love freely
Week 46 is scheduled for study Nov. 7-13, 2022. One of the most difficult lessons for any of us to learn in this life is to love freely, honestly, and with complete devotion. This is how God loves us.

Day 1

Invite the Spirit to be part of your study of Hosea and Joel. Make note of the messages the Spirit impresses on your heart and mind.

Hosea 1-3; 14 – The Lord always invites me to return to Him.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, despite all our protestations to the contrary, we don’t believe the very doctrines we claim we believe in? How many people do you know, including possibly yourself, who claim to believe in Christ’s redemptive love, yet have so much difficulty believing that he will forgive your own persistent sins? It is almost as if our own sins are of a special variety that defy forgiveness. Maybe it is because it can be so difficult to believe that he will forgive us the 47th or the 178th time we come back to him with the same petition for forgiveness we have been presenting to him for the last 25 plus years. We don’t have that kind of unending patience, so we figure how could he?

Over and over again in the scriptures the Lord has had His prophets write down the same thoughts and expressions – ‘return to me and I will forgive you.’ He really doesn’t seem to care how many times it takes for the repentance to take hold and be final, only that we continue to repent until it does. It doesn’t help that between our own self doubts and the Adversary preaching that we are unlovable or unforgivable, our lives are riddled with doubts about our lovability and worthiness. Mustering the energy to attempt obedience for one more stretch of time can be so taxing, even though while we do it we are so happy. This is just another evidence that Christ wants to bless us and help us find peace, but we must be the ones pursuing that peace. As long as we do it, his blessings will flow into our lives and the Spirit will attest to his love for us.

As a challenge for you this week, try to find a reference anywhere in any book of scripture where Jesus says enough is enough and he will forgive no more. I can tell you now and save you the time and effort of the search that it doesn’t exist. Christ continually calls us to him. At no time has he ever told anyone they were not wanted or that their sins were beyond his ability or desire to cleanse. And at no time has he ever put a limit on how often he will forgive us.

When Christ tells us in the New Testament that we are to forgive seventy times seven, it is important that we remember that Jesus always leads by example. He forgives even more often than that. There is no end to his willingness to forgive the repentant soul. The sooner we accept that belief, the sooner our souls can be healed.

Day 2

Invite the Spirit to be part of your study of Hosea and Joel. Make note of the messages the Spirit impresses on your heart and mind.

Hosea 6:4-7; Joel 2:12-13 – Devotion to God must be felt inwardly, not just expressed outwardly.

I find the relationship with God between Northern Israel and Southern Israel very interesting. The temple was in Southern Israel in the city of Jerusalem. Northern Israel had to travel a great distance to worship at the temple. Southern Israel had the temple as the focal point of their capitol city.

When Northern Israel apostatized they rejected the Lord completely, renouncing all their covenants and replacing His worship with the worship of idols or nothing at all. Northern Israel became just like the heathen nations that surrounded them. They abandoned their covenants in every way possible. But Southern Israel, who still had the customs and visibility of the temple sacrifices and ceremonies in their midst experienced a completely different form of apostacy.

The Mosaic law required daily observance of rituals that were put in place to remind them to look forward to the coming of their Messiah. The Jews kept these rituals in place. It was such a public and visible symbol of their culture and way of life that when their hearts turned from the Lord, they left the outward appearance of the covenant in place, but inwardly they had given their hearts to other masters, their idols and worldly philosophies. This difference was partly responsible for their ability to last at least another hundred years after Northern Israel was carried away into Assyria before Southern Israel was carried away into Babylon.

Both nations had abandoned their covenants with God, but Southern Israel still had at least a semblance of that covenant still in place. It was this hypocritical practice of feigning righteousness while practicing evil that Isaiah and Jeremiah, among others, were chastising the Jews for. This is why people like Laman and Lemuel proclaimed the Jews in Jerusalem were a righteous people, because they were still offering sacrifices in the temple. The fact that they had completely turned away from the Lord and no longer exercised faith in Him didn’t even enter into their thinking. This was God’s great complaint against the Jews. They put on an outward show of righteousness, but were corrupt through and through. In the New Testament the Savior referred to the Jews, especially the Pharisees, as whited sepulchers – pristine on the outside, but full of inward rottenness and decay.

Mercy vs. Sacrifice

Hosea 6:6 says this against Israel:

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Hmm, where have we seen this sentiment before? Does it sound similar to the prophet Samuel’s chiding of Saul? God wanted Saul’s obedience, yet Saul would not wait for the prophet to come to offer the sacrifices, so he did it himself, showing a complete lack of respect for the Priesthood authority the prophet held.

1 Samuel 15:22-23

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrificeand to hearken than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Rejecting the spirit of the law, but retaining a semblance of the outward ordinances appears to have been a long standing tradition among Israel. They had no problem with putting on a show of compliance, but in their hearts they had abandoned the covenants they had made. What about us?

My first thought upon reading the material for this lesson was an awareness of my own inward sins. I felt compelled to ask such questions as:

When I watch anything that violates the purity of the Holy Spirit in my home, am I also violating my covenants to remember Christ continually so I can always have the Holy Spirit with me?

