Hosea- Week Fifteen

This week’s reading Hosea 14Isaiah 61:1-4Psalm 52

I remember when God first laid it on my heart that I would be ‘leading’ a study on Hosea. 

I begged for any other book in the Bible. I didn’t know Hosea. I wasn’t comfortable talking to anyone about Hosea, but He was adamnet. And if I’ve learned anything over my walk with Christ, it’s that sometimes you just gotta trust Him. 

What a fitting way to end the book of Hosea. Especially in regards to what’s been going on in my life. 

When my ex husband walked out on me in October 2015, I was determined to find love.

At any cost.

I wanted it. I was desperate for it. I craved it. 

I prayed for it.

For over a year, I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t answering me the way I wanted. 

Until I found myself spending new year’s alone. 

I had big plans for the New Year. I had an idea of what it was going to look like. 

But instead, I stayed at home, took a bath, and soaked in the silence. 

It was then that I got it. 

That love that I had so desperately craved for. It was Him.

The feeling of someone loving me in spite of all my brokenness. It was Him.

Oh, I looked for that love everywhere else. 

Everywhere else.

But it was always Him. 

And even if I wasn’t sure, here it is again. As we conclude the book of Hosea and this study. 

Not only did He have me lead on a study about love, but perhaps the greatest love story of all. 

The love He has for us. The kind you can’t earn. The kind you can’t run away from. The kind that just sort of grabs you when you least expect it. 

Because no matter what we do. No matter how much we might not want it. No matter how far we run from it. 

He’s always going to love us. 

Because, if Hosea has taught us anything, it’s that that’s just who He is. 

He is love. And for some crazy reason, He can’t help but love us. 

Lord, thank you for loving us. Thank you for loving us even on the hard days. Thank you for never letting us have anything to do with whether or not you love us. Thank you for being the only constant we can count on. Lord, I pray that anyone who reads these words will know just how loved they are by you. Even on the worst days. Because Lord, your love is unfailing. Your love is constant. And your love is exactly what we crave, even if we don’t know it. I pray these things in your name. Amen. 

Hosea-Week Fourteen

This week’s reading Hosea 13Acts 4:11-121 Corinthians 15:54-56

Okay, is anyone else reading this and thinking ‘Seriously, Israel? Like you still don’t get it?!’

Yeah, me too. 

Or at least I was, until I realized that even on my good days, I still don’t get it. 

Oh, me and Israel have so much in common. More than I’d really care to admit. What about you? 

Yeah, I thought so.

I’m going to share something that I’m not proud of. Something that makes my skin crawl when I even think about it, but it’s something that I think He wants me to share. 

To acknowledge.

Sometimes being a Christian is one of the easiest ‘get out of jail free’ cards there is. 

At least for me.

I can screw up without really having to think about the consequences. Because, well, I’m forgiven. 

If things get tough, I can beg Him to make it better. 

Even if those tough things are my choice. 

Or when life is going good and I don’t think I need Him at all. 

That’s not what this is all about. He doesn’t want that. He wants us. 

He wants the whole package. 

Recently, I started dating someone new. You guys, he’s amazing. He is everything that I could have ever wanted. 

And he’s even things I had no idea I wanted.

See, nothing else felt right before. Oh, I had met some really nice guys. And I desperately wanted things to workout, but they never did. 

Why was that? 

Because they weren’t the whole package. 

If we really want to have a relationship with God. And I mean an actual relationship, not just a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Not just someone to bail us out when we get into trouble. Not just someone we put away when things are going good. But an actual, whole kind of package, relationship with God, we have to include Him in everything. 

We already talked about how much He loves us. We already see that He will never stop pursuing us. Even if it doesn’t make sense, even if we can’t understand it, we can accept it. 

So then it’s our turn. We make the decision to have that relationship. We see how silly Israel looks. We’ve rolled our eyes over and over at the mistakes they keep making, pretending that we would know better, but do we? 

Because I’d like to think that I wouldn’t make the same mistakes as Israel, but given my track record, I’d say we’re pretty much neck and neck. 

