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.

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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.

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.

Be Courageous

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut 31:8).

 The above verse was Moses’s charge to Joshua as he entered the Promised Land. Many of the Israelites were heading into an unknown territory; and for some who had spied there, it was a land of giants who weren’t going to give up their land without a fight.

God often sends believers into unknown or unfamiliar territory. It may not be to face a physical fight, but rather to talk to someone, do something, or take a step of faith outside of our comfort zone.

But if we are following God’s will—His urging—we will experience His faithfulness time, and time again.

Not only will He be with us, but He will have gone before us clearing the path, softening hearts, doing whatever needs to be done so that our His mission will be successful.

Why should we be afraid or discouraged? What we consider set-backs or obstacles may just be there to keep us within the borders of His perfect timing. Through it all, we can be assured that He will never, ever abandon us.

 

Good and Perfect

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

 I don’t know where today’s entry is going to go. I had an idea and wanted to meditate on the first part of this verse, but when I looked it up to correctly quote it, the second part jumped off the page— the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.

Many people had an unstable parent whose behavior was so unpredictable that the same behavior would be praised one day and cruelly punished the next. They lived in a constant state of caution, apprehension and insecurity, never knowing what to expect. And many had (or are) a parent who tries to be consistent and follow biblical principles, but very often falls short.

But God IS consistent, consistently good. Consistent in kindness, mercy, grace, patience, justice…and love. We can be comfortable in knowing that what is pleasing to Him today won’t bring about a chastisement tomorrow. We can be assured in knowing that when He disciplines us, that it is 100% out of love to mold and teach, not to punish.

Well, I guess I never got to discuss those “good and perfect gifts.” Our focus shouldn’t be there anyway, but rather on the One who does not change like shifting shadows, the Good and Perfect Giver.

Just As I Am

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8)

A character in a movie that I was watching made the statement, “The trouble I have with religion is the people.” I agree. Religion was invented by imperfect, and sometimes corrupt, people. I cringe whenever I am referred to as being religious. I would so much more love being identified as a woman of faith—faith in a loving God whose motive is a loving relationship with me.

Religion can be both rigid and fickle with dos and don’ts that change whenever a more palatable idea comes along. God’s character doesn’t change, but He’s far from rigid. He deals with each of us as individuals—where we are, where we need to grow in order to become the improved model, not of someone else, but of who we are—our own 2.0 version, moving closer to the image of His Son.

Even if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim 2:13).

Certainly we can, and are encouraged, to gather together as believers to support each other, learn, and especially to worship the One who accepts us right where we are –Just as I am, You will receive; Will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

 I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me (John 6:37).

Keep On Keepin’ On

I urge you in the presence of Christ Jesus…: Preach the word of God; be prepared whether the time is favorable or not; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction (2 Tim 4:1-2).

Our daughter runs marathons (26.2 miles). They take an average of about five hours, culminating in an exhausted state of euphoria. Not including the personal satisfaction, the mountain-top experience is short-lived compared to the four months and 800 miles of training in the morning sunshine, or in the rain, or in the sleet, or in the cold or heat.

It is similar for the believer. He/she may be motivated and enthusiastic when an opportunity to help or share comes up, or at a time when an answered prayer brings joy to everyone involved. But for every exceptional experience there are hours, and days, and months of running on the treadmill.

In this passage we are urged to be ready. God will equip us with what we need, but regardless of our motivation or lack of, our excitement or weariness and fatigue, we should always be willing to say, “Yes” to proclaiming truth, carefully correcting, or patiently encouraging those that God puts in our path.