Gomer and Me

Sow righteousness for yourselves; reap the fruit of unfailing love (Hosea 10:12).

 The word of God is amazing! Every word, story, and message that God has chosen to be scripted by His inspired writers is there purposefully. One story which is historical, allegorical, and still relevant to us almost 3000 years later is the book of Hosea.

Hosea, a prophet of God was instructed to take a specific woman as his wife. Her name was Gomer and with a name like that, she was probably bullied in school and carried a lot of baggage. Gomer was a harlot prior to her marriage, and was unfaithful to Hosea throughout their marriage.

Gomer, in this account, represents the unfaithfulness of Israel to God, Himself, but she also represents us today. Her story involves immorality, infidelity, idolatry, repentance, forgiveness, and undying love.

The first of God’s commandments, You shall have no other gods before Me is one that I originally thought meant idols—Buddha statues or foreign gods like Zeus or Neptune. I had never considered that anything that takes a priority over my relationship with God is an idol. Like possessions, or entertainment, or even church, or serving, or friends, or work, or even our family. And although none of these are bad, in fact they are gifts from God, it’s when we stray from following God’s guidelines for money, for serving, for work, for relationships, and when we neglect our most important relationship, that we are guilty of idolatry.

Just as Hosea continually sought after Gomer, God longs for us to return to Him. He wants us to be restored, and He wants to demonstrate His faithfulness to us even amid our unfaithfulness.

There are many lessons here and throughout God’s word, and they’re all about God’s character—grieving when we desert Him, forgiving, restoring, and always faithfully proving to us His grace, mercy and undying love.


Wonderfully Made

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it (Ps 139:14).

 God made me special;

Like no one else, you see.

God made me a witness

To His diversity.

This little child’s verse has a lot to say about our Creator. God must absolutely love diversity. No two of anything are the same! But what do we humans do? Compare. Compare. Compare. I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t.

It is said that comparison steals our joy. That may be true, but there is a much deeper spiritual principle at play. In His perfect plan, each of God’s children was designed with the exact qualities and attributes to do the work that (s)he was created to do.

When we compare ourselves to others we open the door for the enemy, the Father of Lies, who will gladly point out our insufficiencies, deficiencies, and areas where we just don’t measure up.

Our eyes no longer focus on our relationship with God and His purposes for us, but on our self and our inadequacies. Talk about an obstruction to God’s plan.

In the original language this verse translates to “set apart or distinct.” God doesn’t need any two of us to be alike, and we always function best by following the design of the Maker.

What Determines Self Worth

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir (Gal 4:7).

There is a story about the Rockefellers that goes something like this. The patriarch of the family, J.D. (weren’t they all Johns or J.D.s), loved his sons and didn’t want them to be ruined by being handed a fortune, so he sent them for a time to work in the oil fields.

The work there was hard and dirty and the conditions were detestable. Husbands who left their families to earn money for them, would often end up gambling or drinking it away. But the Rockefeller boys remained unscathed because of their mindset. They knew that one day, after they learned and experienced what they needed to, J.D. would call them home. They knew that their daddy owned the corporation.

Once we are adopted into God’s family through our acceptance of the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, we too become His dearly loved children. Heirs.

Although our desire should be to develop the conduct and temperament of Jesus, our value is not dependent on anything else. Not our successes, nor abilities. Not our weight nor finances. Not our intelligence or strength or personality or religiousness. We don’t need to prove our worth or value. We just are. Because our Daddy owns the corporation.

Lessons from an Eight Year Old

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John1:4).

 A few days ago our eight-year-old grandson, with wonder and excitement, relayed this story to us on the phone. He and his dad and little brother were mountain biking through some wooded trails. He was in the front, got far ahead of the other two and took a few wrong turns. He found himself lost and alone.

He told us that he immediately prayed…twice! This story has more than a happy ending. The next day, as they were reading a daily children’s devotional, the topic was… you guessed it—Fear Not! It described different fears such as being alone, rejection, and failure. And it talked of the assurance of God’s promise—“I will never leave you.”

