Hosea 2014: Day 5

When we run, he is in control

by

Today's Text: Hosea 4:1-19, Romans 3:9-27

Text: Hosea 4:1-19, Romans 3:9-27

There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.
– Hosea 4:1b

As I read Hosea 4, my lips and heart grow silent. The image of Israel’s spiritual adultery is sobering to say the least.

Part of me recoils at the dark and difficult language of Hosea, and yet how much more painful must it be for the God of heaven—creator, sustainer and lover of Israel—to watch His people choose path after path of destruction? His bride and His children quite literally running away?

The Father grieves as Israel gives their hearts to that which destroys them. He grieves as they run. He would be just to punish their sin in full, to give up and walk away. And yet He pursues them still.

He pursues us still.

The chasm of sin grows wider and we run faster, but our God changes not. He is still sovereign, even as we flee.

God does not force Israel to stay, for forcing is not the way of Love. In fact, Hosea 4 paints the tragic picture of what it would look like for the Lord to end His pursuit of Israel, for Him to leave them to the sin that would surely destroy them. “Ephraim is joined to idols,” says verse 17. “Leave him alone.” (ESV)

Sisters, let us praise God today that He does not walk away when we run.

We are sinful. He is steadfast.
We are fearful. He is faithful.
We are broken. He binds up.
We cherish idols. He cherishes us.

His love and affection toward us do not change, no matter the depth of our sin.

Let us repent and rejoice in light of this truth today. Let us thank Him for allowing us to turn and return to Him.

5

  • Christina

    “His love and affection toward us do not change, no matter the depth of our sin.”

    I would add, “and no matter the height of our accomplishments.”

    My issue is not that God loves me despite my sin, but feeling like I still have to perform great things to affirm that God’s love. Something still doesn’t click in me about the totality of God’s grace and how His unrelenting love for us is totally dependent and intrinsic to Him. It has nothing to do with us. I cannot earn it or lose it.

    I can stop striving and rest, know that no matter what I do, stay, run, hide, walk, whatever, God will pursue and love me still.

    • Courtney

      That’s awesome, thanks for sharing your struggle. My husband and I want to be missionaries and as we raise support and are on the road of training I keep struggling with trying to be “good enough to be a missionary” and worthy of others support. But only God is good enough to use me and only he is worthy of support!

  • Samantha Edwards

    Something else that stood out to me in this chapter of Hosea, is how whenever the Israelites would turn to their gods, or to diviner's rods, they were trying to find out what God's will was — and that turned them away from God and His will all the more. Not only do we turn to other gods, but we separate ourselves from God even more when we do that.

    If God's love for me changed based on my sin and the sin I have in my life, I have no doubt that He would absolutely hate me. But instead, I know and am wholeheartedly certain that the Lord loves me entirely. What a blessing, to have such assurance!!

  • Christina Rebecca

    @Onfaith…what a BEAUTIFUL story to share of your daughter! I know that it has been a year already; I hope that this coming school year is less stressful.

    I, too, can relate with your daughter, and the fear that she felt in not wanting to face her teacher. Of course, there was nothing to be afraid of, once it was all said and done…how many times have I felt the same?! A beautiful reminder…thank you again for sharing. Blessings to you both!

  • My heart hurts for America as I read this… the picture painted could be said of our culture right now.

  • I am so thankful today that no matter how bad my sin – god’s love for me will never change! I am thankful hat every time I turn from God, He allows me to return. No matter what He pursues us with His unconditional love for us!!!

  • Anna Buchanan

    Although we change He stays the same. He is constant and unmoving. He will not stop pursuing us. Why would I want to run from that kind of Love? Oh heart long for your true Lover.

  • Juanita DJ Camarillo

    Only God can bring beauty out of the ashes that I am.

  • Beautiful way to put it!

  • mjasi253

    “God does not force Israel to stay, for forcing is not the way of Love.”

    For the first time, I know exactly how I would to explain to someone why God allows bad things to happen in the world. Because He could force us to stay away from things that will harm us, but that is not the way of love. He is here to love and redeem, not to force.

  • Allison Sims

    As a single woman, I read this with a thankfulness that God of the universe pursues me constantly, but can’t help longing for an earthy husband as well. Clinging to the promise that he knows my heart and what’s best for me.

  • Selinaaaaaa

    So in love with this study.

  • Wow this is exactly what I needed to hear. I feel like I’ve been, not so much running from God, but just not living closely with him… and this is just such a reminder that he pursues me. In our sin he still pursues… What an amazing God!

  • Jennifer LaPrees

    What does it mean, “your people are like those who bring charges against a priest.”

  • He still pursues me.
    He
    Still
    PURSUES
    Me

  • After I read today’s devotional, I closed my eyes and pictured in a visual aspect what it looks like when I’m going through my every day rituals, relying on self, doing as I please, making major decisions without receiving His guidance and so on. In the mental picture, I imagine God standing to the left of view and me, scurrying down the road of life laid out before Him to the right. He’s standing there, ready to take my burdens, loving me, offering protection, yet I hurry along, frantic, choosing my idols and living life. Yes, I have a vague understanding that He is there and respect Him. But I don’t let Him in. I keep Him at a safe distance. All while He’s still standing there, waiting and loving. I see myself stopping when I can’t handle something or when I become overwhelmed, and in that moment, He approaches. Just as a loving, earthly father would approach his child and offer help and comfort after they’ve fallen and hurt themselves doing something he told them not to do so many times before. Never once do I picture God turning His back on me. No sin, no decision, no flaw separates me from Him and His love and grace.

