A Faithful Spouse February 27-March 3
The Old Testament book of Hosea talks about a prophet whose life no one would want to imitate. He was called to marry Gomer, a prostitute, whom even after they were married, was unfaithful and deceptive. Each time she was unfaithful, Hosea welcomed her back, and even went to purchase and redeem her. While acknowledging that we wouldn’t want to be Hosea, we are likely embarrassed to admit that we are more like Gomer. We are the unfaithful bride, the one who runs to flighty temptations when our eyes slip from Christ to self. We are those who return to Christ to seek the forgiveness He always extends. Praise God that His mercy awaits us! It is amazing that God would go to such lengths to restore people who have rejected Him.
Day 1 Hosea 1:1-3; 3:1-5
Reflect: What is the reason behind Hosea’s calling? How does God want His people to behave? What is His plan for His adulterous people? How is this an encouragement to believers?
Apply: How might you be living like Gomer? What do you learn from God’s call for Hosea’s life? How can you use Hosea to encourage a believer or share the gospel with someone?
Pray: Father, thank You for Your unfailing love in sending Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross in my place. You paid the ransom price to rescue me from the penalty of slavery to sin and to reconcile me to a right relationship with You.
Day 2 Exodus 20:4-6
Reflect: What does this passage say about God? About our relationship with Him? What do you think God means when He says He is a jealous God? Isn’t jealousy a sin?
Apply: How well do you keep this command? In your life, are there idols that need to go away? How has God redeemed you from past spiritual adultery?
Pray: Lord, keep me from any form of idolatry—of someone or something seated on the throne of my life instead of You. Protect me from the wiles of the devil and help me to keep the eyes of my heart on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith.
Day 3 Jeremiah 3:1-15
Reflect: Why does God use the analogy of marriage, adultery, and divorce to describe what the people are doing? What are the consequences of being unfaithful to God?
Apply: What is the difference between being called unfaithful and faithless? Is one worse than another? Which do you most struggle with? How has God shown you His faithfulness?
Pray: Father, it is clear that You are serious about the obedience of Your people. The glory of Your faithfulness is that my sin has never made You unfaithful. I want to walk in faithful obedience to better know and honor You.
Day 4 Ezekiel 14:1-8
Reflect: Did God want to give the elders advice? Why or why not? Describe how He responds to them and why. What offended God? What happens to those who do not repent?
Apply: God cares about the focus of our inner hearts. What would He say is the focus of yours? While confession of sin is good, God requires repentance. Are you willing to do both?
Pray: Lord, in Your grace, You give the solution for my sin. You ask that I confess and repent— acknowledge my sin, accept Your forgiveness and seek the One Thing that truly satisfies—the Gospel of Jesus and His love for me.
Day 5 Psalm 115:1-18
Reflect: What is the primary message of the psalmist? On what attributes of God does the psalmist focus? What does the praise of God’s people accomplish?
Apply: Trust the Lord, fear the Lord, praise the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit how you are doing with each of these. If not the Lord, in who or in what are you trusting, fearing, praising?
Pray: Heavenly Father, You are the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end. You are the Creator and we are the created. Let us not boast in our achievements or in what we have done. For all the glory, power and praise belongs to You.
Put It Into Practice!
Lent is the Christian season of repentance and renewal. This year we are focusing on and studying the ways God accomplishes His redeeming work in and through us. The suggested “Put It Into Practice” exercises for this series are practices of spiritual devotion fitting for this sacred period of cleansing, contemplation, and renewal. Try them all, a few, or just choose one to practice this Lenten season.
Reflect – The ancient practice of reflection is a tool for looking back at your day and noticing where God has been present and at work, as well as to recognize things about yourself that may need to be reshaped by the Potter. During this time, spend a few moments in gratitude for the gifts and blessings of the day. Ask God to enlighten you about where His presence in your day. Examine the moments of your day, noticing your reactions to what has led to consolation and what has led to desolation. Seek forgiveness for the times when you have acted, spoken or thought contrary to God’s grace and calling for you. Resolve to change. Decide what in your behavior or attitude you will try to improve tomorrow.
Practice generosity – Just as Boaz, be generous with your money, food, time and talents to those in need. Carefully examine what motivates you to be generous under the shadow of the Cross, for almsgiving is of little value if we give only to relieve our conscience but remain indifferent to those in need.
Strengthen relationships – Help your family and strive to sacrifice of yourself for their benefit. Go the extra mile to maintain communication, to heal old wounds, and mend broken bridges. Learn to apologize and to put yourself in others’ shoes. Reach beyond your comfort zone by engaging with people who are different than you. Seek out the best in others and give the best that is in yourself. Remember Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the loving Father, and the elder son.
Fast – Intentionally withhold something you would normally partake in for the purpose of creating space in your life to feast on the presence of Jesus “directly.” Fast from foods associated with “feasting”—chocolate, desserts, coffee/caffeine, alcohol, etc. Fast from media or entertainment: cell phone, TV, streaming video, radio, music, email, computers, video games, etc. Fast from habits and comforts—shopping, looking in the mirror, makeup, elevators, parking in a spot close to the store, finding the shortest checkout line, reading online, following sports, etc.
Confession – Allow the spiritual discipline of confession which leads to forgiveness, to be part of your daily practice. Before we can experience the full grace, healing and redemption made available through Jesus, we must turn from our sins and confess them to God. Dig deep. What sins of unfaithfulness to God do you need to confess?
Rejoice in the Lord— Let the joy of the Lord be your strength! On Sundays, if what you have sacrificed through fasting increases the joy of this wonderful day, then sacrifice it. If it does not, then do not. The joy of the Lord must be your strength!