Prepare For Hosea!

Happy Monday, Dear Ones! We are only two and a half weeks out from our first classes for the study of Hosea. I wanted to send out a couple of reminders and a bit of instruction so that we are all prepared for our first class on  Wednesday, September 4th (10 am & 6:30 pm).

First and foremost— if you have not yet signed up online, please do! It’s as simple as clicking HERE.

Next— Be sure to pick up your study book in the church office. There is no sign-up sheet in the office, just get your book so that you can prepare for our first class. You may pay when you pick up your book or when you come to class ($9 apiece), whichever works best for you.

How do you prepare, you ask?

I’m glad you asked! To prepare for our first class, simply read and complete Week 1: Overview, (pages 7-10) in your study book. How simple is that?

Finally, last week Dr. Chuck Betters (husband to Sharon, our conference speaker for Flourish, 2020) wrote a beautiful overview of Hosea for Daily Treasures, Sharon’s daily online devotional. I was certainly blessed to read it, and I’m sharing it here in hopes that you too will be blessed. If you haven’t discovered this gem of a devotional, I highly recommend it. You may subscribe by clicking HERE.

 

The Marriage From Hell Made in Heaven

When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD. Hosea 1:2

Reading the Prophets in the Old Testament can become painful if you are looking for hope and the sentimentalism of a God of love and mercy. As I began studies in Hosea I was quickly reminded at how the love of God can get lost in the muck and mire of His judgments upon a nation steeped in idolatry. Chapter after chapter reverberates with the message that God is ticked at the nation of Israel that had bowed its knee to Baal. Verse after verse, like a dripping faucet, warns of the wrath of God where He says in essence, “Because you have done that, I will do this.” Is there anything in this little book of Hosea that gives hope?

Hosea was a northern prophet, where he spent anywhere from 30 to 50 years preaching to a nation that only had a short time to live. In fact, at the close of Hosea’s ministry, Assyria invaded Israel and deported most of them and then intermarried with the rest to dilute any vestiges of Israel’s monotheism. They became the Samaritans of the New Testament, despised by the Jews, considered to be half-breeds and called “the dogs”.

Hosea’s Israel can be described as Charles Dickens did in “The Tale of Two Cities” – It was the best of times… it was the worst of times. They had a booming economy, a powerful army and had secured many of the lands around them. But, they had a deadly flaw – they sought to merge their faith in Yahweh with the religions of their neighbors who worshipped Baal, the nature god who promised them good crops, bountiful food supplies and material prosperity. Israel bought into that lie and eventually melted into the slime of idolatry.

In order to preach his message, Hosea was instructed by God to become a living sermon illustration of God’s infinite love by marrying a whore named Gomer. This woman would devastate Hosea’s life over and over again by rejecting his love and returning to her role as a sacred prostitute. She and Hosea conceived one child together while she and other men conceived two others. The names she gave them serves as a backdrop to the rest of the book, a son named “God will judge,” a daughter named, “no mercy,” and a son named “not my people”. Talk about depressing.

Loose living abounded. We read of drunkenness (Hosea 7:3-7), armed robbery, adultery and murder. The leadership of the nation was corrupt (Hosea 4:1-2, 5:1-2, 6:6, 6:9, 7:1, 7:6-7). The underlying cause of all of this was corrupt religion. People worshipped the Baals. This meant sexual deviance cloaked the worship of Yahweh. They consulted spirits (Hosea 4:12) and imbibed drugs. The people must repent and turn to God (Hosea 6:1-6), said Hosea, and live in mercy and righteousness (Hosea 6:6). But they will never do so voluntarily. They must be chastised and then there will be a way for their returning and finding salvation (Hosea 1:16, 3:5, 3:14).

The age was characterized by violent crime, religious compromise and hypocrisy, ungodly alliances with heathen nations, open acceptance of sexual sin that called evil good and good evil, social injustice, political division and selfish arrogance that marked them as a nation in love with idolatry, and a social injustice where the faithful were the persecuted ones.

Can you see the parallels to our own nation today? How have we allowed the pagan culture around us via spiritual osmosis to slip into our churches? This is a warning to believers today. We must never allow the teachings of the Bible to pass through our minds without allowing them to change our lives. Otherwise, if we permit these teachings to hit against our hearts but not to change our lives, we develop spiritual calluses. Our end will be as inevitable as Israel’s. Our enemy — Satan — would soon sweep into our lives and entangle us in the chains of this world. As was true for Israel, we have a way of escape. It is through repentance and the applying of God’s Word to our lives.

There is so much more to this little book that is rich with repeated judgment warnings, but even greater is the powerful description of God’s broken heart and unending love for His people.

PRAYER

Oh Lord, may we learn from those who came before us, may we experience Your unending love for us even when we repent of those times we choose sin over Your righteousness.

Originally posted at Daily Treasures August 13, 2019

Blessings to each and every one of you.

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 14

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:1-12)


In our passage this week, John brings together the strands of right belief in Jesus Christ, love for God and one another, and obedience to God’s commands and weaves them into a single tapestry of assurance for believers. As we’ve read through the epistle to this point we’ve seen that these three tests of assurance must work together, and now John will draw them together, that we may know that we have the victory that overcomes the world—our faith. “What John is at pains to show is the essential unity of his threefold thesis. He has not chosen three tests arbitrarily or at random and stuck them together artificially. On the contrary, he shows that they are so closely woven together into a single, coherent fabric that it is difficult to unpick and disentangle the threads.”[1] Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 14”

Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 12

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6)

In our passage this week, John returns to the doctrinal test with an exhortation for us not to believe everything we hear taught about Jesus. A Christian who believes by faith all that is good and true, even if difficult, as taught in the Holy Scriptures, is strong, because the word of God abides in her, and she overcomes the evil one (2:14). A gullible Christian, however, who believes everything that “feels” right and sincere, without the scrutiny of Scripture, is unsteady, and therefore vulnerable to the faith-undermining attacks of the enemy. Continue reading “Fellowship With God; Confidence in Christ, Lesson 12”

Fellowship With God: Confidence in Christ, Lesson 10

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 2:28-3:10)

Continue reading “Fellowship With God: Confidence in Christ, Lesson 10”