God’s Love Restores Us - 2 July 2020

Louise Gevers

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14,15 (NIV)

God’s heart yearns for His people to engage in an intimate, covenant relationship with Him in which they experience personally that “he is altogether lovely” and know that, “(He) is my beloved, this is my friend …” (Song of Solomon 5:16). With all the beautiful qualities of love inherent in Him, God loves richly and steadfastly, wanting the best for each one, asking for their whole-hearted love and commitment in return. But Israel often forgot God’s love and goodness to them and worshipped pagan idols that lured them; and their love for God grew cold.

Still, He loved them faithfully and wanted to woo them back to Him, even after they had broken His Commandments. 

Using Hosea’s troubled marriage as an object lesson, God illustrates symbolically the condition of Israel’s relationship with Him, the depth of His love for them, and His willingness to restore their covenant. Israel would be able to see that what God instructed Hosea to do for Gomer, his wife, He would do for Israel. God's instruction to Hosea to buy back his unfaithful wife would symbolise His willingness to redeem Israel, emphasizing His unconditional love for them. 

He further uses the Valley of Achor, a place of former judgment and tragedy, where Achan and his family were punished for his sin (Joshua 7), as imagery, to illustrate His redemptive power.Infidelity to God put Israel into a valley of destruction waiting for judgement, but He wants them to see that, by returning to Him, He has the power to transform their sinful situation into “a door of hope”, promising grace, and restoration of the blessings that will bring joy again. He is the God of the impossible (Genesis 18:14; Mark 10:27) with whom no situation is beyond redemption; by repenting there is always hope.

Selfless commitment and compassion to forgive and restore originate in God. When things go wrong, true love inspires the renewal and restoration of the broken and lost, regardless of the cost. This love, exemplified in God’s willingness to pursue unfaithful Israel, challenges us at the highest level and sets before us the blueprint for unconditional love. God alone is able to turn a place of shame into a door of hope through which His, “grace is sufficient for (those at rock bottom) … and His power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Prayer: Lord, too often we are unfaithful as we replace You in our affections with distractions that tempt us to exchange truth for deception. Sometimes it’s only when things go wrong in our lives that we realise this. Help me to return to my first love for You and to be restored. Amen.


God se liefde maak ons nuut - 2 Julie 2020

Louise Gevers

Tog sal Ek weer begin om haar die hof te maak. Ek sal haar na die woestyn toe bring en mooi dinge vir haar sê. Wanneer ons daar is, sal Ek weer vir haar wingerde gee, Ek sal die Akorlaagte 'n poort na 'n nuwe toekoms maak. Dan sal sy weer my liefde beantwoord soos toe sy jonk was, soos toe sy uit Egipte getrek het.  Hosea 2:13-14

God se hart smag daarna vir sy kinders om in 'n intieme verbondsverhouding met Hom te wees waar hulle persoonlik kan ondervind dat Hy "geheel en al die lieflikheid self (is)" en weet dat "dit is my beminde en dit is my vriend … (Hooglied 5:16 1933/1953-vertaling) Met al die pragtige kwaliteite van die liefde wat inherent aan Hom is, het die Here ons onwrikbaar lief en verlang die beste vir elkeen van ons. In ruil vra Hy dat ons Hom heelhartig sal liefhê en volkome toegewyd sal wees.

Maar Israel het dikwels God se liefde en goedheid vir hulle vergeet en het heidense afgode aanbid. Hulle liefde vir die Here het koud geword. Die Here het hulle egter steeds getrou lief gehad en wou hulle aanmoedig om na Hom toe terug te kom, selfs nadat hulle sy Gebooie verbreek het.

