Is God Hovering Over Your Life?

I will hear.— Hosea 2:21

“I will hear, says the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel” (vv. 21–22). Here, the sky asks God for clouds, and God gives it. The earth asks the sky for rain, and the sky gives it. The corn, the wine, and the oil ask the earth for fertility, and the earth gives it. Jezreel, or Israel, asks the corn, wine, and oil for sustenance, and they give it. This chain of giving encourages Israel to trace the links all the way back to God. The success of every request to supply need encourages Israel to bring her own requests to God. Verse 18 spoke of the restored harmony of the animal world, and here a picture of agricultural harmony is added.

One of Israel’s great sins was the worship of Baal, the heathen god of fertility. They prayed to him for fruitful fields and also attributed the results to this idol. For too long, God could say, “I don’t hear.” Israel failed to bring their requests and their thanks to Him. He did not hear them. As He waited over Israel, listening—nothing. Nothing but deafening silence. For this, Israel was to be judged.

However, this infliction would restore the golden chain of God’s providence to their lives, both national and personal. They would again recognize their need of and debt to God. So, God predicts, “I will hear.” Israel would once again pray for divine provision and recognize it with thankful worship. And with satisfaction, God says, “I do hear.”

Has God been hovering over your life and hearing nothing? He is listening but saying, “I don’t hear.” “I don’t hear prayer for daily bread. I don’t hear thanks.” You are attributing your blessings to your own strength, to luck, or to sheer coincidence. You are patting yourself on your back rather than praising God with your lips. The golden chain of prayer, providence, and praise has broken down. But God is saying, “I will hear.” He is coming to break your Baal. When it lies shattered before you, you begin to look heavenward, prayer is stuttered and stammered heavenward, and heaven replies, “Now I hear. And you will be heard.”


Check out

Blogs

Will You Weep With Me? – Reformed African American Network
There is so much to say, but today is just for tears:

“There will be other days for critique and disagreements, fact-seeking and fault-finding. But can you do me a favor today and just weep with me? Weep with us. Weep with that man’s family. Weep with Baton Rouge.”

The Millennial’s Six-Step Guide To Financial Independence
“If you’re motivated, you can flip your finances from a dismal cycle of paycheck to paycheck to an impressive investment in your present and future.”

How to Have a Happy Life | Desiring God
“If we embrace that reality that the sovereign God who controls the universe knows us by name and loves us as children and heirs, everything that happens to us will be filtered through theses promises. We will begin to see everything, even the hard things, as ultimately good things.”

21 Thoughts on Preaching | TGC
Like all of these kinds of lists, you’ll find some things to disagree with, but I always find a few nuggets to challenge me.

A Domestic Abuse Primer | Counseling One Another
“Domestic abuse is so ugly in all its depraved forms, but the Lord of mercy stands ready to intercede—to help the victim, and to save or judge the abuser…eventually.”

Let’s all be Nicene | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
I’ve been following this debate from afar with a moderate degree of interest. But these quotes have really alarmed and engaged me.

How to Study a Psalm: Essential Steps for Starting Right | LogosTalk

New Book

Big Beliefs: Small Devotionals Introducing Your Family to Big Truths by David Helm. Here’s my commendation:

“A family devotional teaching the most important truths in the world in simple bite-size chunks with up-to-date illustrations and stimulating questions. Why didn’t someone think of this before? I commend this excellent resource to all Christian families.”

Kindle Books

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.

Hazards of Being a Man: Overcoming 12 Challenges All Men Face $1.99. Even if you don’t agree with some of the solutions, knowing the problems is a good first step.

Their Rock is Not Like our Rock by Daniel Strange $3.99. Learn how to evaluate world religions.

Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt $0.99.

Video

How is Your Phone Changing You?


Your only hope is that God does not love as you do

I will betroth you to me in lovingkindness.— Hosea 2:19

We commonly speak of love or of kindness. However, the Bible speaks much of God’s “lovingkindness.” There is a multiplication of good things here. God’s love is being multiplied by God’s kindness and the blessed result for His people is lovingkindness. This is no cold, intellectual love. Neither is it cold, practical love. It is a warm and affectionate love which results in thoughtful acts of kindness.

When the mother and wife of the Roman Emperor Alexander Severu incited him to severity and objected to his mildness and readiness to yield to his subjects, saying, “You have made your power more contemptible by your kindness and compliant spirit,” his answer was, “But more secure and lasting.”

This leads us on to the deeper meaning of “lovingkindness.” The Hebrew word here is often used to describe the gracious motivation behind God’s covenants with sinners. All such covenants are started by grace and sustained by grace. This, says the Bible, is lovingkindness. The initial betrothal is gracious, but so is the ongoing divine commitment. This is lovingkindness. The Lord does not start these relationships because of what He can get out of them. And neither will He end them even if oftentimes the relationship is so one-way. This is lovingkindness. His betrothal to His people was not begun because He was attracted to them, and neither is it sustained by any such attraction. This is lovingkindness.

This lovingkindness was vividly demonstrated by Hosea in his relationship with his prostituted wife, Gomer. How shiveringly horrific such a betrothal was! But this was a betrothal in lovingkindness. And this repulsive relationship was designed by God to illustrate His relationship with Israel. This was a betrothal in lovingkindness. And, however much you shudder at this thought, be glad God doesn’t; your only hope is the same lovingkindness of God. Your only hope is that God does not love as you do; that God will say, and continue to say, “I will betroth you to me in lovingkindness.” When you experience this kind of betrothal you will stop shivering and shuddering at the thought, for the repulsive has become your redemption.


Check out

Blogs

How to win this election | Don’t Stop Believing
This is funny and pretty close to the truth:

“Either Trump or Hillary will win in a landslide if they have the courage to do one simple thing: disappear. Stop talking, tweeting, and teleprompting. Stay off radio, television, and the Internet. Don’t appear in public until after the election. Let the other person have all the attention, and there is no way you will lose.”