When I spend my time pursuing personal pleasures on the Lord’s Sabbath am I keeping the day holy as directed, or am I violating that commandment?

Do I make excuses as to what I can leave out of consideration for what I tithe? When I look for reasons to not pay a tithe on certain forms of income, am I really living the law or am I just demonstrating compliance with the outward ordinance?

These and many more questions are things we can ask ourselves. We have all made the same covenants with God. Each of us can keep those covenants in various degrees of purity. I believe the goal here is to make our inward life every bit as honest and dedicated as our outward life.

Day 3

Invite the Spirit to be part of your study of Hosea and Joel. Make note of the messages the Spirit impresses on your heart and mind.

Joel 2 – I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.

All flesh is not Israel. All flesh means all the nations of the earth. In the last days God’s Spirit has indeed been poured out upon all flesh. It began with the Renaissance, increased with the industrial revolution, and has continued to increase with each passing decade since then.

All the blessings we have as covenant Israel that enable us to search out our kindred dead are a direct result of the inspiration given to those in the tech fields of technology and programming. Just three decades ago most people would never be able to get much past a four generation group sheet. Now there are so many sources for finding our kindred dead that my own wife has attached more than 60,000 sources to people’s family trees this year alone! She has found and prepared more than ten thousand people for family members to now take to the temple for their ordinance work to be done, also just this year. Thirty years ago what would have taken an army of researchers, and loads of money and time to accomplish. She is able to do it from the comfort of her living room chair in far less time and with far less effort.

The Lord is inspiring people all over the world to look in new places to discover things that can help all of mankind. He is sending His Spirit to enlighten the minds of people in all fields of endeavor for the blessing of the human race. Whereas advancements in technology often took generations to change society, the advancements in all fields of study are coming so quickly now that textbooks are outdated before they can even be published. We can’t even keep up with our own advances in knowledge. This is one of the signs of the last days.

Within the covenant the Lord has promised that He will write His law upon the hearts of His people. As the influence of Satan increases in the earth, so too does the influence of the Spirit in the lives of God’s people. They keep pace with each other, so don’t despair that society is increasing in wickedness, for the Lord won’t let evil outpace the spiritual growth of His people. When the prophets tell us that we need to have the Spirit to survive the last days, this is what they are talking about. We need to seek an outpouring of the Lord’s Spirit in our lives to survive the temptations and evils found in all societies. We may be outnumbered by those outside of the covenant, but we will never be outpaced by the evils of the world. We just need to keep focused on becoming more and more finely tuned with the Holy Spirit.

FHE/Personal Study

Hosea 2:19-20 – Marriage

There is no mortal contractual relationship more intimate than marriage. There is no noncontractual mortal relationship more intimate than marriage. To be successful, marriage requires the greatest levels of vulnerability, trust, dependence, loyalty, love, fidelity and forgiveness. Marriage requires two people to be willing to give freely of all that they are, and accept both the worst and the best of their partner. Tall order.

When we personally entered into a covenantal relationship with God at baptism and in the Temple, He agreed to treat our new eternal partnership like a marriage. In order to become exalted we must learn to rely on Him in the most intimate of ways. All our weaknesses must be presented to Him and worked through. All our priorities may need redefining, which requires the setting aside of our pride and willfulness. Our will needs to be set aside in favor of His will, recognizing that only He knows how to exalt us. Only He knows what we need to change to make that happen.

Sometimes I think that I treat my covenant relationship with the Lord like two acquaintances who agree to meet at a certain spot on a certain day for a chat. We shake hands and agree to meet then go our separate ways. Covenants aren’t like that. A covenant is a commitment even more serious than that of marriage, for it is with an eternal and exalted being. When we agree to a covenant with God we accept a whole new level of responsibilities and judgments. Covenants are reserved for those alone who wish to be personally guided to exaltation. We are given a God as our personal tutor in this process, and our Father has given us His beloved Son as our example to follow in all things. Every part of our soul is up for scrutiny and review, sooner or later. Every part of us will need to be refined in order for us to become like God as we follow Christ and listen to what the Holy Spirit teaches us.

I hope this demonstrates why the Lord referred to Israel as having prostituted herself when she left Him for other demeaning pursuits. He has and always does treat His covenants with the utmost respect and enduring nature. Thousands of years have passed since the original covenants with Israel were made, and He is still trying to redeem His people, despite countless centuries of infidelity to the covenants they made. Their children and posterity have long forgotten their special relationship with their God, but He has not. He is faithful always, and is still pursuing their reclamation from sin so He can bless them and bring them into a state of happiness they can’t find for themselves.

We live in the last days, that time when it was foretold that God would pour out His spirit upon all flesh and begin the process of finding and bringing His people out from among the nations of the earth to restore His ancient covenant with them. We are part of this process. We are the workers He has called to help with the harvest of souls as He gathers Israel on both sides of the veil of mortality. This is how God honors His covenant, His commitment to His own promises. This is the perfect example of integrity for how we need to treat our spouse, family members, and our self.

Click the link below to

print a PDF copy of the article.

OT46-2022 – I Will Love Them Freely

Week 46