God’s Love for the Loveless – Part 4
|By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2007|
|The third chapter of Hosea portrays the greatest story in the Bible, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people in the most concise and poignant form to be found anywhere.|
This message was recorded at the Billy Graham training center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. Through the ministry of The Cove we’re training people in God’s Word to win others to Christ. It’s our goal to develop Christians who experience God through knowing Him better, knowing His Word, building godly relationships and helping others know Him. We trust that this message will strengthen your walk with God and help you experience Him right where you are.
Dr. Sweeting had a good formula for hermeneutics. He called it the five B’s of preaching: “Be brief brother, be brief.” I was thinking this morning, hearing some of these very kind testimonies, and just about how we look at life, I was reminded of the man who said, “I want to go like my grandfather did, quietly in his sleep, not screaming like the passengers in his car.” After that lunch I’ll probably go quietly in my sleep.
I have committed sin at The Cove. His name is Pee Wee. If I showed you a picture of Pee Wee it might make you a little ill. I actually had a power point presentation where I was going to use Pee Wee, and my wife looked at my computer screen and walked away in disgust so I decided not to show you a picture of Pee Wee. Pee Wee just won the award for being the ugliest dog in the world. His owner is named Kristen; no last name, obvious reason why. And Kristen adopted Pee Wee who was going to be euthanized. And she saw something very, very, very, very, very few people could see. In fact, she’s probably the only one who could see that even though Pee Wee was so ugly she could love this ugly mutt. And you look at the dog and you look at the website and you sort, of okay, it’s just one more strange American thing we do: Let’s find the ugliest dog award, and you can get T-shirts and so forth and so on. I mean, it’s just sort of a joyful thing. It’s a dog and it’s ugly and people love it.
How much more the God of the universe loving the likes of you and me? In a vulnerable moment we would shy away from a street person. In a busy moment we would not be the good Samaritan. On our way to church, I mentioned the other day, there is a man who has obvious mental challenges. He’s a homeless person and he positions himself strategically on one part of the highway as you exit where most church goers are turning down a street full of churches. He’s not stupid. He’s clever. And he hobbles up and down begging for money, and it breaks my young daughter’s heart. And the cynical side of me says he’s a drug addict. He’s suffering the consequences of his own choices. And my little 11-year-old daughter reminds me God loves him. I am no better than he, nor are you. We are Pee Wee’s. We are the unlovely and He loves you and me. That’s the message of the book of Hosea.
I want to take you to chapter 3 today, and I want to look at this chapter that is perhaps,… it’s always a little bit of an overstatement to say the most important anything in the Bible, because, of course, the Bible is the Word of God, but it certainly is a clear picture of a lot of good theology. Listen to what James Montgomery Boice said about this: “The third chapter of Hosea is in my judgment, the greatest chapter in the Bible because it portrays the greatest story in the Bible, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people in the most concise and poignant form to be found anywhere.”
Hosea is a pageant of God’s love for Israel; indeed, for His people in every place and age. But when we ask where in the whole of human history is that love most clearly seen, the answer, at the cross of Christ. Hosea 3 shows us God’s work in redemption by the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 1 of chapter 3 simply is, “Love obeys God’s command.” If you love God you obey Him and love obeys God’s command.
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.’” A casual reader will miss the phrase, “go again and love a woman.” Most English translations have been faithful to keep that word in the text. It is part of the text, “go again.” In chapter 1, verse 2 Hosea was told to go take a woman. Here he’s told to go love a woman. Quite a different thing to go pick up a woman to marry and not loving her, not courting her, not knowing much about her family or her future. But here God simply says, “Go love her.”
Now, if you read carefully in the verse it says, “Love a woman who is loved by her husband.” It’s hard to be bull dogmatic on this, but I think he’s referring to the man she is now living with, not Hosea. The passage isn’t saying, “Hosea, you love your wife; go love her again.” The passage is saying: “Hosea, go love a wife who is in love in her current context with her current adulterous husband,” which, again, turns the heat up all the more on the overall theology that God loves the loveless who throw themselves in the arms of other lovers.
