Trying to Have it All

Bible:

And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel. And they took possession of Samaria and lived in its cities. And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the Lord. Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them. So the king of Assyria was told, “The nations that you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land. Therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land.” Then the king of Assyria commanded, “Send there one of the priests whom you carried away from there, and let him go and dwell there and teach them the law of the god of the land.” So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel and taught them how they should fear the Lord.

But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the shrines of the high places that the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they lived. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. They also feared the Lord and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. So they feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. II Kings 17:24-33 ESV

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? Galatians 4:8-9 ESV

Reflection:

In Roman times, a family would have a household shrine that was called a lararium. This would be a place where the gods and goddesses of the family received offerings and wreaths and were honored by the members of the family. The gods who were the guardians of the family were called the lares, and this is where the name comes from. Besides these family gods, the public gods and goddesses of the Romans were sometimes part of the family shrines. Some of these gods and goddesses included Mercury, the god of travelers and merchants; Vesta, the goddess of the hearth; and Diana, the goddess of the moon. Sometimes Roman families brought gods and goddesses from other cultures into their homes as well. The Egyptian goddess of wisdom, Isis, was also found in some Roman family shrines. Roman families welcomed many gods and goddesses into their homes, because the more of them they had on their side, the better they thought it would be for them.

When the Assyrians took away the people of the northern kingdom, they settled other people in the promised land. These people didn’t know the true God and worshiped many false gods and goddesses. God sent lions among these people. He wanted to get their attention and give them a chance to come to know and worship him. The people got the message, and the Assyrians sent back one of the priests they had taken captive. The priest came back to the land and taught the people how to worship the Lord. But the people were very foolish. They worshiped the Lord, but they continued to worship their false gods and goddesses as well. They thought they could have everything, and they didn’t understand that the true God was all they needed. They didn’t understand that the Lord is the only God, and that all the other gods and goddesses didn’t really exist and couldn’t help them.

Some people today are like this. They respect Jesus and Christianity, but they also follow other religions. We also sometimes trust in other things besides our God for help when we have troubles. But God is the only one who can save and help us. He came to us in Jesus to defeat sin, death, and the devil by dying on the cross and rising again for us. There’s no one else who can save us the way Jesus did. He is the only one who deserves our worship, and he’s all we’ll ever need, now and in the world to come.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for defeating sin and death for us. Help us to trust only you now and forever. Amen.

Source:

http://www.u.arizona.edu/~afutrell/404b/web%20rdgs/tour%20pomp/larartour.htm

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The Reason Why

Bible:

And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”

But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. II Kings 17:7-18 ESV

Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people,
and he abhorred his heritage;
he gave them into the hand of the nations,
so that those who hated them ruled over them.
Their enemies oppressed them,
and they were brought into subjection under their power.
Many times he delivered them,
but they were rebellious in their purposes
and were brought low through their iniquity. Psalm 106:40-43 ESV

Reflection:

Long ago, in an area that is now Pakistan and northern India, there was a great civilization known as the Indus Valley Civilization. It  had beautiful cities with excellent water supply and drainage systems. The people traded with other cultures and had good transportation with wheeled carts and flat-bottomed boats. They grew wheat and barley and had a system of canals and also of irrigation. They were a great civilization for a long time, but after awhile they declined and disappeared. Historians aren’t sure why this happened, but they have some theories. Some historians think a tribe of people called the Aryans conquered them. Others think that their river, the Saraswati River, slowly dried up, but then others think there were terrible floods. There’s evidence that some people died of malaria. Some historians think that the monsoons the people  depended on for agriculture moved east and left them with failing crops. We may never know for sure.

When the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians, the Bible tells us exactly why it happened. Historians might tell us about the powerful Assyrian empire that conquered many people, not just Israel. They might talk about the important place the land of Israel was and how much all the powerful empires wanted to control that land. God can work through circumstances like these, and he is also able to work out his purposes against the circumstances of history. God let his people Israel be taken into captivity as a judgment against them for their sins. They worshiped false gods and goddesses and didn’t follow his laws and didn’t listen to all the warnings the prophets gave them. They lived as if they didn’t want to be God’s people, and in the end God removed them from the promised land.