  • This devo all together is helping me really accept my sin. I always read New Testament and see God’s justness and judgment on people’s unfaithfulness and think “oh you silly people how could you?” And I’m really seeing that it’s me – and instead of saying “Candace how dare you!?” I’m being made aware, repenting and becoming humbled- I’m just as sinful but it is He in me that makes everything new! Amen.

  • It is hard to read Hosea 4, hearing the words as from God the Father. To me, that means these words are spoken out of anger and temper and hateful passion. That’s what my experiences with fathers would suggest. It is hard to understand that these words would actually be from God’s broken heart, that a “perfect father” can say these from a place of hurt and love. God loves Israel/us with all His heart.

  • Kacey Lake

    Thinking of Him as a pursuer, one who’s eyes are just awaiting mine each and every morning… It’s been a new dimension to my faith and I just can’t get enough. Thank you for this rich text and application of “even though” He still cherishes us.

  • As I read this post, I realized that I am letting sin cling to me so close that it is getting in my way of running to Christ. This article was really challenging in the fact it asked " what's holding you back in my relationship with Christ?" Sin, pride, self glorification. This verse reminds us to lay aside every weight and sin that clings close. Cut the weight that is tied around your ankle! 1 John 1: 9 gives us so much hope to rest in- "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." So today, confess your sin and be set free. Christ desires to delight in his daughters.

    12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

    This website is so encouraging because it takes scripture and makes them into songs to resonate within our heart throughout the day. They also made devotions that follow and a image to put on your screen to be a remember throughout the day! Blessing Sisters! I am thankful to know I am not alone in this journey.
    http://www.theversesproject.com/verses/70/Hebrews

  • Marci Peach

    What a serious , intense love story…my God pursues me even as I dishonor him…thank you Jesus!

  • Gina Zeidler

    Love! Love this app so

  • So thankful for this amazing app! This is just what I need to hear, so humbling.

    • SheReadsTruth

      Hi, friend! We are so glad you\’re here! Welcome to our community!

      xoxo-Kaitlin for She Reads Truth

  • Mamamuffin83

    How undeserving we are and how gracious he is

  • Mamamuffin83

    Hitting my soul deeply

  • Such a humbling read today. The unfailing love and acceptance Christ offers us is infinite. “Dear Lord, Help me to live a life that reflects you. Help others to see something different in me. When I feel bad for a certain sin still help me to continue to turn to you. Allow me to embrace your pursuit every single day. Lord clear my useless thoughts and pour love and truth into me daily. Thank You.”

  • Sustainingholly

    Jordan that was beautiful to read thank you for sharing with us all!

  • Dangit, Amanda. I’m just catching up on the study, and am sitting in my dorm room bed near tears.

    This post made me think of these lyrics (from I Am Still Running by Jon Foreman, one of my favorites):
    “Build me a home
    inside your scars
    Build me a home
    Inside your song
    Build me a home
    inside your open arms
    The only place I ever will belong”
    So applicable here, to me at least.

    He chose ME! He pursues ME! and no matter how far I mess up and try to run, he pursues me still. He wants us. He wants ME!! How did I end up with such a loving Father as this? He loves every part of me, including the broken, messed up pieces that only He can fix. Even when I’m running and making a hot mess of myself, He doesn’t shy away. Even THEN, He pursues me, and waits on me to come crawling back into His arms. And I always do, because no amount of running can ever pull me away from the hold He’s got on my heart.

    Thank you, Lord, for waiting and pursuing me still.

  • “We cherish idols. He cherishes us.” God, you are bigger than my idols. Help me to see. Fight for me, when I have not the sense nor the strength to turn away. I can’t do this by myself. I’ve tried. It’s not working. Please, Lord, win for me…rescue me. Somehow, destroy the chains that tie me down and keep me from you. I cannot believe I’m even allowed to ask for this. You are too good for me. Thank you. Amen.

  • As a teenager, I sin constantly. As a human being, I sin constantly. I know I'm disappointing God, but yet I continue to sin. Probably because if I sin I say to myself: "Thats okay, God still loves me." This study is helping me realize that I cannot keep using God's forgiveness as an excuse to sin. I am so blessed to have so many second chances and to be loved by such a forgiving God.

    • SheReadsTruth

      Love this, Emily! I am so thankful that He always loves us, no matter what. We love having you!

      xoxo-Kaitlin for She Reads Truth

  • Kelsey T

    “We are sinful. He is steadfast.
We are fearful. He is faithful.
We are broken. He binds up.
We cherish idols. He cherishes us. ”
    This brought tears to my eyes. How amazing is it to know that he is there to be everything we are not.

