Posts tagged ‘Hosea’

Are You Listening?

But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.  Hosea 2:14

It seems as though Israel was in a constant state of rebellion as we read the Old Testament. They were constantly seeking the gods of the people all around them. For some reason they preferred to worship idols much of the time rather than the living God. I don’t know about you, but I can understand that. The idols may be different today, but the struggle is the same – will we worship God or the things of this earth?

I take comfort in the fact that God constantly takes me back to where I need to be, no matter how many times I stray from His side. That’s the point of Hosea. God never gives up on you and me. When He gets our attention, He often takes us back to the desert where He wrote His law on tablets of stone. We think of the law as being a set of rules. We don’t see the love there. But as we read in Hosea 2:14, God tenderly speaks to us in the desert, in His law.

Consider what God said when He gave the law to Israel, “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.” (Exodus 20:1)  That was not a promise, it was a reality. And it can be a reality for each one of us today. There may be nothing more comforting to know than this fact: God pursues you and loves you even when you are sinning. He wants to rescue you. So, what consumes your thoughts throughout the day? What do you fear? What is your addiction? What is the thing you struggle with most? The list is long. It includes things like money, power, position, recognition, attention, sex, to name just a few. 

Today, God promises to take you to the desert, to speak to you through His Word, through other people, through circumstances of life, and through the Holy Spirit. God never gives up on you. He is constantly wooing you, seeking you, calling you, desiring you, and inviting you to the wilderness with Him. It’s kind of like a date with that one special person in your life. God wants to be alone with you and speak to you tenderly. Are you listening? Will you accept His offer today to be alone with Him, away from the distractions of the world? Give yourself a chance to get away from your fears and listen to God. He has something amazing to tell you. It’s the same thing He told the Israelites in there desert place, “You must not have any other god before Me.” (Exodus 20:2) I want to take Him up on His offer. What about you?

Scandalous Love

I recently read a story about Joseph Scriven who wrote the lyrics to the hymn “What a Friend we have in Jesus” in POSTER31855 for his mother who missed him terribly after he had emigrated to Canada. Scriven was an Irishman who left Ireland for Canada after his fiancé died. In Canada he tutored the children of wealthy families. He then got engaged to a woman in Canada, but she also died before their wedding. Grief stricken, Scriven decided he was to remain a bachelor. But he never gave up on loving people. On Saturday nights he would go downtown and distribute Gospel pamphlets to the men coming out of the bars.

One Saturday night in winter Scriven was handing out his tracts and a group of men coming out of a bar decided to beat him up. After leaving him bleeding and lying on the ground they staggered away. As Scriven watched the thugs move away he noticed one of them did not have a winter coat to protect himself from the cold. He hastily got up and caught up to the man, took off his coat and gave it to him.

Would you have done such a thing? I have to admit that I probably would not have even thought to give this man my own coat. After all, he didn’t deserve it. A situation becomes a scandal when it violates people’s expectations about how a person in a certain position is supposed to behave. We generally think of it in a negative way such as a politician who takes bribes, or a teacher abuses children. But it was a scandalous love displayed by Scriven. And it is scandalous love that Jesus demonstrated by taking on human form to save you and me. We celebrate this love at Christmas. Yes, it seems to me that the Christmas story is the ultimate display of a scandalous love. 

But God’s love for us didn’t begin at Christmas. He has always loved us with a scandalous love. We often fail to understand just how scandalous God’s love for us is, and how radical it is that God would show that love by lowering himself to be born in human form. His scandalous love is on full display in the story of Hosea where we read: 

Hosea 2:2-3 (CEB) When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, marry a prostitute and have children of prostitution, for the people of the land commit great prostitution by deserting the LORD . ” So Hosea went and took Gomer, Diblaim’s daughter, and she became pregnant and bore him a son.”

 

Hosea 3:1 (TNIV) The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

Christmas is the heralding of God who comes to be with us. God is the one who pursues. The Incarnation is the revelation of God’s scandalous love affair with humanity. Do you trust God’s promise to redeem your life? To love you and want your love in return, no matter what kind of mess your life has been? To whom or in what way can you show “scandalous” love this holiday season because of God’s great love shown to you?

 

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