We can’t always know why things in history and in our own time happen the way they do, but we can be sure that God is in control and that he always works out his purposes through history. He promises to be with his people and to take care of them no matter what happens through the years and the centuries. God worked through history to bring about his greatest plan of all. God sent Jesus, our Savior, into our world at the right time in history so that we could be brought back to God and become his people. Because of what Jesus did for us, we are God’s children, and he will never leave us, no matter what happens in this world.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working out your purposes in history, and especially for sending us Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/history/possible-reasons-for-the-decline-of-the-harappan-civilization

 

Conquered!

Bible:

Hoshea the son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel, and he reigned nine years. . . . Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.

In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. II Kings 17:1b, 3-6 ESV

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it? Amos 5:18-20 ESV

Reflection:

Once there was a fox who swam across the river. It was a wide river with a strong current, and when he reached the other side, he was very tired. He lay down to rest on the other side of the river, and soon a bunch of mosquitoes settled on him and started to bite him and drink his blood, and the fox was too tired to brush them away with his tail. A kind hedgehog came by and offered to get rid of the mosquitoes for the fox, but the fox said, “No, leave them alone. They have drunk almost as much of my blood as they want. If you brush them away, new mosquitoes will come and bite me some more.” The fox was wise enough to understand that sometimes trying to get rid of a problem only makes things worse.

King Hoshea of the northern kingdom of Israel wasn’t as wise as this fox. He was conquered by the Assyrians and became their vassal. That meant he wasn’t the king of an independent country anymore, but instead he owed loyalty to the king of Assyria, and had to pay him a tribute every year. Hoshea didn’t like being a vassal to the Assyrians, and one year he didn’t pay his tribute. He tried to get the king of Egypt to help him so that he wouldn’t have to be a vassal to the Assyrians. This made the king of Assyria angry. He captured King Hoshea and put him in prison. He invaded and attacked Israel and fought them for three years. In the end, the Assyrians carried all the people of Israel away from their country and took them captive, and resettled them far away from home.

The Day of the Lord had come for the northern kingdom of Israel, and it was a dark day of trouble that got worse and worse. God had judged them for their sins and punished them. They were taken away from their homes and their country and the promised land where God’s presence was in a special way. Sin separates people from God and brings terrible trouble. If we try, all on our own, to get out of the trouble sin brings us, we only make things worse. The only way we can escape the effects of sin is to get help from God. God came to us in Jesus to take care of the problems we have because we turned away from God. Jesus died on the cross to defeat sin and death and all the powers of evil. Because of Jesus, we have been brought back to God, and he is with us to love us and help us, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for taking away our sins and for bringing us back to God, our Heavenly Father. Amen.

A Beautiful Farm

Bible:

I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:4-7 ESV

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean world for thousands of years. Olive trees grow to be about 20 feet tall, and they can live for a thousand years! The trunks are usually twisted and gnarly, but even an old tree with a hollow trunk will still produce olives. Olive oil was very important to people in Bible times. It wasn’t just used for cooking, but it was also used as fuel for lamps and for medicine. The olives would be picked when they were still green, and then pressed to make olive oil. The wood of the tree was sometimes used for carving, including in Solomon’s temple. Like any fruit tree, the olive tree produces flowers before olives grow. These flowers have a fragrance that is similar to licorice, or anise.

After lots of pleading and warning and threatening, the prophet Hosea gave a beautiful promise from the Lord. God promised that he would turn the his people back to him and love them and stop being angry with them. He used the picture of a beautiful farm with blossoming lilies, cedars and olive trees that grow in Lebanon, and fields of grain and blossoming vineyards. The picture even included the fragrance of the trees. Everything in this picture is growing and blooming and producing fragrance and food, because God is the farmer and gardener that makes everything grow.

