hosea 1

PASSAGE: HOSEA 1


Have you ever heard people say God told them to do something, but they sounded totally crazy? They’re in good company; the Bible includes story after story of God giving people instructions they didn’t understand.


When God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, he must have doubted God’s voice and intentions. Marrying Gomer broke every cultural norm of that day, especially for a prophet like Hosea. It just didn’t make sense.


When God tells us to do something we’re uncomfortable with, we tend to brush it off or make excuses, too.

Did God really mean that? Maybe He doesn't see all the problems that I can see.

What will others think? This sounds like the worst idea ever. 


Though Hosea’s life looked like a failure because of his unstable marriage, God was at work behind the scenes. He used Hosea’s obedience to show Israel how much He loved them and had better plans for them. Though they had constantly sinned and rebelled against God, He was going to rescue them.


Sometimes we won’t see the immediate results of our obedience. But even when it seems useless to us, our obedience makes us useful to God.


It’s not that God wants something from us, but He wants something for all of us. Our obedience to God can impact the lives of others in ways we could never accomplish on our own.


What seems crazy to us is simply the way God brings about more than we expect. When we least expect it, God does the inconceivable to accomplish the incredible.


Reflect:

  • What is one thing God asked you to do that you don’t understand?
  • Have you seen God do something unexpected and it turned out better than you thought it would?
  • What is one way God has rescued you?

HOSEA 2-3

PASSAGE: HOSEA 2 | HOSEA 3


They had an unlikely marriage. The husband was faithful to God in all he did. The wife was an adulteress. God told the man to marry her even though she lived in sin. In faith, he listened.


This is the story of Hosea and Gomer. In a story about unending love, we find a story about unending grace. Hosea and Gomer’s marriage wasn’t easy. Gomer became dissatisfied, and the promiscuousness that captivated Gomer before marrying Hosea consumed her even more afterward.


Hosea reacted as anyone would. He was hurt. Yet, because of his relationship with the Lord, Hosea dealt tenderly with his wife. He pursued Gomer in the midst of her sin, saying, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you (Hosea 3:3).”


In the same way that Hosea showed grace to his wife, God shows grace to us. God loves us in spite of our sins. His love never fails, and He will never change.


Hosea and Gomer’s relationship is a beautiful metaphor for God’s relationship with His people. Although God was hurt by Israel’s sin, they were still His people. God said of Israel, “I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’ (Hosea 2:23).”


Like Gomer, we struggle to let go of our sin. Even when we have so much love to receive, we seek fulfillment elsewhere. When we experience feelings of guilt or unworthiness, we can remember the promises of God. If you’ve been running from God, remember this: Nothing can separate us from His love, and He is always ready to welcome us home.


Reflect:

  • What’s one way you’ve seen God’s grace in your life?
  • What’s one way you can show grace to someone else today?

HOSEA 4

PASSAGE: HOSEA 4


God does not love us because of what we do or don’t do. He loves us because of who He is.


Such a powerful truth can be hard for us to wrap our minds around. God gives an example of His unconditional love for us through Hosea’s marriage.


It would seem that Hosea had already done the godly thing by looking past Gomer’s history as a prostitute and marrying her. Despite her infidelity, Hosea was faithful. And when Gomer runs away yet again, God tells Hosea to go after his wife, loving her in spite of the mess.


“Go find her. Go love her again,” God says.


Hosea had nothing to gain from loving Gomer. She didn’t even seem to love him back! But Hosea’s love did not depend on what Gomer did or did not do. In this way, Hosea is a picture of God, while Gomer represents you and me.


God loves us even if we run and even if we choose not to love Him back. God chases after us because He hurts when we hurt. God knows that even the best the world can offer us will not satisfy the longing in our souls (Hosea 4:10). We try to fill our hearts, minds, and bodies with new things and new relationships, but the emptiness always catches up.


God continues to love us regardless of where we run. He comes to the darkest, messiest places to find us and rescue us, again and again, because He loves us.


Reflect:

  • Do you embrace God’s unconditional love, or do you live under constant pressure to deserve it?
  • What is one area of your life that you have tried to fill with stuff from this earth? Has it worked?
  • Is there an area of your life where you need to accept God’s love and forgiveness and stop trying to earn it?

