You're Loved: God Makes You New
What would it look like for us to find our identity in God this year? This week's devotional takes a look at some more verses in Hosea and helps us see how God is a God who loves to restore us and make us new.
Last week, we explored Hosea 14:1-3, about how Israel struggled to find their worth in places other than God...and failed. The same is true for us, too: our true worth and identity can only be found in our Father God, who loves us even at our worst.
When we do find our identity in God, what happens?
HOSEA 14:4-6 SAYS: 'I WILL HEAL THEIR WAYWARDNESS AND LOVE THEM FREELY, FOR MY ANGER HAS TURNED AWAY FROM THEM. I WILL BE LIKE DEW TO ISRAEL; HE WILL BLOSSOM LIKE A LILY. LIKE A CEDAR OF LEBANON HE WILL SEND DOWN HIS ROOTS; HIS YOUNG SHOOTS WILL GROW. HIS SPLENDOUR WILL BE LIKE AN OLIVE TREE AND HIS FRAGRANCE LIKE A CEDAR OF LEBANON.'
Read that again to yourself - it's beautiful, right?
When we return to God and find our identity in him, we - like Israel - experience his healing love. This is because God chooses to turn his anger at our sin away from us: instead, his anger is poured out on Jesus at the cross. Because Jesus endured the burden of our sin, we can enjoy freedom of God's love.
Hosea uses exquisite imagery to explore this love. God will be like 'dew' to the soul, refreshing and sweet and pure. God's grace will cause blossoming, like a lily - perfectly formed, beautiful. He will make us new: because of the 'incomparable riches of his grace' we become 'God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.' (Ephesians 2:6-10)
We see the image of a 'cedar of Lebanon', a HUGE tree standing strong and tall and sustained by deep roots, just as God's people are as they return to him. We become rooted, secure, our lives built on the firm foundation of God's grace.
Our 'fragrance' will also be that of a cedar of Lebanon...but, what on earth does a cedar smell like?! Apparently, it smells pretty good, as it has been and is used in many perfumes! This image emphasises God's extravagance in restoring his people - the Israelites knew the fragrant strength of cedar wood, used as it was to build David's palace and Solomon's Temple. They knew that God's promises were not in half measures.
So when we feel down-and-out from chasing after false 'gods' which advertise perfection but deliver downfall, we can return to our Father God who loves us deeply and does not hold back from making us new.
Have a listen to this song by Gungor, about God's love and restoration:
Next week we'll tie these two devotional posts together with some verses from Jeremiah.
Hannah is in her second year of studying Theology at Cambridge and is passionate about seeing girls grow into their God-given identity. She has written a book called God's Daughters, about knowing that you are enough.