WelcWelcome to our Homecoming Sunday Worship Service for June 13, 2021. Today we will be discovering the importance of asking the right questions. Asking the right questions can lead us toward a more faithful witness of God’s Kingdom.
If you are from another church that is not able to host online worship, we would strongly encourage you give to YOUR church and support them. They no doubt need that support as much as we do. God bless you all for your generosity.
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE When the Roman officer who stood facing Him [heard His cry and] saw how He had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 NLT)
Up until now, it might not be clear why I entitled this series of Holy Week devotions, “Son of God. I mean, sure, I am writing about Jesus of Nazareth who is known by billions of Christians to be the “Son of God.” That much is self-evident; and sure, I am writing about the activities, suffering and death of “the Son of God” because it is Holy Week and that is when billions of Christians celebrate the last days of Christ. But, other than that, why entitle this SON OF GOD.
What most people don’t realize is that the title, “Son of God”, was not held exclusively by Jesus during his lifetime. There was another person who was known to the world at the time as son of god and his name was Tiberius Caesar, just as Augustus Caesar was before him. Because Julius Caesar was divinized following his assassination, Augustus (whose birth name was Octavian) took on the title divi filius, aka son of the divine one, aka son of god. When Tiberius succeeded Augustus, he took on the same title, as did the Caesars that followed him. And, honestly, who was going to argue with them. They were truly the most powerful men in the known world and to argue their divinity with them was to order your own death.
When Jesus’ followers, and later the Gospel writers, started hailing the peasant carpenter from Nazareth as “the Son of God,” this instantly put him in immediate competition with Caesar, who did not take kindly to such competition. What’s more, Jesus wasn’t being called the equivalent of divi filius; rather, he was being called the equivalent of Dei Filius, which put him above the son of a deified mortal and made him the Son of the immortal God. Also, this Jesus claimed that being the Son of God meant conquering people with love and truth, as opposed to Caesar’s way of conquering people with fear and force. It was on this day, nearly 2,000 years ago, that this peasant Nazarene came face to face with the Roman Empire. It was on this day, nearly 2,000 years ago, that the Son of God challenged another son of god. It was on this day, nearly 2,000 years ago, that LOVE and brute force crossed paths in such a dramatic way that the world would never forget it. While brute force may have won the battle, three days later it totally lost the war!
On this Good Friday, we are being called by the Son of God to reflect on the ways we oppose walking the path of LOVE. How often have we tried to force our way on others? How often have we put ourselves above the Son of God through our thoughts and through our actions? Christ is calling us to search our hearts and our souls. The Son of God is calling us to acknowledge his Sonship, his divinity, and his Lordship over our lives. The Son of God is calling us to abandon our ways for his ways, and he is calling us, at all costs, to return to the pathway of LOVE. While this is not always easy, it is what the Son of God calls us to do and his death on the cross is a reminder to us all of the extent to which he was willing to go in order to see that pathway through. The Christ on the cross is waiting for us to join him in his mission.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.” – Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 10:45 NLT)
Lord, precious Son of God, thank you for your sacrifice. Stir up in me a sacrificial love that reaches far and wide to those in need around me. Amen.
Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.
“Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, ‘Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.’” (Romans 9:25 NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 84: Hosea. You know that your message was stark when you get nicknamed, “The Prophet of Doom”. Hosea was, indeed, seen to be a prophet of doom because he had the duty of proclaiming God’s judgment against a wicked, and wayward northern kingdom of Israel. Someone had to do it and, as you can imagine, the messages were not well-received or well-heeded.
Hosea was a prophet in the Kingdom of Israel at the same time that Isaiah was a prophet in the Kingdom of Judah. His prophecy, similar to Isaiah’s, spanned 60 years, through the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Kingdom of Judah) and Jeroboam II (Kingdom of Israel). His ministry, being located in the northern Kingdom of Israel, was centered on Israel’s lack of faithfulness to Yahweh, the one, true God.
Thus, in order to speak out against the Israelite leaders in ways that would get their attention, Hosea took up some extreme measures. At the outset of his epynonymous book, Hosea marries a prostitute named Gomer so that some of the children born to him were actually children conceived during her prostitution. And to think that people say the Bible is “boring.” Clearly they are not reading it.
All the same, this sort of action would have been seen as despicable in the eyes of the Jewish culture and religous leaders. Such a woman was seen to be unclean and under God’s curse. Why would a holy man marry such a woman of low character. The message, given to Hosea by God, was clear, “This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods” (Hosea 1:2b NLT).
What’s more, Hosea named his children to be walking prophecies. His first son he named Jezreel to prophecy that God would bring destruction upon a former king of Israel, Jehu, and his dynasty for the murders he had committed at Jezreel. This punishment would bring an end to the independence of Israel.
His second child, a daughter, he named Lo-ruhamah, which means “unloved”. God did this to state, according to Hosea, that he would no longer show love or favor to Israel or give them anymore passes. Then Gomer gave birth to a third child, a second son, and Hosea named him Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people”. This was to declare that the Kingdom of Israel were no longer the people of God.
This may seem to be a punishment, but the context of Hosea shows it to be more of a proclamation of fact. They had strayed too far away from God to be called God’s people. The reality is that Israel no longer looked to the LORD, but to other Gods. This separation was self-inflicted; yet, in the same breath as that pronouncement, God declares that God will still be their LORD in time.
Hosea reveals to us some things about ourselves. First, sometimes God calls us to do things that just go against everything we seem to hold to be true. With that said, just because we hold it to be untrue, or unworthy, or beneath us, or sinful, does not mean that God deems it to be that way. If it is in line with God, if it is in line with grace, love, compassion, accountability, and humility, then chances are God is calling you to do it no matter what your “sensibilities are”.
Second, Hosea reminds us that just because a prophet’s words and actions seem so out there, does not mean that God is not on his/her side. The people of Israel chose not to listen to Hosea or see him as a prophet; however, that did not mean that the prophet’s word did not come true. They did come true and during Hosea’s lifetime, the Assyrians came in, conquered, and exiled them.
Today’s challenge is to be prayerful toward the messages God is giving us. Just because someone is doing something seemingly outlandish, does not automatically make it wrong. A good example are the protests currently taking place. People kneeling during the national anthem, people marching in the streets, people protesting for justice. Before you condemn and turn your back, ask yourselves the following question, does God stand for justice or injustice? Outlandish deeds catch the attention or many, and sometimes the prophet uses the tactic of being outlandish tactics to bring God’s word to the attention to many. Listen, pray, discern, and change yourself in accordance to God’s will.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” —Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 23:37 NLT)
Lord, help me to humble myself to hear your message, no matter how outlandish or out there it may seem. You are Lord, and my desire is to submit to you. Amen.