Hosea 14: 1-10
Hosea says in verse two: “Take words with you and return to your Lord.” To me this is beautiful because it reminds me how powerful words are. To take them with me to God reminds me that my prayers, my wonderings, my doubts, my anger, and my other words of emotion are exposed to God. Hosea is asking the Israelites to take their words to God. He gives them specific words: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” What an amazing prayer! We spend a lot of time talking about the fruit of the spirit, but do we realize that our words also indicate our maturity in the spirit? When I think about taking my words to God and offering the fruit of my lips to God, I cannot help but think about poring over the scriptures and saying them outloud to myself so that I have words to bring back to God. Through this type of meditation I could not only memorize scripture, but I could continually give the fruit of my lips back to God.
In verse 3, Hosea writes: “We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made.” This made me question my own life and how many times I have made a god of something that I made myself. How many times have I put my faith in something that didn’t stand up? How many times have I wasted energy on things that simply do not matter? What do I call a god today?
Finally, Hosea writes: “The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” Compare that to Psalm 1: “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” and Psalm 73: “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” They all say, along with many other passages in the first testament, that the righteous will be rewarded by remaining in God’s path, but the wicked will perish or stumble. For me, this reminds me that while, like David, I can look around and see other people who seem to be prospering, my reward is not money, acclaim, or prosperity. My reward is in following God. It is intrinsic.
Mark 12: 28-34
One word: love. Love your God. Love your neighbor. Love.