A Relentless God

God loves me no matter what I do or have done or even will do in the future. He loves me so much that He draws me to Him even when I am unfaithful to Him, when I live in this world as though it is my home and He is not!

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Israel was, once again, worshiping idols, calling them gods. They were allowing those around them to change the ways in which they worshiped God, slipping in their new moon celebrations and their feasts. The children of God were running away from the covenant with which they made with the God of the universe. And God was not pleased.

“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not My wife,
and I am not her Husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;

lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
Hosea 2:2-3

Israel’s provision was from God yet they ignored the Provider.

And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
Hosea 2:8

Israel turned away from God.

Therefore I will take back My grain in its time,
and My wine in its season, and I will take away My wool and My flax, which were to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of My hand. Hosea 2:9-10

And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot Me, declares the LORD.
Hosea 2:13

God expresses exasperation with His children, but still loves them. He wants them back, desiring that they honor the covenant He made with them. The God of the universe gently calls His bride back, shielding her from being able to go out and find her lovers – her idols, her gods.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.”
Hosea 2:14

“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call Me ‘My Baal.’ ” Hosea 2:16

God is so merciful, surrounding Israel with His steadfast love, His faithfulness, His justice, His righteousness. He is so wonderful to them…to me.

Even when I stray, do abominations towards Him, He never ceases to love me and allure me back to Himself.

And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Hosea 2:19-20a

Hosea 2″ – John the Baptist Artworks

God loves His bride so perfectly that He will pursue her until she repents, returns, becomes His bride.

And you shall know the LORD. Hosea 2:20b

Through all my wanderings and prodigal daughter-ness over many years, God knew where I was physically and spiritually. He followed me, protected me, called me to Himself. I came to a place where the brambles and thorns would no longer allow me to return to my idols or pagan gods. Those walls kept me from trying to find the things of this world that so attracted me away from Him. Yes, the world and satan had, and still have, a way of luring me aside, but that call, the beautiful call of God, is so much stronger and sweeter that I would much rather be in His Presence. I would much rather be betrothed to my Husband and Redeemer. It is far more dear to me to know the LORD! Far more dear! Thank You, Jesus.

Hosea 1 – John the Baptist Artworks

Hosea served around the same time that Isaiah served, as seen by looking at verse one, chapter one in each of their books. The kings listed are the same. Hosea’s ministry was to the northern kingdom of Israel while Isaiah’s ministry was to the southern kingdom of Judah…

The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. Hosea 1:1

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Isaiah 1:1

The same perverseness was occurring in both kingdoms. God called them all to Himself.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the LORD has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against Me
. Isaiah 1:2

Later in Isaiah, God continues to call His bride to Himself:

For your Maker is your Husband,
the LORD of hosts is His name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth He is called.
Isaiah 54:5

Thank You, Father, for wanting me back. Thank You for not rejecting me even when I fail You. I know I have disappointed You so many times, just as Israel has done, yet You love us enough to continually call us back under Your wings. I am so grateful. I pray I remain with You for the remainder of my earthly life. I know I will be at Your feet in eternity. Hallelujah, what a Savior! You have rescued me. I am learning more and more about You. I want to know You, Lord. Thank You for allowing me such a privilege. In the Precious Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay; and edited @ Canva –https://www.canva.com/design/DADduguRCtc/jmZDRDUots57UVVlW9AIZQ/edit

“Hosea 2” – used with permission from John the Baptist Artworks @ https://jtbarts.com/gallery/john-the-baptist-artworks-series/hosea-2/

“Hosea 1” – used with permission from John the Baptist Artworks @ https://jtbarts.com/gallery/john-the-baptist-artworks-series/hosea-1/

Pure Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6

How in the world can I count these trials as joyful? How?

God also says in Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

So now I can have peace with God too? These trials seem like they couldn’t possibly produce joy nor peace?…or perfection or hope?

YET…God’s Word gives me Truth. So I know that these things are possible. I have not written in this space for quite some time, but God is using the circumstances of Kenneth’s death to show me His love, His people, His little children, His body of Christ, His kindness, His glory. He is showing me that although my heart may hurt from this deep loss, it can also overflow with so much more because He is my joy. He is my love. He is my kindness. He is my all. Dependence upon the One Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent gives me all. I lack for nothing.

I have not hidden away from the world. I have not walked away from His will for my life in Christ. I have not been too disobedient (not much that I am aware of!). I am walking with the One Who saved me from the pit. I am holding close to my Savior because He is. He is alive and risen. He has given me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me. And I am His, walking in the Spirit. I am filled with a joy that is incredibly remarkable.

