:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hosea Chapter 12

Hosea Chapter 11:12; 12

vs. 11:12- TWO CHILDREN

- There is a contrast between two children. Israel, the constantly rebellious one, and Judah... the one who has still remained faithful. (At least most of the time.)

- Israel, from the time of the split, never had a good king. The people worshiped idols from day one. They refused to listen to the men of God. Prophets were ridiculed by kings... and oftentimes killed by their order. When Ahab called in the prophet to tell him what God said about a battle... he said something like “I never liked you... you never tell me what I want to hear...”

- Even when the Prophets spoke... no one took heed of them.

- Judah had their moments. When there was a good king who followed God, the people followed God... But when the king turned away from God... so did the people... But the people DID return to God. They didn't remain stubbornly in their rebellion. Nor did they refuse discipline when it came. When they were faced with their sin, they turned and repented.

- Two pictures of the decisions we have to make about our own walks. When we are found in our sin... do we get angry and continue to persist in it? Or do we turn with contrite hearts and beg of God to “create in me a clean heart... and take not Thy Spirit from me?”

- II Corinthians 7:8-13
- Hebrews 2:1-4
- Luke 17:1-4

vs. 12:1-2- EATING AIR

- “The people of Israel feed on the wind; they chase after the east wind all day long. They pile up lies and violence; they are making an alliance with Assyria while sending olive oil to buy support from Egypt.”

- Israel was clinging to fleeting things. They were eating the wind...

- Have you ever seen the movie “Hook”? It was a movie with Robin Williams based on the story of Peter Pan. There was a scene that had all the lost boys eating dinner. They said grace and started digging in to the bowls... opened all the lids... and there was nothing there but steam. They were empty. Robin Williams was like... “wait... where's the food?” And the boys told him you had to imagine your favorite thing... it was all a game. There wasn't any real food...

- That's what Israel was doing. They were imagining that what they were eating was good for them... and in reality... it wasn't sustaining them at all. They were still hungry... but they weren't going to the right place. They were going to idols, and to material things hoping to get their bowls filled... but they were still eating out of empty bowls. Only God had what they really needed...

- But they were content to eat nothing and pretend that they were satisfied... while trying to satisfy their hunger with other things.

- And not only were they not getting fed. Not only were they not feeding their hunger... but they were also chasing after empty things. Grasping at things in life that had no substance... that had no lasting worth. They were running everywhere trying to find stability. They ran to their enemies... hoping that they would protect them. And they ran back to Egypt... notice that... the nation that kept them enslaved for generations... that's where they went to for help. You think somebody who looked down on them and who had wanted to keep them in slavery was gonna help them maintain their freedom? Geesh...

- It says that Israel was piling up lies and violence... they were practicing deceit in trying to keep their involvement with other nations from each other. They lied to each other and to their supposed allies.

- “Now the Lord is bringing charges against Judah. He is about to punish Jacob for all his deceitful ways, and pay him back for all he has done.”

- Have you found yourself chasing after empty things? How many times do we spend more time on empty things... than on the things of God? I realized the other day... I watch too much TV... WAY too much TV. Partly because we now have a DVR... so we can fast forward through commercials... and it takes less time... so we keep adding more shows to the list of things we watch regularly... Meaningless pursuits... Or how about reading? I like historical novels. When I was in middle school... on average... I read about 5 books a day... if not more... That's a lot of hours... Not so many now... but still a lot...

- What kinds of empty things fill your life? What kinds of things do you let take up your time? Are the things you spend the most time on, things that fulfill a purpose? Or just things that... are enjoyable to you... (nothing wrong with that... just... have to find a balance...)

- Ecclesiastes 1:2-2:26
- Jeremiah 9:1-16
- Colossians 3:1-17
- Psalm 32

vs. 12:3-5- DECEPTION

- Jacob was the father of the nation. His name meant “deceiver”. He fought with his brother. He cheated him out of his birthright. He tricked his father. Ran away from home. Swindled his uncle. Was in turn tricked by his uncle. Ran away from his uncle. And then proceeded to argue and literally wrestle with God.