We might expect here to find the prodigal story where she came to her senses. But it seems as though she wants to be in this situation. You know, it’s one thing to obey God when we don’t feel like it. I mean, you and I do that often. It’s quite another thing to obey God when you’ve been harshly abused and ill-treated. A lot of times you and I do things because we’re supposed to do them. As husbands, as wives, we love our husband or wife when they’re not worthy of our love. I can be a real dope sometimes and Cindy still loves me. She chooses to love me. I can love my kids when they’re being disobedient and disrespectful and just downright ornery. I can still love them. But if I’m treated harshly, if I’m dishonored, if I’ve been slapped in the face, literally or metaphorically, it’s really hard to go love that person or that situation. And that’s what the text says.
Don’t miss the phrase “yet an adulteress.” She is in her sin. Derek Kidner says, “the sin is still in progress.” Now, picture yourself chasing your wife into some seedy apartment complex and walking in. You don’t want to be there. You’d like to leave her there and she’s in the arms of another man. And God said, “Go love her.” Now, wait a minute; time out, Lord. This isn’t right. What about me? What about my rights? What about my entitlement? What about me being the victim here? And that’s the way we would spell it in our cultural terminology, right? God tells him to love. It’s a remarkable demonstration of love and really is grace. Grace loves in spite of sin. Grace loves in spite of betrayal. Grace loves in spite of our unfaithfulness.
Now the bigger picture, of course, is God’s love for His chosen people Israel. And Hosea is the miniature, the personal tragedy, to illustrate the way God has chosen His people and they’ve broken the covenant with which He made them.
Notice it says she turns to other gods and she loves raisin cakes. Now, after this morning’s breakfast this seems a little bit over the top, but it does seem to be an absurd comparison. I mean, what? Who actually likes raisins? Raise your hand and be among the few. I can’t believe this. It’s like the raisin convention. How many of you love raisins? Okay, there’s a few of them. How many love chocolate? And now we’re talking. How many of you love blintzes? I loved them about 20 minutes ago. Now I’m not so sure. How many people love ice cream? How many of you are the salt chips lover? Yeah, now that’s the godly people. Give me the chips and hot sauce, you can keep the sugary stuff.
The raisin cakes in culture were probably an aphrodisiac of a sort. We think of things like chocolate and ice cream and blintzes. In that culture dates and raisins and honey were the extracts that they would use to make some pretty wonderful delicacies. The raisin cakes require a number of things. Number 1: it requires a bounty of vineyard that you have enough to let dry. If you’re making wine, which the ancient culture did, when you grew vineyards; vineyards were not for grapes or raisins, they were for wine. And so when they had these magnificent vineyards, and if you go to Israel, when you go to Israel, you’ll see vineyards everywhere in the country.
And if, depending on the time of year you go, there’s a little stick on a wire and then when it’s in foliage it’s just a sea of green on these wires they have on poles to pole. And then when they’re heavy with grapes they’re just enormous clusters. And then afterwards they prune them back to a stick. It’s a wonder they don’t kill them.
It’s amazing how they make wine with grapes. So once those grapes go to harvest and you use them for wine, it’s the ones, to waste grapes to make raisins, it means an excess of bounty in order to have the luxury of having raisins. So it suggests bounty. It suggests a prosperous vineyard. It suggests sort of like caviar in a way metaphorically.
Now, the suggestive language here is, what it’s saying is you love the aphrodisiac, the delicacy, more than you love God. You love chocolate and blintzes more than you love Jesus. You love something that taste good and smells good in your olfactory senses and makes your belly feel good when it’s in there and all the blood rushes to your stomach and you have to stay awake while a preacher talks to you.
We love the feeling of our stomach being full. I read a book years ago called Love Hunger. It was a very interesting approach to why we eat. We don’t eat because we’re hungry most of the time; we get full quite quickly. But when we have a full belly we feel content. We feel loved. And we talk about comfort foods. My mother makes the best fried chicken in the universe. She hasn’t made it in 25 years, but it was the best in the universe. She makes the best lasagna in the world. And there’s that picture of mom, my little Italian mom, slaving over the kitchen stove making this for her favorite son, cooking whatever I wanted. And that communicated love, and I felt, and I had a full belly and mommy loved her little boy.