Is that not amazing?

He fills me with pure joy in the midst of sorrow and struggle. Do you know what else He does? He builds me up. He grows me in His character. He molds me to look more and more like Him. Is that not beautiful? How grateful I am for His love for me. Oh, my sweet Lord. You are changing me day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Thank You, Sweet Jesus.

when you meet trials of various kinds,… James 1:2b

Trials come. Trials can be of all types…physical, emotional, mental, financial, marital, death, and everything else under the sun.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

I am not perfect and will not be until I pass over the Jordan River into Heaven, but each step of obedience here on earth brings me another step closer to both perfection and Heaven. Christ is molding me to be more and more like Him while I sojourn here. I am the clay and want to be. I desire that molding more and more now too. That is what boggles my mind…that I, willingly, want Him to mold me which takes trials. No vessel is perfect, needing parts redone again and again. The Potter has much work to do on me. I choose to allow Him to form me and make me. I also choose to stay close to Him so that I may endure the current trials and those on ahead.

ὑπομονή

hypomonē

steadfastness, constancy, endurance

in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

patiently, and steadfastly

a patient, steadfast waiting for

a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

NKJV: But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

NIV: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

NASB: And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Other Scripture with the same Greek word: ὑπομονή

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Matthew Henry wrote: “The graces and duties of a state of trial and affliction are here pointed out to us. Could we attend to these things, and grow in them as we should do, how good would it be for us to be afflicted! One Christian grace to be exercised is joy: ‘Count it all joy.’ We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head, and they become marks of our adoption. By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last. Therefore there is reason to count it all joy when trials and difficulties become our lot in the way of our duty.

Faith is a grace that one expression supposes and another expressly requires: ‘Knowing this, that the trial of your faith,…’ verse 3; and then in verse 6, ‘Let him ask in faith.’ There must be a sound believing of the great truths of Christianity, and a resolute cleaving to them, in times of trial. That faith which is spoken of here as tried by afflictions consists in a belief of the power, and word, and promise of God, and in fidelity and constancy to the Lord Jesus.

There must be patience: ‘The trial of faith worketh patience.’  The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised the stronger they grow.”  *

Jesus, my Lord, I come to You, seeking Your face. I want to be near to You, to know You more and more with each passing moment. Is that possible, Lord? How can it be when I am in physical pain, emotional loss, sorrow, spiritual vacuums, and other trials? How can I focus upon You when these trials distract me so? Yet, Lord, You rain grace over me in joy, love, hope, faith, patience and far more than I could even ask. Thank You, sweet Jesus. You reign in my heart. That is what has changed me as I experience trials, Lord. You!…Your Spirit indwelling this earthly vessel. Your graciousness abounds. Thank You for keeping me close to You. You are the One Who generously gives. You are merciful and faithful, Lord God Almighty, overflowing with love for me. I want to grow in the Truth, in the knowledge of You. I want to grow in grace, too. I want to reflect You to the world in which I sojourn. May I be strong through the trials and tribulations so that I may be more like You. Give me wisdom that I would know how to walk through these times. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

Graphic: Daily RCL Bible Reading Devotional @ http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/2016/05/22/daily-rcl-bible-reading-devotional-may-22nd-2016/

Graphic: http://access-jesus.com

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

* Matthew Henry Commentary on James 1

Graphic: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery

Integrity

Quotefancy-16915-3840x2160

תֹּם

tom

H8537

From root word etymology תָּמַם (H8552)

completeness; figuratively, prosperity; usually (morally) innocence:—full, integrity, perfect(-ion), simplicity, upright(-ly, -ness), at a venture, at random

But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate.  Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”    1 Kings 22:34

Now Abimelech had not approached her.  So he said, “Lord, will You kill an innocent people?  Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”  Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against Me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.  Genesis 20:4-6

Integrity can mean a number of things, but I am focusing on walking with simplicity of mind and heart, with no mischief or ill design, nor evil thought.  One stands in innocence before the LORD because one is innocent.  One carries purity of mind and heart wherever one goes.

In 1 Kings 22:34 (above), the word “random” is a word for “in innocence” in the Hebrew.  The interpretation would be that he drew his bow innocently, not intending to hit the king of Israel.

God looks at my heart and knows the intent.  Am I guilty or am I innocent in what I do?  Are my actions those of Christ?  Do I look like Jesus to one who has never met Him? – Once they have met Him through testimony or the Bible, would I represent the Savior or not?  Do I walk worthy of the LORD?  Is my path straight as God has laid it out for me?  Do I cause others to stumble?  Are the words I speak those of integrity?  Am I truthful in what I say?  Does my mouth open with gossip or untruths flying out?  Or do I speak with honesty and trustworthiness?

