Thursday, July 28, 2016

Highlights from Hosea (part one of two)



In case you haven't heard the shouts of joy from my house, let me share my good news. After fifteen weeks of mostly twelve to fourteen hour days and 330 pages of text, I have written THE END on the Hosea study. In a way, those are my two favorite words because they mean I'm moving on to another project. In another way, they're my least favorite words because they mean the long process of edits will soon begin.

For today, I'm celebrating that the hard work has finally culminated in a completed project. As part of that celebration, I'm sharing a few of my favorite truths from the study. 

In case you don't remember, Hosea was a prophet toward the end of the Northern Kingdom. (The Ten Tribes/Israel) Israel was apostate during his ministry, with rampant idolatry and immorality. Their nation looked much like ours does now. 

There was so much sin mingled with the truth of their religion that it rendered it nothing more than a sham. The people twisted the things of God until their relationship with God was nonexistent, and the tenets of their faith were unrecognizable.

God warned the people through multiple prophets to repent or face judgment. At last, He sent Hosea, who lived his prophecy before the nation by marrying a woman who was a harlot. She behaved toward Hosea as the people of Israel behaved toward God. Hosea loved her, redeemed her, and reconciled with her as God had done with Israel. He was a picture of God's love in living color, but yet His people refused to see the truth lived out before their eyes. 

They chose sin and, by that choice, chose judgment and exile. Their sin cost more than they ever believed they'd pay, and ours will, too.

Here's a few key lessons from the first seven chapters of Hosea:
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God has loved us with an everlasting love, and that love cannot be denied.

If we are to forgive as God forgives, we must relinquish our rights to recall the wounds of others and to use their sin against them. We must let it go in the way we want God to let our sin go. Completely.

Forgiveness doesn't give us amnesia. It gives us a kind of spiritual anesthesia. It removes the power of the wound in our lives to continue to hurt us.

Nothing we can devise and nothing this world can devise will ever save us or gives us the righteousness of Christ Jesus. 

God's goal for us is not comfort. It's holiness.

We cannot be a wholehearted follower of Christ if part of our heart remains in love with the world.

Our breath is not our own. it is a divine gift from God and entrusted to us so that we might praise and honor Him.

Like it or not, we, the body of Christ serve as a kind of bridge to God for those who do not know Him. We live out our faith in front of them, and they draw inferences about God by the way we choose to behave. To love. To condemn. A world is watching for us to show them God by our lives.

Even when our leaders (both civil and religious) fail to lead us in a godly direction, we are still accountable for our own choices and our own sin. 

God's goal is not discipline, but correction. Repentance. Restoration.

We serve a God who is long-suffering, kind, and full of grace and mercy. He is not, however, a push-over. He is serious about sin and its price.

We don't sin because we are powerless to resist, but because we choose not to resist temptation.

Our Lord wants a relationship with us that has the fervor of newlyweds and the depth of a decades-long married couple.

We can take comfort from the enduring love of our Lord. His desire is to purify and restore. If we truly repent, He will  forgive. Every single time.

There'll be more from Hosea tomorrow, but for today, let's ask ourselves if our sin (secret or not) has impaired our relationship with the Lord. Do we have the intimacy God intended? If not, are we willing to let go of our sin to embrace the One who loves us most?

Now is the perfect time to be done with our idolatry and our sin and embrace the holiness and righteousness only Christ can give. A dark and perishing world waits for the body of Christ to purify itself and bring the light of Christ and the hope of our Savior to them before it's too late.
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If you're interested in learning more, it's not too late to do the Hosea study. There's a closed Facebook group (you can be added) for asking questions and receiving encouragement and news, but all you need to do is go to lessonsindiscipleship.blogspot.com and check the archives on the right hand side of the page. 

There's an introduction and fourteen chapters. Most people refer back to the first lesson repeatedly for instructions on accessing online links, but you can do the study without the links. Students tell me they've printed each chapter and used a notebook to write their answers. 

The study is designed for you to work in your place, at your pace. Some people have found the accountability of a weekly group to be helpful, but it's not required. 

I hope you can join us in learning from Hosea.
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In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: Praying Elijah-like Prayer, part 2 and the link to part one: Praying Elijah-like Prayer

Here's the link to the prayer guide: The Prayer List
#Hosea #Biblestudy #indepthBiblestudy #lessonsindiscipleship