Read His Words Before Ours!
1 Peter 2:9-10
The word adultery makes me shudder. In my lifetime, I’ve watched so many marriages crumble, and all too often, an affair is the the last straw that completely destroys a marriage.
“Not me.” I’ve thought, more times than I’d like to admit.
“I will never be an adulteress.”
But sisters, one thing I’ve learned, is that… I am.
I am an adulteress.
When I chose to give my life to Christ and walk in the grace that has been given to me, I entered into a covenant with the Lord. The theological definition of covenant is: an agreement that brings about a relationship of commitment between God and His people.
In the Bible, covenants were a legal contract, and they were so extreme that blood was spilled to seal the covenant. Abraham sacrificed animals when entering into a covenant with God. (See Genesis 15:7-18 and this Digging Deeper Study)
When I entered into a covenant with God, there was also bloodshed, but it was Jesus’.
At the Last Supper, Jesus held up the cup of wine, symbolizing His soon-to-be-shed blood on the cross, and said, “this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
When I accept Jesus’ sacrifice to forgive my sins,
I enter into a covenant relationship with God.
Not based on my works or ability to maintain good standing, but based on the shedding of Christ’s perfect blood. In the covenant relationship of marriage, the adultery of giving one’s heart or body to someone besides their spouse, breaks the covenant.
When I give my heart or body to something besides the Lord.
That is adultery.
And I hate to admit this…
but many things have captured and held my heart more than the Lord.
I know that He is never going to be the one to leave me, hurt me, walk away from me…
I have His full attention all the time.
He will always uphold His side of the covenant.
But I don’t. I haven’t. And I’ll probably fail again tomorrow or the next day.
I am an adulterous.
Some days, my phone and social media has my heart more than God.
What is the first thing I check in the morning?
What is the last thing I do before I fall asleep at night?
Sometimes, motherhood has my heart more than God.
Not my kids, but the act of motherhood; the busyness and craziness of it.
Sometimes trying to uphold a certain image has my heart more than God.
My appearance and my home.
Everything needs to look shiny and wonderful on the outside.
They are damaging.
They fill me with envy, greed, low-self esteem.
They make me feel unworthy and incompetent.
They catch me in the trap of comparison.
Inside of them, I give my love away to other, lesser things.
Never being satisfied with my lesser loves, I find myself feeling miserable because I’ve completely broken my covenant with God.
And yet, God never stops loving me.
He never stops pursuing me.
I am His, and I will always be His.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2:14)
He is alluring me, calling me back into the wilderness, reminding me that He is present.
Always here, always loving.
Hosea’s love for Gomer and God’s pursuit of Israel, is a side-by-side comparison of His great love and pursuit of His people, of us.
Hosea and Gomer entered into a covenant with each other when they got married and their children were fulfillments of promises God was making despite Gomer’s adultery.
God has entered into a covenant with me, despite my adultery.
He knew I would run just as far and as fast as Gomer, but He pursued a covenant relationship regardless.
In Biblical days, when someone broke their part of a covenant, they could be put to death by the other person they were in covenant with. The sacrificial bloodspill of an animal when a covenant was made symbolized the two parties agreeing, “If I don’t uphold my end of this vow, then let what is done to this animal, be done to me.”
Israel didn’t uphold their end of the bargain.
They deserved death.
But God was gracious and merciful and continued to pursue them over and over again.
Gomer didn’t uphold her end of the bargain.
She deserved death.
But Hosea was gracious and merciful and continued to pursue her over and over again.
I have not upheld my end of the bargain.
I deserve death.
But God is gracious and merciful and JESUS died FOR ME.
Jesus died for me because there was no way I would ever be able to uphold my end of the covenant.
I am an adulteress.
And yet, God still loves me,
He longs for me,
He is jealous for me,
He pursues me.
He still takes my hand in His,
pulls me into the wilderness and speaks tenderly to me.
And just like Israel,
Just like Gomer,
I will come back.
