Trusting Through Uncertain Times

Intro to Habakkuk
By Casey Showalter

The book of Habakkuk is unique in the fact that it is not a letter written to Israel, but it is a conversation between Habakkuk and God. Yet the book was meant for Israel. It was composed to be a voice of godly men trying to understand the ways of God.
The message uses the word “complaints” to describe the way that Habakkuk prayed to God. His first complaint was that the evil that he was watching in Judea was breaking his heart and he was upset at God that it was going unpunished. God responds with a promise. He promises that Babylon will punish Judea. Habakkuk’s second complaint was that it was not fair that Babylon, an evil city full of sin, was to punish Judea, whom Habakkuk saw as more righteous than Babylon.

Not much is known about Habakkuk, but we can believe that he was a righteous man of God. Even this man, whom God spoke to directly, could not understand God’s ways. If this man of God, had moments in his life when he could not understand God’s plans, why do we let ourselves get discouraged when we feel like we don’t know what God is doing or why he lets things happen? Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Even when we face moments of uncertainty and wonder how God is working we can trust that he knows what he’s doing. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Poetic Justice

Poetic Justice
By Jeff Dillinger
Obadiah 1, Genesis 25: 19-34

Esau lived for the moment and did not heed any warning that he would lose his life. Even when he freely gave up his birth rights, he did not think that he had actually given anything away. He felt that he could and would trick his brother out of what he had given him. I get the feeling that he looked down on his brother and just about anyone else. He was at the top and no one could reach him to knock him down. He did not think that the rules applied to him or that anything bad could ever happen to him.

The people of Edom, Esau’s decedents, were the same way. They not only watched as Jacob’s people were attacked, but they laughed and handed those who had escaped over to their captives. God gave Obadiah a vision. The vision was about the complete destruction of Edom and Esau’s people.

There are many people that I know who do whatever they want and justify it as long as it benefits them. They do not care who it hurts. Some even laugh at those they have taken advantage of. Their reward will be short lived and your reward in Christ will last forever.

I know that it is very difficult to wait till eternity every time someone wrongs you. It seems like a long time to wait. However, the eternal reward that we will receive for doing as God has asked will be well worth the wait.


Amos 4-7
By Kailey Sanford

In the world we live in today, injustice lives everywhere. Not everyone may see it or hear about, but it still happens. Amos was a shepherd in Judah. He wrote this to warn the people of Judah and Israel of what God was planning as a punishment. This was Amos’ last “get out of jail card” for the people. He was pretty much saying that the people needed to stop or they were going to meet their true God but, not in a pretty way.

Amos uses this book to kind of be an example to the others. He goes through all the sins that the Israelites were committing on a daily basis and shows how God puts them through trials. But even though God put them through many tests, the people still wouldn’t come to God. In Amos 4:4-7, Amos talks how Jeroboam had set up a golden calf in the city of Bethel. This became the place with the highest rate of idolatry. He also talks about Gilgal, another huge golden calf worship center. Amos was trying to invite the people to turn back to God and repent. With everything Amos said the people still didn’t turn back to God. And in today’s culture we see something similar. With all the technology that has been placed in our hands, it can almost as if we are worshiping these technological advances. Though it doesn’t seem like it, we become so wrapped up in these things that we turn away from God. He finds a way to warn us and we will sometimes turn down that offer.

The Israelites turned down God’s repentance offer many times. Amos had given them their one last chance before God took it in his own hands. To make the people realize what they were doing God punished them. The people experienced famine, drought, mildew and insects, plague, war, and some divine intervention. Now when we became wrapped up in our things we don’t have any of these things happening, but we could have something life shattering turn us back to God. God uses tactics just like a lot of parents do. They warn their children and if the children don’t listen the intervene and often the children are punished. That’s what God does to us.
Think about this.. Is there something in your life that is taking a higher rank than God?

What would you do if you were warned that you were about to meet your God?
Pray and think about ways you can make God number one in your life!

How do I know?

by Andrea Koehler

I have this friend who has what appear to be prophetic dreams. And once? Once she told me she had a dream about me. About my future. She even told me a little of what it portended (which basically means predicted, but in a more mysterious and prophety way so it seems like the right word to use). I suppose a lot of us haven’t had this sort of experience but I can tell you from mine that it’s a bit weird. What am I supposed to do with this information? Do I act on it? Assume that kind of stuff is all made up? Or have faith that it means something? How do I know what’s true?? 

I was thinking about this as I started doing research about Joel to write this post. And here’s what I found out: nobody really knows exactly what’s up with him. There’s very little in the context of the book that helps pinpoint just when Joel lived or whether the book is a continuous prophecy or a collection of fragments. So I found myself again asking questions. What am I supposed to do with this information? Do I need to figure it out to understand what Joel is saying about God? How do I know what’s true??

