From “Start-Stop” to “Steady-as she goes”

I’m devoting the next few weeks to working on a project that’s going to demand most of my mental energy. So apart from the usual Mon-Fri Checkout which will continue, I won’t be writing an additional daily article. Instead, I’m going to post a series of daily devotionals on Hosea that I wrote a few years ago.


I will betroth you to me for ever.— Hosea 2:19

So, dear believer, you are encouraged by the Lord’s betrothal proposal, and you are excited about beginning afresh and starting over. But you hesitate! What if I cannot keep it up? What if I fall again and break my promises again? Surely, I won’t be given another chance. There will be no way back then. You ask, “Is it worth the risk?” What’s the point of beginning again when I know I will fall and break my promises again?

Well, consider the first element of the bride-price which the Lord is offering you: foreverness. “I will betroth you to me for ever.” This is not just for a time, not even for a long time, but forever.

This foreverness can be viewed in two ways. The first way is experientially. When God’s people are chastised, it has a curative effect. Before, their relationship with the Lord was characterized by fits and starts—betrothal one day, divorce the next, and so on. Divine chastisement changes that start-stop relationship into a “forever” relationship. Painful though the chastisement is, it produces a much steadier relationship. So, rod-marked friend, your heavenly Father is bringing you from temporariness to foreverness, from start-stop to steady-as-she-goes, from betrothed-divorced to betrothed forever.

The second way to view this foreverness is objectively—that is, to see it as referring to the unbreakable union between the Lord and His people. So, fallen believer, the Lord hears all your hesitating “what-ifs?” and replies, “However many what-ifs on your side, on my side there is only foreverness!”

The Lord is promising you that the union is unbreakable. As He said in the days of His flesh: “And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

Jeremiah Burroughs put it this way: “The bond of union in a believer runs through Jesus Christ, is fastened upon God, and His Spirit holds the other end of it so that it can never be broken.” Therefore, when the Devil whispers, “You’ve really done it now. That’s it. It’s all over!,” take these precious divine words and rebuke him with them, “I will betroth you to me for ever.”


Check out

Blogs

Listening to Abused Women | Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
“I’m probably not the first abuse survivor to ask “Does anyone really care about abused Christian women? Then why won’t you listen to us? Is it because you believe I am just as worthless as my husband thinks I am?” We’re not asking the world. We are asking the church. And I think it’s time we are given some answers. ”

2016 PCA General Assembly: Moving Forward Together – Reformation21 Blog
“I departed from the PCA’s General Assembly with concerns and frustrations, as usual.  But I am grateful to the Lord to serve in a denomination that continues to occupy its vital spiritual real estate at the crossroads of evangelicalism and Calvinism.”

How Should Christians Think About Corporate Apologies? | Kevin DeYoung
“Here are several questions to ask as you reflect on a statement of corporate repentance or ponder making a corporate apology yourself.”

Help Me Teach the Bible: Ray Ortlund on Proverbs
Among many other books Ray Ortlund is the author of Proverbs: Wisdom that Works in Crossway’s Preaching the Word Commentary series. Ray presents Proverbs as an opportunity to sit down with Jesus and have him as our counselor.

10 Temptations Facing an Elder’s Wife
“Elders’ wives are the unsung heroes of the local church.”

“Ask Jesus into Your Heart”: A History of the Sinner’s Prayer | TGC
“With the recent dust-up over whether Donald Trump prayed for salvation with prosperity gospel preacher Paula White, it is a good time to revisit the history of the “sinner’s prayer.”"

Susannah Spurgeon: A Ministry-Minded, Self-Sacrificing Wife | Maryanne Helms
“As my husband pursued a second job opportunity last summer, our routine and pace of life was subtly altered, yet changed just enough to send me into an emotional tailspin. How do I cope with less time with him? How do I combat the fears I face that his vocational life will eclipse our family life? Is it even possible to have a good marriage when I have less control over my husband’s schedule than I would like? ”

Maya Angelou Explains Why She Decided Against An Abortion
Beautiful ending.