    • SheReadsTruth

      I\’m so thankful He is everything we are not, Kelsey! Beautifully put. We love having you!

      xoxo-Kaitlin for She Reads Truth

    • Nikki Smith

      Yes! This was my most favorite “heart prick” of the day!

  • Forcing is not the way of love. Holy wow. That pertains to so many parts of life. How are we loving others? Ourselves? Are we forcing other or ourselves into things that we shouldn’t? Is that showing them love? And think about God’s love for us- he never FORCES us to follow him, but gives us choices and loves us regardless of our choices. How lucky are we? Can you imagine if we loved others just a SMIDGE like the way God loves us?

  • Adriane C.

    "God does not force Israel to stay, for forcing is not the way of Love."
    – This is a very powerful statement in my life right now. It also continues to give me a clearer picture of God's image and character, which ultimately connects me more deeply to Him. Fantastic study.

  • I'm so thankful my God loves us despite our unfaithfulness. I've failed Him many times yet His relentless pursuit always pulls me back. I'm living out this hope in His love as our family is faced with a loved one who believes they were born gay. We need You Lord. This is so hard. Praying for wisdom.

  • Rebecca Sadtler

    Wow! Needed to feel that LOVEEE today!

  • “The Father grieves as Israel gives their hearts to that which destroys them.”

    The God who created the whole of the universe GRIEVES over losing us to another.

  • Ashley S.

    It makes me happy knowing we serve a faithful God that will always be there for us even when we stray! It’s as if the world has falling into those wicked ways again & all we can do is stay faithful & true to Him!

  • Angela Hunt

    What an amazing God! Know matter where we are, he’s pursuing us. We all screw up and have consequences for the sins, but God still loves us and wants us to be in relationship with him. I know I struggle with things and giving it over to God, it’s so hard. I want to do it, but I know I can’t do it without him. So very thankful for his unending love and grace.

  • Read fantastic article "The Bridegroom's Incredible Vow" on The Gospel Coalition by Jared C. Wilson it goes along perfectly with this study. I have read both of these multiple times today! http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/gospeldrivenc

  • Diana Anunda

    “We are sinful. He is steadfast.
We are fearful. He is faithful.
We are broken. He binds up.
We cherish idols. He cherishes us. ”

  • tawnimarie

    Gaaahhh I can't stand how good this study is. I'm trying to journal via blog after every study, but sometimes there just simply aren't any words. Today wasn't really different, except:

    "“Jesus has done for [us] what [we] cannot do,” which is to be sinless, blameless, and altogether “good”. I’m thankful tonight for Hosea — for how plainly God makes it known to us through these words that He loves us, and that He wants us. He won’t just walk away; He loves us like a groom loves his bride. He’ll chase after us. He’ll keep pursuing our hearts. Because He made us to love Him. That is our purpose.

    She Reads Truth said it best:

    Sisters, let us praise God today that He does not walk away when we run.

    We are sinful. He is steadfast.
    We are fearful. He is faithful.
    We are broken. He binds up.
    We cherish idols. He cherishes us.

    Amen."

    THANK YOU, She Reads Truth. I am so glad I'm a part of this community of Sisters. ❤
    http://tawnimarie.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/what-d

  • What a contrast it is, our sin and selfishness and His love and faithfulness. Dark and light. The Gospel truly is a beautiful love story that is both heart wrenching and gloriously amazing. So much to be thankful for!!

  • Laura Torres

    Being a single mom for 2 yrs has been rough, the loneliness definitely becomes a recurring event but gosh has this devo been a good reminder for me. I’m worth pursuing and God will never get tired of telling me that.(I’ll never get tired of hearing it either) God bless you ladies!

  • AndreaBurns

    We sing the most amazing songs at church. This post makes me think of one we sing titled, “He Will Hold Me Fast.” One verse says, “He will not let me soul be lost/ His promises shall last/ Bought by him at such a cost/ He will hold me fast!” Such a good song! You can find it at http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org

  • Heather Appling

    I am encouraged this morning as my husband and I have been revisiting the same sins in our lives for several months and the ways that each of us responds to the others sins can be really discouraging. But being reminded that God continues to pursue me and that His level of love, affection, and adoration for me as His daughter doesn’t change, even in the midst of running from righteousness, peace and love. It is so comforting. Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice for me and everyone single crappy part of me.

  • Elisabeth Price

    This study has been so timely for me as I come out of a season where I was distant from God. I am SO thankful for how he pursues us STILL. Thank you Lord that you are more faithful than the sunrise.

  • I’m so glad I decided to do this Hosea devotional. I’ve been struggling with my worldly relationships and they’ve really upset me. I couldn’t figure out why nothing was going right and I felt so unwanted. Then I felt lead by God to do this study. Now I’m starting to realize that the idols I out before God are my other relationships. It is very hard for me to understand why The Lord wants to pursue me but I’m so glad He does! Honestly my heart is broken and I just need God.

    • Elisabeth Price

      Beth, so wonderful how God is using this study to work in your life!!! :) if you haven’t read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, I think you would really enjoy it. It’s a story based on the ideas of Hosea and really spoke to my heart as a single woman.

  • Hosea 4 brings a lot of similarities to the world we are living in today. Pray people! It is definitely God's side I want to be on when it all comes crashing down!