And then of course it came to me: The Holy Spirit. I think it’s at the root what all of this is about—Joel, what he says about God, and all the sons and daughters of the Lord dreaming dreams, seeing visions, and prophesying. Here’s how I read it.

Up until 2:12, we’ve been treated to a graphic picture of God’s fearsome wrath. Unstoppable locusts devouring the land. The warning against the greater terror of Judgment Day. But then in verse 12 the darkness suddenly breaks as God shows his people another way. “Even now,” he says, “I still want you.” “Return to the Lord your God,” he says, “for he is gracious and compassionate.” God is alwaysseeking a way to bring us back to himself, just as we saw in Hosea. So in 2:12-17 he gives the nation of Judah another chance to repent, promising to be gracious if only they’ll put him first. Then in verse 18, we see how his intense love overwhelms even his wrath. Judah deserved to be punished for disobedience, but instead God “was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.” He promises them bounty, protection, and joy. I love the absolute richness of what God promises in 2:18-27. It’s a picture of everything beautiful, and the complete opposite of the whole locust experience.

And then it all comes together in the last part of the chapter. 

2:28-32 refers again to the coming Day of the Lord, but now God reveals something more. There is talk of smoke and fire and dread. But in the midst of it there is a promise not only of restoration, but of himself. He says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” He has already decided all the way back in the Old Testament that he will continue to restore his people and share himself with them. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in the Old Testament prophecies: God decided from the start that he would be present with us and that he would redeem us and that he would continually reveal his truth to us.

I love the way this plays out in Acts, when Peter quotes this very passage from Joel. It’s just after the Holy Spirit has shown up in a great display of wind and fire and words. Because the disciples all begin speaking in tongues, this huge crowd around in them Jerusalem—all the Jewish people who have gathered for Passover—think they’re probably drunk. But Peter says “No! Listen! We are not drunk. Don’t you see? God has promised this to us and HERE HE IS.” God has promised and he has come through. His word can be trusted. He is moving among us now, calling us back to himself.

And that brings be back to where I started. How do I know what’s true? It might not always be easy to tell what happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago to the prophet Joel or to anticipate my own future. But it’s clear that right now, at every moment, God wants us to be near him. He wants to show us the truth about who he is and the sort of people he wants us to be. He wants us to put him first. And above all, even now, he will be with us.


Today’s writing is entry #6 of our Minor Prophet series. Join with our study throughout the week, and as we gather on Sundays at 9:15 at The VINE at Chapel Rock to unpack the truth of God’s word together. This week’s study is focusing on the writing of the Prophet Joel.

Today’s reading is Joel 2:12-2:32 and Acts 2:17-21


By Rick Phipps

A few definitions are in order to really help our understanding of what’s happening in Hosea…

Adultery…sexual unfaithfulness of a married person

Jesus would later redefines (Matthew 5:27) that in God’s standards lust by sight and heart counts.

Prostitute…to offer indiscriminately for sexual intercourse especially for money; to devote or corrupt for unworthy purposes; a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual intercourse especially for pay. 

I give these definitions because it hit me just how low Gomer (Israel, people of God) had fallen. She (they) not only was a willing participant in adultery but also implied willing participant in prostitution. She was with another man (another God), not her husband (not their God), while still married (cared for, loved, desired by God) thus an adulterer (living outside the covenant with God). This man (sin, idols), as it says in 3:1, loved her (probably not a heart love but for sexual moneymaking, “what can you do for me kinda love”). However, their sin or lust, or just blindness to the sacredness of the marriage bed (true worship/respect for God), or maybe even the total lack of hope from such a great disconnection from God has Gomer involved in prostitution. And it would seem that is was a willing involvement. Sin has no boundaries, no restraints, no line where one can’t go any farther, it just keeps on calling one deeper and deeper into its abyss. So it would seem that Gomer had a lover but also a pimp (addictive sin; hopelessness). How lost she was…perhaps hoping that the next lover/customer would be the one to rescue her (this idol/god)? Bring her a love she fantasized about (provide an easy life)? Yet in the deepest darkness of her life who comes back for her? Hosea (God)…now it would seem that Gomer (Israel) was also past her money making prime for the amount Hosea paid for her, as one commentator remarked, ‘was pitifully small. Gomer was no longer worth much to anyone except Hosea’. Yet Hosea paid it! Hosea took her back…God’s use of Hosea paints a picture that no matter how low we sink He is willing to buy us back–to redeem us–and to lift us up again.  

