In the past few weeks, I have been reading and reflecting on the book of Hosea. There are areas in my life that I may still need to align with your Word.
Yes, I’m a sinner.
I am forever grateful for your faithfulness, morning mercies, and forgiveness.
You did not destroy me when I was distant, rebellious or disobedient (Psalm 78:38). As I am wrapping up the study of Hosea, I realize how compassionate and loving you have been all of these years. You loved me unconditionally and still love on me today and will continue to love me even though I struggle with a sinful nature daily.
You always encourage me to press on once I confess and repent of my sins.
Yes, Lord, please forgive my sins and share your wisdom and direction. I want to discern how to proceed with today’s challenges and life happenings.
You are my only refuge, Lord and Savior.
Our hearts are filled with gratitude for everything you have done for us. You are our only Hope. Remind us that we need to maintain an eternal perspective every time we do get caught up in this world’s culture, on-going distractions, daily ‘rush’ and/or cultural ‘busyness’.
“Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He
will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us
after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before
Him. “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as
certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain
watering the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3 NASB.
“The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His
compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him”
Lamentations 3: 22-24 NASB.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV
As a child, I spent countless hours at our family’s country house, ‘La Morita’. We would travel there every weekend with relatives and friends. The adults would play cards, dominoes or bingo in the evenings after a tasty home-made meal. All of the children would laugh often when sharing stories at the hammocks zone, play Marco Polo at the pool, ride horses in town or hike the mountains at sunrise.
I certainly miss ‘La Morita’. Those memorable times were filled with joy. I don’t remember experiencing any sadness then. Our families were united, loved one another, and were energized by fellowship, outdoor activities and mesmerized by the beauty of nature.
As I grew older, I soon realized life was not ‘picture perfect’. There are moments filled with contentment and other times filled with great distress, anger, emotional pain, grief and/or sorrow.
God promised to be right there with us thru it all – the fun, the boring, the best, the ugly and the worst times.
The Lord is our Refuge. He will never leave us nor forsake us. That is His promise.
When dad passed away, mom relocated back to our home country in South America. Since then, I have only seen her once. We don’t get to walk at the local park nor shop at ‘Sawgrass Mills’ Shopping Center anymore. It has been over two years since I last had a meal with mom at the table. I miss her voice, enthusiasm and most importantly her presence. I wish I could sit with you right now and share the details of my next trip to Florida. The truth is I may never be able to visit mom again and this is a reality I have recently come to terms with. I am in a season of loss, grief and sorrow indeed. It is time to weep, mourn and embrace the loss of mom’s current living situation, geographical distance and deteriorating health conditions.
Are you grieving at this moment, my friend? Are you reminiscing on ‘how’ your past circumstances are quite different than todays? Perhaps, you are facing an ‘unexpected’ loss and you are quite overwhelmed with the intensity and impact of the sudden challenge.
Do not be dismayed or broken-hearted, my friend.
We are in a season of grief but His mercies are new every morning. Today is filled with opportunities for us to briefly reminisce about the past then spend the rest of the time counting our blessings. We have been blessed for all the countless memories and unforgettable moments with our loved ones. They have left their ‘forever’ fingerprints on our minds, hearts and souls. My heart rejoices every time I think of mom.
Let us not dwell on the emotional distress or pain of our recent past. Let us acknowledge our loss, lament and journal our painful thoughts until we are comforted by His promises. Our Lord listens to our melancholic cries and painful thoughts and He comforts our shattered hearts over time.
We will dance once again as soon as our hearts are healed and restored.
Lord, there are so many seasons in our lives and some are difficult to process and get thru. I know we may be in the midst of a tough season. As we lament our losses, we know you are comforting us with your faithfulness, morning mercies and compassion … You hear all of our cries and wipe our tears away. You heal our brokenness and bind our deep wounds. You are our only Hope and Refuge. Turn the gaze of our hearts towards the beauty of all of your promises and fill our hearts with never-ending Hope.
