A Bizarre Sermon Illustration

Hosea is the only prophet from Israel (he calls the Israelite king “our king” in 7:5), and along with Amos he is the only prophet to address the northern kingdom exclusively. Hosea addresses the northern tribes of Israel with brutal honesty—he calls them an adulteress wife! Hosea isn’t alone in saying this, as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all same the same thing too. 

But Hosea alone is called on to live out his message in a most unusual way: God instructs him to marry “an adulterous woman”! The question is: was she already a promiscuous woman before they married? Or did she become unfaithful after they were married? 

I believe that she became unfaithful after marriage. When Gomer gives birth to their first son, Hosea writes that “she bore him a son”—indicating he is the father. But with Gomer’s second and third pregnancies, Hosea simply writes, “she gave birth,” leading me to think that Hosea wasn’t the father of those children. 

The names of the children are also interesting: 

  • Jezreel—This boy’s name means “God sows.” It is a neutral word meaning either sowing good seed and reaping a healthy harvest, or sowing godlessness and reaping punishment. 
  • Lo-Ruhamah—Her name means “not pitied.” God indicates that He will bring a judgment on Israel that is deserved justice. He has been patiently calling them to repentance but they kept running farther away from Him. 
  • Lo-Ammi—This boy’s name is saddest of all. It means “not My people. 

How sad! Can you imagine Hosea’s heartache?! Can you imagine God’s heartache?! God tells Hosea the penalty for their adulterous life (Hosea 2:2-13), which the apostle Paul would later sum up in these straightforward words: the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). 

“YET” and “THEREFORE”…

In the middle of God expressing His heartache over His wayward wife He says two amazing words “Yet” and “Therefore” (1:10; 2:14). 

  • Yet I will bless you and reverse your misfortune” 
  • Therefore I will allure you and speak tenderly to you” 

This is UNBELIEVABLE!! Who would respond like this to such vile unfaithfulness?! 

God would.

God did! But God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ—the Messiah, the Anointed One—died for us (Romans 5:8). 

Hosea—whose name means salvation—is called on to do exactly what Jesus did for us. Hosea buys back his wife from her master. Hosea pays the price for Gomer’s sin, just as Jesus paid the price for our sin. 

What amazing love God has for us! 

You have never lived an unloved day in your life. Not a single one! God loves you more than the best husband could ever love his wife. He paid for your forgiveness and your freedom. Will you receive that forgiveness and restoration today?

Join me next Sunday as we learn more major lessons from the minor prophets. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—A Powerful 1-2 Punch (Proverbs 5)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

My son, pay attention… (Proverbs 5:1).

Adultery can look exciting.

Pornography might seem harmless.

Sex outside of marriage may appear appealing…

…but only to the foolish! 

Solomon warns of the perils of any sexual activity outside of marriage, but he also tells of the joyous satisfaction of sex inside of marriage. 

His conclusion for us:

  1. DON’T even dabble in sexual immorality 
  2. DO invest in your marriage

This is a powerful 1-2 punch to both find satisfaction in your spouse, and avoid the heartache illicit sexual activity is guaranteed to bring. 

The Wonder Of God’s Forgiveness

King David was intimately confident that God would hear his prayers. No matter what—even if David had sinned.

The prophet Nathan confronted David after David had committed adultery with another man’s wife, gotten her pregnant, and then had her husband killed to try to cover up their affair. David assumed he had gotten away with it, but God sent Nathan to tell David that He knew all about it.

David immediately went to prayer.

His prayer is instructive for us when we sin too. David’s appeal to God for forgiveness is based solely on God’s ability and willingness to forgive, not on any merits David brings.

In this prayer, David presents a tally sheet. On his side of the ledger, he lists my transgressions, my iniquity, my sin, my bloodguilt. He sums it up with, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.

David also tallies up God’s side of the ledger: You are right, You are just, You are righteous.

