Archive for July, 2008
I normally refrain from political posts on GraceWalk – but I could not believe when I heard this comment from presidential hopeful, Barak Obama. See it for yourself:
This has, of course, sparked a huge debate among Christians and others. Here are some other things to consider:
From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States):
Most U.S. adult citizens identify themselves as Christians (76.5 – 78.5% ). A 2001 survey found 15% of the adult population to have no religious affiliation, still significantly less than in other postindustrial countries such as Britain (44%) and Sweden (69%). According to ARIS and other studies, non-Christian religions (including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and others) collectively make up about 5.5% of the adult population.
From an article called “WHAT WE THINK, WHAT WE BELIEVE, HOW WE ACT” from the Christian Research Institute (see http://www.equip.org/atf/cf/%7B9C4EE03A-F988-4091-84BD-F8E70A3B0215%7D/DP540.pdf):
“The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life poll on American faith showed most people (67 percent) believe the United States is a Christian nation.”
Here’s some things to consider from the other side of the argument. In an interview with David Frost back on May 30, 1997, Rev. Billy Graham, when asked, “Say is this still a Christian Country?” replied:
“No! We’re not a Christian Country. We’ve never been a Christian Country. We’re a secular Country, by our constitution. In which Christians live and which many Christians have a voice. But we’re not a Christian Country.”
What are your thoughts?
God – I know from Your word that You ordain the leaders of nations. I pray that You would have mercy on the United States of America and give us a leader that still believes in the principals that this nation’s founders did when they formed this country.
Chapter 5, and the previous chapter, of the book of Hosea describe the sins of the priests of the nation of Israel. These priests, who were set apart to discourage their people from sin, had found profit in encouraging their people to sin.
You can hear the anguish in God’s voice as he speaks through his prophet. Take a look at the last few verses of Hosea chapter 5:
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them. 15 Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”
God, even in his anger and judgment, speaks of restoration. He will be like a great lion, tearing these people apart, carrying them off – but only until they admit their guilt and seek His face.
Sometimes we have to be at the difficult place where our only choice is to look up from our misery and see that God is there waiting on us to admit our guilt and our need for Him. He loves us too much to leave us to our own demise. He discipline’s His children – so they will understand and turn from their sin.
I’m grateful that God does not give up on me. As difficult as it has been, His discipline in my life has brought life and peace. It was not pleasant at the time, but I can see how His rebuke, and even his harsh discipline (pruning), has brought me to the place I am today. I still have much to learn, but my faith has been increased. He is a loving, caring Father.
grace & peace
A heavy chapter to be sure.
The most dire to me was the warning to priests:
6 My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me. It is all your fault, you priests, for you yourselves refuse to know me. Now I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children. 7 The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the disgrace of idols. 8 “The priests get fed when the people sin and bring their sin offerings to them. So the priests are glad when the people sin! 9 ‘Like priests, like people’ – since the priests are wicked, the people are wicked, too. So now I will punish both priests and people for all their wicked deeds.
In particular verse 8 caught my attention. Since the priests benefit the more people sin, the very ones who are there to discourage people from sinning and encourage them to live holy have become selfish and rejoice when people sin.
Then, the people follow the example of their priests. So, God punishes both the priests and the people.
It got me thinking about my role in my family. I am to be the prophet, priest & king, am I not? My family is watching my example, particularly my children. I understood that fully when I started to discipline one of my children about something and she brought up the fact that she’s seen me speeding. Good tactic, I’m sure. But the point is a good one.
A better example was when my youngest “caught” me reading my Bible for the first time. She was going to try and sneak up on me, but she found me reading God’s word. It really had an impact on her. She asked for a Bible and wanted to read it for herself.
I want to be “caught” doing the right things with my family: reading God’s Word, praying for my family, helping people in need, etc.
Thank You, God, for Your mercy. Help me to be the prophet, priest and king in my family. Help us to encourage each other on to good deeds. All because of You, Lord.
grace & peace,
I can imagine the people of the day who knew about Hosea and his situation. They must have been amazed at what was happening. But think of the clear example of what God was having Hosea to do. It was God’s mercy and love illustrated in a living, breathing example.
It would be easy for Hosea to talk about God’s love to those around him in Israel’s northern kingdom. “Look at how I love Gomer – this is just how God loves you!”
2 So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and about five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.
Gomer had apparently been on her own a while, and perhaps sold herself into slavery or as a mistress to another man. Hosea had to buy his unfaithful, unrepentant wife back. My footnotes say it was a pitifully small amount, as Gomer was no longer worth much to anyone except Hosea. He loved her just as god loved Israel.
That’s what I’m thankful for today. No matter what I’ve done, God is not willing to let me go. That goes for you, too! He will continue to love us, pursue us, buy us back, and to raise us up again.
Thank You, God!
grace & peace,
Gomer has been found guilty and judged.
The Northern kingdom of Israel had been given many warnings, but God (through Hosea & his wife) is telling Israel how it is to be.
The first part of this chapter speaks of terrible judgement. But, look at the beauty of the second part. The restoration with God is an awesome thing.
I’m so thankful that God loves me enough to not just let me go off on my own, living for my own selfish desires. He indeed knows what is best for me and is molding me into a likeness of Him.
Now, a particular verse caught my attention:
7 When she runs after her lovers, she won’t be able to catch up with them. She will search for them but not find them. Then she will think, ‘I might as well return to my husband because I was better off with him than I am now.’
Is that any kind of motivation to be restored? If you were Hosea and your wife decided to come back only because it was better than the rejection she was experiencing now? Kinda like a consolation prize. Well, this really opened up my eyes to how God must feel. How many times have I gone out on my own and tried things my way, only to find out I was in trouble after a while. So, I turned back to God because it was at least better than the place I had found myself in. Some call it fox-hole Christianity.
How much greater and deeper is God’s love than this? How sweet is the fellowship between us when I seek Him intentionally – no matter what. How richer is my life for having desired His presence in my life when things are good!
If you can imagine how it would make you feel to have a wife tell you that she is so in love with you, just the way you are and that no other could make her feel as content and satisfied…then perhaps you can see how God must feel when we tell that to Him with our actions and our desires.
I love You, Lord!
Can you imagine being asked to marry a woman whom you knew would be unfaithful? This is what God asked young Hosea to do – in order for God to demonstrate His disappointment and ultimately reveal His love of the children of Israel.
Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel from 753 to 715 B.C. Under the reign of Jeroboam II, the northern kingdom had prospered materially but had decayed spiritually. The people were greedy and had adopted the moral behavior and idolatrous religion of the surrounding Canaanites.
Hosea’s role was to show how the people of the northern kingdom had been unfaithful to God, their “husband” and provider, and had married themselves to Baal and the gods of Canaan. He warned that unless they repented of their sin and turned back to God, they were headed for destruction.
I guess the meaning of this book causes us each to look at our lives. Have we begun to chase after other loves – money, love, power, recognition, pleasure, stuff? Or, are we faithful to God, completely loyal to Him? Could I do something as uncomfortable, or as sacrificial, as marriage to a woman with such a reputation – if it meant God would be glorified?
Lots to think about today!
grace & peace,