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Does your money defile you?

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The threshing floor and the wine press will no longer feed them, And the new wine will fail them [because they failed to honor the God who provides]. Hosea 9:2 (Amplified Bible)

Hello friends. How are you on 02/22/22? Did you do anything fun at 2:22 p.m.? I remember 11-11-11 at 11:11 a.m. I was at a conference with my boss, Diane Reid, and she loved numbers! She had me step out of the large conference hall and take her picture as a memory. Today, as a reflect upon that moment, I am grateful for the photograph. You see, at the time I thought it was silly, but I now cherish the snapshot because she was taken to glory September 2014.

Reading verse one of Hosea chapter 9 reminds me of many conversations with Diane. She was a true believer of rejoicing because of the internal joy that she experienced from living in God’s will. Her life reflected the fact that if a person pursues happiness by satisfying their God given purpose they will reap the joy of the LORD. It wasn’t money or fame that drove her. It was taking life moment by moment and making good choices in those steps. In her cancer battle, Jesus came to her and ask her to simply live. She said it seemed like every time after that when she tried to type love in her text messages-live would appear. One of the last deep conversations I had with her, she advised me to live each moment honoring the LORD in ALL things-easy and hard, good times or in bad. If only she knew where her advice has landed me seven years later.

As I continued to read Hosea chapter 9, verse two just would not leave my thoughts. “Threshing floors and winepresses will not feed the people; the new wine will fail them.” Well, I camped out on this verse for quite awhile this past week.

So, be forewarned, the remainder of this posting is a snapshot of my mental trail as I tried to unfold the message God had for me to grasp.

Threshing floor? What is this? It is a flat area where the harvesters would beat the wheat to separate the straw from the chaff.

Why is this event so important? This only happens 1X annually. There was great value in this timeframe because they depended on the wheat for food substance over the next 365 days. Therefore, the men would stay overnight at the threshing floor to ensure thieves did not take their grain.

What was the desired outcome from the threshing floor? Harvesters always desired a rich harvest. This was their hope each year.

Who provided the crop? God made their provisions. Now, He would discipline through a famine and God was going to supernaturally intervene to cause the crops to fail.

Where does the credit need to go? The LORD is always working and all blessings big or small come from Him. It is often hard to understand because we mainly see the natural order of sowing and harvesting, but God is who decides if it is a success or failure.

So, what could be our threshing floor today? What is the main substance needed to supply our existence? MONEY

What is the main things we do to obtain it? WORK

And when the harvest is ripe–We receive our crop-PAYCHECK

Then we go to our threshing floor and separate out the provisions. As we pound out the bills and budget the income-what normally comes to mind? Will there be enough? Just like the harvesters, our future days depends upon it: shelter, water, food, clothing, etc.

How do we protect it and value it? Maybe this is a personal choice. Do we spend it all or save for a rainy day? Do we stick with the budget? Do we thank God for it each and every time we receive it? Is our first thought to tithe? Oh yeah-IT IS ALL GOD’S provision.

Do we do anything to try to produce a rich harvest? WOW-all that comes to mind is worldly ways-fighting for a promotion, taking short cuts, scheming, etc. Wait-yes I can intentionally give it back to God and ask for every penny to be used for His glory. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over the new wine.” Proverbs 3:9-10.

Then Diane’s words came to me again through God’s Word: “Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.'” Haggai 1:5 (NIV) And my study Bible extended her advise-“Caring only for your comfort and pleasure while ignoring your relationship with God will lead to ruin.”

My discovered concern: When have I ever prayed over a payday or paycheck? When have I ever given it totally over to the LORD and asked for His hand of direction for every penny? When have I stopped and thanked Him for His glorious provisions on those once a month occasion? Do I solely depend on my “major crop” as security and neglect worshiping God when the harvest is ripe?

Will you let your money defile you? What will it take to get your attention? Will God send a drought to destroy your livelihood as a means to call you back to himself?

WOW-just-WOW…

Payday just happened for me.

I have to stop writing now.

I have some business with God I need to take care of.

EXILED-Does this still occur?

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Hello friends! How are you today? I hope you are wrapped in a warm blanket and enjoying a beautiful fire. Our current 10 degrees, snow, and 25 mph winds are a brutal combination.

I thought I would start by sharing this week’s unique icebreaker during our weekly online class. Several had the opportunity to introduce themselves like this, “Hi, my name is Genna (first name) Corolla (model of your car) and I am being exiled to the land of parmesan cheese (last thing you ate).” It was fun hearing each person add their introduction line as we began our evening.

But why focus on exile? Good question-over and over we see this word, especially in our minor prophet studies. Hosea is no different. As we approached chapter 4, we found charges God had against the Northern Kingdom because of their rebellious lifestyle. The LORD found them guilty of no loyalty, trust, or acknowledgment of Him. Therefore, exile was upon them in the days ahead.

Webster defines exile as “the state or period of forced or voluntary absence from one’s country or home”. In our minor prophet series, we have seen God using exile to capture the attention of those who refused to follow His instructions.

Often than not, exile continues for generations to come. Why? Maybe because of the power of long-lasting consequences. When exile happened, the people would find themselves in a foreign land and sometimes without a temple. It isn’t until then that the people would reflect on their wicked ways. Once they repented the LORD would forgive them but, the exile would normally continue for a period of time.