  • V. Elliott

    “He pursues us still.”

    As I read this statement, I thought back to a time in my life when I was distant from God, but yet He remained close; He loved me when I did not love myself. Thank you Lord for saving my soul.

  • Abigail Ruth

    “We are sinful. He is steadfast.
We are fearful. He is faithful.
We are broken. He binds up.
We cherish idols. He cherishes us.”

    > my heart needs this truth. I yearn to know it every hour of every day. The amazing beauty of Jesus!

  • Praising God today! Eight months ago, I had someone walk out of my life. I was left to pick up the pieces and try to make sense of the entire thing. It broke me! I've always believed that God is real and that He loves me. But I don't think I quite understood it until this moment. How much greater is God's capacity to love than my own? It just goes to follow that God's capacity to feel the pain of my REPEATED rejections is even greater than the excruciating pain that I've been dealing with. Today, I'm thankful for a steadfast, loving Father. His relentless pursuit has been made real to me through this earthly situation. I feel like, finally, after 24 years, I'm truly understanding. And I'm finally sliding comfortably into the warm embrace of my Father. I can only be thankful that this all happened. Just when I felt like the most important thing in my life had been taken away, God used that situation to court me. To reintroduce me to His love.

    Thank you, Jesus!

    • Beth Starkey

      Amen. God is love! Thank you for sharing! This blessed my heart! I pray for continued moments of deep realization of God’s deep love!! :)

  • Ruth Polson

    What a sobering reminder of what should happen to me because of my sin….but God, in His love, sent Christ to pay the ultimate price for me. Such Amazing Love!

  • Stephanie

    Question-

    Back story:
    I am in the recovery/healing process. I have struggled with cutting and self harm for over 12 years now. I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, depression, and anxiety. I did not grow up in a Christian home and did not become a believer until about 4 years ago. God has done a lot in those 4 years. Before I knew Jesus, I lived in a life full of lies, drinking, and turning to anything to fill the void I felt. After knowing Jesus, I have struggled with dependence on other people, still struggle with self harm, and mental illness is something that doesn’t go away. I would say I have been in active recovery for a little over a year now. And God has made so many changes. However, I still struggle with this….

    Through the recovery process I have learned new coping skills to choose healthy options over unhealthy ones. I am learning how to utilize community properly. And most of all, I am learning how God sees me and letting that me my identity. And that’s the struggle.

    If God sees Jesus when He looks at me, and will always say “you are my kid, and with you I am well pleased” (from Jesus’ baptism in Luke), then if I stop actively and consciously “fighting” to choose Jesus… If God sees me as holy whether I am choosing Him or running to sin, then if I stop trying, stop working to make sure I stay at a certain level of health and acceptance, and let go, I am scared I will go running back to old ways. I don’t trust that I will marvel at God’s great exchange and let that be the motivation behind my actions. Ultimately, I don’t think God will change my heart to choose Him if I don’t in every situation wrestle to pick Him. I am getting burnt out and the fight is becoming too much. I want to cut, but I know Jesus is better in the long run. But I know I won’t be able to win this fight for much longer. How do you “let go” of your works based faith, and still choose Jesus.

    Ask more questions if this doesn’t make sense. It’s just what I’ve been wrestling with lately.

    • Katie

      I've wrestled with the same thoughts and I'll just share the conclusion that I've finally come to. The bottom line is that God will continue to love and pursue us, even if we return to our sinful and harmful ways. However, His desire is to be in relationship with us, which indicates effort from both sides. Yes, it is a daily struggle to choose Him over my idols. And yes, there are days when it would be so easy to slip back into my old ways (and some days that I do), but I cherish His love and grace so much that I do not want to disappoint Him. The truth is that I do disappoint Him every day because I am human and sinful, but I know that He is always waiting, always pursuing, always ready to take me back with open arms. Because He has chosen to love me even when it is difficult, I must make the decision to love Him and to choose Him, even on difficult days. Remember that He promises to give us rest. He promises to care for us. He doesn't promise that it will be easy, but He does promise that it will be worth it. 't has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion and it is one that I still wrestle with often. I've just had to decide that His love and grace when I didn't deserve it warrants my daily commitment to try my best to follow Him through every circumstance.

    • Kyla

      Praying for you! Keep your eyes on Him!

    • Sarah R

      Stephanie,
      God loves you no matter what, but it hurts Him when we don’t actively love him back. He longs for us to seek Him daily. The things you are struggling with do not heal overnight & I would encourage you to seek counseling if you haven’t already. Finding someone to help keep you accountable is very important. Someone in your church maybe? Or celebrate recovery is a group made for anyone who struggles- that’s all of us!
      Don’t give up. God made you perfectly & He won’t give up either!
      <3

      • Andrea

        Hi Sarah R, I agree that Christian Counseling will promote healing using biblical references, prayer, godly wisdom and so much more. Great advice, sister!

