Today our passages are Hosea 1:1–3:5; 1 John 5:1-21; Psalm 124:1-8; and Proverbs 29:5-8. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
Hosea 1-3:5 (The Message)
Hosea 11 This is God's Message to Hosea son of Beeri. It came to him during the royal reigns of Judah's kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This was also the time that Jeroboam son of Joash was king over Israel. This Whole Country Has Become a Whorehouse 2 The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:
"Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here's why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God."
3 Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and gave him a son.
4-5 Then God told him:
"Name him Jezreel. It won't be long now before
I'll make the people of Israel pay for the massacre at Jezreel.
I'm calling it quits on the kingdom of Israel.
Payday is coming! I'm going to chop Israel's bows and arrows
into kindling in the valley of Jezreel."
6-7 Gomer got pregnant again. This time she had a daughter. God told Hosea:
"Name this one No-Mercy. I'm fed up with Israel.
I've run out of mercy. There's no more forgiveness.
Judah's another story. I'll continue having mercy on them.
I'll save them. It will be their God who saves them,
Not their armaments and armies,
not their horsepower and manpower."
8-9 After Gomer had weaned No-Mercy, she got pregnant yet again and had a son. God said:
"Name him Nobody. You've become nobodies to me,
and I, God, am a nobody to you.
10-11 "But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God's Somebody. Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They'll choose a single leader. There'll be no stopping them—a great day in Jezreel!"
Hosea 21 "Rename your brothers 'God's Somebody.' Rename your sisters 'All Mercy.' Wild Weekends and Unholy Holidays
2-13 "Haul your mother into court. Accuse her!
She's no longer my wife.
I'm no longer her husband.
Tell her to quit dressing like a whore,
displaying her breasts for sale.
If she refuses, I'll rip off her clothes
and expose her, naked as a newborn.
I'll turn her skin into dried-out leather,
her body into a badlands landscape,
a rack of bones in the desert.
I'll have nothing to do with her children,
born one and all in a whorehouse.
Face it: Your mother's been a whore,
bringing bastard children into the world.
She said, 'I'm off to see my lovers!
They'll wine and dine me,
Dress and caress me,
perfume and adorn me!'
But I'll fix her: I'll dump her in a field of thistles,
then lose her in a dead-end alley.
She'll go on the hunt for her lovers
but not bring down a single one.
She'll look high and low
but won't find a one. Then she'll say,
'I'm going back to my husband, the one I started out with.
That was a better life by far than this one.'
She didn't know that it was I all along
who wined and dined and adorned her,
That I was the one who dressed her up
in the big-city fashions and jewelry
that she wasted on wild Baal-orgies.
I'm about to bring her up short: No more wining and dining!
Silk lingerie and gowns are a thing of the past.
I'll expose her genitals to the public.
All her fly-by-night lovers will be helpless to help her.
Party time is over. I'm calling a halt to the whole business,
her wild weekends and unholy holidays.
I'll wreck her sumptuous gardens and ornamental fountains,
of which she bragged, 'Whoring paid for all this!'
They will soon be dumping grounds for garbage,
feeding grounds for stray dogs and cats.
I'll make her pay for her indulgence in promiscuous religion—
all that sensuous Baal worship
And all the promiscuous sex that went with it,
stalking her lovers, dressed to kill,
And not a thought for me."
To Start All Over Again14-15 "And now, here's what I'm going to do:
I'm going to start all over again.
I'm taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I'll court her.
I'll give her bouquets of roses.
I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She'll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt. 16-20 "At that time"—this is God's Message still—
"you'll address me, 'Dear husband!'
Never again will you address me,
I'll wash your mouth out with soap,
get rid of all the dirty false-god names,
not so much as a whisper of those names again.
At the same time I'll make a peace treaty between you
and wild animals and birds and reptiles,
And get rid of all weapons of war.
Think of it! Safe from beasts and bullies!
And then I'll marry you for good—forever!
I'll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness.
Yes, I'll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go.
You'll know me, God, for who I really am.
21-23 "On the very same day, I'll answer"—this is God's Message—
"I'll answer the sky, sky will answer earth,
Earth will answer grain and wine and olive oil,
and they'll all answer Jezreel.
I'll plant her in the good earth.
I'll have mercy on No-Mercy.
I'll say to Nobody, 'You're my dear Somebody,'
and he'll say 'You're my God!'"
In Time They'll Come Back1 Then God ordered me, "Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who's in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife.
Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people,
even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy." 2-3I did it. I paid good money to get her back.
It cost me the price of a slave.
Then I told her, "From now on you're living with me.
No more whoring, no more sleeping around.
You're living with me and I'm living with you."
4-5 The people of Israel are going to live a long time
stripped of security and protection,
without religion and comfort,
godless and prayerless.
But in time they'll come back, these Israelites,
come back looking for their God and their David-King.
They'll come back chastened to reverence
before God and his good gifts, ready for the End of the story of his love.
1 John 5:1-21 (The Message)
1 John 51-3Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we'll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God's children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome.
The Power That Brings the World to Its Knees4-5Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God. 6-8Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death. And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God's presence at Jesus' baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. And the three in perfect agreement.
9-10If we take human testimony at face value, how much more should we be reassured when God gives testimony as he does here, testifying concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God's testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God's own testimony regarding his Son.
11-12This is the testimony in essence: God gave us eternal life; the life is in his Son. So, whoever has the Son, has life; whoever rejects the Son, rejects life.
The Reality, Not the Illusion13-15My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God's Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening. And if we're confident that he's listening, we know that what we've asked for is as good as ours. 16-17For instance, if we see a Christian believer sinning (clearly I'm not talking about those who make a practice of sin in a way that is "fatal," leading to eternal death), we ask for God's help and he gladly gives it, gives life to the sinner whose sin is not fatal. There is such a thing as a fatal sin, and I'm not urging you to pray about that. Everything we do wrong is sin, but not all sin is fatal.
18-21We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can't lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it's only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God's Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles.
Psalm 124:1-8 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song of David1-5 If God hadn't been for us —all together now, Israel, sing out!—
If God hadn't been for us
when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive
by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives
in the wild, raging water.
6 Oh, blessed be God!
He didn't go off and leave us.
He didn't abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.
7 We've flown free from their fangs,
free of their traps, free as a bird.
Their grip is broken;
we're free as a bird in flight.
8 God's strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.
Proverbs 29:5-8 (The Message)
5 A flattering neighbor is up to no good;
he's probably planning to take advantage of you.
6 Evil people fall into their own traps;
good people run the other way, glad to escape.
7 The good-hearted understand what it's like to be poor;
the hardhearted haven't the faintest idea.
8 A gang of cynics can upset a whole city;
a group of sages can calm everyone down.
Verse of the Day
“[Jesus Is the Good Shepherd]Jesus said: I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest.” - John 10:7, 9-10
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American business magnate, cartoonist, and filmmaker, Walt Disney wrote, “Courage is the main quality of leadership, in my opinion, no matter where it is exercised. Usually it implies some risk — especially in new undertakings. Courage to initiate something and to keep it going, pioneering an adventurous spirit to blaze new ways, often, in our land of opportunity.”