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Daily Devotionals

The Good News in the Old Testament
May 26, 2017
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As is the case with Hosea’s purchase of Gomer, God will stop at nothing to win back his people. Since this story is a representation of God’s chosen people, Israel, and his unstoppable grace and mercy for them, then we, as Christ followers that are grafted into the branches of Israel read this story as a promise. Did you get that? All the words you read hear are a promise for you.

That means when God says in Hosea 2:14, "Behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her,” that he will do that for you. That when you have chased other idols, chosen other pleasures, sought out other lovers, God will win you back by wooing you. He will get you in a place where you are all alone and can only hear from him, then speak so gently to you that you are swept away by his love. You are never too rotten, or too far away from God for him to allure you back. This is a promise.

This also means when he says in Hosea 2:15, "And there I will give her vineyards and make the valley of Achor a door of hope,” that he will give you safety and hope. Achor represented a very troubled and evil place for the Israelites. God is now saying that when his people come home, he will take your trouble and turn it into hope for you.

He explains this paradise of hope in verse 18:

"I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground, and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety."

— Hosea 2:18

Just come home and live in the goodness of his hope. This is a promise. This also means when he says in verses 19 and 20, "And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord," that he will make new your relationship with him again. We will be engaged again to him through love, mercy, righteousness and justice. All things will be made new and right. You can and still have all of this through Christ. This is a promise.

God makes all of these promises to you, and all he asks in return is in Hosea 2:16:

“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.”
— Hosea 2:16

When you no longer relate to God as an owner or task master, but can see him as a husband who promises to woo you, give you safety and hope, and give you a right standing with him, no matter how many times you have cheated on him, then and only then we will be given all of these promises. No matter how distant you have been from God, his yearning to have you back is not dependent on your goodness, but upon his extravagant mercy. All he wants is your heart. Give God your heart, and live freely in the promises of the perfect groom. This is the Gospel in the Old Testament.

Daily Devotionals

Discipline
May 25, 2017
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“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
— Hebrews 12:5-11

There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more
AND
There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less.

God gave me this truth when I needed it most. I was really struggling with my understanding of what a truly healthy relationship with God would actually look like. In God’s perfect timing, a friend gave me a book titled What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Phillip Yancey, and my life has never been the same.

Up until that point, I thought that God’s love for us was granted in direct proportion to how well we performed. If we were faithful, then he would reward us, but if we were unfaithful, then he would simply write us off and no longer love us. Now, the funny thing is that this mentality had the noble result of causing me to behave. When you are afraid of getting smote (that’s a good KJV term) then you tend to mind your Ps and Qs. Not because you love God, but because you hate pain.

Now, as we can see above, it is certainly true that God will discipline those whom he loves, but it isn’t for the purpose of getting even, settling the score, or paying us back. The end goal of discipline is to win us back. We have a God who uses every means possible to woo, beckon, call and perhaps even seduce us. He pursues us because we are his children, his spouse, his family. Therefore, he who lovingly “did not spare his own son” will assuredly not spare our business, our happiness, our wealth, or even our health in order to win us back.

The truth is that his love for us never waivers, because he loves us and he is love. You can’t earn it, nor can you lose it. Your actions may very well determine how he expresses his love for you, but it will not change. This is because he is unchangeable. He is faithful, even when we are not.

There is nothing you can do to make God love you any more
AND
There is nothing you can do to make God love you any less.

Daily Devotionals

The God Who Redeems Whores
May 24, 2017
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Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
— 2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV

If you have gone to church very long, then you are probably very familiar with this verse. You may have even heard this verse referenced many times to make the point that a child of God should not marry an unbeliever. This is a common teaching in the church. Now, I do not disagree with this interpretation of the verse, although I do believe its implications apply to more than just marriage. Our agreement that God’s  Word teaches his children not to marry unbelievers is the reason that so many of us struggle to understand God’s command to Hosea to marry a whore.

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
— Hosea 1:2 ESV 

The same God who told Hosea to marry a whore led the apostle Paul to write that his children should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why is that? What are we missing? Well, I hope you don’t expect me to answer these questions. I don’t know. Somebody else will have to try to answer that for you. Instead, let’s talk about a few things I do know.  

I know that God commanded Hosea to marry a whore, so he married a woman named Gomer. She gave birth to two sons and a daughter. She turned from Hosea to a life of whoredom. God commanded Hosea to go and rescue her from that life and love her again. Then Hosea found Gomer, paid to get her back, made her his wife, and loved her again. 