    • Beth Starkey

      Thank you for sharing Stephanie! Although I am not a scholar and I totally have my own set of mistakes and struggles, I felt I wanted to share with you something I’ve been learning: (1,2, and 3 john in general are beautiful!) 1 john 2 says: “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. ” (1 John‬ ‭2‬:‭1-2‬ NLT)… Jesus is pleading your case! By name. That being said– from my experience, the only way to combat work-based faith (which indeed is a struggle for me) is to lean into the Fathers love! Love! Like you’re doing reading through Hosea :) – I have read the verse in John 14 “if anyone loves me they will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (v 23) — I first read that and I felt so much pressure! I didn’t want to do the wrong thing – yet I struggled so badly with obeying all of Gods commands. I wasn’t proving my love for God! :( BUT… Recently, I’ve realized something, and I hope this helps you too. I was trying to do things backwards. I was trying to obey God out of my own strength. 1 john also says: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. ” (1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭18-19‬ ESV) … In other words, “but God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners!” Romans 5:8. (He doesn’t love us for who we are, He loves us in spite of who we are.) and “we love because He first loved us”. So the reason we can even love is because of him. We thus can obey him –> because we love him –> because He first loved us. :) Thus, the key is getting in a strong first layer…. That HE DEARLY LOVES YOU! That you are forgiven… And then comes in Faith. :) does this make any sense at all? I hope so! Faith… Believing that you’re not alone. In your deepest despair God is able, He loves you, and He will work on your behalf!! Much love to you, sister! I pray God will continue to pour truth into your heart! “…. Being confident in this that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

    • Beth Starkey

      In short, I’m suggesting that in order for you to let go of a work based faith and still choose Jesus… That you by yourself cannot. BUT, the truth is that God is pursuing you because He loves you dearly. (Even when it’s hard to believe because we’re not acting very lovable… Like I just was earlier this week) You can choose loving Jesus ONLY because He first loved YOU :) have faith in that. :)

    • Andrea

      Stephanie, DO NOT let satan use your mind as his playground!!! Jesus has already won the battle for you! That’s how the enemy uses his tactics to bring up our past, tempt and condemn us (in our mind). Every time you hear or feel negative thoughts creeping in; speak out loud to the devil declaring that he’s a doomed liar and you will not listen to his mess, speak against what he’s putting in your head with something positive from God (bind negative thought, loose peace, joy, love, etc…) command him to flee in the name of Jesus (he has to leave!) quote Scriptures from Psalms or whichever the Holy Spirit brings to your remembrance, play & sing worship music and with FAITH thank Him for healing you and making you whole, whether you feel it or not! I pray in Jesus’ mighty name that you believe, receive and apply the aforementioned because it’s what Ephesians 6 says to do while we’re fighting the spiritual battle. Amen.

    • stinav96

      Stephanie, that you ask this raw question is absolutely beautiful! And I want to let you know that I can't fight my idols, either. I want to be comfortable, unhurried, in control, not bothered, left to myself and my own thoughts. I want to be free from pain, have perfect relationships, be accepted just as I am without having to work too hard or change much in how I relate to Christ. But guess what? I have a husband and three kids. God has placed His Spirit within me so that I recognize how lazy, uncommitted, selfish, and out-of-control I really am. Praise Him! Because the conviction of sin is just the beginning. The conviction of sin allows us to recognize the absolutely undeserved, humbling exaltation of what it means to be called into relationship with a pure God! So once our position as a child of God is established, the work can no longer be ours. I mean, we still have to work, right? But how are we working? Are we obeying in our own strength? To earn or become deserving of the salvation we've already been given? Or are we working by faith in Him who alone can do through us? We have recently been going through a discipleship program in our church that begins with 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." You are a NEW CREATURE, sweet Stephanie! Your sin has been EXCHANGED for Christ's righteousness, and now your purpose is to rest in HIM by faith, not so much seeking to not do wrong as seeking to do all the right He has so freely laid out for us in His Word. Yes, the Christian life is a daily struggle, a daily battle, if you will. We cannot relax our vigilance against the devil's lies and evil schemes. But we don't have to hold on to Jesus. HE is holding onto us! His grasp is much greater, much more steady and strong, than ours ever could be. If we are relying on our grasp to "keep us saved," we have much to be concerned about. Focus on the truths of God's Word. Love Him through being about the work He has set out for you while you are here. Find some like-minded Christians who are busy about the loving work of doing good for the world around them, sharing the love of Christ, sharing your testimony of His salvation, sharing the Good News of the Gospel. And remember this: "Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10. I love you, sweet sister, and more importantly, God loves you!

    • Erin

      Stephanie, I've struggled with sinful eating patterns and know the 'hamster wheel" you're running on. It is exhausting! Can I share some practical, good news with you that someone else shared with me that has made a huge difference?

      Put off the "old self" and put on the "new self," (Ephesians 4:22-24) just like you would take off dirty clothes and put on clean ones in their place. A list like the one found on the following site: http://www.gatewaybiblicalcounseling.org/resource… gives scripture references to help with that. When I am struggling, I read and pray the scriptures listed in the area of struggle. (Google "put off / put on list" to find different references… the list I use personally came from a book and has a lot more scripture references). This, like changing clothes, is a daily thing; I've had to settle into that!