But the difference? I get to read about it. I get to see it. God has given me a glimpse into what I need to do to not make the same kinds of mistakes. 

I get His word. 

So now I’m going to give Him this relationship. 

Not because I have to. Because it doesn’t matter what I do. God is God. And He will love me in spite of. But I’m doing it because of that. Because He loves me in spite of. And when you realize just how much He loves you. You can’t help, but to want to love Him back. 

You know, and (try to) be the whole package. 

Lord, I already know I’m going to mess up. There are going to be days when I think I don’t need you. And there are going to be days when I desperately call out your name when I’ve screwed something up. But my prayer to you today, is that those days are few and far between. Help me to be the whole package, Lord. Remind me that I need you. Every hour I need you. In your name, Amen.

Hosea- Week Thirteen

This week’s reading Hosea 12Psalm 135:13Isaiah 63:11-14

“Do you ever feel like you’ve drifted too far from God to ever come back?”

I’ve been there. 

Oh, how I have been there. 

I would like for you to believe that the woman you think I am, the woman behind these words who is always (at least always trying to) encouraging you to be better. Encouraging you to keep pushing through. The woman who is telling you just how much God loves you. The woman who is forgiving and graceful and humble and who just wants to be used by Him to show you who He really is. I wish I had always been this woman. 

But I haven’t.

The reason I can say these things to you. The reason I can let Him use me. The reason I can love you unconditionally the way He loves me, is because I have been lost. I have drifted. And I have needed my own kind of rescuing. 

I have done some very shameful things in my day. Things I will never admit. Thankfully, we talked about them and we don’t have to talk about them again because He has forgiven me. 

But I have done some things that I’m not sure I would have forgiven. 

But that’s the enemy. That’s the enemy trying to convince us that there’s no way He can actually forgive us. That what we have done is the worst. 

And we believe him. 

Because that’s how our minds work. We cannot fathom how He can love us unconditionally. We just can’t. Even those of us who think they get it, can’t. Because that’s not how we work. 

When someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. When someone lies to us, we want to stop talking to them. We cannot imagine that we would have a relationship with someone if they kept hurting us and betraying us. 

‘Enough is enough,’ we would say. 

But not Him. (Can I get an ‘Amen’!) 

Thank gosh, not Him.

He doesn’t care how far we’ve strayed. He doesn’t care how dark our secrets are. He doesn’t care how ashamed we are. There is absolutely NOTHING that we could do to ever make Him stop loving us.

No matter how lost we are. No matter how much of a lost cause we are.

See, the focus isn’t on us. It’s not on our sin. Or on our brokenness. It was never about us. Again, that’s the enemy. He wants us to think it’s about us. But it isn’t. 

It’s about Him. It has always been about Him. 

So do me a favor. Go back through Hosea this week. Read what we’ve read so far, but this time, focus on Him. His part in the story. It’s easy to relate to the ‘bad guys’. Trust me, I get it. But look at what He’s doing in this story. 

Because when you see just how much He loves you, you’ll never feel lost again. 

Lord, thank you. Thank you for loving us. Thank you that there is nothing we could ever do to make you change your mind. Lord, may we realize just what it means to be loved by you. 

Hosea- Week Twelve

This week’s reading Hosea 11John 6:32-40Matthew 23:37

It’s been awhile since I’ve done our Hosea study. With Christmas and the holidays it was easy for me to get lost in my own life. To neglect certain responsibilities. To not listen when He was talking. To distract myself with anything else. 

So is it any wonder that today, I would read what we just read?

I have felt so lost in this life. Just wandering around. Aimlessly. I have felt so forgotton. So neglected. So disappointed. So let down. Anyone else know what I’m talking about? 

You just kind of feel like you’re existing. You’re doing whatever it takes to keep it going. To keep your head above the water. To keep all your plates spinning. 

Yep, that’s me. Well, that was me. I still have days like that, but when I focus on the truth, His word, I don’t have to feel those things. 

As I read this chapter in Hosea, at first I focused on the lost. I wanted to scream out to the Israelites. To tell them to stop wandering around. 

Wake up! 