Deur Hosea se gebroke huwelik as voorbeeld te gebruik, het die Here simbolies Israel se verhouding met Hom en die diepte van sy liefde vir hulle en sy gewilligheid om sy verbond met Israel te herstel, geїlustreer. Hy wou Israel in staat stel om te besef dat dit wat God Hosea beveel het om met Gomer, sy vrou, te doen, Hy ook vir Israel wou doen. God het Hosea beveel om sy ontroue vrou terug te koop en dit simboliseer sy gewilligheid om Israel te verlos, en dit beklemtoon sy onvoorwaardelike liefde vir hulle.

Hy het ook die Arkonlaagte ter illustrasie gebruik, 'n plek waar mense voorheen veroordeel is en waar tragedies afgespeel het – die plek waar Agan en sy gesin gestraf is vir sy sonde. (Josua 7). Dit het Hy gedoen om sy verlossende krag te illustreer. Ontrouheid aan God het Israel in 'n vallei van vernietiging laat beland waar hulle op veroordeling gewag het, maar die Here wou dat hulle besef dat as hulle na Hom terugkeer Hy oor die krag beskik om hulle sondige situasie in "'n deur van hoop" te verander en dat Hy genade beloof en die seëninge wat vreugde bring, weer kon herstel. Hy is die God van die onmoontlike (Genesis 18:14, Markus 10:27) by wie verlossing uit alle situasies altyd moontlik is – die belydenis van sonde bring altyd hoop.

Onselfsugtige toewyding, deernis om te vergewe en te verlos het hulle oorsprong in God. Wanneer dinge verkeerd gaan, inspireer ware liefde die verlossing van die gebrokenes en diegene wat verlore is, en word hulle nuut gemaak ongeag die koste. Hierdie liefde wat geȉllustreer word deur God se gewilligheid om die ontroue Israel na te jaag, daag ons uit op die hoogste vlak en plaas 'n bloudruk van onvoorwaardelike liefde voor ons. Die Here alleen kan 'n plek van skaamte verander in 'n deur van hoop want sy "genade is vir jou (almal wat die allerlaagste punt bereik het) genoeg. My krag kom juis tot volle werking wanneer jy swak is.” (2 Korintiërs 12:9)

Gebed: Here ons is so dikwels ontrou aan U en ons vervang ons liefde vir U met dinge wat ons verlei om die waarheid vir bedrog te verruil. Soms besef ons dit slegs wanneer dinge verkeerd gaan in ons lewens. Help my om na my eerste liefde vir U terug te keer sodat ek nuut gemaak kan word. Amen

God’s Goodness Redeems Us - 1 July 2020

Louise Gevers

“You must thank the Lord because He is good, and his love will never change. He will love us forever. The people who have been saved must tell that the Lord has set them free. They were suffering but He saved them. He brought them back from the land where they were, from the east and the west, from the north and the south.” Psalm 107:1-3 (Bible for the Deaf)

Redeemed people always have a story to tell of how amazingly God has used trials and hardships in their lives to transform them, restoring their hearts and renewing their minds. Although nobody welcomes difficult times, it is often through these that we become more aware of God’s presence with us, and our faith grows exponentially as we trust Him through each trial we face. 

When Moses brought the Israelites out from captivity in Egypt, God led them into a desert experience to capture their attention and develop His relationship with them as their God. God was with the Israelites throughout, visible as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night (Exodus 13:21) providing them with light, meat and bread in the desert, and making bitter water drinkable and sweet. (Exodus 15:25) In later years they were exiled, but each time the faithful came home again rejoicing in His goodness, stronger and more resilient through the trials. He does no less for His people today. 

Being in lockdown is not always easy, even in our own homes. We may feel that we have been in the desert lately, exiled from ‘normal life’ because of our restricted freedom of movement and daily activities, which disturbs our sense of wellbeing. Yet we have discovered in ‘captivity’ that God, who is never in lockdown, is with us and restores us, and frees our spirits and minds – even when we don’t know what each new endless day holds.

God saved His people from their enemies countless times, and brought them safely home; but His power restores us too, not just the Israelites of old. When we thank Him and celebrate His goodness to us, we also have a story to tell that will bless others; His goodness is fundamental to life. Our hope rises and our sense of wellbeing flourishes when we approach each dark situation holding to the truth: “He is good, and His love will never change. He will love us forever”.