So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son… Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah…” After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi…”
— Hosea 1:3,6,8-9 NLT 

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover.” … So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.”
—Hosea 3:1-3 NLT 

I may not have known Gomer personally, but I know a few things about her. I know she was chosen by Hosea to be his wife. I know that he loved her. I know she turned from him to a rebellious life of whoredom. I know that he paid to get her back. I know that he made her his wife again. And I know that he loved her again.  

How do I know all this? I know this because God said it in his Word. And God doesn’t lie. 

Now, I may not know you personally, but I know a few things about you. 

I know that you were created by God to be his. 

For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
— Job 33:4 NLT

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
— Psalm 139:13 NLT

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
—Psalm 139:16-17 NLT 

I know that he loved you. 

The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
— Exodus 34:6 ESV 

I know you have turned from him to a rebellious life of whoredom.

We have all strayed like sheep. Each one of us has turned to go his own way.
—  Isaiah 53:6 GW

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one
— Romans 3:10-12 NIV

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
— Romans 3:23 NIV 

I know that he paid to get you back. 

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but he has now revealed him to you in these last days.
— 1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT 

I know that he desires to make you his again. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
— John 3:16-17 ESV 

And I know that he will love you again. 

They will be my people, and I will be their God. And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever… And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.
— Jeremiah 32:38-40 NLT 

How do I know all this? I know this because God said it in his Word. And God doesn’t lie.

Daily Devotionals

Life's Not Fair!
May 23, 2017
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Most people have said that life isn’t fair. We’ve all heard someone else say it. People often think they are getting less than they deserve or worse than they deserve. They are good in one way or another, yet something bad is happening to them anyway. They declare that life is not fair.

I know life isn’t fair. My parents taught me not to expect life to be fair. Bad things happen to good people. But I also learned it when I found what has become one of my favorite Bible passages:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
— Psalm 103:8-12

In reality, we are the beneficiaries of the fact that life isn’t fair! How often do we do or think something bad or negative, but nothing bad or negative happens to us?  Probably pretty often. Life was not fair for Gomer; Hosea treated her much better than she deserved. Likewise, our Lord does not give believers the treatment we’ve earned. Because of his love, God extends grace to us, favor that we in no way deserve. Our right response to this, as co-pastor Paul McDill said in his closing prayer at Sunnyvale on Sunday, is to “live a life that reflects that grace.” Generous grace and mercy toward others is our best expression of gratitude when we fully grasp that, for the believer, life really isn’t fair.

Daily Devotionals

Pruning the Branches
May 18, 2017
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Grapevines will grow in nearly any kind of soil or climate, so most people believe that growing grapes is fairly easy. However, when the vines are first planted, they require a ton of care and attention for them to be able to produce fruit annually. In fact, in the first two years after planting a grapevine, most don’t produce any fruit at all. The root system needs to grow strong enough to support the heaviness of a bunch of grapes. Left untouched, vines will only produce grapes one time. The more grapevines are pruned, the more productive they will become. If constantly cared for by a vinedresser, grapevines will come back each year, bigger and fuller, ready to bear more and more fruit.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
— John 15:1-2

Our Godly Father is the vinedresser, and willingly desires to spend time pruning our branches. He wants our vines to have deep roots in him, so that we are strong enough to produce fruit. He asks only one thing of us: to abide.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
— John 15:4

When we abide in him, we are then showing our God that we want him to prune us. This is the relationship between the branch and the vinedresser. Abiding, pruning, pruning, abiding, pruning, pruning and pruning some more. His pruning may be difficult for us, but it’s part of the relationship, and it makes us better. The vinedresser wants to have big juicy grapes at the end of the summer, and our God wants his love, his joy, his peace, his patience, his kindness, his goodness, his faithfulness, his gentleness and his self-control to fill us perfectly. In this, he is glorified.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
— John 15:8

Coming Events

MEGA Momentum
Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 6:45 PM - 8:30 PM

This week, we're going to have one giant Momentum service as a beginning-of-summer party! All students from each campus will meet at the Forney campus. To help celebrate, we ...

Camp Awesome (youth camp)
Wednesday, June 07, 2017 - Sunday, June 11, 2017

With summer quickly approaching, so is youth camp! This year, we are doing Camp Awesome: The Finale. That’s right, the Camp Awesome era is about to come to a close. ...

Momentum
Every Wednesday, 6:45 PM - 8:30 PM

Momentum is our weekly Wednesday night program for students in grades 7–12. Come hang out as we worship, play games and look at God's Word together!

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