But then I read it again and it wasn’t the Israelites who had my attention. It was Him. His love and His faithfulness. 

Do y’all see that? I don’t know why. I could never explain it to you. I can’t even explain it to myself. But for some reason. He really does love us. 

Completely. 

No matter how far we stray, He’s there. No matter how dark our lives look, He’s there. When we feel so lost, He’s there. No matter what we do, He’s there. 

And He’s not there so He can make us feel bad. He’s not there to judge us. He’s not there to tell us how terrible we are. 

He’s simply there to love us. 

Unconditionally. 

I will not vent the full fury of My anger; 

I will not turn back to destroy Ephraim.

For I am God and not man,

the Holy One among you;

I will not come in rage. 

As we’ve read through Hosea so far, perhaps your attention, like mine, has been on the Israelites. We relate to them. We understand them. But what this passage shows me is that it isn’t about them. It never was. It was about Him and His love for His children. 

You guys, I have a hard time loving someone who has hurt me, who has betrayed me. When people don’t live up to my expectation of how they should it can be very easy for me to want to seek revenge. To avenge my name. To show them they were wrong. 

But God? We hurt Him day in and day out. We walk away from Him. We turn our backs on Him. We give anything and everything credit for the things that only He can do. We call it ‘luck’ or ‘coincedence’ or ‘hard work’. 

And yet, He never leaves us. He never has enough and just walks away. 

He just loves us.

Because even when we’re lost, He never loses us. 

Lord, Thank you for this. Thank you that even though I cannot understand it, I can see it. I can feel your love for us. Despite of who we are or what we’ve done. Lord, thank you for never losing us. Lord, let this a be a reminder to us that you will never leave our side. Let it be a reminder that in spite of everything else, you will always love us. Whether or not we understand what that means exactly. I pray these things in your name and for your honor and glory, Amen.

Hosea- Week Eleven

This week’s reading Hosea 10Matthew 11:28Psalm 25:12-22

It was like I had never understood Him the way I finally did last Sunday morning. I still have goosebumps.

Last year, I finally read the bible. Cover to cover. It was amazing. I had never read the bible and actually avoided much of the Old Testament because I just couldn’t understand how it applied to my life, more on that later, but even though I had read all the verses in the bible, I missed something. 

I don’t know about you, but as we’re making our way through Hosea I feel like I am constantly being scolded. Constantly reminded of my shortcomings. Constantly reminded that I am just not good enough. And yet, the entire story of Hosea is God’s love story to us. His ‘wooing’ of us. 

I don’t get it.

Because in my mind, everyone, including God, has limits. We all have only so much we can take. 

That’s why my husband left. 

That’s why I haven’t been very lucky in the dating world. 

We can only take so much. 

Now, let me back up for a minute. 

Sunday morning as I was listening to the sermon being preached by the man who married me and my ex. A man who I avoided for a long time after coming back to North Carolina because I was embarrassed and ashamed. (See what He did there?) He read a verse and it was at that moment that something ‘clicked’. 

He doesn’t have limits. (Thank goodness for that.) And while the book of Hosea has been a constant reminder that I am just not good enough for any of this, the verse my good friend read changed it all. 

For he who is mighty has done greats things for me, and holy is his name. Luke 1:49

Let that sink in for a minute and I pray that it hits you the way it hit me. 

I know it can be hard to read these words from Hosea. I know that it can make us want to run away and hide. I know that it can make us feel like nothing but a failure, but you guys, here it is in that verse. He has done great things for me! Not because we deserve it. Not because He has to. But because He loves us. As is. He looks at us and sees His perfect children. 

Not because we are, but because He is. 

Yes, these verses in Hosea are hard to read right now. And yes, when you think about how much He loves you and how short you fall, it can be defeating, but that’s where I want you to cling to this verse in Luke and be reminded that none of that matters. Because He has done great things for you. 

The truth about sin is that it will lead to consequences. And that isn’t something we like to talk about. But when you realize just how much He loves you. Just how much He has done for you. And just how much He will never give up on you, well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t help, but to want to do better. I can’t help, but to want to love more. 

I can’t help, but to want to be even closer to Him. 

And my prayer this week is that you feel the exact same way. 

Lord, thank you for constantly pursuing us. For never giving up on us and even in your lessons of sin and discipline you have mercy on us because you love us that much. Thank you for constantly ‘wooing’ us. Despite our brokenness. Despite the times we turn our backs on you. Thank you for doing those mighty things for us. Lord, may every person who is reading this truly understand what it means to be loved by you. I pray these things in your name and for your honor and glory. Amen.

Hosea- Week Ten

This week’s reading Hosea 9, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Psalm 51:1-12

I remember when I would read verses like these and wonder how in the world people could claim this God character as a ‘loving’ God. 

I didn’t get it. 

I would read these verses and argue that I just couldn’t accept this barbaric God. His standards were too much for me. I couldn’t fit into what He wanted me to be. And I wasn’t even bad yet. 

As a 14 year old girl, I struggled with this God from this part of the bible. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like Him. 

That’s when I left. Well, the beginning of it. I left. I didn’t like what He had to say and so I stopped listening. I quickly became the devil’s advocate. Constantly picking apart believers and pushing them into corners where I knew there was no answer they would ever give me that would change my mind. 

I watched them squirm and fail, time after time. And each time, I felt victorious. 

My point had been proven. 

And the truth is, I would have been right, except for one thing. Jesus.

He was the game-changer. 

You see, in these very harsh, barbaric verses in Hosea we feel God’s frustration. The Israelites had no desire to be saved. They were just fine doing their own thing. God was the last person on their mind. And it would seem that He had had just about enough. 

And I don’t know about you, but I still find myself relating to the Israelites. Wandering around. Lost, most days. Constantly looking to everything else, but Him to give me what only He can give.

And the truth is, not everyone is going to have that relationship with Him. Some people just won’t believe. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. And even those of us who do believe, still struggle with the same things, day in and day out. Because we believe doesn’t make us perfect. It doesn’t make it easy. It just makes us believers. 

So thank goodness, these chapters in Hosea aren’t where it ends for us. Thank goodness, this mean, barbaric, angry God had a soft side. Thank goodness that He knew we couldn’t do it on our own. We would never be able to do it on our own. Thank goodness that He really is a loving, compassionate, caring God who only wants a relationship with us. 

So now, as I read these verses. I don’t see the mean, angry God that I just couldn’t understand. Instead, I see the God who is so desperately in love with me and can’t imagine losing me. And my prayer for you this week, is that you see Him too.

Lord, thank you. Thank you for being so patient with me even 18 years ago. Thank you for never letting me out of your sight. Thank you for not only loving me, but for loving me so much that it doesn’t always make sense. Lord, I pray that those reading this and reading those verses will come away with a new sense of just how loved they are. Lord, thank you for being so good and for sending your only son to die for our sins so that we might have that relationship with you. Thank you Lord. Thank you for knowing exactly what we need before we even willing to admit it ourselves. Lord, I pray these things in your name, Amen.


Hosea- Week Eight

This week’s reading Hosea 7:3-16Galatians 6:6-10Romans 9:22-24

I can’t help but think what perfect timing for today’s study, with the election and all, that is happening as I type this, because for once, I’m not writing something up early Wednesday morning, but instead, here I am, laying in bed, working on our study the night before. 

I know, go me.

But seriously, did you guys read the title? ‘God has not changed’. 

I know that as this election comes to a close that a lot of us feel a lot of uncertainty. We aren’t sure what’s going to happen. Maybe we’re nervous about the wellbeing of our country, of our family, of our rights as Americans. Who knows? 

But the one thing we are sure of is that we just don’t know. 

And that’s okay, because you want to know something? It doesn’t matter. 

Did you read that? It. Doesn’t. Matter. 

The only truth we need to hold onto in moments of uncertainty is that He doesn’t change. 

Ever.

He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Think about that for a minute. Let that sink in. 

He doesn’t change. 

So here’s the comfort that I take away with that. And that I hope you’ll take it away too. He loves us, no matter what. He loves us, even when we don’t deserve it. He loves us when we’ve done something stupid. He loves us when we’ve done something great. He loves us regardless of what we’ve done. 

