“As we continue our study in excellence and rising above the mediocre and not just doing our best, but doing God’s best through us, we look at vision and seeing beyond the majority and seeing beyond what is obvious…We know sometimes living as a Christian is not easy. Indeed, I would daresay it is very difficult.” Yet, Christians continue to live and exude joy in their Christian identity. Today, we emphasize on the vision that God has in store for us and has shown us through Christ, the same perspective that drives Christians to live courageously.
“Show me the love.” In our lives, we can be and should be searching for excellence. One of these aspects of excellence is extravagant love. As God loves us extravagantly, so we naturally respond by loving those around us and especially back to God. Here, we find Jesus walking around Jerusalem speaking the truth in love when he encounters a woman with the jar of pure nard and her extravagant love for her Lord and Savior. How does her example of extravagant love apply to our modern lives? In a similar situation, what will we do when have such excess as she had of her precious perfume?
What is the cost of following Christ? What does it mean to redeem our statement of faith and making it turn into something concrete in our lives? Faith in the salvation of the cross comes freely, but commitment to that same faith does not. The number one thing in our lives has to be the Lord, and that means we sacrifice everything else, including time, family, spouse, friends, jobs, etc. from that number one spot. Don’t be one to stand on the sidelines, but remember the personal call to carry our own cross, to act on our own personal commitment to Christ.
As we continue the short story of how God was going to bring devastation yet healing to a small nation, we realize there are many parallels in our own lives as well. As the passage starts with an analogy of a relationship between parent and child so familiar to many of us, so God expresses His love for His children of Israel through deserved discipline and sadness at Israel’s choices. Taking this as an example of God’s love, how are we to react as God’s newly adopted children through Christ?
Israel: once the prized vine planted by God, now grown wild and astray. In modern days, discipline seems to have become unfashionable, but nevertheless we, like Israel, undeniably need it. This is a message we need to hear, not because we are so much like them in their despised state, but because we also have a propensity and ability to turn back to our own ways, to become self-dependent. We need guidance and direction.
November 18 was a special service held right before Thanksgiving, a special time in which the congregation annually comes forth and shares in all the ways God shows His grace to His children. This recording is not made public, but those of the congregation are present every Sunday to share God’s story, so come join us at our Sunday worship service!
In Hosea 9, we learn about how evil the people of God have become before the Lord’s sight. Like a father who once saw his own children come ot christ and yet turn away, so does the Lord yearn for the return of all his children. In efforts to alert Israel of their straying ways, Hosea 9 lists the different stages of humanity’s fall from God: the death of joy, exile from the land, loss of spiritual discernment, falling birthrate, actual casting out. Are we falling away from God in the same ways? How can we keep ourselves from becoming as the downfall of Israel? What are major points to keep in mind to maintain a close and loving relationship with the Lord?
The people of Israel took their relationship with God and turned it into a heartless ritual in the sight of the Lord. Although rituals are meant to serve as concrete reminders of important things, many times they become misused as God becomes mislaid.
God always knows where we’ve been and what we’ve done. So what should we do in light of this? God’s lamentation of Israel’s sorry state and relentless urging for Israel’s return continues in Hosea 7 as a parallel to our own sinful condition.
Although not particularly fun to read through the Lord’s judgment against the people of the Lord, still it serves as a message to us in the ways that we can return to the Lord. As God’s difficulty, we often find ourselves saying NO to God without much thought to the blessings of obedience or the consequences of disobedience. Don’t let yourself starve from God’s Word.