to be loved like this…

The only love that won't disappoint you is one-- that can't change, that can't be lost, that is not based on the ups and downs of life or of how well you live, that not even death can take away from you. God's love is the only love like that. Timothy Keller

Oh to be loved like this—

I have been thinking about which journals would be helpful to encourage people this month, especially women who desire to be loved and pursued deeply. It is not wrong to have these longings, as they are part of our womanhood as we grow older. However, these desires can be filled with God's great love for us. It may sound too spiritual, but His love is undeniable, unshakable, and has withstood the test of time. This month, I have been reading the book of Hosea and trying to deeply analyze it by reading commentaries. However, I still find myself dumbfounded by God's love. I recently watched a movie inspired by this book, and it left me amazed at what love really is. All of my previous ideals about love now seem like foolishness compared to what God means when He loves. I was just watching the trailer of Redeeming Love, and it broke my heart while also helping me finally understand the book.

Hosea is a book that portrays the love of God and human love. It highlights the human responsibility of choosing for or against God that Israel had to make, and that we also have to make. It's important to keep in mind that our wrong choices have consequences for our lives. However, God's love is so great that even in the valley of trouble, He can transform it into a door of hope. God's love is not superficial and sentimental, but rather costly and sacrificial, as it costs Jesus the cross.

The book of Hosea reminds us that Israel turned to idolatry, forgetting everything that God had done in their lives. This is a common struggle for all of us, whether we're believers, church goers, or unbelievers- we're all the sons of Eve. Sometimes, we may think we're good enough because we're believers or because we're doing ministry, but deep inside, we may still be living in lies and the pleasures of sin. At times, we may be shrinking Jesus in some part of our lives and not fully surrendering to Him. Trusting in our own way, instead of God's way, is the essence of all sin. It's hard to follow God's ways sometimes, especially when we receive commands that seem ironic or difficult to follow. However, just like Hosea, we must choose God's ways and trust in Him.

 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

Hosea 1:2-3

Many of us would doubt this story if it's indeed real right? Yet, the Bible treats of great things and of great things only. There is nothing in the Bible which is unimportant. Every verse in it has solemn meaning and if we have not found it out yet, we hope yet to do it. Spurgeon

And remember, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Would you continue to love someone who is unfaithful and undeserving of the kind of love you give? Would you pursue someone who will eventually hurt you? In our generation, this behavior is considered a red flag. God sees and remembers unrepentant and uncovered sin. Israel's heart is inflamed with idols. We represent Gomer, who represents Israel - the adulterous and unfaithful one who turns to idols.

At times, we are blind to our own sins because we compare ourselves to others, but when we look at God's holiness, we see how filthy we truly are. We will always reap what we sow, and we will be punished. But God's love doesn't stop there - He won't let us stay in our mess. Instead, He will come to us and meet us because His love covers a multitude of sins. Hosea, like God, kept pursuing his wife, his lover, no matter what. He tried harder to pursue her, love her, chase her, and allure her back onto his shoulders.

Israel Punished and Restored

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor[b] a door of hope.
There she will respond[c] as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

Hosea 3:14-15

I will allure her.’ It is a very remarkable word, and it teaches us that the allurement of love surpasses in power all other forces. That is how the devil ruins us; he tempts us with honeyed words, sweet utterances, with the baits of pleasure and the like; and the Lord in mercy determines that, in all truthfulness, he will outbid the devil, and he will win us to himself by fascinations, enticements, and allurements which shall be stronger than any force of resistance we may offer. This is a wonderfully precious word: ‘I will allure her.’”

God's restoration is incredible. He desires to have a relationship with His people that is based on love and commitment. When I was young, I thought that God's love was something that I had to earn. I believed that I needed to do great things and perform good deeds in order to be loved by Him. However, when I went through difficult times and faced dark valleys, I realized that I had nothing but my empty hands and a broken heart. I felt lost and purposeless, and the emptiness of the night consumed me.

It was then that I understood that God's love is unconditional. He never judges us based on our failures or successes, our highs or lows, or how much of a mess we are. Just like Gomer, He never stops pursuing us until we come back home, because we are His. However, we can be foolish at times and wait until we are in a state of affliction before seeking Him. We chase our dreams before seeking the giver of our dreams, and sometimes our plans get wrecked before we realize it. Can't you see the pattern of our humanness? So why not seek the Lord before affliction forces you to?

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

When we pursue His knowledge, He blesses it. It must be a pursuit and not a superficial. When we desire to know the Lord especially through His word He reveals Himself to us. Our heart beat in rhythm to His and so we desire what He desires. Have you ever heard this, "to fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him is the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement."

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
    and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6

Sow righteousness for yourselves,
    reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
    for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

Hosea 10:12

No one knows our heart the way He does. Our heart is a human factory of idols, it is deceitful thus we need His word, to desire His kingdom, and to walk on righteousness. And it's hard living in this fallen world and with our sinful nature yet He bestows us with unending grace, to guide us while we are here. He's with us.

God’s Love for Israel
“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.”

Hosea 11:3-4

I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love

Gentle love, without guilt trips, accusations, or manipulations. God wants to win us back with bands of love and gentleness, not by force.

The longsuffering, forgiveness, and compassion of the Lord toward His people seems unbelievable until we recognize that He is not man, but God.  Charles Spurgeon

Repentance to Bring Blessing

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.

Hosea 14:9

Here is the full flowering of God’s unfailing love for his faithless people, the triumph of his grace, the assurance of his healing – all described in imagery that reveals the loving heart of God.” (Wood)

Can you still imagine the extent of God's love for us? It's not just superficial and sentimental - it's costly and sacrificial. It cost Jesus his life on the cross. He took a huge risk by doing so. It's time to stop deceiving ourselves and believing in lies. We need to stop chasing after things in this world, because it's all temporary and will eventually be destroyed.

Just like Hosea loved his wife, God loves us and wants a deep relationship with us. He wants to welcome us into his home, but we often deny his invitation. He wants us to live a life of meaning, peace, and hope, anchored to the giver of life - Jesus. As it is written in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We can come to him just as we are, and he will transform us into a new creation. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

"Oh, to be loved like this! There's nothing left to prove, my dear. He has proven His great love for you from the very beginning - from the manger to the cross, from His crucifixion to His resurrection. You are His and deeply loved! Come back home."

Published by Merrel Ya

A lady who has been pondering her hope into Christ, inhaling His grace, and enjoying the beauty of life. Writing about life, asking God about "kuliglig sa kanyang dibdib."

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