Today we start Hosea. It is a fascinating book where Hosea is a model of faithfulness to God. Can you imagine being asked to marry someone you knew was going to cheat on you to help God paint a picture? I’m not sure I’m strong enough. But Hosea was faithful even though Gomer would never be. What are the limits to your faithfulness?
- 1-3 – God uses Hosea’s life as a microcosm of how Israel had treated God. Just as Israel was unfaithful to God, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea.
- 4-9 – The children of Hosea and Gomer also each represented a portion of Israel’s relationship to God.
- 1-15 – This is an explanation of the punishment Israel will receive for its unfaithfulness.
- 16-23 – This section describes how it will be when the Israelites are restored to God.
1 John 5:1-21:
- 3 – This is powerful because often we feel that if we obey God our lives will be boring and lifeless, but this reminds us that following God’s commands is actually beneficial and freeing for us.
- 13-15 – When we believe in Christ, we receive eternal life. We also have a connection with him so that he hears our prayers.
- 18 – When we accept Christ we are to be transformed, which means we change and leave behind sins and walk towards righteousness. This, of course, is a process.
- 1-8 – The psalmist gives credit to God for protecting the Israelites and realizes that they would not have succeeded without the help of God.
- 6 – This verse depicts the weight of sin and the freedom in righteousness.
If the Bible was a soap opera, it would win all the daytime Emmys. Even in today’s psalm, David talks to God about someone he was once very close to but now has been betrayed by. David is the same man who killed a giant, was hunted down by his predecessor, had an affair and had his mistresses husband killed, which eventually led to his firstborn dying. The list goes on and on.
- 1-21 – This message from God compares Jerusalem and Syria to two promiscuous sisters. These two people groups were first God’s, but then they offered themselves to many others and ultimately God turned away from them because of their unfaithfulness.
- 22-35 – Jerusalem’s consequences for unfaithfulness are spelled out.
- 19-25 – This passage explains how Christ broke down any barriers that separated people from God, giving them access to God directly. The author encourages believers to hold true to their hope in Christ and to spur others onto faithfulness and connection with God too.
- 26-31 – Here, the author confirms the need for believers to have a transformed lives. Those who know the truth and continue sinning will be punished.
- 1-20 – David is clearly angry at someone who he once felt close to but has since betrayed him. This psalm, because of the anger and hatred toward someone, is often avoided in church services and reading plans.
- 21-29 – David asks for God to care for him even though this enemy has persecuted him.
Many of us hate to be out of control. We hold onto the proverbial reigns with white knuckle grips. We plan and coordinate and when things don’t go our way, or even when we become unsure of whether or not they will go our way, we fall apart. Today’s proverb reminds us that, in certain ways, it’s good to be out of control because that allows us to better see God in control. And he’s way better at it.
- 1-22 – This section describes the glory of the Lord leaving the temple. This, in turn, means that the glory of the Lord left the Israelites.
- 1-13 – Ezekiel is shown those who had counseled Israel away from God. Judgment and punishment begin to be poured out on them.
- 14-25 – In this section, Israel is given a new heart and a new spirit. Verse 19 is similar to several other verses regarding a change of heart, particularly Ezekiel 36:26 and Psalm 51:10.
- 4-8 – In a similar vein to the unforgivable sin mentioned in the gospels, if you are worried that you committed it, your desire for repentance and restoration with God is sign that you are not beyond restoration. Have no fear.
- 9-12 – The author expresses hope for those hearing his words that they are still covered by salvation and should have eternal hope.
- 20 – Melchizedek is mentioned several times in Hebrews. He was a high priest mentioned in Genesis 14:18 as having served a meal similar to communion to Abraham and God when they met. Some groups believed that Melchizedek was a human who lived without sin.
- 16-22 – Joseph’s story of betrayal, rejection, and imprisonment could be encouraging to Israelites, particularly those in exile, that God always rescues his people.
- 23-36 – The psalmist recounts the events that put the Israelites into Egypt and how God ultimately rescued them.
- 1 – This is yet another reminder that we are not in control. This is difficult for most of us, but freeing when we realize that God is!
Do you know that person who always offers to help after the work is done or always “wishes” they could help? Those sentiments are pretty meaningless – about as productive as a dog chasing his tail. That is how God feels about sacrifices to Him when people go on sinning and worshipping other gods. The sacrifices don’t mean anything. They’re empty. It sure makes you think, are our offerings of worship and service, at times, pretty meaningless?
- 1-8 – This is a prophecy promising to return Jerusalem to what it was intended to be.
- 9-11 – A call to arms to prepare to bring the Israelites back from exile.
- 17-2 – Jerusalem is being urged to wake up and prepare for restoration.
- 6 – So often, including the prophet Isaiah, biblical characters have responded with “here I am”. Here God explains that he will answer in this same way when it’s time for Israel to be restored.
- 7-12 – The “good news” this passage refers to is the salvation of Jerusalem. This beautiful, poetic explanation is a great reflection of the beauty of salvation.
- 1-12 – Now read this again recognizing that it is foretelling Jesus’ sacrifice for us.
- 1-5 – Following Christ is an act of allowing ourselves to be transformed to look more and more like him. We cannot continue on sinning and say that we are being transformed.
- 6-14 – There are lots of folks who will try to steer us off our pursuit of following Christ. This is easiest when our sins are hidden. When we bring them to the light they are far easier to deal with.
- 22-33 – This passage is often disliked and/or ignored in modern society. But if both spouses choose to love and respect one another as Scripture calls us to, both parties get a really good deal.
- 19-28 – David asks God to punish his enemies.
- 30-36 – Several times in Scripture God asks for humility or obedience instead of a bunch of meaningless sacrifices. David promises to do just that.
There are double-standards in the world. Some are frustrating and unfair, while others are totally necessary. In today’s 1 Corinthians reading there is a justified double-standard. It is that believers are held to one moral standard while non-believers are not. We cannot expect non-believers to abide by God’s commands, but we as believers should and should even help one another do so. Yes, it’s a double-standard, but it is a necessary one for believers and non-believers alike.
- 21-23 – Ezra told the Babylonians God would take care of them on their journey, so now he had to put his money where his mouth is. This is why he has the people all call on the Lord through fasting and prayer.
- 31 – God hears their prayers for protection on their journey and answers them.
- 1-2 – The Israelites, and particularly the priests, had just finished traveling safely, because of God’s provisions, and have just completed their burnt offering, and immediately they’re breaking one of the main laws God has given them – to be set apart.
- 6-15 – Ezra’s prayer is honest and forthcoming. He confesses God’s goodness to his people and that they continue to sin against him. Particularly starting in vs. 13, Ezra seems to be very humbled by God’s graciousness in continuing to care for them despite their continued lack of faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13:
- 9-11 – This is an interesting perspective. This is encouraging us not to try to avoid all sinners or even those who are still caught up in sin, but to avoid those who call themselves believers and are currently engaging in any of the sins listed. As believers we are called to a higher standard.
- 12-13 – Our moral law and faithfulness to Christ is not to be expected of those who do not believe, but we are to hold our own to Christ’s standards.
- 5 – Jesus repeats the first part of this verse when dying on the cross.
- 6-8 – David continually gives acknowledgment and praise to God for providing protection from his enemies.
Salvation offers us a new family, makes us a new creation, and enters us into the new covenant. Sounds like a pretty great deal to me!