We might be tricked into thinking that a Perfect Being like this wants nothing to do with a sinful creature like you and me. But this is completely wrong! David appeals to God’s unfailing love, and Your great compassion. He lists God’s desire to cleanse, wash, blot out sins, restore, and release from blood-guiltiness.

David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And immediately Nathan responded, “The Lord has taken away your sin.”

Sin is all on me! Restoration is all on God!

With this in mind, we learn that the mark of a maturing Christian is not one who never sins, but one who…

  1. …feels a broken heart because of their sin (see Psalm 51:10)
  2. …confesses my sin
  3. …confidently asks for His forgiveness
  4. …helps others who have sinned (v. 13)
  5. …continues to abide in Jesus (vv. 10-12)

God is quick to forgive. Are we equally as quick to ask for His forgiveness?

You can study more of the lessons from the prayers of David:

6 Quotes On Mourning From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are those who mourn (Matthew 5:4)…

“The word that Jesus used in this Beatitude is the strongest word in the Greek language for mourning. It is the word for Jacob’s morning over what he thought was the death of Joseph (Genesis 37:35). … Jesus uses this word to show the intensity of mourning He blesses here. He is, however, actually talking about mourning not over death but over our sin.”

“To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to be convicted of one’s sin, whereas to ‘mourn’ is to be contrite for it.” —John Blanchard

“King David committed two sins: first adultery, and then (essentially) murder to try to cover up his adultery. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront him, and in his skillful accusation of David, Nathan twice used the word despised (2 Samuel 12:7-11). First, David despised the Word of the Lord—that is, he despised the law of God (verse 9). In so doing, he also despised the Person of God (verse 10). Why is this true? Despising the law of God is not only an expression of rebellion. It is also a despising of His very character, since His law is a reflection of His character. This is true not only of such heinous sins as adultery and murder, but also of our more refined sins: pride, selfishness, gossip, and the like. So let us pray that God will indeed allow us to see our sin as rebellion against the rule of God—a despising of God’s law and even of His character.”

“Failure to see our sin as primarily against God is, I believe, the reason we experience so little heartfelt grief over it. … But be it ever so small in our own eyes, whenever we sin we also break God’s law. And Scripture says, ‘Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it’ (James 2:10). God’s law is seamless, one complete whole. So when we break any of it, we break the whole law.”

“Is mourning over sin just for those first coming to Christ? No, Jesus’ words are in the present active tense. We could literally translate them as ‘blessed are those who continue to mourn.’ He is pronouncing a blessing on those whose attitude toward their sin is characterized by mourning. One mark of a growing Christian, then, is a growing sense of his or her sin, and an attitude of mourning over it.”

“So mourning over our sin is truly a display of humility in action. We cannot be proud and mourn over sin at the same time. We cannot be judgmental toward other believers, or even toward unbelievers, if we are truly contrite and brokenhearted over our own sin.”

I just shared quotes on blessed are the poor in spirit. Quotes on the next Beatitude will be posted soon. Stay tuned…

6 Quotes About Understanding Sexual Sin

Focus On The FamilyEarlier this week I shared some quotes from a Focus On The Family (FOTF) reading plan I completed on YouVersion regarding the problems with pornography. Here are some additional quotes from a related FOTF reading plan called Understanding Sexual Sin.

“Sexual sin distorts the image of the Trinity mirrored in our marital relationships.”

“If our sex lives are meant to function as reflections of the image of God, it stands to reason that they should be shaped by the qualities of the Trinity. Three primary principles apply here.

1) We may never use another person as an object, sexual or otherwise. The members of the Trinity never relate to each other as objects or things to be used. Instead, they relate to one another in love, each seeking to serve and enhance the goodness and glory of the others.

2) We must keep sexual relations within the bounds of a loving and committed marriage. … This sexual embrace within the bond of marriage mirrors the nature of the relationship between the members of the Trinity as nothing else in creation can. Ideally, the marital bond is designed to be loving, permanent, exclusive, and self-giving.

