Hosea 7:1-16 – Totally Lost

Read Hosea 7:1-16

Despite Hosea’s plea of the last chapter to return to God, the people remain totally lost. The tendency here would be to say: that was then and this is now. But can we really say that? I don’t think so. I think people today are just as lost as they were then. There must be something about human nature that keeps us all lost like this. Selfishness? Arrogance? What is it do you think?

No one cries to God for help, it says in verse 7. How true is that today. I heard not long ago about a Facebook Live that depicted a murder. As it was happening. Do you think anyone reported it? Sad to say there were MANY views (I don’t remember the number now but it was a lot more than any Facebook Live I’ve every done has ever gotten). But nobody reported it. What is wrong with us?

It’s easy to compare ourselves to them and say, “well, I’m not that bad.” Don’t do this. We can get complacent if we rest on our laurels, even for a moment. We need to be warriors for God. Maybe that means we rally in prayer. Maybe that means we head to the front lines and wrestle with people who prefer wicked behavior. But we can’t turn our eyes away!0

One verse that really jumped out at me in this passage was verse 2. It’s a good reminder to know that God is watching us. He sees it all. We cannot hide. We are all sinful, and we are all caught up in something that displeases God in some way. We may not even be aware…but God is. Our unawareness is sinful.  

How many times do I look at my own sinfulness and compare it to others? That isn’t the point.  My sinfulness is mine, and I must claim it, seek forgiveness for it, and be cleansed. Someone else’s sins are just that, someone else’s. How much should I get involved? To the extent that others might need to know the loving, compassionate, forgiving God that I know. That is what is up to me – to let them know the truth, not judge their need for forgiveness.

Take a moment to think about the people you know in your circle of friends and acquaintances. Does anyone stand out as really needing to cleanse their heart? Who do you think of that is lost and apart from God?

Let’s pray. Lord, we are all thinking of someone who is lost and apart from you. Lord shower those persons with your love and mercy. Open their hearts to realize they are missing you. Guide us to those folks with a eagerness to share your message. With open ears may they hear and be found. Lord use us to make an impact on your kingdom. Give us the refreshment we need to be good soldiers and warriors for you. Equip us with what we need and wash our fears away. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hosea 6:1-11 – Repentance

Read Hosea 6:1-11

So much to say here.  Hosea is trying to convince a hard-hearted people to return to the Lord. Enough is enough. No more idols. It’s time to know the Lord. To do that, we must press on. How do we do this? How do we get to know the Lord. Hosea’s people were probably thinking the same thing.

We need to meet God where we are. We might be completely dirty and covered with the grime of sin. That’s okay. We should not hide behind that excuse, as a naughty child hides from a parent after misbehaving, afraid for the spanking or ashamed for the act. We need to press on and meet God now, not wait until we are perfect. We cannot be perfect. We can only be “better” when we become new in Christ and learn to be more like him. We have to get to know God before we can be more like him.

Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we will ever have. Sometimes we find it hard to communicate with someone so mighty and powerful. After all, our God is the creator of the universe. How do we ever begin to get to know him?

I’m sure you’ve met people in your life that are wicked smart and you’re afraid to talk to them that you might say something dumb. I know this first hand. I married the man of my dreams who scared the living daylights out of me at first — how could anything I say be of any relevance to him. But I pressed on. God knew we needed each other. God knows we ALL need him.

So what are some action steps we can take to press on and know God more? It is dependent on us to wait, to listen, and to hear the message he has for us. Don’t allow yourself to get so busy and focused on “doing” that you forget to just “listen.” A good, healthy relationship is one where there is communication going both directions.  

The Lord clearly reveals his heart to the people through Hosea in verse 6. He wants us to show love, not give burnt offerings.  How often do we try to throw money at things rather than get in and get our hands dirty? It’s the easy way out. Giving a burnt offering to get release from sin is what the people of that day understood as the way to go. But here, at least, God is clearly done with that practice. He wants our love instead. He has been shut out of their lives and abandoned. Love will restore. There is so much more satisfaction out of being loved. God wants our love in return for the love he so freely gives us.

Let’s pray. Father God, I rejoice in you today. I lift your name on high and give you praise for all that you are doing in my life. I do yearn to know you more, to really understand your heart for your people. Help me to fathom the immensity of it all, and yet the beauty that you desire my love. My love is yours. Help me to be totally devoted to you in all I say and do. Bring those people into my life that need to know you more so that I can show them the way. Forgive me for my distractions. Prepare my heart for your message to me today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Hosea 5:1-15 – Hey Leaders!

Read Hosea 5:1-15

Some readings are easier than others, and today’s was not an easy one. Can’t you just sense God’s pain in the midst of what his people are doing? Have you ever felt betrayed or abused in any way? It’s not a comfortable feeling, and here we see how God’s anger is playing out.

Priests, leaders and warriors, everyone was in the scope of the curse. We see time and time again of the disobedience of God’s people. They are worshiping idols. Did you like how I said “they”. We are just as guilty aren’t we? Our idols may not be made of wood or gold, but we have them.

Think of an idol as that thing you think of or do that keeps you from thinking of and serving God. What are you pursuing – more money, more fame, or God’s mercy? What are you doing – watching TV, playing video games, or spending time getting to know God?