It’s God who turns our hearts back to him when we turn away. We sinned against God, but he sent Jesus to be our Savior and to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven. Jesus brings us back to our heavenly Father, and makes us God’s children. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us grow and trust him and do the works of love that are like fragrant flowers and fruit and rich, ripe grain. God works in us and through us to make us his people and to keep us with him forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us back to you and for helping us grow in love and faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.bibleplaces.com/olive-trees/

Go Back to God!

Bible:

Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
Take with you words
and return to the Lord;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:1-3 ESV

Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV

Reflection:

Steve was a good student in school and he had good friends. He was on the soccer team and the track team, and he also worked on the school newspaper. But then Steve started to make a new group of friends. These friends thought school was a waste of time, and they preferred to hang out and smoke and sometimes use drugs. Steve started skipping classes sometimes, and his grades started to suffer. He quit working on the school newspaper, and during track season he couldn’t run as fast as before because he had tried smoking and drugs. After awhile Steve started to realize that he had traded many good things for things that were bad and were hurting him. His parents pleaded with him to go back to his old friends and his classes and school activities, and they helped Steve start to put his life back together again.

The prophet Hosea pleaded with the people of Israel to return to the Lord. They had traded all the good things God was doing for them to worship false gods and goddesses–idols that they had made with their own hands. They also trusted in the power of Assyria to help them rather than trusting in God to protect them. All of this was very foolish. The Lord was the only one who could really help them. Hosea urged the people to go back to God and ask for his forgiveness, and to bring sacrifices of bulls to show they were sorry and as a sign that they promised to stay faithful to God. He encouraged them to hope for God’s mercy. God has mercy on helpless orphans, and he would have mercy on them also.

We often trade our life with God for things that lead us away from God. It might be money or popularity or friends or many other things that we trust and care about more than we trust God. But God always calls us to turn back to him. He sent Jesus to die for us to bring us back when we had become separated from him because of our sins. Because Jesus died on the cross for us, we can be sure that God is always willing to have mercy on us and to bring us back to him. God is the only one who can really help us and take care of us, and he loves us and wants us to be his children now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to bring us back to you. Please keep us as your children always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Like a Lion

Bible:

But I am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
you know no God but me,
and besides me there is no savior.
It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot me.
So I am to them like a lion;
like a leopard I will lurk beside the way.
I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs;
I will tear open their breast,
and there I will devour them like a lion,
as a wild beast would rip them open. Hosea 13:4-8 ESV

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. I John 1:5-10 ESV

Reflection:

Many of the world’s lions live on the continent of Africa. They live on grassy plains and in open woodlands. Most lions, except for young males, don’t live alone, but instead they live in groups called prides. Did you know that almost all of the hunting is done by female lions? Male lions patrol and guard their pride, but the hunting is done by the females. Lions often hunt at night, and they often work together to bring down their prey. Often a lion’s prey can outrun a lion, so several lions work together to creep up on their prey in a semicircle. This cuts off the other animal’s escape.

The prophet Hosea said several times that God is like a lion. In today’s reading he compared the people of Israel to a lion’s prey that came out of Egypt and out of the wilderness to the promised land, and grazed on the good blessings the Lord gave them, and became slow and fat. They forgot about God in the middle of all the blessings he had given them. So God spoke through Hosea to give them the scary message that he would hunt and attack and kill them like a lion or another ferocious animal attacks its prey.

