March 9, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 5

What a dire picture we have here in this chapter. Israel and Judah have both turned their backs on God and turned to the idols of the people living around them. God tells them that because of their unfaithfulness to Him they will incur God’s wrath and judgment. I think we can see three overarching lessons in this passage for us to take to heart.

1. God is serious about sin and obedience. When we turn from God and follow our own “idols,” God is not sitting in a corner crying hoping you will come back to Him when you are ready. God is just and holy and sin angers Him. Now, we are forgiven in Christ and will not endure God’s judgment because Jesus has already done that for us but sin still brings consequences and discipline into our lives. And we certainly see that in this passage. Take some time today and examine your heart and life for any sin you need to confess and turn from. Look for any “idols” in your life and get rid of them.

2. Leadership brings with it a huge responsibility to lead those around you well. Look at verses 1 and 10.Who is God blaming for His people’s idolatry? The leaders, the priests, those charged to lead. Leadership is a great thing and we should pursue it. But we must also be cautious because a leader is held to a higher standard and judged more harshly (James 3:1; Hebrews 13:7) We WILL be held accountable for those we guide as leaders. So, f For some of you that is your wife, your children, your employees, your co-workers, classmates, etc. So take some time today and think about whom it is you lead and how you are doing with that.

3. And now for the good part, verse 15; God does not cut them off completely. He “returns to His place” He waits for them to repent and turn back to Him. He says that when “trouble comes, they will earnestly search for me.” That is the whole book of judges and our lives as well. We live life feeling good and blessed and then we forget God and turn to other “gods” in our lives. Then trouble comes and we turn back to God. Then it happens all over again. What a great promise we have in Jesus that, through Him, we can always go back to God and find Him in His place. So, how about you? Are you dealing with struggles in life right now? Is there trouble in your life? Search earnestly for God, He wants you to.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

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March 8, 2012

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?

Posted by: Todd Thomas

March 7, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 2:14-23

Hosea is a great book for today! It speaks to our unfaithfulness to the Lord and His continued faithfulness to us. Today’s reading really strengthens that concept.

Remember, the book of Hosea is the story about a man directed by God to marry a promiscuous woman to demonstrate God’s faithfulness and restoration. Their marriage represents the covenantal relationship between God and Israel (Genesis 15). Israel (God’s chosen people) has been unfaithful to God by worshiping other gods and breaking His commandments – both terms of the covenant. So … Israel is “playing the harlot” who violates the commitments of marriage to her husband.

Today’s reading is all about God’s desire to restore His people Israel from their rebellion to God’s place of blessing again. God has brought them to a place of desperation, in which they would have to look to Him (v.7). The Lord said He would take the next steps in restoring the relationship (v. 14-15). If Israel responds positively – this would lead them to renewal and blessing.

Renewed Love (v.14-15)

Look at God’s love language…

…I will win her back
…speak tenderly to her
…return her vineyards

God loves His people and shows it! Even when Israel rebelled – God still loved and cared for them. He’s longing to have them back in His arms where He can show them again how much He loves them.

Renewed Marriage (v.16-20)

Look at what God says…

…you will call me ‘my husband’
…I will make you my wife forever
…showing you unfailing love and compassion

God is committed to His people and expects them to be committed to Him (Exodus 20:2-6). God’s faithfulness does not however, depend on theirs. He’s faithful, just because He is God. He continues to pursue His people.

Renewed Blessing (v.21-23)

God longs to bless His people. He wants to open the heavens and pour out blessings on them till it overflows (Malachi 3:10). His blessings are contingent on His people’s obedience. All throughout scripture He speaks of obedience and blessings being tied together.

What can I take away from today’s reading?

  • God is faithful. I can rest in that.

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! 
His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; 
 His mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

  • My choice to sin leads me away from the blessings of my relationship to my Father. I must realize my waywardness and return to the arms of the Lover of my soul.

Have mercy on me, O God, 
 because of your unfailing love.
 Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt.
 Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; 
it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. Create in me a clean heart, O God. 
Renew a loyal spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
 and make me willing to obey You. Psalm 51:1-4, 10, 12

  • God wants to renew me, restore me, and bless me.

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

What is God saying to you today?

In what ways do you need to return to His arms and to His blessing?

What are you going to do?


Posted by: Tim Parsons

March 6, 2012

Today you should read: Hosea 2:1-13

Here’s a quick recap of Chapter 1. God’s rejection of Israel is symbolized in Hosea’s marriage, but followed by a prophecy of God’s future reconciliation of His people. Now, in chapter 2:1-13 the unfaithfulness of Gomer/Israel and God’s rejection of Gomer/Israel is explained in further detail.

First, in verses 1-2, God tells the children of Gomer to contend with their mother. In other words, God tells the children of Israel to deal with the sin of unfaithfulness to Him.

Verses 3-7a and 8-13 explain the consequences of Israel’s unrepentant unfaithfulness. In 3-4, God says He is going to bring her to shame and have no compassion on her or her children because of her harlotry. In verse 6, God says that He will put a hedge and a wall around her so that she can’t find her paths or know where she is going. In other words, she’ll be aimless and purposeless, which is exactly how I feel when I have broken fellowship with God because of sin. Verse 7a says that she’ll seek satisfaction from other “lovers” but will not be able to find it. I’ve yet to find true satisfaction apart from God.

In 8-13, God basically says that he is going to strip her of all things from which she found her satisfaction. All this sounds cruel, but God sometimes has to be seemingly cruel to be kind. He has to reveal my sin, discipline me, and prune me in order to restore a proper relationship to Him.

In verse 7b, there is hope that restoration is going to happen between God and His people. He says that she will desire to return to her first husband because it was better for her to be with her first love than be unfaithful. In other words, when God reveals her unfaithfulness, she will repent and restoration will happen. Do I realize and believe that a life truly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ is so much better than a life that is not surrendered to Him?

What if I came home this evening and said to my wife, “Becky, I was 98% faithful to you today! Isn’t that great?” That wouldn’t go over well. That 2% of unfaithfulness to her would deeply hinder a great relationship. I’d have to apologize and hope she could forgive. Now, what if I go to God and say, “God, I was 98% faithful to You.”? Well, that 2% of unfaithfulness is going to hinder my fellowship with Him. The only way to restore fellowship with Him is to specifically confess the unfaithful areas of my life to Him and trust His forgiveness.

Challenges for today:

  1. Ask the Spirit to reveal any areas of unfaithfulness in my life and confess them.
  2. Consider how sin impacts the fellowship within my “marriage” to Jesus.
  3. Ask: Do I have any other gods that I look to for satisfaction?
  4. Ask: Is Jesus just my Savior, or is He LORD and Savior?

Posted by: Rich Duffield