Posts tagged ‘Hosea’

November 7, 2014

843 Acres: New Vision for Success

by Steven Dilla

M’Cheyne: Hos 13 (txt | aud, 2:35 min)
Ps 137-38 (txt | aud, 2:06 min)
Highlighted: Hosea 13.5-6

“It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.”

Success: “Any success will tend to swell my head—unconsciously even,” Flannery O’Connor reflected in her prayer journal. [1] Success drives us from the divine in subtle but significant ways; it’s far easier to seek and pray when life seems beyond control. But what if the problem is not simply how we react when we succeed, but the limited scope of what we view as successful? If we give ourselves wholly to the pursuit of accolade in our vocation, or admiration from our peers, or even what can be accomplished in a single lifetime, perhaps we aspire too small.

Vision: David Foster Wallace observed, “Our own present culture has harnessed [money, body, power, and intellect] in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom.” Even the greatest success, Wallace says, yields only “the freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation.” [2] The authors of the scriptures viewed any success that man could attain on his own as a small vision—no matter how grand it appears on Earth.

Impact: A Christian understanding of success views some earthly successes, and sufferings, as contributors for the greater success of God’s Kingdom. O’Connor contributed greatly to American literature, but her heart’s desire was for something far greater. In writing about O’Connor’s prayer journal for The New Yorker, Casey N. Cep observed, “The journal is chiefly an interior one, a record of a Christian who hoped the rightful orientation of her own life would contribute to righting the orientation of the world.” [3]

Prayer: Dear God, we want to give our lives to things which extend beyond ourselves. Give us vision for people the way you see them. Help us to see the potential in our industry — the ways in which our work can contribute to human flourishing. Expand our vision and give us focus, even in times of great difficulty, that we might join in the work of your Kingdom right here and now. Amen.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal. Macmillan, 2013. | [2] David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. Hachette Book Group, 2009. | [3] Casey N. Cep. Inheritance and Invention: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal, The New Yorker. November 12, 2013.

Tags: ,
November 6, 2014

843 Acres: TBT: Revelation of God (Warfield)

by Steven Dilla

M’Cheyne: Hos 12 (txt | aud, 2:06 min)
Ps 135-36 (txt | aud, 4:37 min)
Highlighted: Psalm 135.13-14

Your name, O Lord, endures forever, your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.

For the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants.

Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield, The Biblical Idea of Revelation (1915)

The religion of the Bible thus announces itself, not as the product of men’s search after God, if haply they may feel after Him and find Him, but as the creation in men of the gracious God, forming a people for Himself, that they may show forth His praise. In other words, the religion of the Bible announces itself as the revealed religion, as the only revealed religion; and sets itself as such over against all other religions, which are represented as all products, in a sense in which it is not, of the art and device of man.

It is not, however, implied in this exclusive claim to revelation—which is made by the religion of the Bible in all the stages of its history—that the living God, who made the heaven and the earth, and the sea and all that in them is, has left Himself without witness among the peoples of the world. It is asserted indeed, that in the process of His redemptive work, God suffered for a season all the nations to walk in their own ways; but it is added that to none of them has He failed to do good, and give from heavens rains and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.

It is quite obvious that there are brought before us in these several representations two species or stages of revelation, which should be discriminated to avoid confusion. There is the revelation, which God continuously makes to all men: by it His power and Divinity are made known. And there is the revelation, which He makes exclusively to His chosen people: through it His saving grace is made known.

Only in Eden has general revelation been adequate to the needs of man. Had man not fallen, heaven would have continued to [surround] him through all his history, as it lay about his infancy; every man would have enjoyed direct vision of God and immediate speech with Him. By slow steps and gradual stages He at once works out His saving purpose and molds the world for its reception, choosing a people for Himself and training it through long and weary ages, until at last when the fullness of time has come, He bares His arm and sends out the proclamation of His great salvation to all the earth.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
November 5, 2014

843 Acres: A Loving God

by Steven Dilla

M’Cheyne: Hos 11 (txt | aud, 1:52 min)
Ps 132-34 (txt | aud, 2:35 min)
Highlighted: Hosea 11.4

Contrast: American action movies are visually distinctive in part because of increased contrast levels. High contrast levels draw vivid detail from very familiar locations, thereby change how viewers experience them. (For example, Midtown in high contrast is Gotham.) Contrast, though, is not simply the juxtaposition of dark to light, but the intensification of both in order to create a picture previously unseen.

The book of Hosea demonstrates God’s love through the visceral metaphor of Hosea’s faithful pursuit of his adulterous wife. The narrative is a high contrast of God’s love with the things that most destroy it.