- And here we find the nation of Israel, doing the same thing. Israel and Judah are fighting with each other. They have split off from one another. They have tried to trick God into giving them their birthright with no cost to them. They have run away from their spiritual home. And now, they are lying to everyone around them. Tricking and swindling their way into getting the things they want out of life. And arguing with God and His prophets.

- Like father... like son... Jacob's children were following in his footsteps...

- However, Jacob, turned from who he was. God gave him a new name. A new place in the world. He made him a new creation.

- “Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him.”

- Jacob learned something form all his journeys. If you want something, you have to be persistent. Jacob dug in and refused to let God go until God answered his plea. (This is a HUGE lesson on prayer and supplication waiting to happen...)

- I'll try to be short with it...

- In our prayer times... there are things that sometimes take more than just a one time prayer. For instance—lost loved ones. The people we love are not a prayer that we pray once and expect God to handle it, given that one prayer. They are requests that we bring to the throne sometimes daily.... sometimes multiple times in a day...

- Love means never giving up in something like that.

- In II Kings 13:14-19, King Jehoash goes to visit Elisha on his deathbed...

- Elisha tells him to shoot an arrow, and he does... and he said that this meant that Jehoash would completely conquer the Arameans. Then Elisha told him to take the other arrows and strike them against the ground. He struck the ground 3 times.

- “But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!... Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

- Jehoash did what God asked him to do... halfheartedly. He didn't put his all into it. He just did the minimum and thought... “okay... well that should do it.”

- If we don't care enough to keep after God about something in our prayers, why should He care to answer them? Persistence is not so much about convincing God to do something... as it is to teach us something about life in general. If we care about something, we should persist in the doing of it.

- Jacob persisted... Remember the story of Abraham bargaining with God? He was asking that God wouldn't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because his nephew, Lot, was still living there... So he said “well if you can find 50 righteous people, will you still destroy the cities?” And God said, “okay, if there's 50 righteous, I won't destroy them.” “Well, how about 40?... 30? 10?” And God always said “yep, if I find that many, I won't destroy the cities.”

- There are two kinds of wrestlings with God... wrestling to understand God and His ways... and wrestling to defy God or disprove Him...

- The nation of Israel, instead of digging in with God and searching for something FROM God... or something truly about His character... they just decided to continually argue with God. Instead of trying to learn about God, they just tried to tear everything about Him apart. They tried to disprove their need for Him.

- When Jacob persisted and asked something of God... God showed Himself to Jacob. He blessed him, and then spoke to him. He proved Himself to Jacob.

- God will always prove Himself. There is no doubt about that. Whether we wrestle over Who He is, or IF He is... God will prove Himself. The next verse says that we are always to depend on Him... God never changes. He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Forever.

- Matthew 7:7-11
- Revelation 3:7-13


- “So now, come back to your God. Act with love and justice, and always depend on Him.”

- footnote- “The two principles that Hosea called his nation to live by, love and justice, are at the very foundation of God's character. They are essential to His followers, but they are not easy to keep in balance. Some people are loving to the point that they excuse wrongdoing. Others are just to the extent that they forget love. Love without justice leaves people in their sins because it is not aiming at a higher standard. Justice without love drives people away from God because it has no heart. To specialize in one at the expense of the other is to distort our witness. Today's church, just like Hosea's nation, must live by both principles.”

- I think that's a good point. We can go to extremes in dealing with people. We can become so legalistic that we forget about forgiveness. We can become so involved in our justice... that we forget that God is the only Judge.

- Love is great... but when Love is the only thing that matters... we forget that sin has consequences... In trying to love our neighbor... we forget that love sometimes means telling people they're wrong.

- You know, I was talking to a friend about this a few months ago... She didn't want to invite a mutual (non-Christian) friend of ours to a youth night because she was afraid of offending him. (Understanding that our youth nights are pretty laid back... we do dinner, and lots of music, and then someone will bring a word. It's not in a church... it's in my living room. It's not generally preachy... it's just a place built on love that invites people to come join us for a meal and worship and then a word about why we do what we do... Christ.) She said something to the effect that if he wanted to see something of God, then he would see it in the way she lived her life... and eventually he would ask questions if he were interested... but she didn't want to push the issue.