I am redeemed.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. For studies like this one, visit GracefullyTruthful.com.
Picture Perfect Redemption
Read His Words Before Ours!
She doesn’t even know how loved she is.
She doesn’t know her value.
She doesn’t know her worth.
Hosea was alone, once again. His emotions a mix of anger, hurt, jealousy, and sorrow.
She gave herself and her love to every man except him.
They had joyful and sweet moments, but then, she was gone,
chasing other fantasies….other men.
And Hosea was alone.
Heartsick, worried; He missed his wife.
And this, he knew, was how God felt over His unfaithful people.
The Lord had saved Israel time and time again, He had loved her, pursued her, provided for her, yet Israel gave herself and her love to everything but Him.
There were times of joy, sweet worship, and surrender, but then,
just as it had happened before, they were gone…
Chasing other nations and bowing before other idols,
brazenly loving another.
In Hosea’s emotion he saw the Lord’s heart for Israel.
A burning jealousy for his bride.
A steady flame in his belly, slowly growing until it became a lion within that had to roar.
“Hosea, have mercy on your wife.”
The Lord beckoned to Hosea.
Yahweh, have I not done that before? She had already been loved by many men when I married her, and yet, I gave her all of me, and that wasn’t enough. I am not enough to satisfy her.
Hosea, allure her. Bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.
Give her beautiful things. She will know you again.
Let her come home, shelter her from the wars raging inside of her soul.
Give her rest.
How do You do this, Yahweh? How do You endure this?
I see your people, I see their sin! I feel your agony! How can you pursue us still?!
Because I love my people. They have forgotten my ways, ignored the blessing I set before them, broken our covenant. The more they grow arrogant in their independence, the more they sin against me, and I will punish them for their ways because I want them back!
They have forsaken me.
They have left me… just as Gomer has left you.
I am enough for them, but my Bride would rather believe lies.
She forgets that I AM the One who has saved her and lavished gifts on her.
All Israel has is because of Me.
I give her value.
I give her worth.
I’ve fought for her.
Yet, she still forgets me.
Together, their hearts broke.
The Lord’s broke for His children.
Hosea’s broke for his wife, and with fresh eyes, he saw Israel’s faithlessness and he was broken for their sin as a people against the Lord.
As Hosea spoke the Lord’s prophetic words to Israel, his voice broke and the tears poured.
God was speaking to the Israelites, but Hosea was speaking to his wife.
I led her with cords of kindness, with bands of love.
I worked to ease her burdens. I’ve provided for her and given everything to her.
How can I give you up, my dear one?
How can I hand you over to another man?
How can I let you destroy yourself?
How can I let you feel like you are not worthy?
How can I treat you like a whore?
My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.
I’m angry, but I will come after you.
I will fight for you.
I will take up my job as your husband and you will come back to me.
Hosea found his wife, who had, once again, been loved by another man.
The love that went far beyond emotion began to billow out as he ROARED:
Return to me, your husband!
No one else can love you the way I do!
I will love you freely, I’m not angry at you anymore!
Come back and live with me, let me protect you, and you will flourish,
you will see your true value and worth.
COME HOME WITH ME. I WANT YOU. I LOVE YOU.
AND I WILL NEVER STOP LOVING YOU.
He paid a price for her and brought her home.
He stared into her downcast eyes and prayed,
Yahweh, let her see her worth. Let her know her value. Let her know how loved she is.
Gomer’s eyes slowly raised and met his, and there she saw love.
There, she saw redemption.
Sisters, the Lord’s heart breaks when we give ourselves to anything and anyone besides Him, just as Hosea’s broke when Gomer gave herself away to other men.
Gomer willingly abandoned her family and husband to pursue something
she thought was better.
She didn’t know her true worth to Hosea.
She couldn’t fully grasp the kind of love Hosea had lavished on her.