And we do things that are, you know, our belly’s our god, isn’t it sometimes? There are lots of ways to apply this, but the question I would just ask us: What do you love more than Jesus Christ? Every time we turn our heart toward sin we are saying, “I love the impact of this sin more than I love Jesus.” Because love should obey; love wants to obey; love runs to obey. But when I sin, when you are tempted to sin, when you sin, we are saying this thing promises me more love and feeling of love than my love for Jesus Christ. I deserve this. It’s about me right now. My husband left me. My wife betrayed me. My son has broken my heart. My employer gave me a terrible deal. The world dealt me a bad hand. The investment was corrupt and went bad. I deserve this thing.
And it’s at those vulnerable times, the HALT times, those vulnerable times when we ingratiate ourselves to make ourselves feel a little better. And we’re saying, “I love this more than I love You, Jesus Christ.” What possessions, what security, what career, what seduces us like raisin cakes? What do you love more than Him?
Secondly, love redeems the loveless. “So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.” Again, Derek Kidner says, “‘So I bought her’, the reticence is eloquent.” I bought her. Go love again a woman, and he walks into the door of this seedy hotel or this seedy apartment or this seedy dwelling and he buys her. It couldn’t get any worse. She’s in love with her lover. No, you go love her. And Hosea says, “I had to buy her. I had to buy her out of the context.” That’s how bad it was.
The word suggests she’s a slave, it suggests probably more like she’s a prostitute. It could suggest she’s owned by the man. The word is also tied to things that we know more about in the requirement of slavery and what a person is worth. We do know that 15 shekels is short of 30 shekels. That’s not hard math. The reason that’s important is because 30 shekels does have an index in the Bible. Exodus 21:32, if an ox gored your neighbor’s slave you had to reimburse the guy 30 shekels. The point of it is this is the baseline of what a person is worth. You can’t be worth any less than minimum wage, 30 shekels. In Genesis 37:28 Joseph is sold for 20 shekels. They care so little about him they want to get rid of this favored child they take below market value for his life. Jesus Christ, of course, no less than three times is the phrase “30 shekels of silver” mentioned, again the price of slavery.
So she’s a slave to her sin, John 8:34. It suggest her spiritual poverty and it probably spiritually suggests not only has she thrown herself into this adulterous relationship, she is a slave to sin. So he bought her. What does Jesus Christ do when He buys us? Alright. We threw ourselves into the hands of the immoral world and loved the sin that we’re in bed with. And he says I bought her. I had to go buy her.
Derek Kidner writes, “No scripture captures the tension of God’s love for His elect.” What a great thought. God’s chosen these people, remember chosen people, covenant promise. So these are the two aspects of God’s hessid love: His love to be loyal to His people; His love to be loyal to His promises. And so in the demonstration of how much God loves the chosen people He’s got to buy them out of slavery. They are so entrenched in their sin He’s got to go dig them out and pay for them to get them out of that context.
No prodigal returned, no son or daughter that’s come back and said, “Mom and dad, you were right, I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” I was talking to some of you the other day about children and some of the challenges with our kids and how they break our hearts and those who don’t yet know Christ. And when my children do things that bring me joy and delight and they follow Christ I’m the most content man in the world. The older I get, if my kids love Jesus I’m ready to go to Jesus. I don’t need to stay here anymore. If my four kids are tracking well for Jesus, my job’s done, right and I’m ready to go home. But when my kids are causing me grief and anxiety I want them to go home. And it wears me out. It just takes the life out of me.
You know the expression of “if mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? At our house, when Jessie was little it used be “If Jessie ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Jessie just was this emotional child, this fire hose of emotion. If she was happy everybody was expected to be happy, and if she wasn’t happy nobody was permitted to be happy. And she made it her job in life, unconsciously of course, to make everyone miserable with her presence, just a lovely child. But I love her so much it hurts my chest. You know that feeling?
When I see my kids pull out of the driveway sometimes it just, it’s physically painful because I love them so much. And if they go to seed it just breaks your heart, just stomps you. Cry out to God, “Why? What did I do wrong?” Maybe you did everything just right, just like He did and He had to buy them back.
A dear friend of mine that lives in another part of the country has two daughters. One is the epitome of a Christ follower, the other one is the epitome of a sinful person. She’s made lifestyle choices that have been mind numbing. It makes things like an unwanted pregnancy seem like kid’s play what this young woman has gotten herself into. He’s enabled her to have a place to live, enabled her to have a car and he puts all these conditions in place. If you do this I’ll pay for your insurance. If you do this I’ll give you gas money. If you do this I’ll pay your rent. And again and again and again and again and again she’s violated the conditions. She’s in her 30’s and she’s no closer to Jesus than ever before.
And I watch my friend love her and love her and love her and I watch the poor mom die a thousand deaths, and they are rock solid, really normal Christian parents. They’re not over-the-top controlling. They’re not liberal goof balls. They’re wonderful people. They’re fun to be with. They’re great. They work hard, have a great sense of humor. They’re generous to the church, all the things you say that’s a great Christian to follow, and their daughter is off the reservation. Do you still love them?
When Cindy and I got married I was in love with Cindy in a certain way. I mean, I’ll be very candid; I was in heat. I told the students at Moody, you’re not in love, you’re in lust. Just get over it. Because after you’re married a while the love with which you loved her is not the love with which you stay married to her, right. All married people said, amen. The love that Cindy and I have for each other, how could you describe that love to a person who is in love at age 22? You can’t, right! You cannot explain it. Was the love at 22 a wonderful love? It was insanity. You can’t sustain that kind of love. It’s romantic; it’s not real. The music spins around. The camera does a circle when it comes to you. The band plays. He or she’s perfect in every respect. The old joke about marriage is like a phone call at midnight; you get a ring and then you wake up.
When I walk across the room my wife’s heart does not skip a beat. She does not go, “Oh, the love of my life!” She doesn’t say, “Honey, what can I do for you to make your life easier?” Actually my fantasy is obedient children, not my wife doing that. But anyway, Cindy loves me by sacrificing for me. Cindy loves me by doing things that I don’t have time to do for myself. As horrible as it sounds, my wife takes my laundry to the cleaners and picks it up for me. And I always feel like I’m imposing for her. And she says, “Michael, it takes me five minutes.” Well, I hate going to the cleaners. I hate going. I’d rather mow the yard for an hour and half than to go the cleaners. I don’t know why. I just hate going to the cleaners. And she said, “I’m happy to go to the cleaners for you.” “Really?” “I really am. I’m happy to help you in that tiny small way.” What she won’t tell you is she hates to iron, so she doesn’t mind going to the cleaners.
Cindy sacrifices for me all the time. And in 27 years of marriage she’s never complained one time. She’s never nagged me once. She’s never disrespected me once. She has talked to me on occasion. She’s told me, “Michael, I think you’re being a little stupid right now.” I was telling somebody the other day, we had an argument on the way to the airport about two weeks ago. She was taking me to the airport and we were arguing big time about something. And, I mean, she said, “Now, I want you to think about something,” and she tells me. And I argue with her the whole way to the airport, about 15 minutes. And then I get out of the car and I kiss her goodbye and I say, “Do whatever you want.” And I walked in. And I said, “Now, why did I argue with the woman? She had me beat when we got in the car.” Cindy’s just smart enough just to ignore her and let me argue for 15 minutes. And she knows that she’s right at the end of the day. And if I were to tell her that today she’d just smile. She wouldn’t say, if only you listened sooner, you big dope.
Now, when I look at my wife—and I hoped you look at your husband and wife this way—you got to see how God loves you through your spouse when you’re too dumb sometimes to see it. And that’s where we start turning our eye to things we can’t have. Cindy loves me in incredible ways. I would never hate her in return. But we hate Jesus in return. Love loves you and me when we’re enslaved to sin and He buys us out of sin and He redeems us from that sin, and we still don’t get it.
Number 1: love obeys God’s command; number 2: love redeems the loveless; number 3: love restores the loveless. “Then I said to her, ‘You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.’ For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without a king or a prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols.”
The little connective word “then” is very important in the narrative. After the redemption go over “then… will not play the harlot.” I think almost every translation hangs on to that word “then” in verse 3. “Then I said to her.” There’s going to be a period of restoration. God is going to buy Israel out of their sinfulness. He’s going to buy you and me out of our sinfulness, then there’s going to be a time; we might call it sort of a time out, isolation where this restoration process is going to begin. Her adultery and her harlotry are over. And in a way He’s going to sequester her, we might think spiritually, so that she will later belong only to Him.