HOSEA 5

PASSAGE: HOSEA 5


We would be institutionalized if we were found praying to a stick after murdering our kids to calm the angry tree god in the back yard. But child sacrifice was a normal religious ritual for those who worshipped pagan gods in Hosea’s time.


While most people today don’t bow to bronze cows or fornicate with shrine prostitutes, we aren’t any less deceived. Instead of dealing with the sin in our lives, we’ll try to make ourselves spiritually well by giving more of our time, talent and money to the church. We keep quiet and do good things thinking our consciences will quit bugging us. But in reality, we will never find lasting peace.


Like Israel, we tell ourselves that if we forget God, He will forget us. Israel abandoned God to pursue a lifestyle contrary to His plan for them. But how could they hide from someone who knows and sees everything under the sun (Hosea 5:3)?


God loves us too much to let us lose ourselves to sin. He is patient with us and jealous for us, progressively going to greater and greater lengths to bring us back to Him. In Hosea 5:12, God describes Himself like a moth. He tries distracting us from our sin in a harmless way to get us thinking of Him once again. But if we resist the moth’s annoying flapping, God promises to come closer and destroy those things competing for our hearts (Hosea 5:12).


God knows us completely and still loves us. He knew even our deepest, darkest sins and still sent Jesus to die for us!  


Reflect:

  • Like Israel, we sometimes commit spiritual adultery against God. Have you ever let a person or pursuit trump God as first in your life? What happened?
  • Is there any persistent or ongoing sin in your life right now?
  • Is God trying to get your attention? Who or what is the moth in your life?

hosea 6

PASSAGE: HOSEA 6


If we want to know what’s expected of us at work, we ask our supervisors or read the employee handbook. If we want to know what’s expected at school, we talk to teachers or read the student code of conduct.


Understanding what God wants for us works the same way. If we want to know what God wants for our lives, we ask and we read. We ask God in prayer and we read the Bible. The Bible is called God’s Word because every word was inspired by God to help us know Him and His desire for our lives.


Just like we wouldn’t submit to someone we don’t work for or a school we don’t attend, giving the Bible authority in our lives only happens when we recognize God’s authority in our lives. In Hosea 6:3, the prophet Hosea tells God’s people to “acknowledge the LORD” and “press on to acknowledge him.” Properly understanding our role in a relationship is key to a having a healthy relationship. God is God, and we are not.


From the beginning of time, God’s desires for us haven’t changed. What God wants from us is also what He wants for us — a healthy, strong and consistent relationship with Him. We can’t experience that depth of relationship simply by doing the right things the right way (Hosea 6:6). A thriving relationship comes from time spent together.


The more we get to know someone, the more we trust him or her. Our obedience becomes not just a matter of doing what’s right but trusting that person to lead us well. The same is true with God. As we spend time talking with God and reading His word, we’ll find ourselves submitting to His desires, not because we have to, but because we want to.


Reflect:

  • What’s one struggle you’ve had when it comes to obeying God?
  • What’s one thing that stands in the way of you having a consistent love for God?

HOSEA 7

PASSAGE: HOSEA 7


When we sin, it can feel hard to return to God. Maybe we’re enjoying the sin we’re living in. Like Ephraim in Hosea 7:10-11, we experience the consequences of our sin, but refuse to return to God because of our pride. We like our plans for our lives, so we assume that we can manage the consequences. If we turn back to God, we will have to submit to His plan for our lives.


Or maybe we are desperate to return to God, but are afraid we’ve gone too far. Our sin is too big for God to forgive. Thinking we can out-sin God is prideful as well.


The good news is just like God longed to redeem Ephraim in Hosea 7:13 He longs to redeem all of us. There is no sin too big for Jesus to forgive. There is no place far enough to run that you cannot come home to Him. He is pursuing you, desperately longing for you to return to Him. He wants to forgive you, heal you, and show you His amazing plan for your life. You cannot out-sin the grace of God. All you need to do is humble yourself, return to Him and allow your change of heart to lead to a change in behavior.