The prophet Hosea sometimes spoke of God as a loving and forgiving father, and sometimes as an angry judge who would punish his people for their sins. It can be confusing to try to understand what God is like when there are different pictures like this. The best way to understand is that God is angry about sin and needs to punish it, but he also is a loving Father who wants to forgive and help his people. When God sent Jesus to die on the cross, we can see both of these ideas in one place. On the cross Jesus took all the anger and punishment for all the sins of the world, and because Jesus died for us God forgives us for our sins and loves us and calls us his children. The only people who will know God’s punishment are those who don’t want what Jesus did for them and think they can take care of themselves and their own sin. Hosea said that the heart of the people Israel was “lifted up.” They were proud and didn’t want God’s help or forgiveness. But anyone who trusts what Jesus did for them will know God’s love and mercy, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Savior and for making us your children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.outtoafrica.nl/animals/englion.html

A Father’s Love

Bible:

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath. Hosea 11:8-9 ESV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

Reflection:

Han Solo had a son named Ben, and he and his mother Leia Organa raised Ben to work for the New Republic. But when Ben grew up he rejected everything he had been taught by his parents and turned to the dark side. Ben’s name was changed to Kylo Ren and he became a powerful man in the evil First Order. Even though he was part of efforts to do terrible things, his parents never stopped loving him. Han Solo went to find his son and to plead with him to come home. The father gave his life trying to turn his son away from the dark side and to bring him home.

The compassion Han Solo had for his son in this movie is an example of the compassion a good father has for his son or his daughter. Even when a father on earth might give up, God still has love and compassion for his children who turn away from him. The Lord spoke through the prophet Hosea to tell his people Israel about the concern and tenderness he had for them. After describing how Ephraim, or Israel, had turned away from him to worship other gods and goddesses and how he needed to punish them for their behavior and their false hearts, God cried out, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim?” God still loved his people and longed to bring them back to him. He said that he wouldn’t come to them in anger.

God’s has a father’s heart of love for us. Even though we’ve turned away from him and gone our own way, he always longs to bring us back to him. He came to us in Jesus to pay the price to bring us home as his children. Jesus came to us in love and compassion and gave his life on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could return to our heavenly Father. Because of Jesus, we have God’s love and forgiveness everyday, and are God’s children now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the great love you showed us in our Savior, Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Abrams, J. J., dir. Star Wars: the Force Awakens Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2015. Film.

 

Out of Egypt I Called My Son

Bible:

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them. Hosea 11:1-4 ESV

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:13a-15 ESV

Reflection:

Danh was born in Vietnam, but his parents were very poor. They weren’t able to take care of him so they left him in an orphanage. But in Canada, Mr. and Mrs. Maier wanted a son very much. They decided to adopt a baby boy from Vietnam, and so they adopted Danh. They went to Vietnam and brought him home with them to their house in Canada, and Mr. and Mrs. Maier became Danh’s father and mother. They loved him very much, and taught him how to walk and carried him in their arms when he was tired. They fed him with a bottle and with a spoon and gave him all kinds of kindness and love. They got medicine for him to heal a skin infection on his arms and legs, and they did everything they could to give him a better life.

God said that the people of Israel had been like a son to him. The prophet Hosea sometimes calls the northern kingdom of Israel by the name of Ephraim, which was one of the tribes of the northern kingdom. God said that when Ephraim was a child in Egypt he had loved him and called him out of Egypt. Ephraim was his son, and he had taught him how to walk, and had carried him and fed him. God had healed him and taken the yoke of slavery in Egypt away from him. Even though God had been the kindest of fathers to his people, they didn’t love him back. They turned away from him and worshiped and sacrificed to false gods.

We are all like the people of Israel. We have turned away from our Heavenly Father and gone our own way. But God sent his Son, Jesus, to save us. When Jesus was a baby, the wicked King Herod tried to kill him, but an angel warned Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and his mother to Egypt to escape and hide from the king. When Herod was dead God called his true Son out of Egypt back to the promised land. Jesus grew up and died for us on the cross so that we could come back to God. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven and we are God’s children. God is a loving heavenly Father who heals us of the sins that hurt us and loves us and takes care of us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us your Son Jesus so that we could be your children now and forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

False Hearts

Bible:

Israel is a luxuriant vine
that yields its fruit.
The more his fruit increased,
the more altars he built;
as his country improved,
he improved his pillars.
Their heart is false;
now they must bear their guilt.
The Lord will break down their altars
and destroy their pillars. Hosea 10:1-2 ESV

We bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. . . Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. Acts 14:15b, 17 ESV

Reflection:

Rat and Mole had a friend, Toad, who was very rich. Toad had all the money he could ever want, and he was always spending his money on whatever was popular or exciting at that time. First he was interested in boating, then he gave up his boat for a horse-drawn caravan. A passing motorcar scared his horse, and his caravan ended up in the ditch. This made Toad give up on his caravan and move on to his next big thing, a motorcar of his own. Toad was a very reckless driver, and he crashed seven cars, but nothing could stop him from his foolish behavior. He didn’t seem to care at all about his friends who tried to help him. Even when Rat and Mole tried to keep him locked up in his house, he escaped and stole a car, and was caught by the police and sent to jail.

God spoke through the prophet Hosea about Israel. He had given them many blessings and they were very rich, but they spent their riches foolishly. They kept looking for the newest and most exciting things to spend their wealth on, and they did the most foolish thing of all. They used their wealth to build pillars and altars for false gods and goddesses. The Lord was very angry with them for taking the gifts he had given them and using them to worship and honor other gods instead of him. He warned them that he would soon punish them by breaking down their altars and destroying their pillars.

The prophet Hosea talked about the false hearts the people of Israel had. We all have false hearts. God has given us many blessings, but we don’t always remember him or thank him for the good things he gives us. Sometimes we use these blessings in ways that don’t honor him. We care more about the gifts than we do about the heavenly Father who gives us these gifts. But God sent us the best gift of all. He sent us Jesus to die for our sins and to bring us back to him. God forgives us our sins because of Jesus and sends us his Holy Spirit to give us new hearts that love and serve God.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all your good gifts. Help us to always use your gifts to honor you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Grahame, Kenneth The Wind in the Willows London: Methuen, 1908.

Bad Choices

Bible:

They made kings, but not through me.
They set up princes, but I knew it not.
With their silver and gold they made idols
for their own destruction.
I have spurned your calf, O Samaria.
My anger burns against them.
How long will they be incapable of innocence?
For it is from Israel;
a craftsman made it;
it is not God.
The calf of Samaria
shall be broken to pieces. Hosea 8:4-6 ESV

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Romans 1:21-23 ESV

Reflection:

Martin Frobisher was an English explorer who sailed to what is now Canada to look for the Northwest Passage. On his first voyage he explored a bay which is now named Frobisher Bay, and he also found some black stones which he took back to England. He thought he had discovered gold and that he would end up being very rich. He went back to Canada on a second voyage and brought back 200 tons of the stones. When he had returned from this second voyage, instead of gold, he found out that the stones he had brought back were only made of iron pyrite, which is sometimes called “fool’s gold.” It wasn’t worth anything at all. In fact, all the stones he brought back were just used to pave roads in England!

God’s people Israel had turned away from God for things that were just as worthless as fool’s gold. God had given them their own king outside of David’s line, but their kings were wicked, and the people kept picking different kings without looking for God’s will. Sometimes a new king would defeat the old king in battle and take over the kingdom. Worse than that, they had traded the true God for false gods and goddesses. They had set up golden calves to worship instead of the Lord, and that was the beginning of their worshiping many other false gods. The Lord spoke to them through the prophet Hosea about how angry he was about their foolish choices. He said that their golden calf in the capital city of Samaria would be cut into pieces.

We all change the true God and the things of God for things we want for ourselves. We put our trust in money or our own intelligence or strength or in powerful people who we think will help us. But there is no one and nothing that we can trust completely except God. He warns us not to look away from him when we need help. This is especially true when it comes to becoming God’s children. We were separated from God because of our sins, and there’s nothing we could have done to save ourselves. But God came to us in Jesus to die for us and bring us back to him. Jesus is the only way to God, and if we look for God away from Jesus we will end up with things even more worthless than fool’s gold.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Savior. Please help us always to trust you only. Amen.

Source:

http://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/martin-frobisher-north-west-passage-expedition-1576%E2%80%9378