3) We must respect and honor the God-designed differences between male and female. Male and female are not simply cultural constructs. They are God-created characteristics of humanity. Together, they personify the Trinitarian nature of God in a fundamental way…. The differences between male and female provide the fullest picture of the image of God in creation.”

“Biblically speaking, sexual immorality (Greek porneia) is any sexual activity that takes place outside of marriage. This includes adultery, premarital sex, and extramarital sex. Scripture teaches that both are off-limits for Christians (see 1 Corinthians 6:9; Acts 15:29; Hebrews 13:4).”

“It’s a mistake to confuse normal sexual attraction with lust. Sexual attraction is natural. … True lust involves a choice and an act of the will. To a certain extent it’s a conscious decision to pursue the desirable object instead of simply allowing it to pass by. It’s a willingness to give in to the natural impulse.”

“Pornography represents a departure from God’s design for sex in that it depersonalizes real people, strips them of their dignity, and turns them into sexual objects.”

“It is never wise to give more weight to feelings than to rational conclusions and clear biblical teachings. Feelings don’t make you who you are. Beliefs, values, and conscious commitments do.”

11 More Quotes From “#struggles”

#strugglesCraig Groeschel nailed the tension between technology and relationships in his timely book #struggles. He doesn’t advocate getting rid of technology, but he does make a great case for not allowing technology to diminish our flesh-and-blood relationships. You can read my review of #struggles by clicking here. Below are some more quotes that caught my eye from this book.

“The highest percentage of consumers of pornography our children aged twelve to seventeen.”

“We have access to many opportunities online that—without accountability—can turn technological blessings into curses.”

“Over time and with repeated use, technology is eroding both our moral beliefs and our commitment to acting on what we believe. According to one study, ‘Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of young adult men and one-half (49 percent) of young adult women now believe that viewing pornography is acceptable.’ … Times have changed. But that doesn’t mean morality should.” 

“If you want to live in a way that honors our Savior—if you want to follow Jesus in a sin-saturated, selfie-centered world—then you will have to be different. … Our convictions must be guided by God’s timeless principles, not by the ever-eroding popular opinion on whatever happens to be acceptable now.”

“Most people I know you don’t plan to ruin their lives. I don’t know anyone who thinks, ‘If I can connect with an old boyfriend on Facebook, I can totally wreck my life. I can almost guarantee an ugly divorce full of expensive lawyers helping us fight over custody rights for the kids. I can devastate my husband and drop a nuclear bomb of pain into my kids’ lives. And I can spend the next years of my life trying to forgive myself, rebuild my life, and regain my name.’ No one plans like that, but these things happen every day. Same with pornography. I don’t know a single man who wanted to crush the wife he loves when she discovered his ‘little secret.’ But one glance followed by another click often leads to an addiction that seems impossible to overcome.”

“When you think about it, no one stumbles into righteousness. People fall into sin and every day. But no one just falls into holiness. It requires making deliberate, prayerful choices and walking an intentional path.”

“Here’s what many people miss: when we misuse technology, we’re robbing ourselves of the peace we so desperately crave, because even the momentary escape is followed by waves of intense guilt. We want to numb the pain, but on the other side of our binge, the pain is still there, only worse. We love the momentary distraction, but then reality screams at us and our responsibilities pile up. We love the thrill of the lust, but the fear of getting caught haunts us and robs us of sleep and peace. Like a person dying of thirst who gulps salt water, that which is supposed to satisfy only intensifies our need. So life goes on as usual. More stress. More anxiety. More worries. And less peace.”

“Now is a great time to be brutally honest. Are you addicted to something online? Looking lustfully? Spending uncontrollably? Surfing endlessly? Playing continually? Gambling consistently? Scrolling incessantly?”

“If you are checking multiple times a day to see what people are saying about you, let’s call that what it is: idolatry. If your identity comes more from who follows you, who Likes you, what they say and what they think about you rather than who God says you are, it’s time to take this issue to God.”