Lord, I’m willing to embrace the new season in life. Spring is here! Flowers are blooming. I want to rejoice once again. Jesus, hold my hand and come with me and waltz together at the dance floor.
In Jesus’ name we boldly pray, Amen.
“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,” Psalm 10:17 NIV
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 NIV
“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9 NIV
“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm 27:4 NIV
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he is the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction. It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.”
Let me introduce you to the Spanish Editor for the Bible Reading Journal Series, Dr. Angelica Langham, who retired successfully from the field of Medicine seven years ago.
Dr. Langham is both a conference speaker and a teacher of God’s Truth who now disciples women in Florida, Tennessee, Colombia, and Peru. She is fulfilling the Great Commission passionately one day at a time.
Jesus encourages all of us to “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
Discipleship is a priority for the church.
When I asked Dr. Langham how did she begin discipleship relationships, her response was the following: “The Lord has laid on my heart to serve Him. Pursuing my calling, I began to evangelize women in a non-profit Christian organization and participated in different evangelistic events in my local church. Even though many people repented, believed and received Jesus as Savior and Lord, I realized that something was missing in ministering to them. New believers and Christians in the church need an ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They need to grow and become mature in their Faith. However, many of them have become stagnant or even have abandoned their faith….”
Dr. Langham was discipled for two years before she started to disciple women locally and internationally. She is so grateful to witness how God is changing the lives of many of her students and even her own life. In these relationships, women have an opportunity to build spiritual disciplines, such as reading and meditating on the Bible passages, praying fervently with thanksgiving, worshiping the Lord and confessing their sins on a regular basis.
Jesus’ obedience to the Great Commission has impacted our lives today. Dr. Langham has discovered that the missing link in ministering to women is to establish a discipleship relationship in which both truth and life are shared in real life circumstances.
She further shared, “We cannot evangelize without making disciples. We cannot gain people without feeding them. We cannot leave believers alone, but we must help and encourage them in their faith. Therefore, following Jesus’ example of making disciples should be the primary goal in the body of Christ. Disciple-making is an intentional process to build up believers, to mend them, and to equip them to be fruitful and multiply, obeying the Great Commission. In these changing and difficult times, I believe that every Christian needs to be discipled to grow and be mature, to receive healing of past wounds, to build spiritual disciplines, to be accountable to other believers, to multiply and make discipleship relationships.”
When reading the book of Hosea in preparation for an online Bible study, I was so overwhelmed that I did not finish the rest of the book that night. I immediately shut the Bible and sat in my recliner silently for a few minutes.
I was in shock the way the Holy Spirit convicted me.
The prophet, Hosea, was encouraged to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Gomer was promiscuous yet Hosea faithfully loved his beloved wife. I was blown away by Hosea’s steadfast love.
Hosea 5: 4 highlighted the importance of acknowledging God in everyday pursuits. I was appalled when I was convicted of my sinful nature; ” … a spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” My initial thoughts were, “Me? not possible!” yet I felt repugnant. When I envisioned myself having ‘a spirit of an harlotry’, I was ashamed for grieving the Holy Spirit then.
In the book of Hosea, the ‘spirit of prostitution’ addressed Israel as a nation who had been unfaithful to the Lord, and disregarded His commands. The nation was corrupted and rebellious. Israel maintained a ‘spirit of prostitution’ when the people did not acknowledge the Lord.
A couple of years ago, the Holy Spirit had convicted me of excessive retail shopping. As much as I have been mindful of frivolous spending in the recent past, I continue to overindulge myself. I always find the best excuses such as, “I truly need this new tote for the upcoming trip.” In my most recent retail experience, I even messaged the retailer and encouraged her to ship the personalized item no later than the 10th of this month. I was precise and persuasive. I was a woman on a ‘lifestyle’ mission.
Have you ever been in pursuit of joy? Have you ever been in pursuit of satisfaction? I find both satisfaction and joy in retail therapy. Do you have a personal habit that you wish to break but have not been able to do so as of yet?