Bottom line: He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.

No matter where we are in life, He is there loving us. 

No matter how uncertain life looks, He is there loving us.

No matter what. He just loves us.

And He doesn’t change. 

So, tomorrow, when we mess up, it’s okay, because He is going to love us anyways. And I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this too. 

Lord, thank you for never changing. For loving us no matter the circumstances. For being the only constant that we have in this world. Thank you for today’s reminder that no matter what happens in our lives that you remain the same. And that we can always count on you even when we can’t count on ourselves. 

Hosea-Week Seven

This week’s reading Hosea 6:1-7:2Matthew 12:1-8Isaiah 26:16-19

I have to admit something to you. 

Sometimes I hide behind this blog. This Christian blog. Sometimes it is easier for me to hide behind these words where I share the things that will make me look like I know the most or that I’ve got this whole ‘Christ Follower’ thing down.

I don’t.

Not completely.

I am messy and broken. 

I think I know what He wants. I do my best to ‘perform’ in a way that is suitable for Him, but it’s exhausting. 

I do all the things I’m ‘supposed’ to. Go to church, check. Read my bible, check. Follow other ‘Christ Followers’ on Instagram, check. Pray for others, check. 

From the outside looking in you see a nice, Christian girl. 

From the inside looking out, you know it’s mostly just for show, sometimes. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Christ. I love Him. I am a firm believer that He is who He is. It’s not that I want to keep performing, but it’s that I often miss the point of what it means to really love Him.

Because remember, I am messy and broken.

I like to think I know what He wants. What makes Him happy or proud of me. What makes me stand out among the other billions of His children.

Often I like to imagine that He is sitting up there saying to everyone else, “Look at her. Look at my dear, sweet child. She is killing it,’ as a huge smile spreads across His giant face. (Sometimes I like to imagine He talks like me too.)

But after reading these verses, I’m afraid I have it all wrong. I know I do.

While you won’t convince me that He doesn’t find Himself proud of us sometimes, that’s not what He wants. 

He wants us. He desperately wants us. An actual living and breathing relationship with us. 

He doesn’t want our works. Or in my case my showboating.

He just wants you and me. 

For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I believe a lot of things pretend to be truth. They disguise themselves as truth. And they do a pretty good job. But the only thing that we should ever consider truth is His word.

And there it is. 

He desperately wants a relationship with us. He loves us so much. Like more than we could ever imagine loving someone else. 

As a mother, I love my two kids beyond words. I remember when I first met them, instantly the very idea of what I thought love was, vanished. Because the feeling that I immediately felt after locking my eyes on them was something completely different. I had never loved in a way like that before. 

The truth is, He loves us more than that. 

And He just wants us to love Him back. 

I won’t hide behind these words and pretend like I do. I mean to. I have every intention to love Him back. But most of the time, I’m loving something else. Money, career, kids, lifestyle, things. Pretty much anything but Him. 

I don’t like admitting that. But unfortunately, it’s true.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve ever written, you probably know that I was in a relationship where I wasn’t loved. There was infidelity. I was constantly being walked out on. It seemed like my ex husband chose everything, but me. 

Woah. Even as I’m typing these words I can see what He’s doing. 

Do I think my ex meant to hurt me? No. But I do believe that he was consumed with everything else, but our relationship and he just couldn’t give me what I wanted. 

People expect me to write mean and hateful things about my ex husband. I don’t. Mostly because I don’t hate him. I loved him. I loved him even when he was doing the things that hurt me most. I loved him through the fights and the tears and the utter exhaustion that came with trying to get him to love me back. 

But it didn’t work. 

The good news, though, is that God doesn’t get exhausted. He keeps fighting for us. He never gives up on this relationship. And He never will. 

He’s never going to walk away and say that he ‘just doesn’t want to do this anymore.’ 

He’s never going to say that he ‘met someone else.’ 

He’s just going to wait for us to love Him back. 

Because that’s what He does. Despite our brokenness and our messiness. Despite whether we deserve it or not. Despite all those things, He is head-over-heels, completely in love with us. 

