Hosea 11-12

“ Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows.” 11:8

After a couple stanzas of the Lord portraying his love for Israel like a father loving his child, we see him flex his mercy towards them in the verse above. My Bible commentary refers to this as the gospel in Old Testament clothes, isn’t that perfect?

God loves us so intricately and deeply, and then we mistreat him and abandon him like ungrateful children. We deserve his discipline, we deserve to be given up on, yet instead he says how can I let you go? 

No one’s love that compares to this.

Are you like Israel, unable to recognize it or care? They followed pagan religion, which was much more sexy and demanded much less of them. But God’s love is real, long-lasting, long-suffering and perfect.

How do you respond to his love? 

 

-Carly

 

 

Hosea 9-10

“Israel is a luxuriant vine; he produces fruit for himself. The more his fruit, the more alters he made; the richer his land, the better he made the sacred places.” (10:1)

What is our attitude toward resources? The sentiment, “once I have _______, I’ll give _______ to the LORD”, is a tempting thing to put off.

It’s very simple to identify what holds the supreme seat in our hearts. Where do I invest my resources: time, money, talents, etc? For me, time and attention is more valuable than money. When I’m busy, what’s the first thing to go? What am I always saying I’ll do when I have more time?

“Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” (10:12)

Seeking the LORD takes time and a commitment to “break up ground” in order to weed bad things out and give good things a fighting chance to grow. He is faithful to make kindness grow in us if only we desire to become so, submitting to His beautiful designs.

What is something you can do today, now, with the resources you have at this moment? These are the baby steps needing to be taken. It’s a little-by-little transformation, not a save-up-and-do-something-drastic make over. There are small steps plus a measure of waiting and depending on God’s power, just like any good gardening analogy will tell you.

-Bethany

Hosea 7-8

I noticed this verse today:

“The people of Israel love their rituals of sacrifice, but to me their sacrifices are all meaningless. “ 8:13

It’s interesting how people claim they can’t be “religious”, or fall in line with Christianity. Yet we all worship something. We all pour time, money and resources into what we love.

Rituals of sacrifice. What are some of yours? Your daily rhythms, routines, things you make sure to carve out time for. Maybe it’s going to the gym for an hour. Maybe it’s talking on the phone to your significant other. A nap. A run. Scrolling through your phone with a glass of wine or coffee in your hand.

You get where I’m going with this. We worship and make time for what we want to, and often scrounge around for leftover time and energy to spend on God. He doesn’t want your meaningless sacrifices. He asks for the first fruits.

Sort through how you spend your day. What comes first? What do you worship the most?

Let’s not be like the Israelites, who have forgotten their maker (8:14), but instead, prioritize him, the very source of our identity.

 

-Carly

 

 

Hosea 5-6

“Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; and He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” (6:1-3)

“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (6:6)

Many times, throughout my life, the LORD has brought me back to this passage. It sings a resonating song to the deepest part of my soul amid the darkest, most confusing seasons.

Is this trail some sort of punishment or discipline? Press on to know the LORD.

What am I afraid of and why? Press on to know the LORD.

Does my life have purpose and meaning or have I stumbled in the chaos, sabotaging my calling? Press on to know the LORD.

Will I always feel this way? Press on to know the LORD.

Have I fallen too far from grace? Press on to know the LORD.

He isn’t a distant task master. He isn’t utterly disappointed at my not living up to my potential. He is not counting on me to be perfect. He hasn’t let me wander out of sight. His discipline is not forever. He wants me to know Him more than anything else. He wants my devotion more than my productivity and sacrifice.

Do you know Him?

Don’t let limited perspective or experience drawn from human relationships dictate your knowledge of God. Return to Him! Come closer and know Him better! Don’t stop when your confused and discouraged! There’s always more to know about Him. He’s infinitely beautiful and His return is as certain as the dawn.

-Bethany

Hosea 3-4

I love the beautiful and perfect example of love we get in chapter 3. It’s shows us how God loves us and how he wants us to love other people.

Love is unconditional. ”…The Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” 3:1b

Loving people is going to cost you. “So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.” Just like how Jesus paid for sins he didn’t commit, unconditional and godly love means paying a price you don’t owe. Hosea had to buy back his own wife, who obviously didn’t want to come back home with him.

Love invites people in and makes a space for them. ”…you must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution.” 3:3 Hosea opens his heart and home completely to this woman God has given him, who is a total mess. We are often in relationship with people who have past or present pain and sin in their lives. We are taking on their sin, bearing their burdens and getting our hands dirty.

How easily do we give up on people who aren’t lovable or who don’t treat us well?

How often do I demand to be loved first?

What sort of “Gomer” situation has God put in our lives? Who do we need to relentlessly love, pursue and put first?

 

-Carly

 

 

 

Hosea 1-2

Here is the Bible Project overview.

“I will destroy her vines and fig trees, of which she said, ‘these are my wages which my lovers have given me.’ And I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will devour them.” (2:12)

Remember the true source of good things! Idolatry is always a devotion linked to hopes of receiving services. A sacrifice to one god supposedly makes your crops grow. A sacrifice to another might make you fertile? These are shams! No good gift ever comes from someone besides the LORD! Sacrificing in hopes of wealth and family instead of looking to the LORD is futile. He’s about to prove it to Israel by taking the resources believed to be from these other gods.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her” (2:14)

There’s a beautiful mixture of tough and romantic love in these chapters. The LORD tough-loves me, sometimes, by knocking the stupid thing out of my hand to which I’ve become overly attached. He romantic-loves me when He can get me alone, undivided attention, and remind me of a few things:

  • His track record of faithfulness (2:15)
  • His deep and complete knowledge of every part of me (2:16)
  • His grace and kindness which depends on His character and not my own (2:17)
  • His power over all creation (2:18)
  • His promise of pursuit (2:19)
  • His hopes for my future (2:20)
  • His hopes for the world (2:21)
  • His assurance in Himself to complete everything He’s promised (2:22-23)

He is awe-inspiring. His love is unmatched in this universe. His kindness is the purest form of beauty.

Do you experience both? Which are you most familiar with? Our perspectives are limited. God’s Love and pursuit of you is real, no matter how distant, punished or neglected you feel. Consider, with me, where do we position our sacrifices. Where are we putting our faith? What are we holding onto, hoping He won’t notice and tough-love us about?

Take time alone, with the LORD, and go through these reminders. He will amaze you.

-Bethany

Lamentations 3-5

Isn’t chapter 3 great? I come to it when I’m overwhelmed by emotions, whether it’s shame, grief, guilt or just unexplained sorrow.

It reminds us that God is good, even in suffering.

“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” 3:23

He is a Good Father, disciplining us out of his love for us and through his perfect mercy.

“For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.” 3:31-33 (Okay, if these people can have the faith to come to that conclusion in the midst of life-crushing consequences, we all can.)

It points us towards repentance. 

“…why should we, mere humans, complain when we are punished for our sins? Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord. “ 3:39-40

God’s mercies are new every morning. We start fresh with him when we repent. He doesn’t hold things over our heads or punish us for forgiven sins. Come to him, repent and put on his forgiveness.

This is how we should respond to other people’s sin as well. Don’t let sin snowball. Forgive them and offer new mercies every day. 

Tomorrow we will start the book of Hosea!

 

-Carly