Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Marry a Prostitute???

“Marry a prostitute?  Are you kidding me?”  Hosea must have thought this as God gave him the charge to do just that.  And God wasn’t kidding when He told Hosea to do this.  Furthermore, Hosea was charged with loving her despite her repeated unfaithfulness.  And if this were not enough, he was not only to remain faithful to her, but also allure her back when she was wayward. 

Why would God have him do this?  For one simple reason:  to show the kind of love He has for us, even when we are unfaithful to Him.  “Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8).

All of us are spiritual harlots at one time or another, and yet God continues to love us, remain steadfastly committed to us, and allures us by His Spirit to come back.  How crazy is this?!  What a radical book Hosea is.  What a radical love story in the book of Hosea.  What a radical God, who has radical love for us.

To understand the book of Hosea it is crucial to know that God likens our relationship with Him to a marriage.  “For your Maker is your husband” (Isa. 54:5).  “Come and I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:5).  This reveals how close God desires to be with us.  It shows how intimate He wants our relationship to be with Him.  It also shows why He would call it whoredom if we give our love and devotion to someone or something more than to Him.  “For the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (Hosea 1:2).

Throughout this great story in the Bible, we will discover how God loves us despite our unfaithfulness to Him, and also how this amazing love demands a response, and that response is that we would forsake our other “lovers” and be steadfastly devoted to Him. 

May the revelation of God’s love motivate you to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.

For more on the book of Hosea and to hear my opening sermon on this book, go to:  http://www.livinghopeathens.org/marry-a-prostitute-really/

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jesus from Genesis to Revelation

 John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Luke 24:44-46 Jesus said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day

Jesus tells us in these two passages that the entire Old Testament is about Him.  And we also know the entire New Testament is about Him. Therefore, both the entire Bible is about Jesus!  Really?  Yes.  But how can this be when the Old Testament was written between 400 and 1400 BC.?  This is only possible if the Bible has a divine author.  I believe it does.

For me personally, it was when I saw how the entire Bible pointed to Jesus that I was convinced it is the Word of God and Jesus is the Son of God.  What about you?  Do you believe the Bible is God’s Word?  Do you believe Jesus is God’s Son?  Have you ever been shown how Jesus is revealed in every book of the Bible? 

Recently I preach on how Jesus is revealed in every book of the Bible. I encourage you to listen to this message at http://www.livinghopeathens.org/category/sermons/ and let me know what you think. Email me at davidholt08@gmail.com. 

If you have questions, I would love to hear them. I am convinced that wisdom begins with a well-asked question, and truth is never afraid of a question.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Biblical Community and Small Groups

God wants His people to be deeply connected in community. Community is “common unity.”  Our common unity is in Jesus.  We desperately need each other in our journey with God. 

God modeled community for us in the Trinity.  God had a nation (Israel) and the 12 Tribes.  Jesus ministered to the masses and had His 12, and within the 12 He had 3 that He spent even extra time with.  Do you have 3 in your life that you could share almost anything with?  I do, and I sure need those men.

I do not know where I would be today without the small group interaction I have had over the years.  I had a group of 5 men that I met with for 18 years while pastoring in Wisconsin.  Those are to this day my closest friends.

Prov. 27:17 says “as iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.”  Do you have others in your life that truly sharpen you? 

Find a small group to join!  Start a small group!  Be as Hebr. 10:24 says “stir one another to love and good deeds.”

Most active Christ-followers today will miss Sunday church at least once every month, any twice a month.  This makes being in a small group even more important, because when they miss Sunday worship, they miss out on fellowship.  But a midweek small group can be the “spiritual staple” they don’t miss.  I believe a biblically functioning small group is even more important than Sunday worship.

Larry Crabb says, “Life-change most often occurs when truth is shared in the context of a relationship.”  Sundays give us truth, but often the close relational piece is missing.

For more about the biblical basis for small groups, the benefits of a small group, how the early church met “from house to house”, common barriers to getting into a small group, and the ingredients in true biblical community, go to my 2 sermons on small groups at http://www.livinghopeathens.org/category/sermons/