The Gospel of Hosea

We come to the last twelve books of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, the section commonly called The Minor Prophets.  But let’s clarify. They are “minor” only in length, not in importance.  As I read through these books, I’m still asking the question, “How does this illustrate, prophesy or relate to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”

We’ve felt compassion for Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, all of them witnessing the destruction of their nation, Judah, and her capital city, Jerusalem. Being a prophet of God is no easy gig, but Hosea faced what is arguably the most difficult challenge of any of the prophets,  God told him to marry a prostitute. Was she really a prostitute or did she become one after Hosea married her? Continue reading “The Gospel of Hosea”

Ebola, Risks and Opportunities

How should followers of Jesus respond to the Ebola crisis?

Are Ann Coulter and Donald Trump right that we should stay at home and leave Africa to its own problems because we have enough of our own right here?  Were Kent Brantley and Nancy Whitebol fools to place themselves in harm’s way to serve Ebola patients?  Does the fact that they were infected by Ebola themselves, prove they were fools?  Continue reading “Ebola, Risks and Opportunities”

The Gospel of Daniel

Next up is Daniel in our journey, The Gospel in the Old Testament.  In the history and prophecy of Daniel, we discover one of the most impressive figures in all the Bible. He stands out so much that Ezekiel, his contemporary who was also exiled to Babylon in the second exile of 597 BC, refers to Daniel along with Noah and Job as the best of the best in terms of being blameless and righteous. Ezekiel 14 Further, it is Daniel, not Solomon, who is Ezekiel’s example of excelling in wisdom, Who is wiser than Daniel? Ezekiel 28:3. Continue reading “The Gospel of Daniel”

A Monday Prayer

After my reading this morning from Daniel 12 and Psalm 119:48-72, and praying a prayer from The Valley of Vision, with no obvious connection to the previous, my mind latched on to the lyrics of a 200 year old hymn, Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.

The line that surfaced was Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move. The seemingly random lyrics were imprinted from repeated exposure when I was a child, but suddenly took on fresh urgency. I had to look up this hymn and remember the other lyrics. It was all familiar except for the second stanza, an essential part of the whole.

I commend this hymn to you.  Pray it aloud (sing it if you know the tune) and ask God to graciously imprint the meaning on your heart.

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

Lyrics by George Cro­ly, Psalms and Hymns for Pub­lic Wor­ship (Lon­don: 1854).  Croly was born Au­gust 17, 1780 in Dub­lin, Ire­land and died No­vem­ber 24, 1860 in Hol­born, Eng­land. Cyber Hymnal   Note that he was 74 years old when he penned these words, acknowledging even at that age that his heart still needed to be weaned from a dependence on this world.

Same Sex Marriage – Women, Children and Religious Freedom?

Following last week’s Supreme Court neglect of responsibility which forced states against their will to redefine marriage into meaninglessness, the overwhelming response of the press has not been objective reporting but wild cheer leading, a celebration of equal rights, good for all Americans. Is that reality?

Today, I’m not going to dissect all these opinions, but rather refer you to thinkers and writers much wiser than I. All four articles below are found at Breakpoint  They are transcripts of the Breakpoint radio program and can be read or heard.

First I refer you to the late Chuck Colson’s insight, Judaism’s Sexual Revolution – Why Judaism Rejected Homosexuality. After you read this link, be sure to read the comment below it  Unbounded Sex is an equal-opportunity destroyer, posted by Ken Reighard.

Second, Colson’s legacy is being carried on by Eric Metaxas (biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer) and John Stonestreet. Check out Metaxas’s analysis, Supreme Inaction on Gay Marriage, What Now? that the legal challenge is not completely over, even though it is “the bottom of the ninth and we’re behind.”

Third, John Stonestreet addresses the double negative impact on religious liberty and doing good for children. The Jealous God of Tolerance – Gay Rights Trump Religious Rights Again?

Fourth, another Stonestreet commentary, The Unseen Pain behind ‘Gay Marriage” – Victims of ‘Happinesss’  For all the stories that compellingly describe gay couples and families, celebrating love and happiness, there is a long list of victims. Julie Darnelle’s story is heart breaking, but not rare. The human suffering caused by the supposed “right to sexual happiness,” will be multiplied by millions as America goes down this road.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court inaction last week, I posted What Next for the Church? Our Response to Same Sex Marriage.  Then on Sunday, October 12, in the last ten minutes of my sermon, I included points of application related to same sex marriage.  I am in an  expositional series in the letter of 1 John, available the Faith Church website under sermons.

The Gospel of Ezekiel

Like his contemporary, Jeremiah, Ezekiel lived and prophesied in the darkest days of the Jewish people, during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Unlike Jeremiah, who was in Jerusalem during this time until he eventually ended up in Egypt, Ezekiel’s ministry was in Babylon, the capital of Babylonia.  However, through visions, he observed Jerusalem and witnessed the devastating experience of the Glory of God departing from the city. Ezekiel 11:23 .

Ezekiel was a priest, exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon in 597 BC, His call to prophetic ministry at the age of thirty was in Babylon, where he lived throughout and presumably died. He was married. He had a house in Babylon and apparently suffered no major hardship there, unlike Jeremiah’s suffering back in Jerusalem.

Similar to other prophets, but more sharply delineated, there are three sections:

1. Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem
2. Judgment on the surrounding nations
3. Restoration for Judah and Jerusalem Continue reading “The Gospel of Ezekiel”

The Gospel of Lamentations

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!
How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks.
Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

So begins the book called Lamentations.

Powerfully descriptive language describes the city and the people that God loved, but who rejected Him for other lovers and now has reaped the consequences.

Please read it through before you go on to get a feel for the misery of it all.

But you have to wonder… How can Gospel (Good News) and Lamentations (grieving) fit in the same title? Where is there any good news in all this anguish and despair? Continue reading “The Gospel of Lamentations”