From the national level this is huge, because God’s going to redeem His people out of their incestuous licentious adulterous relationship with the Baals. He’s going to isolate them and later He’s going to call them His people. And so you want to fast forward to the eschatology. I believe this is a foreshadowing of Israel. Israel’s going to be isolated and there’ll be a time when the Jew will come back to Jesus Christ and it’s all foreshadowed in this. This is an analogous relationship with the national group of people called the Jew and Yahweh. “The sons of Israel will remain for many days without a king or a prince, without sacrifice,” and so forth. Israel’s going to have no leader. Israel will have no sacrificial system, both legitimate and illegitimate forms of worship.
Notice “sacred pillar.” Is there any sacred pillar in Israel’s formal worship? No. So God is talking about the sacred pillar of the Baals, the Ashtaroth, these enormous phallic symbols they worshiped, the syncretism of these things. You’re not going to have your evil, licentious worship, nor are you going to have the worship that I gave you in the sacrificial system where I put My name. Ephod, of course, is the priestly covering you read about in Exodus 28, many times the priestly covering for how they served and as they offered sacrifice. And there’s the household idol, then, is the parallel of the Baal worship. So each of these three, is you can’t have the illegitimate worship, nor the legitimate worship. I’m going to isolate you from both forms of worship.
Have you ever thought about the sacrificial process and the ephod? It really is an interesting study. Any of you men or women, are any of you hunters? Any of you? No hunters in this room. I am shocked. No bird hunters, no deer hunters. If you ever go hunting and you field dress an animal it’s a messy proposition even if you’re an experienced hunter. You’re going to get blood all over your blue jeans and your shirt and it’s just a messy business. And you think about a priest and a white ephod offering sacrifices day in and day out. They didn’t have Clorox or Oxy Clean and those ephods had to be white. You ever thought about that? Sorry, I think about weird things like that.
Israel had corrupted the good things of God’s worship and they had intermingled them with the Baals so God’s going to isolate them. That’s precisely what he does with Gomer. I want you to notice here he doesn’t force love on Gomer. Hosea was told to take a wife; he’s told to go love her; and then he isolates her. And I think the parallel is very important. God does not force His love on you and me. God does not love you when you don’t want to be loved.
We adopted Devin and Sarah, they were about two and three, and Jessie was, oh, I can’t remember ages; Jessie is now 18, minus 10, so she was eight or nine, I guess. And Jessie had wanted a little sister just so badly. And so we brought this little pixie Sarah home and Jessie just smothered her in love. And Sarah wasn’t real excited about this person she didn’t know very well smothering her in love. Jessie is a wonderfully loving, adoring, hugging, tactile person. She loves to hug her dad. She loves to sit in my lap even now that she’s almost an adult. She loves her daddy. She loves her mommy and she wanted to love a little girl. And that little girl didn’t want that love. And we had to work with Jess and say, “Jess, give her some time. Give her some space. Let her start to love. You can’t smother her.” And Jessie would be frustrated because her little sister didn’t love her back. God doesn’t smother us. He’s patient. He leaves us alone for awhile.
The consequences of our sin might find us out. Our loneliness might find us out. Number 1: love obeys God’s command. Number 2: love redeems the loveless. Number 3: love restores. And fifth and last, the loveless repents and returns. “Afterward,” verse 5, “the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.”
It’s interesting in the Bible we hear no more about Gomer from this verse on. She falls off the scene of the book of Hosea. A lot of times the Bible doesn’t tell me what I want to know. You ever feel that way? You know it’s like commentaries that don’t deal with the hard verses. They always tell you the things you know. I want to know what that warning passage means. I want to know what this means. I don’t care about the other fluff. Tell me what the problem is here. And when God doesn’t tell us I get a little frustrated.
I remember years ago it dawned on me, God tells me everything I need to know. He doesn’t satisfy all my curiosity, but He tells me everything I need to know. And what we need to know right now is the story isn’t about Gomer anymore. The story is about Israel and about you and me. And that’s where He sort of leaves us hanging.
