"Thy paths drop fatness."
Many are "the paths of the Lord" which "drop fatness," but an especial one is the path of prayer. No believer, who is much in the closet, will have need to cry, "My leanness, my leanness; woe unto me." Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy- seat, and become like the parched fields in times of drought. Prevalence with God in wrestling prayer is sure to make the believer strong--if not happy. The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone, and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus, your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint, but freely invited if you be a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees, for so Elijah drew the rain upon famished Israel's fields.
There is another especial path dropping with fatness to those who walk therein, it is the secret walk of communion. Oh! the delights of fellowship with Jesus! Earth hath no words which can set forth the holy calm of a soul leaning on Jesus' bosom. Few Christians understand it, they live in the lowlands and seldom climb to the top of Nebo: they live in the outer court, they enter not the holy place, they take not up the privilege of priesthood. At a distance they see the sacrifice, but they sit not down with the priest to eat thereof, and to enjoy the fat of the burnt offering. But, reader, sit thou ever under the shadow of Jesus; come up to that palm tree, and take hold of the branches thereof; let thy beloved be unto thee as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, and thou shalt be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. O Jesus, visit us with thy salvation!
"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice."
1 Samuel 15:22
Saul had been commanded to slay utterly all the Amalekites and their cattle. Instead of doing so, he preserved the king, and suffered his people to take the best of the oxen and of the sheep. When called to account for this, he declared that he did it with a view of offering sacrifice to God; but Samuel met him at once with the assurance that sacrifices were no excuse for an act of direct rebellion. The sentence before us is worthy to be printed in letters of gold, and to be hung up before the eyes of the present idolatrous generation, who are very fond of the fineries of will-worship, but utterly neglect the laws of God. Be it ever in your remembrance, that to keep strictly in the path of your Saviour's command is better than any outward form of religion; and to hearken to his precept with an attentive ear is better than to bring the fat of rams, or any other precious thing to lay upon his altar. If you are failing to keep the least of Christ's commands to his disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout actions which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. "To obey," even in the slightest and smallest thing, "is better than sacrifice," however pompous. Talk not of Gregorian chants, sumptuous robes, incense, and banners; the first thing which God requires of his child is obedience; and though you should give your body to be burned, and all your goods to feed the poor, yet if you do not hearken to the Lord's precepts, all your formalities shall profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, come not thou into their secret.
Today's reading: Isaiah 53-55, 2 Thessalonians 1 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Isaiah 53-55
1 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all....
Today's New Testament reading: 2 Thessalonians 1
1 Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you....
Hosea, Oshea, Osee, Hoshea
[Hōzē'ă, Ō shē'ă, Hō shē'ă] - jehovah is help or salvation.
1. The son of Beeri and first of the so-called Minor Prophets (Hosea 1:1).
The Man with a Sorrowful Heart
Little is known of Hosea's history beyond what we find in his writings. He has been called the first prophet of Grace and Israel's earliest evangelist. He was a native of the Northern Kingdom, the iniquities and idolatries of which weighed heavily on his heart. He bore the same name as that of the last king of Israel (2 Kings 15:30). In Jewish tradition, he is identified with Beerah of Reuben (1 Chron. 5:6). Christian tradition, however, relates him to the Hosea of the tribe of Isaachar.
The home tragedy overtaking him earned him the title of "The Prophet of a Sorrowful Heart." Through the wrongs he suffered he came to realize the sins committed by Israel against God, and the long history of unfaithfulness to Him. The accounts of Hosea's marriage, the birth of his children and his wife's unfaithfulness and restoration make sad reading. Hosea was called to express God's message and to manifest His character.
Gomer, his wife, was immoral; hence the word of the Lord came to him amid much personal anguish; his home life was destroyed. Society was corrupt and God's law spurned, and Hosea came to see in his own suffering a reflection of what the sorrow of God must be, when Israel proved utterly unfaithful.
Three children were born to Hosea and Gomer:
I. Jezreel, recalling the deed of blood (2 Kings 10), and by it a knell was rung in the ears of Jeroboam. The name of this child was an omen of coming judgment.
II. Lo-ruhamah, meaning, "one who never knew a father's love." This expressive name pointed to a time when, no more pitied by Jehovah, Israel would be given over to her enemies.
III. Lo-ammi, signifying "one not belonging to me." Israel had turned from a father's love and deserved not to belong to God. Thus this third child's name prophesied the driving out of the children of Israel from their land to exile.
Gomer, the erring wife, is received back (Hos. 3:1, 2 ), the price of her redemption being paid by Hosea. So the prophet was not only God's messenger of grace - he reflected God's character and foreshadowed ultimate redemption through the Messiah and Israel's reestablishment as a nation.
The four lessons we learn from the broken heart and the Book of Hosea have been fully expounded by Dr. Stuart Holden:
Anguish quickens apprehension.
Iniquity inspires moral indignation.
Suffering begets sympathy.
The divine character sanctifies human conduct.
3. The son of Azaziah and prince of Ephraim in David's reign (1 Chron. 27:20).
4. A son of Elah, the last king of the Northern Kingdom (2 Kings 15:30).
5. A chief under Nehemiah who with others signed the covenant (Neh. 10:23).
Hosea is called Osee in the New Testament copy from the LXX.