Many important things happen on mountains in the Bible, which means we are not wrong when we recall these events and speak of mountain-top experiences.
“If one could conceive of a single elixir to improve the physical and mental health of millions of Americans – at no personal cost – what value would our society place on it?” So began the article in USA TODAY in October 2016 in which the authors put forth the idea that religion may be a miracle drug. They went on to note the research that had convincingly shown that when people attend church at least once a week then it reduces mortality 20% to 30% over a 15-year period. They pointed out that the good news is that religion and more specifically regular church attendance is already within the grasp of most Americans. They went on to site that health and religion are very much connected. The findings after 20 years of research concludes that attending religious services brings about better physical and mental health.
Have you learned anything about what love is by considering Hosea’s love for Gomer and God’s love for His people? Considering Hosea’s conclusion is a wonderful way to begin the New Year. A.W. Pink said, “All religion is in effect love. Faith is thankful acceptance, and thankfulness is an expression of love. Repentance is love mourning. Yearning for holiness is love seeking. Obedience is love pleasing. Self-denial is the mortification of self-love. Sobriety is the curtailing of carnal love. . . The affections of man cannot be idle; if they do not go out to God, they leak out to worldly things. When our love for God decreases, the love of the world grows in our soul.”
Sin challenges love. Repentance offers the way of recovery. And then the restoration of love becomes our hope. This is the third thing we need to learn from this book. Hosea is filled not only with warnings of judgment and calls to repentance; somehow, piercing all these divine forebodings of doom, we find prophecies of hope!
“Love is blind, and marriage is an eye-opener.” So goes the old saying. But what is love? To many, the word itself is exciting. Love is pure positive emotion. Love is a force to be experienced. Love is uncontrollable, thrilling, bliss!
When we began these studies of Matthew 16, we said that, although this is one of the richest and most important chapters in the Gospel, it is also one that seems to be a source of countless problems. Almost every sentence seems to have produced diverse interpretations among commentators. How is Peter the rock? What are the gates of Hell? What is the meaning of the keys? We do not escape problems even with the chapter’s last verse, for no one seems entirely sure what Jesus meant when He said, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (v.28). Because all the Twelve have long been dead and Jesus still has not returned, many people have stumbled over this text. It should be obvious He was not saying that some of them would not physically die before His actual second coming. I offer four suggestions.