I pray that I walk with integrity of the heart, mind, and soul.  I desire to walk uprightly, worthy of God.  But…I am human and fail.  I am not perfect in this earthly body, yet I strive to walk in purity as best as I am able.  This is only slightly possible if and when I am walking with the LORD.  I must stay close to Him for I know not what He calls me to be and do unless I am.  Thus, I may be able to walk in His ways and be more of the upstanding person He desires of me.

BibleVerse-Integrity

Vindicate me, LORD, because I have lived with integrity and have trusted in the LORD without wavering.  Psalm 26:1

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?  Job 4:6

LORD, I desire with my heart and mind and soul to walk in Your ways.  I desire to be a citizen of Heaven who represents You here in this world.  I hope that I am able with Your nearness, Your love, Your guidance.  I want to walk uprightly, in integrity, Father.  I pray for Your forgiveness when I fail You.  Guide me back to the path which is straight.  Guide me to Your heart when I stray.  I pray that integrity becomes more and more of who I am in You, LORD.  As I learn reverence for You with each day, I gain confidence.  Thank You. Father God.  As integrity becomes embedded in my very nature more and more, I gain hope.  Again, thank You, my LORD.  I feel so blessed because You are my God, and Jesus You are my LORD and Savior.  Hallelujah!  I pray in the Powerful Name of Jesus.  Amen.  

BW sig dark blue 

C.S. Lewis graphic – https://quotefancy.com/

1 Chronicles 29:17 -Donna Liljegren 2012 – https://brynwoodneedleworks.blogspot.com/2012/07/sunday-scripture_22.html

Sovereign God Reigns

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Acts 17:26-28

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You, Father, have created us all and we are all and each of You.  I am grateful for Your love for us all.  May Your peace reign.  One day, Jesus will for He is the Prince of Peace.

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Acts 17:26-28

ὁρίζω

horizō

to define

…to mark out or bound (“horizon”), i.e. (figuratively) to appoint, decree, specify:—declare, determine, limit, ordain.

προτάσσω

protassō

to pre-arrange, i.e. prescribe:—before appoint.

ὁροθεσία

horothesia

 a limit-placing, i.e. (concretely) boundary-line:—bound.

determined2

Father God, Your ways are perfect and You are sovereign.  You know our times and places.  They are in Your hands.  I am ever so grateful, LORD.

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Acts 17:26-28

ζάω

zaō

to live (literally or figuratively):—life(-time), (a-)live(-ly), quick

κινέω

kineō

to stir (transitively), literally or figuratively:—(re-)move(-r), way.

ἐσμέν

esmen

we are:—are, be, have our being, × have hope, + (the gospel) was (preached unto) us.

live move being

Father, You know all and are all.  You have everything in Your hands.  As life changes and this body ages, You know the challenges that we face.  You know what we can handle and what we cannot.  I pray that we quiet our selves, allowing the Holy Spirit to tell us, in Your still, small voice, just what we need so that we are walking in Your will.  We want to know.  May our ways in this world calm and quiet so that Your ways will be all we need and want.  Thank You, Father, for loving us and being with us as we traveled and spent time with each other, with friends, explored new places, and were with You. 

You are the Sovereign God, reigning in my heart and soul.  I lift our concerns and families to You.  In the Name of Jesus, I rest and pray.  Amen. 

sovereign2

beblacksig

Peter’s Greetings

My husband and I have been reading Peter together this week.  The first verses of both First and Second Peter are greetings, an initial address to his audiences.  The gifts that Jesus has given to all believers are listed in these first verses.  I am so humbled by them.  They are sinking into this believer’s heart, mind, and soul.  Jesus gave it all for one such as me…for me!

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  1 Peter 1:1-5

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine naturehaving escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  2 Peter 1:1-4

2peter1-4

OH!  SUCH GIFTS WHEN WE WERE YET SINNERS!!!

Peter then tells us:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Peter 1:5-8

Father God, I want to be effective in my walk in this world.  I want the light of Jesus to shine from me to others who may not know Him, who need encouragement, who are confused as they live in this world.  I want to stay humble and remember all that has been done for me.  You gave it all and I received Your beautiful gift of salvation, mercy and grace for my error-filled ways.  Thank You, LORD, for being gracious to me.  I love You dearly.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

beblacksig