Reflect:

  • Is there one sin you do not want to give up?
  • What will the consequences be if you remain in that sin?
  • What will happen if you turn back to God? Will you turn back to Him today?

HOSEA 8

PASSAGE: HOSEA 8


You read a great devotional about grace, marriage or gossip, and the first thing that pops in your mind is, “I know somebody who needs to read this.” Sound familiar?


Instead of using Scripture as a mirror, we often use it as a magnifying glass to point out faults in others, the very ones we might struggle with ourselves.


This happened to the people of Israel, too. Instead of hearing Hosea’s warnings and applying them to their own lives, the Israelites were so accustomed to their idolatry and sin that they “regarded [God’s law] as something foreign” (Hosea 8:11-12).


It's not easy to look in the mirror, to look inward and face our own sin. Focusing on others’ negative qualities alleviates that anxiety, but in doing so, we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re fine when we’re not.


This blame game has been going on since the beginning of time (Genesis 3:12). And in James 1:22-25, we’re given the perfect prescription for this not-so-modern psychological malady:


“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it -- they will be blessed in what they do.”


Being in Christ gives us freedom to run from sin and to embrace the truth in the mirror.


Reflect:

  • Is there someone you frequently think of when reading your Bible or devotional or hearing a sermon?  Is it possible that you struggle with similar weaknesses?
  • Jesus offers freedom from all sin. We only need to acknowledge, turn from, and ask forgiveness for it.  Are you running from something in the mirror?
  • What’s one area of your life where you need God’s strength to overcome your sin?

HOSEA 9

PASSAGE: HOSEA 9


Over several generations, the nation of Israel managed to fall from God’s favor into God’s wrath. At Mount Sinai, they promised God that they would do everything He asked and would follow His commandments (Exodus 19:5-8). But during their travels, Israelite men became distracted by the Moabite women. They joined the women in the worship of their god, the Baal of Peor, thus breaking their promise to God (Numbers 25:1-3). 


We’re not that different from the Israelites. Couple our own self doubt with the promise of a good time, harmless fun, or that no one will know, and we can be just as easily enticed to sin. Over time, continual sin causes us to lose focus on God the same way Israel lost focus on God. Pretty soon, we’re doing things we said we’d never do, going places we said we’d never go and saying things we said we’d never say.


God describes His desire for His chosen people in Hosea 9:10, “When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.” Because the people of Israel were truly special to God, despite their ingratitude, he always accepted his people back into his care (Hosea 14:4).


God’s grace was abounding then and still is today. He is a loving, compassionate and forgiving God. He does not change. If you have strayed from God, be assured that His arms are opened wide welcoming you back into His care. Refocus your attention on God today. Take the first step and ask God to take control of your life.


Reflect:

  • Identify the people and events in your life that have caused you to take your focus off of God.  What’s one step you can take this week to reduce these distractions?
  • The Bible provides instruction that is applicable today.  What’s one thing you’ve learned while reading the Bible that has changed the way you think or act?
  • God extends grace to every one of us.  Is there anything you need to take to God today?

HOSEA 10

PASSAGE: HOSEA 10


In Hosea 10, Israel is described as a healthy vine destroyed by vanity. As God prospered Israel, they took the wealth they received and "poured it on the altars of their foreign gods." Their hearts were fickle, making empty promises and floating from one god to another based on what worked best for them at the time. The sins of the people are compared to seeds that produce poisonous weeds. The people planted wickedness and reaped evil.


To produce a fruitful harvest, a farmer has to plow, plant and water the ground properly. Training hearts works the same way. Hosea 10:12instructs the people to sow righteousness and break up unplowed ground in order to reap the fruit of God's unfailing love.


To reap the best fruit, we cannot just barely open our heart to God. We must prepare our hearts by completely breaking open the ground around it. Sin forms a thick wall around the heart, and we must actively awaken and engage our hearts to becoming more like God in order to harvest the best fruit.


Through correction, repentance, and grace, we are able to break open the unplowed ground and receive the blessings God wants to give us. In farming, time is of the essence. The time to reap the best fruit is now. Let the seed you sow be of the best seed so you waste no time before reaping the best fruit.