And it’s time for us to fall in love with Him. 

Lord, thank you for loving us. Like really, really, loving us. The kind of love that we so desperately look for in everything else and from everyone else. Thank you for loving us even when we are most unlovable. Thank you for always pursuing us and never giving up on us. Lord, help us to love you back. Lord, I pray these things for your honor and your glory. Amen.

 

Hosea- Week Six

This week’s reading Hosea 5, Isaiah 29:15-16, Revelation 3:19

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I like to pretend like He doesn’t actually know everything about me. 

Because the people that have known me, most of the people who have known me, all of me, have ended up leaving me. It’s what they do. It’s what I make them do. Or so it would seem that way.

And it’s too vulnerable for me. 

I don’t want to be known. Not like that. I like to have some secrets. Some mystery. 

And so as I read these verses, I found myself trying to hide even more. 

Because, let’s face it. He knows us. He knows all of us. He knows the parts of us that we want people to see and people to know and then He knows the parts of us that we don’t even like to admit to ourselves. 

He knows it all. 

And I’d be lying to you if I pretended like He would be happy with me 90% of the time. Nope, probably not. I imagine I disappoint Him a lot. 

Like, a lot, a lot. 

In fact, I’m feeling like a disappointment right now.

And I’m feeling like this chapter in Hosea was written just for me. 

Did anyone else feel God’s anger when they read this chapter? I know we don’t like to talk about God being angry with us. Not in Western Christianity, anyways. We much prefer the God who is never angry. The God who lavishes us with blessings and helps check off our to-do lists. The God who is rainbows and sunshine and glitter. The God who turns the other cheek every single time we screw up. The God who rights our wrongs and delivers no consequences.

That’s the God we like to talk about. At least, I know I do.

But that’s not the God from this chapter in Hosea, is it?

This God is actually pretty angry. I mean, He’s talking consequences for Israel’s actions. He stopped tenderly pleading for them to come back to Him, now He is telling them, assuring them, that if they don’t turn back to Him, something bad will happen. 

He’s guaranteeing it. 

And isn’t that the way it happens? Don’t most of us find ourselves merrily skipping along in life, with no care in the world, as long as things are going well. When things are going well, we don’t really acknowledge our need for Him. We don’t seek Him. We find whatever we are looking for everywhere else. 

Sound familar? 

When I first read this chapter I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like the mean, angry God that was described. I felt much more comfortable with the happy God who saw me as His perfect child who could do no wrong. I wanted that one back.

But then as I read this chapter, over and over again, I kept hearing the phrase “I know you, He says.” 

“I know you.” 

He knows me. He knows you, too. And while I know He isn’t thrilled with most of the decisions I make, the thing is, He knows me and He loves me in spite of it all. 

Having someone know me and having them choose to love me anyways, is exactly what I’ve been looking for. 

It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for since my husband walked out on me, over a year ago. 

It’s exactly what I haven’t found in all the men I’ve dated. 

But here it is. In the place I wouldn’t think to look. He knows me and He loves me. 

I’m not saying that angry God should be ignored. Because clearly, He is angry, but He’s angry for good reason. He does love us. He loves us so much. And it must break His heart to see us searching for what only He can give us. 

“I know you, He says. You are not hidden from me. You turn to false loves, but they cannot cure you. They cannot heal your wounds. Seek me. Return and repent.”

Sometimes I have a hard time returning. Especially after a bad decision. One that I know broke His heart. But this, this is so comforting. Because He already knows those parts of me. He already knows those bad decisions and He chooses to love me, unconditionally, anyways. 

So, I can read this chapter and not feel ashamed. Not feel angry. Or embarrassed. I can read this and feel completely loved. 

I can read this and instead of wanting to run away even further, I can turn around and let Him find me.

And I don’t know about you, but I desperately needed that reminder today. 

Lord, thank you for loving us in spite of. Thank you that even in your anger we can feel your love for us. Thank you for never turning your back on us completely. Lord, help us to stop seeking this love in other places. Help us to return and repent. Help us to remember that you know us. And that it’s okay that you do.