Why Your Brain Craves Vacation Time [Infographic]

Video

Fulfilled Prophecy Demonstrates the Divine Inspiration of Scripture


God says “Let’s Start Over”

I will betroth you to me.— Hosea 2:19

Three times in two verses, the Lord says, “I will betroth you to me.” Some commentators believe that this reflects the involvement and commitment of each Person of the Godhead in this betrothal. In other words, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each saying, “I will betroth you to me.” It is, however, more likely that the threefold repetition of “I will betroth you” is for emphasis. It emphasizes the eagerness of the Lord to unite with those who have divorced Him and are now separated from Him. Israel did the separating, but God does the uniting.

Betrothal went further than the courtship alluring of verse 14. It was also more decisive than our Western ideas of engagement. Betrothal involved handing over a bride-price to the young lady’s father, whose acceptance of it finalized the commitment. Sometimes, especially if there was no living father, the bride-price was passed to the bride herself. This is what we have here: the Lord comes to betroth His bride to Himself with a six-fold bride-price of foreverness, righteousness, judgment, lovingkindness, mercies, and faithfulness.

What is different here is that the proposer is already married to the bride-to-be! The Lord was already in covenant union with Israel. But Israel had divorced Him by covenant disobedience. Yet the Lord comes and proposes all over again. In effect, He is saying, “Let’s start over. You will be as a virgin-bride to me, as though you had never committed any unfaithfulness to me. Let us enjoy the warmth of a new beginning with all the freshness of first love.”

Unfaithful Christian, distant “divorcee” full of regrets, you long to return to your Lord, yet fear that your relationship with Him will never fully recover and be as it once was. Listen to what He says as He graciously proposes all over again: “I will betroth you to me.” Come then and start afresh with all the excitement and thrill of first love. Your relationship can recover. It can be the same again—yes, even better than before. And if you doubt His sincerity, look at the six-fold bride-price He is offering you: foreverness, righteousness, judgment, lovingkindness, mercies, and faithfulness.


Check Out

Blogs

Donald Trump’s ‘Born-Again’ Conversion to Christianity: James Dobson and Paula White’s Claims | The Atlantic
This is sad. Whatever we think of Trump, no one wants to see him deceived by easy-believism.

“Evangelicals sing of conversion as being ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb,’ but Dobson’s attempt is more akin to a whitewashing.”

This Infographic Lists 128 Words You Can Use Instead of “Very” | Kristin Wong, LifeHacker
This is very good.

“Our English teachers told us to avoid the word “very” because it’s weak and vague. They were right, and many times, we use “very” as a modifier for a word that could easily be replaced with a stronger, more accurate word. This infographic tells you what to use instead.”

Now Available: Visual Theology Presentation Slides | Tim Challies
Tim Challies Visual Theology Presentation Slides to accompany the book. Super-helpful for teaching a youth group or Sunday school class.

Christian Pessimism, Christian Realism | Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
“Overreacting and falling into paranoia and loathing is a temptation. But so is assuming everything’s going to be okay in the end, and believing that you can avoid trouble by being nice. Sooner or later, you are going to have to take a stand — and if you stand on Christian orthodoxy, you are going to be knocked flat.”

The Difference Between a Sin and a Mistake | Michael Hyatt
“When people refer to this kind of behavior as a mistake rather than a sin, they are either consciously or unconsciously evading responsibility—even while they claim to accept responsibility. Why? Because of the fundamental difference between the two terms. Many people assume they are synonymous. They’re not.”

From the RPCNA Synod | Jared Olivetti, Gentle Reformation
“Without giving a full update, I thought I might mention a few encouraging blessings God has given this week. ”

New Book


Unshakable: Standing Firm in a Shifting Culture by K. Scott Oliphint and Rod Mays

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Coming to Grips with Genesis edited by Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury ($2.99)


The Quick-Start Guide to the Whole Bible by Dr. William H. Marty and Dr. Boyd Seevers ($1.99)


The Cross and Christian Ministry: An Exposition of Passages from 1 Corinthians by D. A. Carson ($1.99)


The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America by James Bamford ($1.99)


God’s Covenant with Creation

And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field. — Hosea 2:18

The lions ravage us, the sparrows flee us, and the scorpions bite us. All these things are against us. Fear and hostility pervade the whole creation. How different from Genesis 1:28: “And God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply,and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” What a contrast to Genesis 1:31: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Lions, sparrows, scorpions, man, and woman—the whole creation and every creature—lived in perfect “matrimonial” harmony.

