READ: Hosea 1-2
THINK: Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they'll look up and see what they really need. God knows that, which is why He sometimes allows people who don't know Him-or who've deliberately rebelled against Him-to go through extreme difficulties. Keep that in mind as you pray for people who don't have a relationship with Christ. It's not that you want them to experience tough times, but it's always appropriate to pray that God will do whatever it takes-even allowing difficulties and troubles-to bring people to a point where they recognize their need for Christ. The hope is for them to learn that it is far better to turn to the Lord for mercy and eternal life than to keep following their own way and experience the ultimate destruction of sin.
RESPOND: To what relationship did God compare His covenant with Israel? (See 1:2 note.) In what way would Hosea's marriage symbolize God's relationship with Israel? How had the people been unfaithful? (See 1:2 note.) What would happen as a result of this unfaithfulness (1:4)? (See 1:4 second note.) Though the northern kingdom (Israel) would soon end, why would the southern kingdom (Judah) survive (1:7)? (See 1:7 note.) Though God would reject the people for disregarding His covenant, what hope did He give at the same time (1:10-11)? (See 1:10-11 note.) What would God do in an effort to turn people back to Him (2:6-7)? (See 2:6 note.) How had people failed to acknowledge God, and to whom did they credit their blessings (2:8)? (See 2:8 note.) Why would God "stop all her celebrations" (2:11)? (See 2:11 note.) How does the tone of God's message change in 2:14, and what opportunity did He provide? (See 2:14 note.) What does it mean that God would "betroth" the people to himself (2:19-20), and what did He expect in return? (See 2:20 note.) How is 2:23 fulfilled in the New Testament? (See 2:23 note.)
PRAY: Give God thanks for being faithful, even when you're not. Thank Him for His mercy, forgiveness, restoration and many other blessings. Pray that God will teach you to exercise greater faith and dependence on Him.
ACT: Think about the time you spend in worship services and other ministry settings meant to celebrate God's goodness and greatness. Are these becoming more like social gatherings or empty routines for you? If so, renew your devotion to the Lord and refresh the purpose of these special times by sincerely using them to honor Him.
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