“When our minds are idle, we’re not thinking about anything meaningful, and when we’re not intentionally living, it can be so easy to shift into neutral. When we don’t have a specific destination in mind, any road will do. And if our time and our resources aren’t precious, if we’re not doing anything important, it can be so easy to just pick up our phone, unlock the screen, and wonder aimlessly through cyberspace, wasting our time and our thoughts.”

“Maybe it’s time to power down and take a cyber Sabbath. Maybe it’s time to remember what life is like without your phone, tablet, or laptop. Maybe it’s time for your soul to rest.”

You can check out the other quotes I shared from #struggles by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Remember it is God, and not man, that must have the glory. It is not much speaking, but much faith, that is needed.” —Robert Murray McCheyne

“That very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.” —Charles Spurgeon

Mark Atteberry asks a good question: “Aren’t we out-of-touch, narrow-minded, sexually-repressed Christians supposed to be the only ones who are bothered by rampant sexuality? Why, then, are these such big stories Jared Fogle, Ashley Madison, Larry Flynt], worthy of reporting on national newscasts?” Check out his post A Big Day For Sexual Sin.

Reminder: There is no such thing as free pornography. “The simple truth is that porn always costs us dearly, and it is never a victimless crime. Peer-reviewed research suggests that porn is highly addictive, negatively affects our behavior, and functionally operates as a destructive drug.”

Eric Metaxas shares some cool archeological findings about Jesus Christ’s hometown of Nazareth.

“Believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is much more than accepting a fact. It means being confident that God is for you, that He has closed ranks with you, that He is transforming your life, and that He will save you for eternal joy.” —John Piper

More Sex Talk

Married couple in bedSex is good. God designed it to be that way! As more and more scientific studies are completed and research papers published there is one thing becoming more and more clear—God’s way of having sex (a married husband and wife) is the best way to do it.

Pornography before or during marriage is a relationship killer. [1] Porn makes you objectify the other person, seeing them as an object to be used and not a person to be loved. [2] Porn creates unrealistic expectations that your spouse cannot live up to. [3] Even so-called “soft” porn is the open door to more destructive viewing habits. [4] Porn erodes the trust that holds a relationship together. [5] Porn isolates marriage partners from each other, because they think they can find satisfaction on a screen.

Having sex before marriage actually rewires your brain, making it so much harder to bond with your spouse after you say “I do.” Check this out:

For over a decade, there have been numerous studies that reveal three different attachment styles in the way people bond sexually: secure, anxious and avoidant. The latter is what’s interesting as it reflects the behavior we see in the statistics above.

According to Dr. [Sue] Johnson: “Those of us who are avoidant, that is, uncomfortable with emotional closeness and dependence on others, are more likely to have what I term ‘sealed-off sex.’ Sex is self-centered and self-affirming, a performance aimed at achieving climax and confirming one’s own sexual skill. Technique is prized; openness and vulnerability shunned. There is little foreplay, such as kissing or tender touching. And no cuddling afterward—once the Big Bang occurs, there’s nothing left … Because pleasure without emotional engagement is shallow and fleeting, this kind of sex needs continual boosting to be thrilling.”

God’s desire is for your sexual relationship with your spouse to be intoxicating! The descriptions in Scripture are of a husband and wife intoxicated with each other, and God pronouncing a blessing over the couple as they are wrapped up in each other! God wants sex in your marriage to be so amazingly good that there is never a shadow of a thought of looking anywhere else.

But if you want this, you must do sex God’s way. One man and one woman who are married to each other, and who have left behind all the entanglements of other partners, whether they’re real or virtual.

Why PhDs In Theology Commit Adultery

John PiperThis is an astounding video clip from John Piper! Please soak up this powerful 2-minute snippet…

I love when he says, “Too many Christians are fighting graduate school sins with a grammar school knowledge of God.” You can find the link to watch Piper’s entire sermon by clicking here.

12 Quotes From “From This Day Forward”

From This Day ForwardCraig & Amy Groeschel wrote a great book for anyone who wants to have a great marriage. Whether you’re single, in a struggling marriage, or in a great marriage, there are some great principles to learn in From This Day Forward. You can read my book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes I especially liked.