Perspective: The prophet draws his readers to see the intense contrast of God’s love against perhaps justified apathy (on the lover’s part) and fear (on the beloved’s part). Notably, the emotions we fear most—deep sacrifice, anger, jealousy, correction, and discipline—are the very emotions drawn out in the contrast of God’s love, which leads to the restoration of a beautiful and loving relationshipGod says, I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. Far too often the idea of love is confused with unconditional positive regard— a vapid acceptance without requirement of sacrifice or ownership. Hosea draws us to a love far richer.

Love: As C.S. Lewis says, “You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect’, is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.”

Prayer: Father, thank you for the intensity of your love and the relentlessness of your pursuit of your Church. Truly you have demonstrated your love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners you gave your life on our behalf. Thank you for not accepting our brokenness. Thank you for loving us so deeply you would send your son, who rescued us from danger, and interposed his precious blood. 

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
November 4, 2014

843 Acres: The Greatest Forgiveness We Need

by Steven Dilla

M’Cheyne: Hos 10 (txt | aud, 2:51 min)
Ps 129-31 (txt | aud, 1:58 min)
Highlighted: Psalm 130.3-4

Unforgiveness is the fruit of dehumanization. Ignoring the humanity of the offender justifies revenge. “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is the most fun,” writes Frederick Buechner. “To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor the last toothsome morsel of the pain you’re giving back to them, in many ways, is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down at this feast is yourself.”

Forgiveness is the fruit of suffering. Ghanna’s President, John Dramani Mahama, wrote for the Times about the day Nelson Mandella was released from 27 years of imprisonment and forced labor. “We wondered what we would do if we were in his shoes. We all waited for an indescribable rage, a call for retribution that any reasonable mind would have understood. Twenty-seven years of his life, gone. Day after day of hard labor in a limestone quarry, chipping away at white rock under a bright and merciless sun — without benefit of protective eyewear — had virtually destroyed his tear ducts and, for years, robbed Mandela even of his ability to cry.”

President Mahama continues, “Yet, the man insisted on forgiveness. ‘To go to prison because of your convictions,’ [Mandela] said, ‘and be prepared to suffer for what you believe in, is something worthwhile. It is an achievement for a man to do his duty on earth irrespective of the consequences.’”

The greatest forgiveness we need is the fruit of God’s deepest suffering. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” penned Paul in the years when Christ’s crucifixion was still viscerally close memory for his followers. Yet, because of God’s deep love for us—because he loves humanity so deeply—Paul continued, “and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In this breathe the Psalmist sings, ”If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” That fear, better translated awe, is the natural response to Christ’s great forgiveness which is offered freely, relieving our darkest death at such terrible cost.

Prayer: Father, we stand stunned at your grace. Too often we find ourselves like the unforgiving debtor. You have relieved us of our greatest debt, help us to extend your forgiveness to those who have hurt us.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
November 3, 2014

843 Acres: Sowing and Weeping

by Steven Dilla

M’Cheyne: Hos 9 (txt | aud, 3:05 min)
Ps 126-28 (txt | aud, 1:55 min)
Highlighted: Psalm 126.6, 127.1

Sowing: There are few images in the Psalms as dark as that of the man “who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,” in Psalm 126. In an agrarian culture, a weeping sower has been overcome by the unlikelihood of success. He weeps because seed is a costly investment to plant in hard soil. He weeps because the people he loves the most will go through pain when no fruit is born. He weeps because the most important parts of the process seem out of his hands. 

Building: Christians have friends and family members we pray will come to know God. We do our best to invest our faith in them, but sometimes it is deflected by a hardness that is difficult to describe, either in origin or depth. Yet Psalm 126 is a Psalm of ascent—a song focused not on the despair of hard soil, but the promise of a God who restores all things. The reason for this ascent may be found, in part, in the first verse of Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” We find assurance that God is not only sowing with us, but cares far more than we ever could for the lives of those for whom we pray. God not only longs to draw them close to himself, he also has done everything necessary for them to thrive in relationship with him.

Home: Psalm 126.6 presents a paradox— that although the man “goes out weeping,” he “shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Sheaves are fruitfulness en masse. The man rejoices because the soil was softened in a way he couldn’t do on his own. He rejoices because what was once lifeless is now flourishing and feeding others. He rejoices because it was out of his hands, and now he sees he can trust the one in whose hands bear every good and perfect thing.

Prayer: God, our hearts break for those who do not know you. Give us strength to sow, even if we do so while weeping. Give us perseverance to walk with them each day. Most of all, give us faith in you — faith that you love them far more deeply than we ever could, and faith that you word does not go out and return void. We pray this in Jesus name.

____________________________________ 

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 163 other followers