      Also, ask God to give you a verse or two to go to in the moments when it feels like the temptation to sin, or to settle into works based faith, is irresistible. For me, He reminds me of Romans 6:12 and 14, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions… For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace."

      The Bible is full of Good News for all of us who continue to struggle with sin. Every follower of Christ tends to drift back into works based faith. It DOES require take constant tending to remain near Him, but it WILL NEVER be too much for Him to handle on your behalf. Exodus 14:14, "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

      Praying God will: use His Word to free you from the hamster wheel sin wants you to run, give you His strength, quiet your soul as He fights for you, and grant you joy in His presence!

    • Angela

      Hi Stephanie, Praying for you today as I know the fight is ongoing. Hope you are doing well and are not experiencing burn out.

  • Happy birthday!Tina

  • So much greatness here. All have sinned-I have sinned. More than I would have ever imagined. But I am here. Because of a relentless God who loves me and calls me to repentance. I pray to remember that steadfast nature of God, never attribute anything to my own greatness. But to exude thanksgiving towards a God who loves, seeks me and sought, and forgives me. May I place all confidence in Him.

  • Here I read that God had not changed, but Israel had changed. God had every right to destroy them when they ran intentionally away to other God's. Yet God called them to repentance, He called them back from their running. Praise God when I run, when I move for whatever reasons from my loving, caring almighty Father, He pursues, He says "come back my love, come back". Wow. What a God!!!

  • I think I'm in the same camp as a lot of others today- He cherishes me when I'm cherishing other things. He watches me go after other things and He STILL pursues me. Ouch. How thankful I am that He doesn't give up on me. And how thankful I am that He is patient. He doesn't force me back- He just waits and loves me and gives me grace while I repent and while I work on cleaning up my messes. He loves me back to Him. Praise Him for that.

  • Kendall_S

    Inserting my name into several of the verses of the passage for today is sobering…..

    Hosea 4

    Hear the word of the LORD, Kendall,
    for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land.
    She has no faithfulness or steadfast love,
    she has no knowledge of God in her life;
    she swears, lies, murders, steals and commits adultery;
    she breaks all bounds, and her sin causes more sin……
    Kendall is destroyed for her lack of knowledge;
    because she has rejected knowledge,
    God rejects her from being a priest to Him……..
    The more she puffs up herself,
    the more she sins against God……
    A wind wraps her in its wings,
    and she is ashamed because of her sacrifices to things which cannot satisfy.

    Oh, to read this with a personal bent just makes such a huge difference. I am Israel. Lord, forgive my unbelief and my wandering heart. Praise you for being steadfast in my sinfulness, faithful in my fear, being willing to bind up my brokenness and cherishing me when I cherish all but You.

  • Thankful that He still pursues us!

  • “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.
    2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
    stealing and adultery;
    they break all bounds,
    and bloodshed follows bloodshed.”
    This makes me think of the world today- it seems like every time I turn on the news I think- what is wrong with people? After the devotion this morning I am thinking what is wrong with me- I could be doing more to share Gods grace instead if just sticking with my circle of believers. I want to share the Good News rather than the bad news on TV.

  • Two of my children started school this week. My fourth grader was filled with anxiety over it. She sees things differently than others, so she may understand something, but on a scale that the rest of us don't immediately see. It's tough for her always feeling like she's the odd girl out. On Monday, I placed all of her Summer homework in her bag and reminded her to give it to her new teacher, the following two days I would do the same, as she would insist each day there was a reason she didn't turn it in. Wednesday, the last day it was accepted, came and went and my sweet girl didn't turn it in. I didn't understand. She insisted there were dozens of reasons why she couldn't, she was a mess over it at first. I insisted that when she went to school Thursday, she approach her teacher apologetically and explain that she'd had it all along. (The teacher and I had been in touch over my girl, so she is prepared to help where we need it). Soph Grace was mortified. To face her teacher and admit fault and even apologize became so overwhelming to her, she fitted in a big way. Being accountable and holding herself responsible is something we struggle with with our girl (hard for all of us to learn), so we work extra hard where lessons are available. I explained that if she did not do as I asked, she would receive punishment and lose privileges….She calmed down, wiped her eyes and simply said, "Ok", as in, "whew, I don't have to do anything…I'll take this punishment, because to face it would be way too difficult." I was stunned. I sent a note to her teacher explaining and told Soph Grace she was expecting that SG would talk with her. She knew then she couldn't escape it. She was teary eyed and shaking profoundly when I dropped her off, but she accepted that she had to find the courage to face it. The short of it is, her teacher listened patiently to Sophia and graciously accepted her work late and did so in a very loving way.