- All well and good... but she'd gotten to the point that she was so afraid of causing offense that she wouldn't even invite him to share a meal with us... to see what we're really about.

- Forcing our faith on those around us... doesn't work. But neither does avoiding the issue. Have you ever heard a story that went something like “I was talking to my friend and I said something about going to church and he said “you go to CHURCH!?” It really... hurt...”

- Well... if you don't tell them... how will they know? I know people who basically try to hide their faith. They “love everybody” and they “are good people”, but they don't ever SPEAK about Christ. They're afraid of hurting their friends...

- And then there are those who just seem to love to pick a fight. They tell everybody they meet “you're wrong... and here's why” over EVERY LITTLE THING!

- When I was in college, I had this girl come tell me that I couldn't let one of the guys play for praise team for chapel service that week because she'd seen him at the local bar and grill. It was un-Christian and it was wrong and she was ready to take praise team from my control because of it. I was an unfit leader.

- lol... ooooooookay... well first of all... I knew he was there... because he told me he was going... to drive a friend back. Although I can't say he never drank... he wasn't drinking that night... and it was something that he was very open with me about. He and God were working through a lot of issues about that time... and that was one of them. So before he went down to hang out with his friend for a while... and drive him back to campus safely... he checked in with me... and then checked in when he got back.

- What I wanted to know... was how this girl knew he was there. And knew that he stayed there for a while... hmm... perhaps she was there herself? Yep... most definitely she was there... but she was just eating... she wasn't drinking... well... neither was he... so who was in the wrong? Was he in the wrong for going down and hanging out with a friend for a while? Well... some may say yes. Some may say that the environment was all wrong. And they could be right... it was a little bit of a party place... But if taken at face value as a bar and grill? Well... so is Applebee's... The family friendly neighborhood restaurant...

- Our justice for right and wrong... is oftentimes skewed. We see faults in other people... that we don't want to see in ourselves. We see wrong... and lash out... because we don't want them to see sins in our own soul.

- Is it justice to want punishment for sin? Sure... but we don't have to be the punishers.

- When my friend went to the bar that night to hang out with his friend... partly it was because it was the only place open in our little town that late at night... a whole 8:00... and partly... that's where his friend wanted to go to grab some food... after all... they were supposed to have the best hot wings EVER... lol

- If for that act... I had banned him from praise team and not allowed him to play... good grief! I would have had to cut practically the whole team! For eating dinner... lol I would have also had to cut the girl who came complaining about the other guy... she was there too! So to be fair... well... she would have been gone...

- Justice means not accepting wrongdoing as right. When we see people blatantly living in sin... while claiming Christianity... yes... it's probably time to step in (with a friend at your side) and say something about it...

- For believers, James rings true... In chapter 2, James is speaking about favoritism in the church... holding some believers above others... mostly here, he is speaking about rich and poor... However, in verses 12 and 13, he says this: “So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to other. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when He judges you.”

- This is all about how we treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ... “First get rid of the log in your own eye...”

- But unbelievers? They have nothing to answer to! If they're not claiming Christianity... then there's no reason to go yelling at them about their sins. Most of the time... if you start telling someone who is unsaved that you have the cure for the cancer that they're not willing to admit they have... they get pretty closed off, pretty fast.

- I have found that if people know you care about them... they're generally okay if you bring up something about church or God.

- However, I have also had people on the other end of the spectrum. I met a guy in grad school that absolutely hated anything about God. I couldn't even say “thank God” about it being Friday or a test being over, without him ripping my head off about bringing God into it... Which quite honestly scared me to no end... I'd never had anybody be that ridiculous about it...

- But you know... there was one day that I got a little upset about it... and I told him look... this is who I am. You wanna hang out with me, study with me, sorry... sometimes God comes into it... I can't help it. Just like you can't help your language... I can't help mine. It's habit. So unless you learn you control every curse word that comes out of your mouth overnight... I'm not going to be able to stop mentioning God on occasion in passing...

