Hosea- Week Five

(Know-It-All)

This week’s reading, Hosea 4, Proverbs 19:2, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

I don’t know about you, but I can be a sucker for knowledge. 

I am a learner. I pride myself on learning new things. Learning about things. Being able to discuss things. The more I think about it, the more I recognize that this, too, was just another defense mechanism I learned to perfect (see what I did there?) in order to hide the things I didn’t want people to see. 

Give me a subject that I am the least bit interested in and I’ll learn all about it. And because I have such a competitive side to me, I’ll even attempt to learn the most about it. More than anyone else I know. Only to show off, again another defense mechanism, but still, I’ll out learn anyone, well, within reason.

That’s how my relationship started with Him. Years ago, before I really knew Him, I was set out to learn all about Him so I could make my point that He wasn’t what everyone claimed He was. 

Did I believe in Him? Absolutely. But the problem with Christianity is, well, Christians. 

We can certainly make a mess out of things. And a lot of times, the outsider looking in, doesn’t see Christ at all, but just a bunch of gossiping, fakers, who only know how to point the finger at others. (Don’t worry, I’m not talking about you, only myself.)

So I studied. And I did my best to learn the facts, but I just couldn’t. Not really. 

I could hide behind my bible and Google. 

People actually believed I knew what I was talking about, when I didn’t even believe most of it myself.

But I was smart. I was knowledgeable. And darn, if I couldn’t fake it until I made it. 

Fast forward years later, when I found myself alone in Houston in a marriage that my husband didn’t want to be in, and I started to learn. But the thing was, it wasn’t that I was learning facts. The in’s and out’s. Nope. The thing was, I was finally learning about Him.

We were just beginning our relationship.

Suddenly, I was able to memorize scripture. When people would ask me questions or share what was going on in their life, I could point to familiar verses that had helped me through a similar situation. 

It was like I began to know Him. 

I didn’t just use the Bible as a decorative piece in my house to make my guests think that I knew what I was talking about, but I actually used it as a living, breathing, book of truth. 

Suddenly, it wasn’t just a bunch of words. Rules. Things that He would be disappointed in me for. Nope, this was life. 

Everything I needed to know was right here in this book.

And when I stopped trying to know the facts, the details, the formulas, when I stopped trying to force it, and I just started to focus on my relationship with Him, that’s when I learned the most. 

So in today’s reading, I feel for Israel. I get it. I was there. 

For a very long time in my life, there was ‘no truth, no faithful love, and no knowledge of God.’ 

While I was busy trying to learn all the things, I was missing the point. 

I could have all the knowledge in the world, but the one thing I didn’t know, the one thing that I should have known, the one thing you might be struggling to know, is that God loves us. 

That’s it.

Everything else, well, I won’t say none of it matters, but you get my gist. 

I spent years trying to learn the rest. Trying to prove or disprove. But the thing is, the moment I realized just how much He loves me, well, that’s the moment I figured it all out. 

That’s the moment I knew it all.

Lord, thank you that instead of settling for knowing about you we actually get to know you, but more than that, you know us. Completely. And in spite of all our brokenness and all of our faults you still love us. Not because of anything we have done or will do, but because you are just that good. Thank you for letting us know just how good you are because it changes everything. Because it changed me. Amen.

 

Hosea- Week Four

This week’s reading: Hosea 3Romans 5:6-8Exodus 20:1-3

It’s not that I try to make the same mistakes over and over, but I am broken. Boy, am I broken.

But I do. I make the same mistakes. Again and again. And I feel guilty. And I ask for forgiveness. And then I do it again. And again.

When I listen to the enemy I can feel ashamed. I can question God’s love for me.

How could He love someone like me? Someone who is constantly failing. Someone who is always falling short.

How many times can He forgive me?

Forgiveness is a tough subject for me. I have forgiven, but I’m not sure that I have forgotten, which makes me wonder, is it actually forgiveness if I still remember the debt?

I remember when I found out that my ex husband had been cheating on me. There was no devastation like it. It changed everything for me. It broke me.

And so I did what I could. I forgave him. Well, I thought I did, but I couldn’t help but think about it all the time. When he was running late, I immediately convinced myself he was probably cheating again. When he didn’t answer the phone, I convinced myself it was because he was with her.

It was always in the back of my mind. Always making me second guess myself and my choice to ‘forgive’.

So then I think about Him. I think about how I am always asking for forgiveness only to turn around at some later point in my life and do it again. Not intentionally, but I’ve noticed we have the same conversations a lot.

Like a lot, a lot.

So how is it possible that He can constantly forgive me for my shortcomings?

And then the enemy is there to suggest that He can’t. That He is mad and that I am never going to live up to the expectations He has set for me.

He lies to me and says that enough is enough. And this was the final straw.

But, this chapter in Hosea suggests the complete opposite, doesn’t it?

While I can’t speak for God, I can’t help but think that He probably does get disappointed when we make the same mistakes again and again. But like any parent, it doesn’t make us love our children any less.