    The reality is, we all do this. It is so much easier to run from the situation, to turn our backs to it and not face the one we have disappointed. To fool ourselves into believing all has been forgotten and that we are fine not facing the consequences to our choices. But we aren't. And we have such a loving God that He doesn't see our running, our attempt to escape and throw His hands up and say, "Oh well, to heck with this one"….He chases after us and finds gentle ways to hold us accountable and make us face Him. He graciously accepts our apologies and wraps His arms around us as we are teary eyed and shaking. I could so relate to my daughter. I know many times, I've chosen to walk away from sin and handle it my way, leaving me with a constant nervous ache because of the destruction inside. God is so good to me, that He not only runs after me, but TO me to retrieve me when I fail. It is so humbling and love inducing to have such a profound love affair in my life. I'm thankful for God's steadfastness, His loyalty, His desperate love of me! ~ B

    • Ioneem

      My prayers are with you all, Mother, Sophia, and her dear teacher. I have a grandson who did the very same thing who is now 15 and a sophomore in high school and doing fine, handing in his homework. God loves each of us and does not give up on us, when we humans are so eager to give up on others. My prayer is for patience with those who need to feel Gods love for them. Thank you for sharing.

    • lisalouneu

      Onfaith, prayers for you and your daughter! Thank you for sharing your life story here. The way you presented the story and related it to our study has opened my mind in a new way. You have given me thoughts to contemplate – which I love! This study has been so great for me, as on my own I have a hard time relating the words and stories in the Bible to “real life today”. Thanks again and have a wonderful weekend!

  • Rhonda Elder

    we are being pursued by ALL we are running to find….. Love this Tina. Happy birthday sister.

  • Candacejo

    "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God…" 1 John 3:1

    If this isn't love, I don't know what is! He loves us, pulls us back, loves us, pulls us back, over and over again. We fall, He catches us, we fall, He catches us…and if we let Him, He can even stop that vicious cycle! HE will become the one we cherish, not some earthly idol that isn't alive and cannot do anything for us. The key is relationship, isn't it?

    Lord, help me today to be in covenant with You! To know You, to commune with You every day and make You Lord of my life. In Jesus' name.

    Blessed Saturday, dear sisters. ♥

  • joanne sher

    Such sn amazing assurance. He loves and pursues us still.

  • Kim Cooper

    Loving this study!

  • BrieanneD

    So grateful for a God who never gives up on me! In the midst of mothering a teething baby – I’m reminded of how Abba Father loves me fiercely and wants only the best for his children. PTL!!

  • Happy birthday, Tina!

  • Praising God for many many things today,…

    Top of that list is….that God.. He does not walk away when we run…so very thankful for that, so very thankful……I have never been an athlete, and yet, I sure know how to run from the One and Only who would send His Son to set me free from it all,… to rescue me from my self imposed prison in the name of Love….the truest of Loves…..a Pursuing Love…….WOW…,…….Selah…………Someone please tell me why I would run/ turn away from such a Love,….is this not what I am searching for, after all…to be loved, forgiven, accepted,cherished, belong….HOME……Are these not the desires of my heart, Are these not the hopes for my life, …..Why run, …..just dawned on me that…..whilst we/I run, all those things that we look for ,we search for ,the love, the acceptance, the forgiveness, all we sought…PURSUES us in the Pursuing Love of the Lord God Almighty….we are being pursued by ALL we are running to find…..

    Ah, Lord God, Thank you, for your pursuing of me, in the truest of Loves, thank you for holding on to me, even when I believe there is no point…YOU truly are WHO you are….Thank you Lord God, for being in control,….Lord, asking …., begging,. forgiveness for running…..for turning away, when I should just have moved in closer to you…held on, trusted you, had Faith in YOU….Lord, I'm sorry…..

    Coming back to the heart of worship Lord….where it's ALL about you, all about you Jesus….Thank you….Lord God…for this amazing redeeming Love….

    Sharing with you, my sister's, my Birthday LOVE, and FAVOUR…..May the Lord turn His face to shine on you today, as He has me……I am so very glad to share with you…..Be blessed….with love and thanks for each and every one of you…..for the journeying with me…x

    • Ifi

      Happy birthday, Tina!!!!!!!!!!!!! Praying for you – may God continue to shine on you and may you always feel his beautiful redeeming love for you, no matter what situation you find yourself in! Hope you have a wonderful day/year ahead!! xx

    • stinav96

      Happy Birthday, Tina!

    • Candacejo

      Wishing a Happy Birthday to my friend across the Big Pond!! Be blessed today! ♥

    • Onfaith

      Happy happy "welcome to the world, belly button, there is none like you" day Tina! Hope it's a grand day! ~ B

    • Lea

      Happy birthday, sister! Enjoy your day! :)

    • ButterflyBre

      Happy Birthday Sister! May your day be filled with joy in HIM!

    • Steph_Lilac

      Happy Birthday Tina!! Sis, may your day be filled with lots of love, laughter, and lovely things!! May you be drenched in the grace and favor of God! August babies are the best (mine's was on the 25th)!! Xoxox

    • Lucy

      Happiest of birthdays to you Tina. May God surround you with His everlasting love AND the love of family and friends today.

    • Kyla

      Happy Birthday!! May your day be a very blessed one! :)

    • Andrea

      What a beautiful prose of the image of God’s love for us, Tina! When is the release date of your book? Yes I’m speaking it into existence…may The Lord bless you to celebrate many, many more birthdays to come & I hope your special day is filled with love, laughter, joy and peace.

    • Angela

      Happy birthday, Tina!! I hope you had a blessed day!!! xx

    • Brendasan01

      Happy Birthday Tina! God bless you sister.

