Home > Uncategorized > 12-4-10 devotions: Hosea 11-14, Acts 17, Psalm 34, Proverbs 18

12-4-10 devotions: Hosea 11-14, Acts 17, Psalm 34, Proverbs 18

I read these passages of Scripture this morning–all of them. This is a habit I would like to make a regular one.

Because I am limited on my portable Bibles, I read Acts, Psalms and Proverbs out of a Gideon pocket King James Bible and Hosea out of a slim line New American Standard. As I told my wife last night, I’m not the most comfortable with the NASB and, as far as modern versions go, find that I prefer the New King James. I am still looking at the English Standard Version but am undecided on it. (If you’d like to know more about my current stand on Bible versions and the King James Only debate, click here for a previous blog posting on the topic).

Hosea 11-14: I did not intend to finish the Book of Hosea today, but chapter 14 was so short I decided to go ahead and do so. This passage talks about God’s incredible, undying love for Israel and how He continues to love this nation even to this day. I think it’s obvious that God’s correction is based on heartache rather than anger. Yes, God is angry, but that is not the dominant feeling He has when dealing with His People.

I like 11:8: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.”

Later, God reminds Israel how He has been there for the nation from the early days of Jacob to the delivery from Egypt and through other times where He has blessed His nation continually. It is reminder to us as Christians to not waste each day with frivolous activities but instead to set time aside to read God’s Word, pray, worship and serve Him.

It brings a sorrowful thought to my mind: Dear God, I am so sorry You had to shake up my life and allow heartache to come in for me to truly grasp this. May You find me five years from now still diligently reading and meditating on Your Word.Hosea closes out his book in the fourteenth chapter with a message of hope as Israel learns reconciliation is possible and what will happen if the nation does repent. Consider verses 4 through 7:

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon.

“His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon.

“Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”

(As a side note, by wine I think Hosea is referring to actual wine and not the IFB phenomenon of Biblical “wine” that magically turns into non-alcoholic grape juice each time).

Hosea closes this fascinating book with this thought in verse 9: “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.”

Great words of encouragement if you are a backslider to get your walk back on God’s path. Think it’s too late? If there is any inkling you have that you want to walk with God again, then it’s not too late. Don’t fool yourself, and please don’t let Satan tell you differently.

Acts 17: Paul continues his rabble rousing ways in Thessalonica, city he would later write two letters to.

Naturally, he made lots of enemies. This is par for the course if you are a Christian; if you are a Christian and everybody likes you, that’s usually a sign that you are doing something wrong. Everybody should respect you if you are walking with God, but not everybody will like you.

Paul and Silas left in the middle of the night to Berea, with similar results. They then went to Athens and encountered a reaction of strangeness. It was also here that Paul found an altar with the inscription “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD”.

It makes me wonder if Athens was such the city at the time that was starving for some type of relationship with a divine being that they established that altar. Or maybe it was their way to trying to blindly reach out to what they perceived to be a true god somewhere out there. Either way, Paul declared that God was this “Unknown God”.

Some believed, others didn’t.

Psalm 34: A great sense of relief and anxiety must have been on David’s mind as he wrote this Psalm. My Bible notes say he wrote this after leaving the presence of Abimelech, which he was successfully able to do by pretending to be crazy (David even worked up frothy spittle and let it get into his beard). Reading over this Psalm, you can almost imagine David crying happy tears as he wrote the words.

He writes in verse four and then six: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried out, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”

This is a very encouraging Psalm that encourages us to experience God and see that He is indeed good.

David also reminds us in verses 17-18: “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.

“The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”

Proverbs 18: I have read about half the Proverbs on my list of completing my Bible reading. This is one of those books, like Psalms, where you shouldn’t only visit it once a year but should read one Proverb each day.

That being said…

This Proverb has been described as a contrast between the upright and the wicked. The first verse really, really spoke to me:

“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.”

That really describes the person I was when I went long dry spells without reading God’s Word, without being in church regularly. When you don’t read the Bible, you lose your way and start doing things and even saying things you’d never dream of doing if you are a Christian walking with God daily. You know what’s right to do, but in your backslidden state you work overtime to rationalize your sins.

Make no mistake: sin is sin. We may try to tell ourselves there is a justifiable reason for sinful choices we make, but at the end of our lives we will have to give an account to God for those stupid choices and will finally realize what a waste we made of our spiritual lives.

Verse nine tells us that whoever is slothful in their work is a close relative of him “who is a great destroyer”. It really is convicting and an encouragement to me to live my life where I am being productive and where my times of recreation are needed breaks rather than something that overpowers my own day.

And in my own marriage (which most likely will end in divorce), verse 13 is particularly haunting: “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.”

If you have a spouse who has something to discuss with you, LISTEN to them. Don’t be so quick to dismiss their concerns, worries or complaints as unimportant. To ignore them is to drive a wedge that could eventually be fatal to a marriage.

There are also other gold and platinum nuggets in this chapter, such as verse 14 telling us that while man’s spirit can sustain him (or her) in sickness, a broken spirit is a different story that requires the services of the Great Physician. Or, how about verse 15 telling us that the heart of the prudent acquires knowledge.

Interestingly, verse 17 encourages us to be very discerning with what people say: “The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.” Perhaps a neighbor (or someone who knows the story very well) knows far more about it than others realize.

And verse 19 is a reminder for us to be careful in our conversation and to behave ourselves wisely:

“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

Once you’ve offended someone, it is very difficult to win back their respect or trust. If ever.

I am also curious about verse 24, which tells us: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Who might that friend be? Is this a best friend? Perhaps it is referring to God? Anyone care to guess?

Richard Zowie does not claim to be a Bible scholar: he graduated from Pensacola Christian College in 1995 with a bachelor of arts in history and earned an associates degree in 1998 from Defense Language Institute’s Russian Basic Course. He hopes someday to earn an English degree and, if the Lord opens the door, to obtain more formal Bible training. He currently is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. He hopes in the coming months to complete his first visit with all the Minor Prophets. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com. 

 

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  1. August 23, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I enjoyed you insite into the bible and Gods word.

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