I may be 32 years old, but I can’t help but think that I am just like a 3 year old child in His eyes. I may know better, but I still push the boundaries and I am still learning.

And He loves me just as much as He always has.

Nothing will change that.

Thank goodness, nothing will change that.

And while I keep thinking of what Paul said in Romans 6:1-14,

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can nwe who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us owho have been baptized pinto Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were qburied therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as rChrist was raised from the dead by sthe glory of the Father, we too might walk in tnewness of life.
5 For uif we have been united with him in va death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that wour old self1 xwas crucified with him in order that ythe body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For zone who has died ahas been set free2 from sin. 8 Now bif we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that cChrist, being raised from the dead, will never die again; ddeath no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, eonce for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves fdead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not gsin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 hDo not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but ipresent yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For jsin kwill have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

I am not suggesting that we just keep making those bad choices just because we think we can, I’m merely suggesting that His love, His grace, and His mercy has nothing to do with whether or not we deserve any of it. He just does it because that’s who He is.

And when the enemy is trying to tell you differently, you should remember that.

Because just as Hosea redeemed Gomer, God is always in the process of redeeming us. Always willing to buy us back. To pay our debt. And to love us in spite of our brokenness.

Why else would He have sent His only son to die for our sins?

Lord, thank you for loving us in spite of everything. Thank you for always redeeming us and fighting for us and loving us even when we don’t deserve it. Especially when we don’t deserve it. Amen. 

Hosea- Week Three

This week’s reading: Hosea 2:14-23 and 2 Samuel 12:1-10

Next week marks the 1 year anniversary since my ex husband decided he no longer wanted to be just that, my husband.

If you recall, I quickly forgave him. Well, as quickly as I could.

I’ve done a lot of reflection over the past week just because that’s what I do. I sit. I think. I reflect. 

Sometimes I can get too lost in my own feelings. My own thoughts. I have to quickly find my way back out before it gets ugly, because it will get ugly. 

As I read this passage, as always, I felt a range of emotions.

This was the God I knew. The God I was comfortable with. The God who took it on Himself to make me okay. It isn’t ever necessarily anything I actually do to receive His love, mercy and forgiveness, but there He is, always ready to give it out. Even when I don’t deserve it. 

Especially when I don’t deserve it.

And then it hit me.

Did I actually forgive my ex husband for what he did to me? I mean, did I forgive him because I know what it’s like to be forgiven or did I forgive Him because I was going to be the better person. Because I was going to show him. 

Maybe you’ll disagree, but there is nothing worse than being forgiven when you don’t deserve forgiveness. It can make you feel guilty. Maybe even guiltier than you’ve felt before. 

Especially if it’s from someone who is just as broken as you are, but they just want to feel good about themselves and so they forgive you.

Tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way.

I struggle daily with God’s forgiveness too because I do not deserve it at all. Not even close, but the only way I can accept it is because if I don’t, well, I’m disregarding everything Jesus did on that cross and, well, I just can’t do that.

So I accept (reluctantly) His forgiveness.

But this passage really got me thinking. Do I forgive others because I want to forgive them or because I want to feel better about myself?

‘Hey God, look! Look what I did! I forgave them! Yeah! Over here! Look!!’

I’m not even sure I know my own motives. 

But we know God’s. And these verses just reiterate what we already know.

He loves us. Bottom line. He may not like us all the time. He may be disappointed in some of our decision making. He may hand out some pretty hefty consequences for our sins, but He will never stop loving us. 

He doesn’t forgive us because it makes Him feel better. He forgives us because He loves us. 

He loves us no matter what. 

This past week I was scammed by a gentleman on Craigslist. Oh was I angry. Scammed out of $600+ and I almost lost my iPad. (For those of you who don’t know the whole story there was a happy ending and God performed quite the miracle in returning my iPad.) Y’all. I haven’t been that angry in a long time. 

I hated this man. I hated everything about him. I even told him that there was a special place in hell for people like him. See? I told you I was angry. 

But as the day wore on. As my anger grew and grew. I couldn’t help but hear God say, ‘but I don’t’. 

‘But God, look what he did. Look how he lied. What an awful person to scam a single mother out of her iPad and $600! He’s terrible!’

But I don’t.

As I tried to keep the focus on this wretched, awful man, I realized that I, too, had some unpleasant memories of my own about who I was before I came to learn just how much God loved me.

I never scammed anyone on Craigslist, but I did lie, cheat, steal. 

The truth was there wasn’t much of a difference between me and the gentleman from Craigslist except that I now knew just how precious I was to God and just how much He loved me. 

And y’all, that changes everything.

So do I still forgive my ex husband because I want to be the good person? I don’t know. My ego says ‘yes’, but my heart says if He can forgive me for everything that I have done, then He can help me forgive those around me. 

And it really doesn’t matter what we do, exactly, because He loves us just as much.

And these verses are such an amazing reminder of just how much He loves us and just how much we will be forgiven.

