophet to try to rally his people, “Come, let us return to the Lord” (6:1). God, in his faithful, covenant love, is always willing to revive those who humble themselves and repent.
Verse 6 is one of the greatest passages in the Old Testament. While people’s love and commitment may be fleeting, God said, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Covenant always implies obligation for the two parties involved. Although Israel has not upheld their part of God’s Covenant, God will never fail—God will “restore the fortunes of [His] people” (11).
Although we, as the Church, are not under the Old Covenant, through the New Covenant, we are partakers in God’s unending, irrevocable covenants. There may be disagreement on how this works, but we can all be thankful that no matter how far we go, God will restore those who humble themselves and repent.
Hosea is a book of hope, that even in humanity’s deepest rebellion God’s hesed, covenantal love, will never be revoked. There are consequences to rebellion and sin, and God will sometimes turn his face away, or return to His place, and let us face consequences—He is a good Father after all. But like any Father, rebellion does not alter the relationship, it only hinders the fellowship. God will ultimately finish what he started; the Unstoppable Movement that we’ve been discussing on Sunday mornings.

How has the book of Hosea encouraged you as we’ve discussed the Unstoppable Movement series on Sunday’s and in Connect Groups?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

November 27, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 5

This is a chapter of scripture that highlights God’s anger, righteousness and justice. Sometimes it is easy to forget that God gets angry. We don’t see people being turned to salt or cities being destroyed in the present time. This is a much more relatable picture for us.

The leaders and rulers of Israel have led the way to unfaithfulness and idolatry. When we read this it is easy to cast judgement and think about how bad they were for doing this. It is easy to say that God should be angry at them for what they did. The reality is that we do the same thing all the time. Yet when it comes to us, we don’t tend to say God should punish. The truth is that anything that we put more time, care, effort, or love into that is not God and His kingdom is an idol in our life.

Here is the good news. The option to return to God is there! Our God is so good, and so loving that he wants us to acknowledge our guilt before Him and turn back to Him. Surrender our life back to Him. He is faithful and just to forgive. We have the joy of knowing that we serve a God that wants us even though we are broken and disobedient.  

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

November 25, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 3-4

If you’ve ever been present when I’ve taught out of the Old Testament, you’ve heard me say the phrase, “Israel is my life story.” I especially believe this to be true when I read about the continuous cycle Israel went through during the period of the judges:

1) Israel forgets God
2) God gives Israel over to the consequences
3) God disciplines Israel
4) Israel remembers the Lord and repents of her sin
5) God relents His judgment and resorts Israel

I’ve seen the above cycle played out in my life numerous times. Have you? Well, that’s essentially the same cycle we see in Hosea. In chapter 3, we see the foreshadowing of God’s redemption and restoration of Israel, especially in verses 3-5:

And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:3-5 ESV)

This seems exciting, right? And then there’s chapter 4…

God was fired up. His righteous anger burned against Israel for her disobedience and willful, ongoing sin. Verse 5 tells us the root of the sin: pride. And it goes on to say that this pride will lead to stumbling. Yes, redemption is coming, but in this chapter we see the sin that disgusts God and that deserves punishment. The blessing for us who are in Christ is that He took that punishment. He bore the wrath that was directed for us. That’s the biblical concept of “propitiation”.

A few questions for thought today:

1) What is your perspective of sin? Do you feel the weight of it? Do you understand God’s hatred for it?
2) Does your walk with God resemble the cycle described above?
3) How can you, as a Christ-follower, fight against this cycle?
3) Do you regularly celebrate God’s goodness & grace that you’ve experienced in Christ Jesus?

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor