Thursday, February 25, 2010

Redeeming Love Book Club Devotional

In keeping with our California Gold Rush era book club selection, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, we sent guests home from last week's meeting with gold nuggets -- Hershey's Nuggets, that is. I had intended to wrap them all in scriptures from Hosea, but simply ran out of time to finish the project. I did present a few nuggets of scripture, though. Our devotional follows.

That Kind of Girl

I want us to think for a few minutes about “that kind of girl.”

Have you ever met that kind of girl? You know her when you see her. She wears too much make-up. Her clothes are too tight and too revealing. She smells of cheap perfume and cigarettes, and even from a distance you can catch the faintest whiff of cologne on her skin – probably the scent of another woman’s husband. She’s a woman who lives in the shadows – carrying out her deeds under the cover of darkness; hiding her shame in the light of day.

Could you befriend that kind of girl? She’s the kind of girl who doesn’t belong in polite society – shunned by women; known only by men who seek her company in secret, but deny her in the company of anyone more respectable.

We find exactly that kind of girl in the book of Hosea in Gomer, a known prostitute. Can you imagine the raised eyebrows – the scandalous rumors – generated when a prophet of God chose this prostitute to be his wife? Yet we learn in Hosea 1:2 that God commanded Hosea to take Gomer as his wife: “When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry, and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.’ " Even more surprising for the Israelites was the realization that the marriage between the prophet and the prostitute held up a mirror to their own relationship with God, clearly reflecting their unfaithfulness.

Reading our book club selection, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, piqued my interest in studying the book of Hosea. But this book can be gritty and difficult to read. God paints a graphic picture of spiritual infidelity in Hosea 2:2-7. This is not a lovely passage we would print on a greeting card or pen in calligraphy to display in our homes. The words are jarring and shocking to read.

But Hosea is not just about judgment. Judgment comes easy, doesn’t it? It’s easy to point fingers, cast blame, look down our noses – especially at that kind of girl. But God’s righteous judgment is balanced by even fiercer love. God reveals throughout the book that His greatest desire is for the Israelites to come home. Hosea 2:7-8 continues, “Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now!’ For she does not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the new wine, and the oil, and lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.” God is just, but He is also loving and merciful. He promises in verses 19-20, “And I will betroth you to me forever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.” God desires to draw our sinful hearts home.

Are you that kind of girl? The kind of girl who has been betrayed and felt the sting of rejection? The kind of girl who has made mistakes, stumbling daily – frustrated and ashamed to fall prey to the same temptations again and again?

Are you that kind of girl? sinful, broken, lost. In need of a Savior. In short, the kind of girl God claims as His child; the kind of girl Christ chooses as His bride. Just like the Israelites, on some level we are all that kind of girl. Ephesians 2:4-7 tells us:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ
(by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with
Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come
He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ

I’m so thankful that God loves that kind of girl because that kind of girl is me.

"And I will betroth you to me forever ..." (Hosea 2:19).

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