What happened? One sin. One sin divorced us from the creation, from one another, and from God. Hatred, fear, suspicion, and hostility fill the air and every heart. We run after one another and from one another. Every barking dog, every roaring lion, every hissing serpent on this earthly realm reminds us of the discord, division, and divorce that exist in the spiritual realm. Does this grieve you? Do you hate the sin that has caused it all, and groan with the whole creation for deliverance (Rom. 8:19–23)?

Exiled Israel longed to return home. But the people were deterred by the frightening wild animals and warring nomads that had filled the land in their absence. So, here God reassures them, “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and I will make them to lie down safely.” God covenants to create conditions of peace and safety.

All this is but a pale shadow of what God will ultimately and climactically do in the final “new heavens and the new earth, in which dwells righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13). God has made an unbreakable covenant to reverse the estranging and acrimonious effects of sin. And when God covenants to do something, it will be done. He cannot lie or break His promise. Fellow creature of God, will you be among those who He “will make to lie down safely?” Or will you know enmity-filled eternal separation and division?


Check Out

Blogs

People Who Value Time Over Money Are Happier | Kristin Wong, LifeHacker
“Across studies, we asked thousands of Americans whether they would prefer more money or more time. Although the majority of people chose more money, choosing more time was associated with greater happiness”

Generosity Is More Than Money | James Clark, Institute for Faith, Works, and Economics
Although we can give much more than money to the Lord, money should not come last.

Reflections from a Black Presbyterian on the PCA’s Overture on Racial Reconciliation | Jemar Tisby, Reformed African American Network
“Here are a five reflections on the overture on racial reconciliation I have as a black member of the Presbyterian Church in America.”

5 Reasons Why Teenagers Need Theology | Jaquelle Crow, TGC
“I’m 18. I’ve studied and been taught theology all my life. It’s given me many things: a richer relationship with God; a stronger and more submissive relationship with my parents; a more discerning relationship with my friends; a more edifying approach to social media; a zealous desire to do my best in school; a biblical worldview; a bigger vision for my future; and a greater passion to follow God no matter what. I want that life for every teenager, and I think you do, too. So parents, pastors, youth leaders, church members, please teach us theology.”

7 Lies We Tell Our Children | Barnabas Piper, The Blazing Center
“We all lie to our kids. Sometimes it’s on purpose and for what we deem a good purpose. Sometimes it’s because we so want them to believe something, to feel better, to overcome a challenge, or to work through pain that we will say anything to try to help. Sometimes it’s because we’re idiots and just don’t realize what we’re doing. Here are seven of the most common lies parents tell kids.”

When A Christian Feels Dry: A Simple Practice | Jason Helopoulos, The Christward Collective
“If you know life in Christ, you know languishing in Christ. We all go through dry seasons. The Christian life is never lived from mountain top to mountain top. Every saint has known lackluster days in relationship with the Lord. God doesn’t feel close. You have His peace, but are not peaceful. You know His love, but are not enjoying His love. Your spiritual life isn’t dead, but it is dull. What is the answer?”

Manipulative Ministers | Joseph Franks, Daily Devotions
“Friends, do not assume that because men are disciples, priests, pastors, or elders they are servant-hearted and Christ-centered. There have always been manipulative ministers in the religious circles of Jesus Christ.”

Watch Brexit Architect Nigel Farage Eviscerate The EU | Sean Davis, The Federalist
“If you want to know why millions of United Kingdom voters decided to leave the European Union (EU), then you need to watch this video. You need to see how EU’s unaccountable politicians respond to the British decision to leave the EU. Watch Nigel Farage, the British politician and former trader widely characterized as the architect of the Brexit referendum, eviscerate the EU bureaucrats on their home court.”

New Book 


Unashamed – Candid Conversations About Dating, Love, Nakedness and Faith by Tracy Levinson

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


The Forgotten Trinity by James R. White ($1.99)


Experiencing Leadershift: Letting Go of Leadership Heresies by Don Cousins ($0.99)


How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein ($1.99)

Video

Supreme Court refuses to defend religious liberty for pharmacists | Denny Burk