~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Hosea 1:1-3:5 ~ 1 John 5:1-21
Psalm 124:1-8 ~ Proverbs 29:5-8
Old Testament - Allright, today is a big day! We start The Book of the Twelve, or the Minor Prophets. Basically, this means we are in the last 12 books now of the Old Testament, and all of them are pretty short books by various prophets. These 12 prophets were contemporaries of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and their books parallel these three books. These 12 aren't called "minor" prophets in that they were "lesser" than others - but, they are called "minor" because their books are shorter.
The first prophet of The Book of the Twelve we start today is Hosea. Hosea prophesied in about 750 B.C. in the northern kingdom of Israel - which was rare. Most of the prophets were in the southern kingdom of Judah. Hosea lived during the final / last days of the northern kingdom, which ended in 722 B.C.. A good overview of Hosea is at this link and at this link.
Hosea chapter 1 certainly jumps out at you right away - with God commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer. The purpose of this relationship is to parallel Israel's unfaithfulness to God. You'll note that the names of the children born to Gomer get progressively worse for the people of Israel - 1. Jezreel, or "God scatters" 2. Lo-ruhamah--`Not loved'- 3. from verse 9 is the worse name that could be bestowed to symbolize God's relationship with Israel - "And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi--`Not my people'--for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God." Ouch.... This is about as bad as it can get for Israel.
Fortunately, we see redemption in verse 10 - "Yet the time will come when Israel will prosper and become a great nation. In that day its people will be like the sands of the seashore--too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, `You are not my people,' it will be said, `You are children of the living God.'" Whew! This applies to most of us reading this as well - Gentiles. This is the beginning of the mission to the Gentiles after the time of Jesus. Do you we believe we are part of this promise? That we are parts of the sands of the seashore? That we are children of the living God?
Chapter 2 is a powerful case against Israel and her unfaithfulness to God. Verse 8 jumped out at me in thsi chapter today - "She doesn't realize that it was I who gave her everything she has--the grain, the wine, the olive oil. Even the gold and silver she used in worshiping the god Baal were gifts from me!" Do we realize that everything we have comes from God? Everything? Do we mis-use any of these gifts from God in our life in ways that would not be pleasing to God?
Chapter 3 brings us redemption again for Israel. Verse 5 I believe applies to us today - we who are in the last days (all the days after the life of Jesus) - "But afterward the people will return to the LORD their God and to David's descendant, their king. They will come trembling in awe to the LORD, and they will receive his good gifts in the last days." Have we returned to Jesus? Jesus who is from the line of David? Is Jesus our king? Are we receiving God's good gifts through our awe and faith in God through Jesus?
New Testament - We finish the book of 1 John today! A great book it has been for me this year. I hope it has been a blessing for you as well. Verse 3 & 4 in 1 John chapter 5 today are powerful - "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn't difficult. For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory." Do we love God by keeping his commandments? Do we trust Christ to give us the victory from evil in this world? Does our trust in Christ make keeping God's commandments not difficult?
Verses 14 & 15 are good reflections on how we should pray - and that we should pray - "And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for." Do you pray confidently, asking God for things that are in line with his will? Do you know that God is listening to your prayers? Are you sure that he will give you what you ask for, that is in line with his will?
And verse 21 is a powerful end to this book of 1 John - "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts." Is there anything in your life that might take the place of God in your heart? Will you turn this idol over to God? Will you keep away from this idol? Will you allow God to take the primary place in your heart and mind?
Psalms - I read in a commentary today that Psalm 124 was likely a call and response from a Levitical priest and worshipers. Verses 1 through 5 were likely spoken by the priest and verses 6 through 8 were the response of the people. Cool way to read this Psalm!
Proverbs 29 verse 7 tells us - "The godly know the rights of the poor; the wicked don't care to know." Do we know the rights of the poor? Do we care to know? What are the rights of the poor? What are we doing in our lives to love and serve the poor on a consistent basis?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!