  • Czarina Kaye

    Praise God for His steadfast love!

  • melindawatters

    We cherish idols. Amanda, this statement hit me between the eyes. Yes, i do not only chase after and turn my head to idols, but yes, i chersh them. Ewe! This. Is. Very. Convicting.

    He cherishes me. Oh that my heart changes amd turns, chases, and cherishes ony Him who cherishes me!

  • I have a question/comment. If individuals are bent on running from God/disobeying….there is a time when God will turn us over to our sin- and let sin run its course. Concerning 4:17- isn't that a phrase of wrath and abandonment? Isn't Israel today still under the punishment of God? They have yet to be grafted back in…. When sinners reject God and are bent on fulfilling their wicked purposes, God will remove restraining grace and turn them over to their sin. Its the kind of wrath described in Romans 1:18-32….its keeps saying "God gave them up…" However, we know the promises of God concerning Israel and its future….as well as Gods promises for his children. I guess it all comes back to repentance and obedience. With obedience comes blessing and honor. Disobedience comes judgement. Just like Israel, if you have ever been chastised (like me), you know that God takes sin very seriously. The purity of his church, his people, his Bride, is not something He takes lightly…Hope you all are having a good study and the Holy Spirit is increasing your knowledge of the Scriptures and God. =)

    • Ifi

      Hi Ashley, just a response to your question/comment. I think, in my opinion, that God never removes his restraining grace as you put it. This is just my own perception. It says somewhere in the Bible how where sin is great, grace abounds. That is, the greater the sin, the more abundant his grace is…the further we run and become more entrenched in our sin, that’s when his grace becomes even more abundant towards us. My understanding is this – the wages of sin is death. So, by rights, when we sin, we would die…both spiritually and maybe in some cases physically too. But the grace of Jesus is what keeps us even while we are still sinning and blind to his love, it is what gives us that chance to one day wake up and see what we’ve done wrong and return to him like the prodigal son. That’s what grace does…gives us a second chance (and third and fourth and fifth…to infinity)! So that’s my understanding anyway…that’s why I don’t feel like there is ever a sin so great or so persistently reoccurring that will ever cause God to say, ok that’s it not even my grace is THAT sufficient! Thankfully, his grace is sufficient…it is enough…for ALL sins! Of course, on that last day when he returns to judge Satan once and for all, then there will no longer be a second chance at that stage…but in the meantime, we can be thankful for his amazing and sufficient grace that continues to give us a chance to make it right with him, often long before we even get to that point of repentance!
      (Sorry for the loooooooong reply, I type as I think…and I am super long-winded, haha!) xx

      • Ifi

        Also, why did I just call you Ashley?? I am losing it! Apologies Jenna!! xx

    • stinav96

      I agree, Ashley! This passage is not saying, "Go ahead! Do what you want! I'll still love you and consider you my child." The Israelites' lack of knowledge was destroying them. They would receive the just punishment for their sin, but God is patient. He woos us more than we deserve to be wooed before He applies His discipline…. Or in the case of an unbeliever, His wrath. And He *did* do something about their sin, and ours, didn't He? He sent Jesus! This just occurred to me, but isn't this just a great example of what our attitude needs to be toward an unbelieving world? Not that we can save them, but that we pursue them relentlessly that they may hear the Truth and He may save some! And while we will not see absolute purity on this earth, God sees us as pure white as the blood of Christ Himself already, and He will ultimately make us who believe actually pure. Hallelujah! :) Thanks for the thought-provoking question this morning!

    • Julia

      I'm so thankful that you are reading this book the way I am. It is not about us and how He continually forgives us. It is a warning to all sinners and those who actively reject Him and what the consequences of that rejection can mean for the world. I continue to pray that God opens the eyes of the people in Israel, in Turkey, in Russia, and that it is not too late for them to have a chance for repentance and forgiveness. I pray that the people in my country recognize that their actions, although may be socially cool and acceptable, are neither righteous nor acceptable– Because "A whirlwind will sweep them away, and their sacrifices will bring them shame." (Hosea 4:19)

    • Andrea

      Ashley, I don’t think we lose grace. However; I think running (rejecting) and disodience causes us to lose fellowship (hinder prayers, peace, joy, etc) from God because it’s sinning and He can’t look on sin, that’s why he turned away from Jesus @ the Garden of Gethsamene while Jesus was praying & felt forsaken.

    • Stephanie

      I definitely agree. But let's not forget that Hosea 4 is not the end of the story. There are consequences for our sin. But we have a redeemer. As I read the book of Hosea, I'm amazed at how each line points forward to Christ and reminds me of what's to come…not just at the end of Hosea, not just at the end of the Bible, but at the end of time as well.

      • Shelley

        This is the good news! Yes…we will, like Gomer and the Israelites in this story in Hosea…have to pay the price through consequences for our actions. But the GOOD NEWS is that Jesus IS the Good News–for ALL sinners past, present and future.

        Our God is a just God. He hates sin. And He must punish sin. But He loves us so much that He has cleared a way for us through Jesus to “come BOLDLY to the throne of our gracious God . There we will receive mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 NLT

        “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” – Romans 5:1-6

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