We always have someone who loves us, accepts us, and helps us. God wants to be part of our here and now.

He was so excited about the timeliness of this lesson that he read the whole devotion to us with the excitement and passion that we have when we realize that a special passage from God’s word was written just for me, at the exact time I needed to hear it.

Don’t you love how God works!?

It warms my heart to know that this little guy knows that he can face his fears with God “who will never leave him.” And here is the verse from his devotional that we can all claim, which was written just for us, for the exact time we need it:

 I asked the Lord for help and He answered me. He saved me from all that I feared (Ps 34:4).

Energized, Refreshed and Revitalized

Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lament 3:23).

 I really enjoy when I read or hear a maxim or saying that is applicable to my life. It is usually from scripture where the words seem to jump off the page and land in my heart. There are also very wise truisms that aren’t verbatim from scripture, but if they are really true and right, their source is always God’s word.

I recently read this one by Paul Arden—“The problem with hoarding is that you end up living off your reserves. Eventually, you’ll become stale. If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish . . . somehow the more you give away, the more comes back to you.” 

The first account that popped into my mind was the story of the Israelites who were told to eat as much manna as they wanted, but not to keep any. Those who horded it found that the next morning it was full of maggots and began to smell.

I sometimes ask myself why I keep some things that are no longer useful. Often the answer is nothing more than nostalgia. They were once cherished, but now cause us to look back instead of to the present or future. God’s word says that He has plans for us to give us a future and a hope.” Fortunately, this scripture does not have an age limit or an expiration date—ever.

Our old clutter (even the stuff in our heads) can weigh us down and make us feel less adequate or less effective now than the person we used to be! What a horrible trick of the enemy!

Scripture tell us that looking back while plowing messes up the furrows (Luke 9:62). We certainly can hold on to the lessons that we’ve learned in the past, but all the experiences of the past has prepared us for what God has planned for us today and in our future.

And if we believe and trust God’s word, we can look forward to a lot more future than past.

Judge Not

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. With what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matt7:1-2).

There are some scriptures that I don’t really like, not because they are not true or helpful, but because they are true and convict me of things that I don’t like to face or believe about myself.

Like verse 4 of the above passage asks, “How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?”  I have that same speck in my own eye, only it’s exponentially worse. Every fault that I find in another can be found deep within my own heart (ugh).

I’m not trying to make excuses, because I know this is an area about which I need to address, but isn’t this part of everyone’s sinful nature? Aren’t we always judging others as a typical, routine, commonplace activity?

I think the key to complying with this verse is to define judgement as criticism as in “Don’t criticize or we too will be criticized.” Personally, when I find that someone is being critical of something that I have said or done, often (not always) the situation or details have been misinterpreted or that person only knows part of the story. We really need to offer this same consideration (grace) to others and be aware of anything that causes us to think of ourselves in any way as superior to another.

Verse 2 is especially uncomfortable, but definitely worth repeating…  For we will be treated as we treat others, that is, the standard we use in judging is the standard by which we will be judged.

I pray for the eyes of the Father, for help in being gracious with others so that I too, will be shown grace.

Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3).

 I love the New Living Translation for this verse—God blesses those who realize their need for Him… More often than not, my attitude is one of self-sufficiency. Sometimes I am even impatient with others, especially people who give up before they even try. This may be an okay mindset for some things, but not with our relationship with God.

 His word states from James that if any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God and also from James— you have not because you ask not. Before we can really receive what God has to offer (which incidentally happens to be the best), we have to admit our total inadequacy without Him—spiritually helpless, recognizing and grasping our total need for Him. Mathew Henry describes it as “thirsting for a redeemer.”

Only when we come to a point of asking based on this realization will we truly be blessed, not necessarily just happy on the surface, but the joy and peace that often makes no sense to the world. The joy that is located deep in the soul that may transcend all human understanding because this blessing originates with the One from whom we asked, from the Giver of all good gifts.