THINK: Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom before they'll look up and see what they really need. God knows that, which is why He sometimes allows people who don't know Him-or who've deliberately rebelled against Him - to go through extreme difficulties. Keep that in mind as you pray for people who don't have a relationship with Christ. It's not that you want them to experience tough times, but it's always appropriate to pray that God will do whatever it takes-even allowing difficulties and troubles - to bring people to a point where they recognize their need for Christ. The hope is for them to learn that it is far better to turn to the Lord for mercy and eternal life than to keep following their own way and experience the ultimate destruction of sin.
RESPOND: To what relationship did God compare His covenant with Israel? (See 1:2 note.) In what way would Hosea's marriage symbolize God's relationship with Israel? How had the people been unfaithful? (See 1:2 note.) What would happen as a result of this unfaithfulness (1:4)? (See 1:4 second note.) Though the northern kingdom (Israel) would soon end, why would the southern kingdom (Judah) survive (1:7)? (See 1:7 note.) Though God would reject the people for disregarding His covenant, what hope did He give at the same time (1:10-11)? (See 1:10-11 note.) What would God do in an effort to turn people back to Him (2:6-7)? (See 2:6 note.) How had people failed to acknowledge God, and to whom did they credit their blessings (2:8)? (See 2:8 note.) Why would God "stop all her celebrations" (2:11)? (See 2:11 note.) How does the tone of God's message change in 2:14, and what opportunity did He provide? (See 2:14 note.) What does it mean that God would "betroth" the people to himself (2:19-20), and what did He expect in return? (See 2:20 note.) How is 2:23 fulfilled in the New Testament? (See 2:23 note.)
PRAY: Give God thanks for being faithful, even when you're not. Thank Him for His mercy, forgiveness, restoration and many other blessings. Pray that God will teach you to exercise greater faith and dependence on Him.
ACT: Think about the time you spend in worship services and other ministry settings meant to celebrate God's goodness and greatness. Are these becoming more like social gatherings or empty routines for you? If so, renew your devotion to the Lord and refresh the purpose of these special times by sincerely using them to honor Him.
THINK: What are you worth? The value of something is usually determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it. In that case, God set the value of your life by what He paid to redeem you, or rescue you, from the eternal consequences of sin and separation from Him. He paid the ultimate price to restore your opportunity for a relationship with Him through the life and death of His Son, Jesus. Regardless of who you are, where you've been or what you've done, you're worth everything to God, and He wants to spend time sharing himself with you. So live your life for all it's worth by surrendering it to Jesus and fulfilling the priceless purpose for which He created you.
RESPOND: How had Gomer been unfaithful to Hosea and to God? (See 3:1 note.) How would Hosea's actions toward Gomer illustrate God's attitudes and actions toward Israel (3:1)? (See 3:1 note.) What did Hosea have to do to get Gomer back (3:2), and how does this illustrate what God did for us? (See 3:2 note.) What charges does God bring against the Israelites in 4:1, and what was lacking in their lives? (See 4:1 note.) According to 4:6, what was their primary offense against God, and what destructive effects did this have? (See 4:1 and 4:6 notes.) What kinds of behaviors clouded the people's judgment and corrupted their spirits (4:11-13)? (See 4:11 note.) How were religious leaders deceiving people, and how can we guard against such deception? (See 4:15 and 5:1 notes.) What does it mean that "Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones" (5:10), and how did this rob God? (See 5:10 note.) What would the people need to do before God would respond to their prayers? (See 5:15 note.) In what way does chapter 6 reveal the people's insincerity and stubbornness? (See 6:1 and 6:4 notes.) What does it mean that God desires mercy, not sacrifice (6:6)? (See 6:6 note.)
PRAY: Give Jesus thanks for redeeming you and liberating you from a life of slavery to sin at the cost of His own life. Pray that you'll always act on the knowledge you gain from God's Word.
ACT: Have you recently repented to God for something but not truly changed your behavior in that aspect of your life? Prove your sincerity by making the appropriate life changes, surrendering fully to God and genuinely serving the best interests of others.