False worship is another trap. Today we have so many popular self help materials and “spiritual” guides. Too many of these types of things are just there to help us “feel good”, not build a relationship with our creator. When God is left out of the equation of our lives, we are in the trap of idolatry. Don’t be deceived by this. God gave us his word as our instruction book, as his love letter to us. Don’t let the words of man take God’s place.

I’m not a fan of the trouble our passage today speaks about. I don’t want God’s anger to cover me as a waterfall, or be torn to bits by the fangs of a lion, or to be destroyed as a moth consumes wool. Not pleasant pictures to be sure. I prefer to see myself cuddled up in my Savior’s arms with the assurance that I am safe, loved, and have made him proud of my life and my choices.

So what about you? Are you feeling a little uneasy right now? Do these words of destruction rattle you a little? They may be revealing something deep down that has been haunting you or causing you to feel guilty. Get it out. Unleash the turmoil inside. Put your trust in the loving and forgiving God.

Let’s pray. Father God. Thank you for this reminder of the fury in you that rages when we are disobedient and put our trust in the world. Forgive me for times when I have not put my full focus on you or your will for me. May I sense a calming in my soul as I rest in you. I want my life to please you. I want praise to be on my lips from the moment I wake until the moment I sleep. Refresh me today, and open m y eyes to the possibilities that lie before me. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Hosea 4:1-19 – Charges Against Us

Read Hosea 4:1-19

In this Chapter we are hearing of God’s case against Israel. If brought to trial, what has Israel done to break God’s law and his heart. How are they destroying themselves like a forest fire devours?

I might take this a step further. What have we done to break God’s law and his heart? I don’t know one person who is sinless (other than Jesus, of course). I know many who would like you to think they are. Really, though, deep down, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. What’s sad are the many people who don’t know what they need. Look at verse 6, My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.” We are called to help get the word out.

As I read through the charges here against Israel, I couldn’t help but think of our crumbling world today. Something eerie about some of the similarities. Do we need a Hosea to come speak to us? I’m not sure people would listen any better today than they did in Hosea’s day. The job of a prophet was difficult. People pleasers, like me, would never survive being a prophet.

Let’s look at verse 4, “Don’t point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.” Sobering. The priests were trying to point fingers! I think many of us can remember our own childhood sibling rivalry, or even in our own children. Imagine standing over a shattered vase of great importance. What child would put up their hand and say, “it was me”. More often fingers get pointed, and blame passed around before the real truth comes out.

If we feel like we are better than others, like the priests must have been thinking, we need to stop. We are not better. We may not even be all that good. But we are good enough. God loves us no matter what we have done, what we are thinking, etc.

God’s love knows no boundaries. That’s a good thing when I think of some of the not so wonderful things I’ve done in my life. I’m sure you’ve got things too, if you were honest with yourself. But those less savory choices have made me who I am today. I learned from those mistakes. God did not waste those hurts at all. Now, if I can turn and help someone else get through their time of trial, I am equipped. I am ready.

Was there a verse in today’s charges that spoke to your heart? Think through how Hosea’s message came alive for you today.

Let’s pray:  Lord, I pray for those who don’t know you. Their lives are crumbling around them and they don’t know it. They don’t know the power you give, the love you pour out, the forgiveness and peace. Lord help me to see with your eyes and help me bring them back to you. Show me how you want to use me. I stand ready, willing and able to be your soldier of peace. Give me wisdom. Thank you for the peace that fills my heart. Thank you for your great sacrifice and what that means for me. You are so welcome in my heart, and I love the joy of having you there. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Hosea 3:1-5 – Reconciled

Read Hosea 3:1-5

Poor Hosea. Sometimes being used by God isn’t easy.

If you’re following the text with us, you know that out of obedience Hosea has married a prostitute and had children with her. To reflect God’s relationship with Israel, Hosea allows her to go out on him and now accepts her back, after doing who knows what with who knows who. Yet, he must stay apart from her still. Reconciliation is here. Forgiveness is coming.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for his wife either. Gomer is silent, we don’t hear her side of things. We can only imagine what it was like for her. True dysfunction. Does she know any different? Does she realize God is using her as a teachable moment for his beloved Israel? What a great picture of how God gave Israel a second chance (and 3rd and 4th). Likewise, he continues to give us second chances.

I love the part of v. 5 that says, they will “tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.” I want to focus on that message today. May I “tremble” at the Lord’s goodness.

I look out my window and see the beautiful blue sky. I am blessed to live in a place that is sunny most of the time. Even though we are in “rainy season”, it rains mostly at night, and boy does that make for cozy sleeping. Long gone are the days of below zero temperatures, but that’s the picture I get when I think of “trembling”. Physical shaking and shivering, but in this case, because of the awe I feel for God.

Take a moment to close your eyes and just breathe in and out. Let your mind focus on God and what he is telling you today. Don’t you just shiver a little to know that the God of the universe has a message for you today? Rest in his love until you feel that tingle and know you have heard from your creator.

Let’s pray. Father, God, I give you thanks for giving me a “do-over” when I don’t get it right. Thank you for being such a loving God. How much you loved me when you sent your son,  Jesus, to live like me, hurt like me, and dream like me. What a sacrifice to take on my sins and die for me, I am in awe. Watch over me today. Guide all I say and do. Make me more like Jesus as I serve and love others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.