Like prostitution, any sin, once it has its teeth in us, takes extraordinary will and strength to escape. For it brings us down to a state of hopelessness, shame, a feeling that there is not way out, that this is ‘just the way my life is suppose to be,’ then justification chains one to it even more… 

Romans 3:22-26: This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  

So, when you are tempted to feel like we’re no longer worth anything to anyone, let alone God… know that Jesus paid the price to buy us back by His sacrifice on the cross. Now we stand in Christ as His’ redeemed.

Perfectly Rooted

by Adam Reiss

We often think obedience is a burden. There’s what we want to do THEN what we are told. We have our life separated into neat sections and subheadings; some containing desires; some our responsibility to God. Love sometimes includes a process of turning away and returning before we realize how intricately obedience to God and our desires interweave.  The beauty in Hosea is God’s constant drive to get us back. 

As Hosea’s wife was going elsewhere for something she could have purely gotten from him, so the Israelites strayed from the original Source. Hosea didn’t just forgive her, though.  She didn’t write him a nice little note that got him to accept her back; he found her in prostitution and BOUGHT her back. His love for her was stronger than propriety and social convention. 

With God, repentance is perfect and everlasting.  As many times as we fall away, He is there to take us back.  This is of course not to give us permission to sin but to realize the importance of obedience.  It gives us a chance to see the beauty which God’s commands pour into our lives in our own time and in full understanding. We fall away and stumble and God does not wait for us to beg. He actively seeks us. 

The natural metaphors in the last chapter are beautiful. God declares the abundance he has for those who obey him using the imagery of other botanical objects made by His hands. The trees he mentions are all so beautifully displayed in the open air, the breeze, and the sun while being perfectly rooted exactly where they need to be. In much the same way, God invites us to be rooted in Him.

Today’s Reading: Hosea 9-14


This Weekend: Join us at The VINE at 9:15 AM on Sunday in the Chapel as Stacy Sanford brings us thoughts and a challenging word from Hosea. 

Summer Study Series: An Introduction

Today marks the beginning of a journey that will take us through each of the minor prophets this summer (Hosea through Malachi). The truth that the “minor” prophets brought forth was anything but minor. The only reason they are called minor is that they are much shorter than the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which are sometimes called the “major” prophets.

As we move through this study, we’ll have opportunities to hear from the voices of the prophets of old, and we’ll also have opportunities to hear testimony from voices of today and we’ll see in both how the truth of God’s word continues to challenge and transform lives. This week we are beginning with the book of Hosea. Approximately three days a week throughout the summer there will be blog posts that will help guide our reading and study together. On Sunday mornings’s at The VINE, after our week of reading and studying, we’ll engage together as a group in getting to the heart of the message of each book.

Recognizing the power of God’s work among his people, this study is a collaborative, effort and your participation is key. If you’re interested in signing up to research and write one of the weekly study entries as we go along, you’ll be able to do so at The VINE beginning this Sunday morning, and help will always be available along the way.

I’m so looking forward to the transforming power of the truth of God’s word shaping our lives together as we journey together this summer.


Introduction to Hosea:

Hosea was a prophet that lived and prophesied to the northern part of God’s divided kingdom of Israel (sometimes referred to as Ephraim), around the time just before they were defeated by the Assyrian Empire (755-715 BC).

Hosea is in essence about a painful love story. It begins with a personal illustration of Hosea own marriage relationship that involves his adulterous wife, who acted like a prostitute despite Hosea’s continual loyal faithfulness, passionate provision and continual pursuit.

At the time of Hosea’s prophecy, Israel had become pretty distracted from the heart of God. They had become greedy in the midst of prosperity, committed all kinds of injustices against the poor, and had turned to foreign idol worship, which Hosea referred to as adultery against the Lord their God. Throughout Hosea’s prophecy, we see very vividly the painful suffering love of the Lord for his people, even in the midst of their unfaithfulness. God’s fury, His jealousy, and His own passion for His people, are on display through Hosea’s words and through his life.

Hosea shows us that God’s concern for His people in the midst of their idolatry, sin, and rebellion are not just about some vague religious matter, but about something deeply personal. God doesn’t want to be involved in the lives of people in a distant impersonal way, but uses this incredibly powerful illustration of the love of a husband toward his wife to show how much He loves them.

Reading for Monday & Tuesday:

Read chapters 1-3 of Hosea which compare Hosea’s marriage to Israel’s relationship with God. Pay special attention to 3:1 which says, “The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress…” As you read, think about your own relationship with the Lord and how His grace, love and faithfulness are constant even in the midst of our wanderings.