So, how can this Old Testament prophesy and state of exile apply today?

Could we possibly experience exile?

I cannot answer this for everyone but, let me share my thoughts when reflecting on these two questions:

Does the LORD ever have charges against me and my behavior? Do I ever found myself partaking in sinful actions and turning my back on living under Biblical authority? (Unfortunately, I could write a book!)

Are there times when certain Scriptures, sermons, bible studies, devotions, etc. prick my heart and warn me of the consequences if I continue my disobedience?

As I ponder these questions, I think about reproof. When reproof comes, the Lord wants me to repent and turn from my lawless ways. He knew I would struggle with fleshy desires so He equipped me with two helpmates: the Holy Spirit and His Word. The Lord desires a harmonious relationship with me but, He also allows me to make my own decisions. (My freewill is a thorn at times)

However, when I ignore the LORD’s instructions and continue to sin it is truly spiritual adultery. (Ouch-those words sting!) Therefore, exile will probably come. My sin has separated me from the LORD and He will seem far away because of my own doing. My failed faith might even leave me feeling deserted or isolated from the closeness I once felt with God. This is my “foreign land” time to reflect on my behavior and an opportunity to repent and turn back to the LORD.

My exile-separated from the one who loves me the most-the lover of my soul. This leaves me with another question: How can I avoid exile and stay on track to be successful in my faith?

What are your thoughts?

How would you answer these questions:

 How can Old Testament prophesy and exile apply today?

Could you possibly experience exile?

REDEEMING LOVE found in HOSEA

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“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.” Hosea 1:10-11 (NIV)

The book of Hosea is a love story of a life changing devotion only God can give. Throughout the Bible, the depth, breadth, and width of his sacrificial commitment to us is mind blowing! His love and affection are so evident through Christ Jesus, His Son, who paid the ultimate price for us even while we were still sinners!

Probably much like you, this atonement is not unfamiliar. Most of us have heard the message of salvation throughout our lifetime. However, how many of us really take to heart the redemptive lover of our soul to the point of being completely transformed into His image? As for me, I find myself falling short of the mark as I dig into Hosea.

Recently Francine Rivers’ book, Redeeming Love, has made its debut on the big screen. You may or may not know this, but her writing was inspired by the book of Hosea. This romance novelist was captured by God’s all-consuming admiration Hosea portrays and she developed the plot and characters around her takeaway from this book in the Bible. I read this story many years ago and was mesmerized by her talent. She eloquently delivers a story of fervent, costly love pointing to Christ Jesus and God’s never-waiving, eternal compassion for us.

As I began preparing for this study, the Holy Spirit really caught my attention regarding my relationship with the LORD. Very rarely have I viewed my connection with the father as a marriage, a redemptive one at that! Hosea’s words really brought to light the passion God has for everyone, including me. I found myself spellbound and captivated by this concept in such a riveting way.

In my hypnotic state of mind, I began thinking about my eternal relationship with the LORD. I began asking myself, “How could I fully be in love with God, the way He is with me, if I don’t invest my time in knowing Him the way He knows me? How can I faithfully rely on God if I don’t spend time discovering His attributes? What am I doing to grow our relationship? Is my obedience and devotion on the level the LORD desires? Are there barriers within my life keeping God’s love at bay? Am I allowing Him to captivate every part of my being so He can refine and transform me to be His redemptive bride?”

These questions, along with many others, have led me to seek out God’s never-ending love through focusing on His attributes. I know like most of my deep lasting relationships, it takes time to build a strong bond.  It seems crazy to me not to devote time to knowing the LORD more intimately when I reflect upon what He has promised: to love me no matter what, to fully restore me, to want me despite my warts, to give me hope, to always be beside me, to forgive me of my numerous sins, to be in close relationship with me, and to promise me an eternal home through the salvation found from His own Son’s sacrifice. WOW!

Hosea has given me a fresh beginning to press into defining who GOD IS personally for me. To identify those fascinating attributes and deepen my reliance on the LORD. I want to be grounded in Scripture to know the truth of who the father is really like and how I can grow closer through my reliance on His character and promises.

So, what about you? The father craves interaction with us more than we can possibly know, but we let our life rejections, hurts, earthy measure of worth, past sins, other’s opinions, low self-esteem, etc. get in the way of discovering God for who He really is and allowing Him to love us to completion. What is holding you back? What has possibly distorted your perception of God’s great love? Why do you need redemption in your life?

I pray this study will deliver clarity of who the LORD really is and how He wants to restore through His redeeming love. I am excited to see the different levels of discernment and hope God provides as our group on Monday nights draw closer to Him through His Word.

In what ways are you looking to receive Redeeming Love from the LORD? Come join us on Monday nights for one hour (6:00 pm CST) via zoom. We would be delighted to have you. Feel free to email us for the link and handouts at refiningjourney@gmail.com. The study is only for 7 weeks!

HOSEA Study & Scripture Notebooking

1 Thessalonians 2:13
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Are you ready to take your Bible intake to a new level? Come join us via Zoom every Monday night for seven weeks. We will show you how to digest Scripture differently through your very own handwriting.

Grab your Bible, your favorite pen, and a small notebook. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity. See you soon!

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