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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Implementing God’s Word

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation (2 Peter 1:20).

 I am presently working with a group of students who are frustrated with the standards (guidelines) with which they must comply. Often times it isn’t the guideline itself, but the way that it is implemented. Don’t we sometimes do the same things as believers? We take a verse, principle or even a commandment and interpret it to our liking. This is nothing new. Paul addressed the Colossians about this a few centuries ago.

Take the verse “Husbands love your wives” as an example—part B of a very volatile principle in today’s world. Love is defined in Corinthians, and we hear it at 99% of the weddings we attend. But to put it in 21st century terms: Love is patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, or selfish, or demanding its own way, not easily angered, doesn’t keep score (I like that one), always protects, never gives up, is always hopeful and is trusting. God’s definition is sooo much better than Hollywood’s version.

Time to look at part A of this verse, “Wives submit to your husbands.” I addressed this before so I’ll just make a few comments that go along with this title. Like my education example, through the years and across many cultures and religions, this has been interpreted in ways that are in opposition to the intent. This verse does not suggest spiritual inferiority; in fact, the one submitting is actually in control of choosing the course of action. Valuing others above ourselves requires confidence in order to willingly yield to another, in order to lift that person up, with only one motive—love.

As the above verse states, scripture did not come from man, but it is the inspired word from the Holy Spirit. Although the most trusted theologians can give us insight, they are still men. God speaks directly to all believers, not just teaching by human wisdom, but teaching by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

God is Good

You are good, and what You do is good (Ps 119:68a).

There are quite a few verses throughout scripture that woven together, describe God’s goodness and what our response to His goodness should be. In Romans we are taught that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose. We sometimes experience a disconnect when we think, in our eyes, ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here)            can’t possibly result in anything good.

A buzz phrase today is “to be intentional” and that is a fitting way to define God’s goodness. It is purposeful, never meaningless nor random. God’s purpose, to conform us to the likeness of His Son, is a much greater good than our comfort at the moment. Our definition of good is both temporal and temporary rather than spiritual and eternal.

This brings us to another challenging verse about God’s goodness, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here too)     .  This verse certainly requires some prayer and study. But we can know–we can be absolutely sure–that God’s actions are motivated by love, and that the end result will be worth it, and good.

Going through tough times is tough. But God’s word gives us promise after promise of His faithfulness in walking us through trials, in giving us strength, in giving us endurance, in supplying everything we need.

His grace is more than enough.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow (pursue) me all the days of my life.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23).

Once we make the decision to follow Jesus, every part of our life is affected. Oswald Chambers states, “The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house—He invades all of it.”

This is good news! Even if we spend three hours a day on our knees or reading scripture (I’d like to say that this is me, but I’m nowhere close), even if we did, that would only be a very small percent of the day. So many, many other things are happening. But if the Holy Spirit is present like He says He is, they are all “Spirit-ual” activities.

The challenge for me is to let Him lead…then for me to follow. And it does require time for prayer and scripture reading to hear His voice. If there is a dry spell where we are not given explicit direction, we can still chose to live righteously in our typical daily routine because He’s in that room, too.

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

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corin 1:9). 

Thank you, Lord, for Your ever-presence. You’re here at times when I beg for direction and intervention; and You’re here when I arrogantly think that I can handle things. I am grateful for Your faithfulness especially during those times when I’m not.

 

 

Paradise Lost …and Found

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

The world in which Adam and Eve lived would have been perfect in every way—weather, temperature, lush fruits, incredible surroundings, nothing to diminish their enjoyment of knowing God in a most intimate way. And God had companionship directly with them. When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden.

Of course, we know that didn’t end well. When sin entered the world, our holy God could not be in the presence of sin.

All our sins from merely embellishing the truth to inflicting horrific torture can be traced back to our inheritance of this sinful nature. Left to our own devises unconstrained, we fall back into greed, envy, selfishness, pride, gluttony… All the sins we commit are a manifestation of this sinful nature.

But God had a redeeming plan from the start to restore His cherished fellowship with mankind for those who so choose. When Jesus suffered as our substitute He was sinless, but He assumed our sinful nature long enough to defeat it. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  

This is so well explained in the words of this song:

                  “I am covered over with the robe of righteousness that Jesus gives to me. 

                   When [God] looks at me He sees not what I use to be, but He sees Jesus.”

We can have fellowship with God now in the spirit, and can look forward to someday walking with Him in the cool evening breezes.

Passion

I will praise You with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto You (Ps138:1).

Recently I was speaking with a woman whose country is 20% Christian and 80% Muslim. She said that in her country if you choose to follow Christ, you must be totally committed; everyone there is passionate about his/her faith or religion. No one is just lukewarm.

In our country it is relatively comfortable to be a Christ-following believer. We can openly worship, we have access to scripture at the tap of our thumb, and we certainly can pray. I’d like to think that I am totally committed, but I’ve never had to act on it by putting my children in a dangerous situation, nor like Rachel Scott, the young girl at Columbine who chose to be fatally shot rather than denouncing her faith.

But just because, thankfully here in the US, we’re not required to choose between torture or denying our faith, we can still heighten our passion and commitment.

How can we become even more committed? The answer is the same as how do we fall in love. The passion and commitment follow as we know more and more about that person. Although on this side of heaven, we can no way fully grasp the magnificence of the character if God, His mercies, His justice, His love…, we can learn more and more about Him through scriptures, conversing with Him, and the enlightenment of His Holy Spirit. And allowing ourselves to trust His word and His will as He reveals Himself to us.

Psalm 138 continues, On the day I called, You answered me and You made me bold and confident with renewed strength in my soul.

The Father’s Love

Although I rarely repost, this selection really touched me and I’d like to share it again during this special season:

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). 

A short time ago, the message at our church impacted me so much that even though I may not do it justice in these few words, I would be remiss for not sharing and will prayerfully try.

Although God’s word never goes out and returns void, I chose a verse that even non-believers can quote. John 3:16 is so commonly used, the depths of its meaning has been lost.

How many of us as loving parents would choose to suffer pain, emotional hurt, or even death rather than see our child experience it? The anguish suffered by that parent is often more excruciating than the physical pain.

Our loving Father gave us His most precious, precious gift. His only be-loved Son was sent from a heavenly paradise to live on earth for the sole purpose of assuming our sins on His perfect humanity in order to pay the penalty for what we did. As a parent, the depths of His pain would have to be immeasurably greater than if the Father could do it Himself.

And then, because God cannot be in the presence of sin, the already grieving Father had to turn away from the Son. Many parents cannot even leave a child’s hospital bed to eat or sleep, but the Father, who is the very definition of love, had to for a time abandon the Son. He could not complete His purpose if “the cup passed” from Him.

Can there be any greater love than to give His Son–His dearly loved child?

The depths of this love story can only be matched by the joyous ending. Sin and eternal death are defeated. We are redeemed by the most costly price imaginable—the Father’s love.