The Lord chose Hosea to deliver His messages of coming destruction to Israel,
but the Lord knew that Hosea would be able to deliver these messages in a way no other prophet could… because Hosea lived out heartbroken love in his marriage.
God used Hosea’s heart, his marriage, and his life to showcase His own love for His people.
Sisters, never doubt the trials God is asking you to endure,
because He may just be softening your heart to reach people.
And never doubt the great love God has lavished on you,
because, just as Hosea deeply loved his wife, the Lord deeply loves you.
This Bible Study first appeared on GracefullyTruthful.com and is also property of Gracefully Truthful. For more studies like this one, check out the website!
Read His Words Before Ours!
I had to sit and meditate on this verse for a long time.
I read every commentary you could imagine.
I read and reread the entire 23th Psalm.
I thought about it all throughout the week, and still, I hadn’t had that, “AHA!” moment.
But I think I’ve started to figure out why.
As I sit at my favorite table at my favorite cafe just a few blocks from my house, the Spirit pokes at my heart… “when have you felt the Lord make you lie down in green pastures?”
What moments in my life can I look back, and without a doubt, say there, He made me lie down? As those moments begin to flash in my memory, I realize that for some of those, I didn’t want to lie down. He literally had to make me.
When my twin daughters were born, six weeks premature, and spent two weeks in the NICU, it was one of the most trying times of my life. If you’d told me God was making me lie down in green pastures, I would’ve snickered and rolled my eyes.
But, almost three years removed, I can look back and say that He was there,
holding me, making me lay down and rest.
Providing for me.
Being my sufficiency.
I had hours upon hours to sit and hold my sweet girls, without being interrupted by the daily demands of trying to keep a house clean, prepare meals, or follow a newborn schedule. And while God never wants to His children hurting or suffering, sometimes He allows it.
The very good God allowed my babes to spend time in the NICU, and in it, He showed His goodness by making me lie down.
When my youngest daughter was hospitalized twice last year, again, I was forced to rest and be in the moment. Jesus was making me lie down in green pastures. I wouldn’t have seen it then. I’m not sure I would’ve seen it a week ago. But I see it now. Had I been offered those chances of rest, I wouldn’t have taken them. Which is why He had to MAKE me lie down.
But the other part of that verse is just as crucial as the first… “in green pastures”.
He wanted to feed me, good and nutrient-rich food.
The Bread of Life.
Who is essential for life.
God was giving me that time to be fed, to learn to fully rely and trust in HIM, to take Him in, and soak in His promises of love and protection.
It reminds me of one of my favorite songs, “Blessings” by Laura Story.
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family
Protection while we sleep
We pray for healing
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much, to give us lesser things.
What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re here?
What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise?
And here I am, crying all over again as I think about the trials I’ve faced in my life. What if God used the moments created by this fallen world, to show me His blessings, His mercies, and to make me lie down in green pastures?
As I think about this coming year for me… a year I’ve dubbed my year of living “simply”.
Simplifying my wardrobe.
Simplifying the amount of things in my pantry, closets and drawers.
Simply serving more by writing more notes and preparing more meals for people.
Simply reducing the input I receive from social media.
Simply eating a more balanced diet.
Simply finding joy in the little things.
Every time when the Father was making me lie down in green pastures…
He was helping me simplify my life so I can spend more time with Him.
As I’m striving for simplicity, I now see myself as trying to lay down in those green pastures. Maybe this year, God won’t have to “make” me. Rephrase that to… prayerfully, if I listen to what God is calling me to, He won’t have to make me lie down because I already am.
Ready for the rich and nutrient-filled grass that I can freely feast on when I’m in green pastures.
And there it was… my “AHA!” moment.
It came as these words flew from my fingertips because I was writing what the Lord was speaking to my soul…
an invitation to come away, feast on Him, and know Him more deeply.
Not overrun or overruled by my busyness.
Rather, an invitation for me to lie down and rest.
It is so simple.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. For more studies like this one, check out GracefullyTruthful.com!
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