Reflect:

  • Consider the ground in your heart. Is it walled-up with sin? How can you plow the ground to better receive God and all He wants to offer you?
  • What’s one way you can humble yourself and allow the Holy Spirit to change your heart and mind?

HOSEA 11

PASSAGE: HOSEA 11


When children fail or do things they aren’t supposed to do, parents may be disappointed, and they may even discipline their kids, but a good parent’s love for their child never changes, waivers or fails. That’s because a mom or dad’s love is not based on conditions. Parents love their kids because they are theirs.


The same is true for us and our relationship with God the Father. He loves us because we’re His. Nothing we could do will ever change that fact.


In Hosea 11, we see how God loves His children, Israel, even though they turn away from Him. While Israel kept failing, God’s love for them never did. God is a loving father who wants good gifts for His children. His love is unconditional. God’s love was not based on what Israel did or didn’t do; it was based on their position as His children. Nothing could ever change God’s love for them.


You may find yourself in a condition where you are wondering how God could still love you, but your position as His child has not changed. His love for you still remains the same.


You may be thinking that God could never love you because of what you have done. God’s love is not based on what you have done but is based on what Jesus did on the cross.


God’s love for you is not based on your condition but is based upon your position as His child. In your life you may fail, but God’s love for you will never fail.


Reflect:

  • Is your past preventing you from experiencing the love God has for you?
  • Is your view of God’s love conditional or positional?
  • Are you struggling to understand how God could love someone like you? 

HOSEA 12

PASSAGE: HOSEA 12


Do you take God for granted? Maybe you don’t realize you do. The Israelites didn’t.


Like the Israelites, many of us don’t experience the abundant life that God has in store for us. The thrill of meeting Jesus can wear off in the midst of everyday life, causing us to slip back into old habits and patterns, including leaving God out of our lives altogether.


How do we live the blessed life that Jesus promises? It starts with a relationship. 


Asking Jesus into our lives is not an end; it’s a beginning. God wants a relationship with each one of us. Think about the closest relationships in your life. Those bonds didn’t just happen. They grew over time.


Relationships take work. Just like we would struggle to remain close to a spouse or best friend without spending time with them, we struggle to stay close to God when we’re not spending time with Him. He created you, and He loves you. He craves time with you. He longs to transform your heart, shape you, and mold you into the person He created you to be.  


In Hosea 12:6, Hosea tells Israel, “...return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” The same invitation awaits for each one of us.


So what are we waiting for? If you’ve ever felt closer to God than you do right now, you can return to Him. Spend time with God by reading your Bible, praying, and listening to the Holy Spirit. Then, wait as He begins to reconstruct your heart.


Reflect:

  • Do you feel like you take God for granted? Why or why not?
  • How often are you spending time with God right now?
  • How much time would you like to be spending with God each week? Is there someone in your life who could encourage you and hold you accountable to reach that goal?  

HOSEA 13

PASSAGE: HOSEA 13


“I can do it myself!”


Ever heard an angry toddler yell that? He’s determined to accomplish something on his own and refuses your help. As parents, we chuckle and watch those fierce little ones in amusement, knowing we could help if only they would let us.


In some ways, we’re all like toddlers. We insist we know better than God. We don’t need His help, His guidance, His input. The Israelites were guilty of this, too. Despite all that God had done for them, they relied on themselves and on idols. Hosea 13:6 says, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.”


Just like the toddler who refuses to ask for help, often we only turn to God when we’ve exhausted all our own efforts. Our pride keeps us from remembering that He is there and He knows what is best for us.


If we, as earthly parents, are eager to help our children, how much more eager is God to help us? He watches as we attempt to do life on our own and struggle through the consequences. But He’s always there, waiting for us to stop relying on ourselves and look to Him for help. God’s plan has gotten us to where we are right now. Wouldn’t He know best how to get us to where we need to be?


Reflect

  • What circumstances in your life are you trying to handle on your own?
  • Can you think of a time when you realized God’s plan was better than yours?
  • Take some time to thank God for being there and ask Him for help.