“Healthy couples fight for resolution. Unhealthy couples fight for personal victory.”

“Even when you don’t agree with the other person, you can still validate their feelings.”

“One of the best ways you and your spouse can become slow to anger is by communicating regularly and honestly when you’re not facing conflict.”

“You have only one enemy, and it’s not your spouse. Get focused on that. Your enemy is a thief who’s trying to steal your joy, kill your love, and destroy your marriage. The good news is you don’t have to fight fair with that guy. No, with him, you’re actually going to fight to win. You’re going to fight for your marriage, and you’re going to fight for victory. One of the very best ways you can do that is to learn to fight fair with your spouse—for resolution, for restoration.”

“Don’t fight to win. You both should fight to lose the conflict and gain a closer relationship. Don’t fight each other; fight together to see the relationship restored. Redefine winning to mean that at the end of every fight, you’re closer to each other then you were when you started. That’s winning! And that’s what it really means to fight fair.” —Amy Groeschel

“When you’re married, fun is not a luxury; it’s a requirement. … Without romance, without adventure, without physical intimacy—without fun—marriage is reduced to a simple business arrangement. You’re like partners in a company, two roommates who split expenses like rent and food, yet living entirely different lives.”

“Guys, be intentional about pursuing happiness together with her because she’s God’s ‘reward’ in your life [Ecclesiastes 9:9].”

“Generally speaking, I don’t think anyone would argue that most men tend to desire physical intimacy more frequently than women do. So ladies, you need to understand that when you turn off that faucet and things start to go dry, for your husband, that’s a crisis. It’s the equivalent of the distress you feel when there’s silence, when there’s no emotional intimacy between you. It’s a crisis. One of the most important ways you can demonstrate love to each other is by renewing your spiritual commitment to one another through acts of physical love. Sex is spiritual. It’s two people becoming one in an alliance of intimacy. It’s a blessing from God, a way that you can genuinely serve one another. … One of the greatest things you can do for each other is to engage in frequent, creative, spiritual lovemaking. It is a gift from God that honors Him by renewing your spiritual covenant to one another.”

“Revelation 2:5 says, ‘Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.’ If you want what you once had, start doing what you once did. You got married because you had fun. Start having fun again.”

“Physical intimacy is directly related to your process of growing together, and it can be a good indicator of how healthy your relationship is—or isn’t. In fact, if physical intimacy has been a problem lately in your marriage, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve neglected being emotionally connected in other ways.” —Amy Groeschel

“By the time they reach the sin of adultery, they will have already crossed dozens of other sin lines. Sin doesn’t begin on the outside. It begins in the heart. You see something (or someone) attractive, and you allow them to capture your attention. ‘Mmm, they look good.’ That’s lust. And lust is a sin. Maybe you even take some action—just not full-blown adultery. ‘A body as hot as yours want to come with a warning label!’ Implying to someone else that you’re available when you’re not is called flirting. And it’s a sin. Maybe you don’t take any action. You just see something you want, and you let your thoughts wander after it. ‘Yowza! I’d like to take that home.’ That’s not taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). That’s fantasizing, and it’s a sin. These things are problematic because they draw the line in the wrong place.”

“You probably learned that while it may be true that, at least while you’re dating, opposites attract—once you get married, opposites attack! … One way you can return to opposites attracting instead of attacking is by accepting your spouse for who they are, not who you want them to be. … Being opposites isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the truth is, if you’re married to someone who’s just like you, one of you is unnecessary. God knew exactly what He was doing when He brought you two opposites together. The only way iron can sharpen iron is if your differences are constantly rubbing against each other (Proverbs 27:17). … The challenge is that we settle into a mindset and become convinced that our differences are always going to cause conflict. But that doesn’t have to be true. Just because your spouse does things differently than you doesn’t mean that it has to be a problem. It’s just… well, different. If you refused to except your differences as the positives they are, you may find yourself sometimes trying to keep things from your spouse.”

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