Lord, thank you for always loving us and for always forgiving us. Especially when we don’t deserve it. Thank you for never actually seeing us the way we are, but seeing us the way you want us to be. Thank you for sending your only son to die for our sins so that we may be forgiven. Lord, help us to show someone this week just how much you love them. Because it is true, when people realize just how much you love them, it changes things. It changes everything. Lord, help us to be the example of your love. We pray these things in your name, for your honor and glory, Amen.


Hosea-Week Two

This week’s reading: Hosea 2:1-13, Ezekiel 21:1-7

I don’t know about you guys, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this week’s reading. 
It hurt. It made me uncomfortable, but only because it was so true. 

Hosea 2:6-7 Therefore, this is what I will do: I will block her way with thorns; I will enclose her with a wall, so that she cannot find her paths. She will pursue her lovers but not catch them; she will seek them but not find them. Then she will think, “I will go back to my former husband, did then it was better for me than now.”

See? Ouch. 

I have personally felt my way blocked with thorns. I have felt trapped. Ever since my husband left I have pursued lovers, but, well, I’m still single. 

I have looked for reason and validation in everything, but Him. 

From work, to kids, to family, to friends, you name it. 

I have wandered off over and over and over again. Leaving because I convince myself that there is something better. I just have to find it. 

But there’s not. No matter how many times I wander off, there’s never anything better. If anything, I crawl back to Him. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Afraid. And broken. 

This last time was hard. There I was. I had hit rock bottom again.

In a weird way, that’s the best place for me. At least there, I completely depend on Him. 

But I hit rock bottom and I found myself more ashamed than ever. I hated myself for what I had done. I hated that I knew, if I wanted it, He would forgive me. 

I hated that I had disappointed Him. Again. 

So as I read those verses once more, kidding, more like over and over again. Instead of feeling shame and guilt, like I did earlier this week. I am grateful. 

I am grateful because that’s what it’s going to take. Thorns, walls, hidden paths. 

And it might not be what I want on that day. Or that week. Or even that month. And it will probably hurt again. And it will probably put me in a funk, again. And it will probably suck, a lot. And I will probably spend hours on the phone with my friends talking about all the crap that’s going on in my life and how I just don’t get it. 

But knowing that He is always pursuing me, no matter what I do. Knowing that He loves me in a way I could never understand completely. Knowing that He is always ready to forgive. 

Well, it makes the thorns and the walls bearable. 

And it makes me grateful. 

Oh! And if you’re those friends, and you know who you are, remind me of what I just said. Remind me that I don’t have to look because it’s already here. 

And He isn’t going anywhere. 

Lord, thank you for never giving up on us. For never giving up on me. Even when I expected you to. Even when I would have. Thank you for always knowing better. For blocking my ways. For not always doing what I ask, but rather doing what’s best for me. Lord, this week help me to seek your will over mine. Lord help me to pray for the knowledge of your will and the strength to carry it out. I ask these things in your name. Amen. 


Hosea-Week One

This week’s reading: Hosea 1:1-11; Titus 3:4-7

This past week has been so uncomfortable for me. The conversations. The convictions.

I am exhausted.

I have to be honest with you all for a minute, as I read through these verses I thought about stopping. I didn’t really want to hear anymore. Because the truth is, this story is a familiar one.

I am Gomer.

No, I’m not a prostitute, but I am constantly seeking love in all the wrong places. I am constantly seeking fulfillment everywhere else, but with Him.

And if I can be real with you, you probably are too.

It’s easy for us to think that if we just had ‘this’ or we just had ‘that’ then we would be happy. Life would be good. We would have it all, but we know it’s not true, and yet, just like Gomer, we can’t stop seeking.

But, the thing is, we don’t have to keep seeking. We know where our fulfillment is. We know who will complete us. We know who loves us unconditionally.

Even if loving Him in return is the last thing on our minds.

He loves us in spite of our brokenness. He loves us in spite of how many times we have turned away from Him. He loves us not because we love Him, but just because He does.

Why can’t we grasp that? I don’t know about you, but it’s everything I’ve been looking for. To have someone love me for me. To have someone so desperate for a relationship with me. To have someone who thinks I’m enough just the way I am.

And yet, I still wander.

But despite our wandering He is still faithful.

And as I continued to read those verses and I stopped worrying about being exposed for who I really was, I saw it.

This story about Hosea and Gomer wasn’t written to make me feel bad. It wasn’t written to point out our brokenness.

It was written to remind us that we are so loved.

We don’t need to look anywhere else. We don’t need to keep wandering. Because He is faithful. And we are loved.

Thank you Lord for the reminder that we are loved. Thank you that despite our brokenness and despite our shortcomings you still love us. And thank you for always making sure that we know just how loved we are. Lord, as we begin to study this book together, I pray that anyone who doesn’t feel your love will begin to. I pray that you will open our hearts and our minds so that for those of us who doubt, we will begin to know the truth that is you. Lord, I pray this in your name and for your glory. Amen.Β