- And you know... even though he didn't like it... he didn't really go off as bad anymore? He actually sought out my company? There were times that we'd go grab dinner or something and he'd sit there trying to convince me to say one cuss word... or let him order one drink for me... “I'm going to make you compromise SOMETHING.”

- He called me every time he needed a ride to the airport. He called when his car broke down. He called when he was moving out of his apartment. We talked about piano music. We talked about Jazz. We talked about a little bit of everything... and you know... eventually... he brought up God. He started talking about growing up in church... then getting strung out on drugs. Problems he had with his parents and siblings...

- But HE brought it up. Why? Because he knew my stand... and he knew that I was reliable. I didn't back down... and he admired that. But he would have never known that if I hadn't TOLD him so.

- One day, I went to take him to the airport and my bible was in the back of my car... and he started giving me the rub about carrying my bible around with me all the time... and I was like... “oh... I was working on the bible study today... so I had it with me at school.” Bible study? Yeah... this thing... lol So I got to share a little about writing this bible study... that has literally traveled around the world... I've been kind of keeping track... and you know what? This has been read on literally every continent. (Well... other than Antarctica... lol) And he stood and stared at me for a good minute or so... really uncomfortable moment...

- My friend and I have definitely had rough spots. He has definitely been adverse to talking about God... But slowly... he's starting to come around to the subject.

- I have never gotten in his face and told him he's wrong. We've discussed actions and given opinions... I have told him what I believe about what he does... but only when he asked... and never in a way that made him feel like I thought I was better than him.

- I know there's a train of thought that says, “you have to live experiences in order to understand them”... but... you know... I haven't been a drug addict. I haven't been in rehab. I haven't been arrested. I haven't had a horrible family life...

- And yet... somehow, God gives me understanding to relate to people... or at least a sympathy for their condition... In spite of not having lived out their problems... I can still relate... And I can still love them...

- in my mind... justice means not compromising your beliefs in your interactions with other people. It means not excusing their sin, just to maintain a friendship. It means using love... to show them that you do not compromise... because of Christ. It means showing them that there are still people who stand for something...

- You know... when I was talking with my friend about inviting our mutual friend to the youth night... one of the things I remember telling her was that... I'd rather love my friend enough to tell them the truth... and tell them where I stand... and possibly through my actions... lose a friend in this life... than to not love my friend enough now... and let them die in their sins... losing a friend for eternity.

- If I lose a friend in this life, or for a time... it's okay... Somewhere, sometime... whatever I said or did... the seeds I planted... may eventually be watered by somebody else... but if I don't plant them... then what's to say that they'll ever learn Truth? And then... my friend... is forever lost... and what kind of friend was I?

- Truly loving people... means telling them the truth. That's what people desire from one another anyway... we live in a world that is so full of deceit... that we just want somebody to be honest with us. To be straightforward with us...

- To balance out... love and justice...

- I John 4:7-21; 3:11-24
- Ephesians 4:11-5:20
- John 15:1-12
- Matthew 12:15-21
- Luke 11:37-54

vs. 12:7-8- “I DO IT!”

- God wishes His people to take after Him. To show His characteristics to other people.

- Israel... did not.

- “The people are like crafty merchants selling from dishonest scales—they love to cheat. Israel boasts, “I am rich! I've made a fortune all by myself! No one has caught me cheating! My record Is spotless!”

- Israel was following in the steps of Jacob the deceiver... not Israel... for whom God fights... Their lives weren't changed. They hadn't let God change who they were... They were still unsaved...

- I was listening to... I don't know... like a preacher discussion last night on a Christian channel... and they were talking about different theological viewpoints on salvation...

- But one thing that stood out, was something that I see to be very true... When we get saved... there is a change wrought in us. Something in our inmost being, changes. If there is no change... nothing at all... then... we didn't surrender to God. If I'm the same cussing, beating, drunk I was the moment before... then I didn't get saved...