I realized how much I had grieved the Holy Spirit that afternoon. I had monogrammed another handbag for an upcoming trip. If you and I were having a late afternoon coffee break, I would have shared with you how much I love to shop. I spend time on the internet searching for beautiful totes. I am quite obsessed with totes, I admit. When I shop, I forget about the reckless, spending habit and my unwillingness to change my desires. It sure is an ongoing struggle!
Every time I choose retail therapy, my soul is not fulfilled and it will never be. Nothing on this earth will fulfill my deepest longings. When I fail to pray, I am not relying on His comfort or rest. When I neglect His Word and do not step out in obedience, I am being rebellious. When I do not acknowledge His presence in today’s plan, I am being self-reliant and prideful. The book of Hosea convicted me of having a ‘spirit of a prostitution’ when I obsess over anything else for either joy, satisfaction or relief and disregard the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
Lord, please forgive me for not acknowledging your ways or stepping out in obedience.
The Lord will remain faithful in the midst of our sinful acts.
He wants for all of us to repent, change our careless ways and acknowledge His presence in all we do. “…Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:2-3 NIV)
Lord, please forgive me if I get so distracted by frivolous spending that it drives me away from your presence. I know I can be rebellious, disobedient, prideful or unwilling to change my selfish ways. I can be quite stubborn too.
Help me. Forgive me. Love me. Do not give up on me. You are a God of second chances.
I dislike having the ‘spirit of a prostitute’ but every time I pursue pleasure instead of God’s ways, I am exchanging His eternal perspectives for temporary ones. I am exchanging a Holy Beautiful lifestyle for a lustful lifestyle that may lead me astray.
Lord, I want to renew my mind and change my actions so I may pursue a Holy Beautiful Lifestyle always. I pray I acknowledge you in everything I do, be prayerful and press on.
Jesus answered, “It is written: worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Luke 4: 8 NIV)
God is steadfast and His reckless love is bountiful.
Psalm 51: 1-12 (NIV)
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
When life gets hectic, I have a choice whether to take the next step or honor a break. I can either slow down and pace myself or continue to hustle ‘non-stop’ all day long.
The Lord wants me to spend time with Him throughout the day, every day. I will bear fruit in everything I do when I rely on His wisdom and strength.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NASB
When I don’t rely on the Lord for His rest and wisdom, I am typically frustrated, exhausted or even ill at the end of the day. Has your energy ever been depleted at the end of the week? I literally crashed this past weekend. I was emotionally and physically spent. I felt overwhelmed, overly anxious, empty and had a headache for a couple of days. When I neglect the Lord, I typically rush thru my morning readings and fail to take short breaks throughout the day. I do not take time to pray when facing adversity.
This is a typical response of my self-reliant tendencies or should I say pride? I may be in such a rush that I can barely whisper at Him and say, “I’ve got this, Lord, I don’t need your help right now. Take a break and allow me to take the lead.” Who am I kidding? This attitude will not help me get too far ahead. I will not bear much fruit.
Our bodies react to life stressors when working under these conditions for a prolonged period of time without much rest. Cumulative stress has an adverse impact on our lives without a doubt. It affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually over time.
Let us be mindful of our time with the Lord so we may bear much fruit at the end of the workday and be able to manage stressors in a healthy manner.
I cannot accomplish much without Him. Even if it is an on-going struggle, I can never overlook this issue ever again.
Help me, Lord, to be wise with my schedule at work. I want to maintain a reasonable life balance so I may care for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being throughout the day. I need rest and frequent breaks to stop and meditate on your precious Word. I want to relax at the end of each day, dig deep in your Word, maintain good nutrition and sleep hygiene so I may not be burned out by the end of the week.
In Jesus’ name, I boldly pray.
“LORD, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” Jeremiah 17:13 NIV
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17 NIV
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”John 4:10 NIV