Assisted Suicide: A Quadriplegic’s Perspective | Joni Eareckson Tada
“Culture is so easily influenced by the entertainment industry. This is why I am sounding an alarm about a very dangerous message in a film released this summer. The movie? Me Before You.”

Another Study Finds Same-Sex Parents Aren’t Best For Kids
“A study on the most comprehensive survey of U.S. adolescents ever finds children of same-sex parents report more sexual and physical abuse from their parents and other maladies.”

Camels vs. Stallions – Michael Hyatt
Good to remember this in church meetings too.

The 4 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in Marriage | For The Church
“The choice of our wedding date may have been our first mistake in marriage, but there have been many more I’ve made that have been of much greater consequence than how we spend our anniversaries.”

The Silent Marriage-Killer | Desiring God
“Most Christian couples would not list shame as one of the top struggles in their marriage. However, in almost a decade of counseling, I’ve seen very few marriages that aren’t hampered by shame on some level. It’s just not often the first thing that’s identified, but it underlies so many other common struggles, especially communication and sex.”

5 Don’ts of Pastoral Ministry | The Christward Collective
“In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul outlines the character and practices of a godly pastoral ministry. What he writes is a sobering reminder to all pastors, and to churches, of the standards and challenges of the pastoral ministry.”

Kindle Books

Living by God’s Promises by Joel Beeke and James Labelle $2.99.

Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts $1.99.

The Crucified King: Atonement and Kingdom $3.99.

Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification by Tom Schreiner $5.99.

Video

The Restaurant of Life
A powerful message.


The Least Rash Marriage Proposal Ever

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 in judgment. – Hosea 2:19

Judgment? Surely this cannot be good for me! The last thing I need is judgment. Surely, this word of danger is out of place among all these other words of encouragement? Well, the context is one of encouragement and comfort. So it is unlikely that the word carries its common meaning of guilt, sentence, and execution.

There are three possible ways to look at “judgment” positively. First, it can describe God’s intervention for His people against their enemies. In this sense, God is the “Judge” of the widow (Ps. 68:5). If that is the meaning here, then God is promising His covenant people that He will intervene on their behalf against their enemies, thereby better securing them to Himself.

Second, “judgment” can describe the process of re-ordering what has been disordered. Therefore, perhaps here God is promising not only that He will remarry Israel but will re-order the chaos of the Israelites’ lives. He will put things back in their proper place

Third, we might say of someone, “We respect his judgment.” What we mean is that this is not someone who acts rashly or thoughtlessly, but, rather, acts wisely after due deliberation. This is the most likely meaning here. Some people marry hastily, later regret it, and try to escape. However, God is saying that His people need not fear this of Him. His marriage proposal is well thought out—an eternity of planning! “I will betroth you to me in judgment.” He knows all about Israel and He knows all about you, your past, present, and future. He weighs it all, thinks it all through, and after due consideration of all the factors involved, still says, “I will betroth you to me”!

Some people may wish they had waited longer or had known certain things before they decided to get married. They might not have proceeded if they had. However, God knows everything and has known us longer than we have known ourselves; and yet He says, “I will betroth you to me.”

Doubting Christian, the Lord did not make a mistake in the day of your espousals. He does not regret His decision to propose to you. Lost and lonely soul, here is a divine Husband who knows everything you’ve been or will be and yet deliberately and determinedly proposes marriage. What do you say?


Check out

Blogs

Preaching to the Mind | Gentle Reformation
Ten ways preachers can address the mind and bring it into the captivity of obedience to Christ.

How Did Jonathan Edwards Preach on Melchizedek, King of Salem? | TGC
I’m so enjoying this Evangelical History blog

Edwards employed exegesis that was canonical and Christological. Unlike Old Testament scholars today who might balk at deriving much theological significance from a shadowy figure like Melchizedek, whom we first meet in Genesis 14, Edwards was eager to do so.”

13 Traits of Predatory People | Mary DeMuth
“Since experiencing several predatory relationships, I have done some research, had great conversations, and read a lot of books about the traits of predators. I’ve learned a lot about how these types of folks manipulate people. In light of that, I wanted to share some of what I’ve found out–to hopefully spare you from engaging deeply with a predatory person.”

A super-important, life-changing announcement from the Armstrongs
I’ve linked to Aaron’s blog many times. In this video, he makes a life-changing announcement. Congratulations Aaron, I’m delighted for you.

Announcing Albert Mohler’s “City on a Hill” Tabletalk Column
If you don’t already subscribe to Tabletalk, you may want to now as Al Mohler is joining the stable of writers with a monthly column. 

Free Download: Calvinism and the Christian Life
And a freebie from Ligonier — Ian Hamilton’s series on Calvin and the Christian life.

Woman’s Work, Second Class? | The American Conservative
Rod Dreher critiques a recent Christianity Today column which argued that a woman who stays at home with her children cannot influence culture as much as one who works outside the home.

Sermons on biblical sexuality illegal in Iowa? – Alliance Defending Freedom
Doesn’t get more ominous than this: “State civil rights commission says churches must censor speech, open restrooms to opposite sex.”

New Book

Nine months old but I must have missed it when it came out. Have a look at Preaching the Whole Counsel of God by Julius Kim.

Kindle Books

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.

Church Planting is For Wimps by Mike McKinley $3.99.

The Most Misused Verses in the Bible by Eric Bargerhuff $1.99.

The Atheists Fatal Flaw by Norman Geisler $1.99.

30 Events that Shaped the Church: Learning from Scandal, Intrigue, War & Revival $1.99.


Why Liberals Win the Culture War (even when the lose elections) $4.99.