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Opening Prayer

Lord, “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips” (Hos. 14:2b).

Read Hosea 14:1–9

Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.”

4 “I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
7 People will dwell again in his shade;
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”

9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.

Reflect

Hosea finishes his book with this: what are you going to do about what you’ve heard (9)? Ask yourself this question.

The two great themes of Hosea are the true horror of sin, and the depth of God’s love. Through Hosea God gives us incredible insight into the true nature of sin; it’s not simply regretful rule-breaking: it’s sheer adultery—leaving a faithful husband to play the field, running from the honeymoon suite to the brothel. Sin grieves the Lord deeply. And yet God’s love in response is astonishing: he passionately pursues his runaway bride, he takes our relationship with him with astonishing seriousness. Hosea shows us a God who is better than we could possibly imagine.

We need to hear that, wherever we are in our walk with God, here is a love that will not let us go, that will always be faithful, always be constant, always with open arms welcome us safely
home. To those who have worshipped idols in his place, God gives the very words we need in repentance (2,3)! He invites us to ask, “forgive us all our sins, that we may worship you as we ought.” And he promises to heal our hearts (4a; cf. Ezek. 36:24–27) and grow deep-rooted fruitfulness in us (8b).

Apply

What will you do with what you’ve heard? Is there sin to repent of? Is there a particular sin you have not let God truly forgive?

Closing prayer

Lord, today I return to You—heart, soul, mind and strength. Keep my love centered on You through every aspect of my life.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider