Summary: Let me encourage you to exercise real and deep forgiveness that goes beyond words and continues to aid the healing process between your brothers and sisters or your family members. Let the love of God toward you flow freely out to others.

The story is told of an elderly lady who was living in poverty. Her son had recently passed away and she was in mourning.

A lawyer came by to help her settle her son’s affairs and interpret the will for her. The lady was illiterate and had always been taken care of by others. Sadly, her son did not leave much in the way of savings or things of value, so the will did not help her much.

She offered the lawyer a cup of tea and sat down to relax and talk as they drank the tea.

The lawyer asked: Had you son been away for long?

“Oh yes,” said the lady. “Years and years - twenty or more.”

Did he keep contact? The lawyer asked.

“Constantly,” said the lady. “He sent a cassette tape every week.”

“What did he say?” He inquired.

“Oh, just news.” she said. “He was very successful you know. He constantly encouraged me to go back to school, which was rather foolish at my age I thought.”

“Did you go?” asked the man.

“No, but I told him I did, just to keep him happy.”

“Was he a help to you?”

The woman thought about it for a moment. “Well he never sent money if that’s what you mean, but it is a great help to a mother for her son to keep such close contact and to care for the details of her life.

The lawyer was astounded. “He was so successful and he never sent you anything?”

“I wouldn’t say that,” said the woman. “he always sent one of these lovely little pieces of paper.”

At that she opened a box near her chair and showed the lawyer a huge stack of $100 money orders.

She had been living in poverty and did not need to. Had she taken her son’s advice, she would have been able to read the papers and see that she was actually being very well cared for.

This is how it is for those who are loved by God. His love is there for the taking, if we will only do what is required to experience it.

Hosea 14:4-8

4 “I will heal their waywardness

and love them freely,

for my anger has turned away from them.

5 I will be like the dew to Israel;

he will blossom like a lily.

Like a cedar of Lebanon

he will send down his roots;

6 his young shoots will grow.

His splendor will be like an olive tree,

his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.

7 Men will dwell again in his shade.

He will flourish like the grain.

He will blossom like a vine,

and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.

8 O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?

I will answer him and care for him.

I am like a green pine tree;

your fruitfulness comes from me.” (NIV)

Hosea is a love story. Actually it is two love stories. It is the story of Hosea’s love for his wife. That love story is a symbol of the love of God for Israel.

In both cases the love is unreturned. Hosea’s wife Gomer is a prostitute who cannot give up her lifestyle. She bears three children in the course of the book and according to the first couple of verses, they are not all Hosea’s. But Hosea is commanded by God not to give up on her and he pursues her to the point of buying her out of slavery.

In the same way, God speaks of pursuing Israel and Judah while those two nations continue to pursue idols. In the last chapter of the book, God, through Hosea, breaks into a love song for His people. He speaks of all He longs to do for them, and will do for them when they finally turn from their idols and return to Him.

His message to them is that His love is so great that, even though their sin was great, He will receive them back and joyfully pour Himself into her. He sings in this last chapter of what His people can expect to experience then.

The one God loves will be forgiven

God promises that His anger will be turned away. We are very quick to tell people that problems in their lives is not necessarily the result of God’s anger. Sometimes I think we are too quick. The Bible makes it clear that God’s anger and people’s sin are sometimes the source of punishment that takes the form of sickness, hardship, and trouble.

Jesus makes it clear that this is not always the case. Job is the prime example of this truth. But Jesus also makes it clear that:

those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:4-5 (NIV)

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