The sons of Israel will turn and seek. These are terms of repentance. Later on in chapter 6 there’ll be sort of a half repentance if you read the book for yourself. You’ll see they don’t quite repent. They’re sort of sorry for their sin, but they don’t come out and say, “I am sorry, I have sinned in this regard by being disloyal and sacrificing to idols and being involved with Baal.” There’s no real true confession of repentance. It’s more “I’m sorry for the consequences I am now experiencing.”
David, their king, obviously is a reference to the Davidic monarchy. The interesting part about the timing of this, Solomon had died 200 years before this is written. So there’s still an anticipation of this Davidic monarch. Sometimes you hear Bible teachers say, “I don’t know what the Old Testament characters really knew about Jesus, Messiah.” I think they knew a whole lot more than we understand. I think they knew that someone would come. The passage Michael read this morning in 1 Chronicles 29, it’s a rich passage and that passage is saying as many others are, the Davidic kingdom will never move. And through that Davidic kingdom will come Jesus Messiah.
So the Davidic kingdom, “how can the Son of God say to the Son of God”? You know that dilemma in the psalmist. How does God the Son, what do you do with this? Well, the Davidic line there’ll be one who will reign. Did you all see the Lord of the Rings trilogy? There’s a great line in there. It’s an adaptation of the book, when Gandalf says, “There is only one king and he will allow no other.” It’s a great picture of the Christ. There’s only one and He’s in the Davidic line, the Davidic throne. The isolation will make sort of a dread for them. They’ll be alone and afraid and it’s hopeful, God is hopeful, that this dread will lead them to repentance.
“Last days” becomes a technical term. In most of our prophecy books they refer to the end of times, eschatology. Israel’s restoration by the eighth century, the prophets predicted, even by Moses. If you look at Isaiah 2:2 this expression is the last days. That’s when Israel will be restored in the last days. Now looking forward to a future time, and again I believe Israel does play a literal part in this.
Last, His goodness is clearly seen. Again, listen to James Boice, “I do not see how so many scholars can deny that there will be a regathering of Israel and a national repentance in the last days yet to come.” Some scholars deny any future national blessing of Israel on the grounds that the promises were made here to be fulfilled by the church. Some say the promises are already fulfilled. Now I agree with Boice. Now this harkens to Romans 11, if you want to study this on your own, verses 25-27. Now we might call it the time of the Gentiles. So the time of the Gentiles is opened up, and we’ve trusted Christ. We’ve come to Christ, all the ethnos from the Great Commission: Make disciples of all nations, all ethnos. All the ethnos are coming to Christ. And I think there’ll be a literal time. You may disagree. That’s fine. You’re wrong, I’m right. At the end time there’ll be a gathering of the Jew, the Israelite who will come back to Messiah.
Well lastly, just to kind of recap some of the book; when you see your sin, how ready are you to repent? When, you know, remember Don Knotts, “Nip it in the bud” you know. “Nip it in the bud!” You’ve got to nip it in the bud. Right when it starts you’ve got stop it. Why? Because we want to be kill-joys and not enjoy life? No, because He loves you.
I love my children so much it hurts sometimes. And when I see them make decisions that I know they’re going to have bad consequences I feel miserable. I want to spare them. I want to absolve them of pain in life. I want them to learn the easy way, not the hard way. But, you know, every one of us has got to get burned enough times to know the stove is hot. We’ve got to be heart broken by boyfriends and girlfriends enough to know that real love is tough and commitment is lifelong, not convenient. We’ve got to get hurt by people at work and non-believers enough to know the world’s not fair. And all the things that I don’t want my children to go through I’ve got to let them go through. And when that child is hurting and crying and crushed and angry my chest physically caves and I think I’m an imperfect, very poor father on a good day. And He’s a perfect Father who loves you and He’s patient and He’s kind and He’s compassionate and He’s longsuffering and He pursues you and He waits for you and He forgives you and He loves you again and again and again. He loves the loveless. He loves you.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven forgive us for loving You so poorly and for seeing the way You love us so inadequately. Help us to wrap our arms around the Word, for Your Spirit to indwell and convict and encourage and I pray for each person here that You will overwhelm them with the love of Jesus Christ, that Your Spirit will crack into their heart and mind and the crevices of the sin they coddle and Your love will reduce them to a wonderful obedient servant of Jesus Christ. We ask in His name, amen.