- Sometimes... the change... isn't visible. Sometimes it's just that something in your heart is changed... outwardly... things may seem identical... except that you FEEL different. There's something there, that wasn't there before. A joy. A laughter. A hope... Something is different.

- Israel's hearts... hadn't changed. In spite of attempts at sacrificing to appease God... and the occasional attempts at claiming repentance... well... apparently... they were the same sinful people they'd always been...

- Israel had completely taken God out of the picture. Instead of seeing that they were cheating to gain their wealth, they saw that they were rich! They had grown up! They had made a name for themselves... without needing God. They did it ALL BY THEMSELVES!

- If you've been around toddlers... they like to say things like... “I DO IT!” Children feel accomplished when they think they've done something on their own... little do they know... that parents generally are still helping... letting them THINK they're doing great... but still doing most of the work...

- Israel... either thought God was blessing them... or saw nothing wrong in their actions. As long as things were going good... why change? Why NEED God... when they didn't NEED anything at all? They had all they wanted. So... what was the point of God? They'd gotten away with it! They didn't need a lawyer! And definitely didn't think they needed a judge...

vs. 9-11- TENTS

- “but I am the Lord your God, Who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. And I will make you live in tents again.... I sent my prophets to warn you with many visions and parables.”

- “I am the reason you're alive! I'm the reason you're successful! I blessed you! I helped you!”

- God did everything they asked... He led them, guided them, fed them, clothed them, provided everything they ever could want... and then they turned and said “wow! Look what I did! Aren't I amazing!?”

- So God is going to take it all away... they will no longer boast in themselves...

- footnote- “Once a year the Israelites spent a week living in tents during the Festival of Shelters, which commemorated God's protection as they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years...”

- So instead of playing out this story... God was going to take everything from them... and yet again... they would be poor wanderers... Wandering around with no permanent home...

- They have been warned! God sent prophets to tell them time and time again what would happen if they didn't change their ways! But alas! Nothing God has done has worked... So now... punishment comes.

- “But the people of Gilead are worthless because of their idol worship. And in Gilgal, too, they sacrifice bulls; their altars are lined up like the heaps of stone along the edges of a plowed field.”

- The people of the land... had so immersed themselves in idol worship... that altars became as common a sight as stones in a field. And they weren't secretive about it... They were out in the open! They were openly declaring their allegiances to their idols.

- When we openly acknowledge that we are living in sin... that we are walking away from God... It won't be long before something happens... because God can't have us walking around declaring that we are under His protection... while openly rejecting His Lordship. Doesn't work that way... Discipline has to come...

- II Corinthians 9:7-12
- Romans 8:31-39
- Deuteronomy 28:63-68


- Hosea gives a quick run down of the story of Jacob. Where he came from, what he did...

- Israel was no kingly nation. They were a nation descended from shepherds... They had nothing to brag about... It would be like somebody who won the lottery trying to walk into a high society tea in New York... They don't necessarily belong there... oh their money might get them there... but according to the high society... it's a birth thing... it has to do with who your daddy is... not what's in your check book... although the check book helps... lol

- Israel had forgotten their beginnings... they forgot from where God brought them... They were trying to walk into the high society... thinking that they belonged there...

- God is showing that He has always been there. He's the reason that they are who they are and where they are. He's the reason that they have been protected... He's the reason they've survived...

- “But the people of Israel have bitterly provoked the Lord, so their Lord will now sentence them to death in payment for their sins.”

- ouch... Israel turned to their benefactor... and told Him they could do it without Him. It was the final straw. There was no more to be done. God had finally had enough... and He was ready to speak judgment on His people for their sins. ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

- Have you thanked God today? Not just grace for your food... I mean, have you REALLY thanked God today? It may be small things... but... God has given them all to you... Right down to the grass in your yard... or the roof over your head... or the clothes on your back... or the people who love you...

- Our pastor had us do an exercise a while ago... He had us sit down and thank God for everything we could possibly think of... lol might sound a little crazy... but it took a really LONG time to do!

- So have you REALLY thanked God today? For He is where everything comes from...

- I Thessalonians 5:18
- Psalm 100; 28

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