November 24, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 2:14-23

Hosea is probably my favorite Old Testament book in the Bible. In my humble opinion, there may not be a better book of the Bible that accurately portrays our salvific covenant with God. In fact, that’s why God asked Hosea to marry a woman that He knew would break her marital vows and run away after other lovers. Can you imagine God asking you to do that? And we think God calls us to hard things with our work environments, families and service at church! Imagine Him telling you  to do this to illustrate our spiritual adultery with God. But the passages we read this morning shows not only why God asked this hard thing from Hosea but the inspiring beauty of redeeming, enduring, forgiving, covenantal love. Because the reconciliation of Hosea and Gomer’s marriage was an ultimate illustration to what God says He would do with His people when they run after other lovers.

First, we see how God allures us back to Him when we run from our vows with Him (v. 14). He doesn’t just condemn us for our spiritual adultery but speaks tenderly to us. He reminds us of our past love and says that everything He had promised us is still true and there for us (v. 15).

When He pursues us back, as the original bride of Christ, we can’t but help to cry out “My Husband” again after calling out after false idols for so long. How sweet and comforting it is to go back to the One who will forever protect, provide, lead and sacrificially love us after experiencing the utter heartbreak and deception from false loves and idols that we ran toward. But God makes us forget those idols and that heartbreak. He’ll remove their names from our lips (v. 17). We don’t need to be stuck in our shame and He won’t keep on bringing up our past. His love is a forever, faithful love, not temporary (v. 19-20), a point I always emphatically make when preaching a marriage sermon. This is the beauty of Covenantal marriage and how it can point to a God who makes that covenant with us in the Gospel. And the children who once were named and identified as having “No Mercy” and “Not God’s People” will have mercy and be God’s people. I can read these few passages over and over again in awe of God’s unique, inspiring love. This moves me and gives me hope for not only my spiritual adultery but also every marriage splattered in sin and on the brink of no hope.

When reading about this beautiful picture of redeeming, faithful love, I am reminded of a previous Sunday school teacher’s story. He had shared with me that decades before his wife was cheating on him and at first unrepentant when caught in the adultery. He had a choice, divorce or fight for that love. Although it wouldn’t be easy, he shared how the story of Hosea stood out and he did everything he could to woo her back to the covenant they made before God and to each other. It wasn’t an instant fix but God did redeem their marriage and 3 adult kids later (who all love the Lord) he is still being used by God because of him choosing the path of Hosea (and Christ) in that tough, tough season of marriage and life. May this story bring hope and life in our marriages, future marriages and most importantly spiritual adultery as God will do the very same with us when we run far away from Him like Gomer.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor


November 23, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 2:1-13

Our passage today contains some graphic words and images to describe Hosea’s relationship to his wife Gomer, and ultimately a parable between God and Israel. Rather than skipping over this language or try to dull the sharpness, it is important for us to understand that this language is being used intentionally to show how Israel (and ultimately us) often relate to God.

This passage is beautiful because even when sin is exposed, there is still much evidence of grace in that the covenant of both marriage and between us and God is still intact. The book of Hosea helps us to understand the destruction of sin in a deeper way. It is one thing to acknowledge that sin is bad and deserves punishment; it’s another thing to see this illustrated in the life of a person.

Do you have an accurate understanding of the consequences of your sin? Is there something in your life right now that you need to repent of?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

November 22, 2017

Today you should read: Hosea 1

Some of God’s prophets had the difficult challenge of confronting kings and, by God’s power, doing miraculous things to illustrate the impotence of foreign gods. Although their lives and ministries were difficult, there is some esteem with these men of faith like Samuel, Elijah, and Isaiah. There is also another kind of prophet, the ones who are called to live out an illustration of spiritual realities—prophets like Hosea.
Hosea lived and ministered in the period of time we now call the “Divided Kingdom.” You biblical historians will remember that after king Solomon died, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms, north and south (see 1 Kings 12). The northern kingdom, Israel, descended into idolatry from which it never recovered.

Verse 1 of Hosea, simply orients us to this timeframe and that Hosea ministered for many years. In verse 2, God commands Hosea to take a wife of “harlotry.” The reason God gives for such a request is simple, Israel has committed “flagrant harlotry” (NASB). They’ve not only prostituted themselves, but done so with vigor.
Gomer enters the picture and the story shifts into high gear as she bears three children—note however that only with her first does the Bible say that she “bore [Hosea] a son,” every other child was simply “conceived” by Gomer. We aren’t sure if that means the children were biologically Hosea’s or not.

While each child represents a different consequence for Israel’s idolatrous affairs, chapter one ends with a hopeful promise. Even when the people say they “are not My people, it will be said of them ‘You are My people’” (10). And, verse 11 illustrates God’s irrevocable promise that His love will one day bring all of His people back together.

I’m not sure where you’re at as you’re reading this. Maybe you feel as though your affections for the Lord have waned and wandered recently. The book of Hosea reminds us that no matter how far we go, God will pursue us in righteous love, not looking over our transgression, but loving us because our transgression have been dealt with on the Cross.

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

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