As I open the pages of Hosea in the Bible, my intention is to study this beautiful--and, honestly, sorta strange--book in God's word so I can dwell more on His amazing love and mercy. How easy it is for me to switch into 'judgment mode' or to be critical of others, especially my children. Yet, God's love and mercy challenges me. Does He ignore my sin? Of course not. But, the way He deals with us is patient and full of a lovingkindness that is often foreign in me. I know I respond to this kind of love in a way that I don't respond to a critical, merciless demand. And this has challenged me greatly in recent months. I have been praying that the Holy Spirit would fill me so that I look more like Him when others are struggling spiritually, and that I look more like Him when I've been sinned against, and that I look more like Him when I do need to discipline or correct another.
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I've found. --Thy Mercy My God
In March 2015 I wrote a post on this blog that I wanted to share again. It goes along well with the things God is currently teaching me and I hope it can be a benefit to you as well.
A Love That Will Never Let Us Go
In studying the book of Hosea, I've been struck by the great redeeming love of God toward His own, Israel. His love is a love that will not let go. This love redeems those in bondage, it cleanses those in filth and it saves those who are lost. Israel didn't get it, though. Even though God provided for them in countless ways through the years, Israel turned away from God and broke covenant with Him. As they divided their hearts between worshipping the One True God and the Baals, the false gods, our Jehovah became rightly jealous for He had proclaimed that there should be no worship of other gods than Him. The Creator, the Lover of their souls, had every right to demand full devotion from His children, yet they spurned this love for their idols.
Considering Israel's wanderings convicts me. For those who profess Jesus Christ as Lord, the book of Ephesians tells us that we too are His chosen people, His own. The book of Hosea applies to me, applies to us in the Church, and we must listen. God's rebukes and warnings to Israel were kind and merciful for they revealed where they were idolatrous and adulterous. When our sins are revealed, it hurts. It feels shameful. It's embarrassing. Yet, there is a greater purpose...and that is to return us back to our First Love, our One and Only.
Have you considered how you are prone to wander and leave the One you love? What comes before God? Who, or what, grabs your attention when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night?
Who are your gods and lovers?
"Wait a minute here", you may be thinking. "Little 'g' gods, yes. Idols, okay. I'll admit that, but...lovers...?"
How common, even somewhat respectable, to say that we have idols in our lives. Something we spend a lot of time doing or watching or thinking about, something that we want to stress as super important in our lives--> we may freely say they are our idols. We name a TV show, American Idol. Idols are disconnected from our feelings, though. Whether they're little wooden statues or some abstract concept, we can tend to disconnect our hearts from them. We don't think of them as lovers--good grief!
Yet, as Gomer, the harlot who was chosen to be the wife of righteous Hosea the prophet, chased her lovers and rejected her husband, Israel did the same to God. And we do the same to God.
Isn't it a different ball of wax to say that my devotion to the internet is a lover instead of an idol? That my need to control the situations in my life is a lover instead of an idol? There's an explicit feeling involved when we say "lover". Someone (or something) is in bed with me and he doesn't belong there. That's a lover. Yet, this is precisely what is happening when I choose to exalt my fear instead of trusting God. Or when I disobey God's commands and refuse to walk out in the good works He has prepared for me to do...and instead chase after selfish pursuits of my own.
Make God your everything. Reserve nothing from Him. Return to your First Love. His love will never let us go. Stop chasing after things that entice us away from Him--destroy your idols, reject your lovers and see the futility of following other gods.
Jesus Christ, the Lover of your soul, died on the cross for His own. Do you profess Him as Lord of all? Romans 10: 9 tells us this:
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Does this apply to you? If so, embrace Him fully as He divinely embraces you with a perfect love.