This psalm reminds us that, wherever we are, God is. He reigns supreme. He can deliver us from the enemy whether we are in a desert, in a prison of our own making, in rebellion, in real or spiritual storms, in poverty, oppression, or in sorrow. Is this our experience? 

Let us thank Him!

Prayer: Father God, in dark times, the light of Your goodness and everlasting love illuminates our lives, enabling change, comfort and redemption. Thank You again and again. Amen. 

God se goedheid bevry ons - 1 Julie 2020

Louise Gevers

“Loof die Here, want Hy is goed, aan sy liefde is daar geen einde nie!” So moet die mense sê wat deur die Here bevry is, dié wat Hy uit hulle nood bevry het en uit baie lande versamel het, uit die ooste en die weste, die noorde en die suide. Psalm 107:1-3

Verloste mense getuig dikwels van hoe God op 'n wonderlike manier beproewing en swaarkry in hulle lewens gebruik het om hulle te verander, hulle harte bevry het en hulle denke nuut gemaak het. Alhoewel niemand moeilike tye verwelkom nie, is dit dikwels in sulke tye dat ons meer bewus word van God se teenwoordigheid en ons in die geloof groei as ons Hom deur al ons beproewinge vertrou.

Toe Moses die Israeliete uit gevangenskap in Egipte gelei het, het God hulle in die woestyn laat beland om hulle aandag te kry en om, as hulle God, 'n verhouding met hulle te ontwikkel. God was altyd by die Israeliete, sigbaar as 'n wolkkolom bedags en snags as 'n vuurkolom. (Eksodus 13:21) Hy het hulle in die woestyn van lig, vleis en brood voorsien en bitter water drinkbaar en soet gemaak. (Eksodus 15:25) In later jare is hulle verban, maar elke keer het die gelowiges huis toe gekom en hulle in sy goedheid verbly, sterker van gees deur die swaarkry wat hulle beleef het. God doen vandag niks minder vir sy kinders nie.

Die grendeltydperk wat ons tans beleef, is nie altyd maklik nie, selfs in ons eie huise. Ons voel dalk of ons in 'n woestyn is, verban van die 'normale lewe' weens die beperking van die vryheid van beweging en van ons daaglikse aktiwiteite, en dit versteur ons welsyn. En tog in hierdie 'gevangenskap' ontdek ons dat die Here, wat nooit ingeperk is nie, altyd by ons is en vir ons nuwe krag gee. Hy maak ons gees en denke vry – selfs al weet ons nie wat elke dag inhou nie.

God het sy volk baie keer van hulle vyande verlos, en hulle veilig huis toe gebring; Hy gee egter ook aan ons nuwe krag en nie net aan die Israeliete van ouds nie. Wanneer ons Hom dank en Hom loof vir sy goedheid, het ons ook 'n storie om te vertel en waardeur iemand anders seën kan ontvang. Sy goedheid is fundamenteel tot die lewe. Ons hoop groei en ons welsyn verbeter wanneer ons elke donker oomblik benader deur aan die volgende waarheid vas te hou: “Loof die Here, want Hy is goed, aan sy liefde is daar geen einde nie!”

Hierdie psalm herinner ons dat waar ons ook al mag wees, daar is God. Hy is die Allerhoogste. Hy kan ons van die vyand verlos – of ons nou in 'n 'woestyn' of in 'n 'selfgemaakte gevangenis' is, of ons rebelleer, in 'n fisiese of geestelike storm is, in armoede verkeer, onderdruk word of hartseer is. Is dit jou ondervinding?

Laat ons Hom daarvoor dank!

Gebed: Hemelse Vader, in donker tye verlig u goedheid en u ewige liefde ons lewens en dit verander, vertroos en bevry ons. Ons dank U daarvoor. Amen

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