Tuesday, June 30th

Philippians 2:14-16

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

A long time ago – when our boys were quite young – Lorene and I had to go out somewhere so we had a babysitter come to take care of our boys while we were away. As I recall, just as she arrived, two of our boys got into some kind of conflict and we had to intervene so there would be no bloodshed before we left for the evening! It was actually a pretty small issue over a toy or something, so we quickly sat the boys down and got them to re-hash what had happened for us. When it became clear who had been the offended and who had been the offender, either my wife or I said something like, “Was that the right thing to do?” The boy who was guilty shook his head. We said, “What do you say?” And that particular boy turned and mumbled to his brother, “I’m sorry I took your toy.” To which his brother said quietly, “I forgive you.” And they both jumped up and ran off to play. As we turned back to the babysitter to assure her that the boys would behave – she said in amazement, “Wow! That would never happen in my house – no one ever says they are sorry!”

I share that little story not to claim that we always handle conflict perfectly in our family – we don’t! But I share it to show that something as simple as apology and forgiveness can have impact on others. Paul says,

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life –

If we look at these words from the context of “Faith @ Home” we see that we can have a powerful influence on the world around us simply by how we treat each other. Ask yourself this question: If my neighbors could observe my (our) home for a week – how we speak to each other, care about each other, treat each other, and how we forgive each other – would they be drawn closer to the God we say we serve – or pushed further away?

Ask God to make your home a “shining star in the universe”- and ask him to begin with you!

Brian Coffey

Monday, June 29th

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Colossians 3:12-14
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.


A number of years ago I flew to Ohio to share in my father’s 65th birthday celebration. We had a big party for him on Saturday night; I spoke at his church on Sunday morning, and we had a big family dinner afterwards. It was a great time! My return flight to Chicago was at 3:50 in the afternoon – and I had scheduled that time very intentionally so I could get back home in time to see my own family before the boys went to bed so I could give them the surprise I promised them (which I often did whenever I traveled). So, after our family dinner I asked my Dad, “My flight is at 3:50 – how long does it take to get to the airport from here?” Without hesitation he said, “Forty minutes.”


Now, when my Dad said, “Forty minutes,” I believed him. I had no reason not to. After all, this was the same man who, to my knowledge, had never intentionally misled me, and had been a pillar of truth and wisdom my whole life. He is as utterly dependable as any man I have ever known, so when he said “forty minutes” – I trusted him.


So I added 20-25 minutes to that 40 – counted backward from 3:50 and said, “So, let’s leave your house about 2:45 then – that will give us plenty of time.” I was thinking that this time frame would allow me maximum time with my Mom and Dad before heading to the airport in time to catch my flight without too much hurry. “Forty minutes,” he had said.


We left at 2:45 pm sharp and after 55 minutes driving 60 MPH we saw the first sign for the Cleveland airport, which said, “Airport 5 miles.” My Dad asked, “What time is your flight again?” I said, with a clipped tone, “3:50 Dad, my flight is at 3:50.” He replied, “Well, the flight will probably be late – you’ll be fine.” At that moment, whatever “Fruit of the Spirit” I had growing in the greenhouse of my heart began to wilt – badly.


As I recall, the first to go was patience. I began looking at my watch every 30 seconds or so and saying helpful things like, “It’s 3:41 Dad.” Or, “We’re not going to make it.” The second to go was peace; then joy, and so on right down the list.


We rolled up to “departures” at 3:47 and I leapt out of the car.  But before shutting the door I said, “Happy birthday Dad, thanks for the ride, and just for the record – it takes you an hour and five minutes to get to the airport!”


Even though I sprinted through the airport like O.J. Simpson (O.K. – bad analogy), I missed my flight. I sat in the airport for the next four hours stewing over how it could be that my Dad didn’t know how long it took to get to the airport. When I finally straggled home around 11:00 pm, I realized that in all my frustration and self-pity I had forgotten to get my boys the treat I had promised. Faithfulness, it turns out, was the last of the fruit to bite the dust!


It seems to me that sometimes the fruit of the Spirit can be most difficult at home with the people we know best and love most. Why is that so? First, it’s difficult because they are the people we are around the most – and therefore we see each other at both our best and our worst. Second, I think we tend to expect more from our family than we do everyone else. And when we expect more we are more easily disappointed and/or hurt. Finally, I think we tend to assume that things like love, joy and peace should happen kind of “automatically” at home – without much effort – because, after all, we are family!


The truth is that very often home is the most difficult place to live out the “fruit of the Spirit” It is also true that home is, by far, the most important place to grow fruit! Ask God to help you identify which of the fruit Paul mentions is most lacking in your home – and ask him to add some fertilizer to your heart!

 Brian Coffey

Friday, June 26th


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Hosea 2:14-15; 19-20
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

Then she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

(19) I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.

On several occasions I have been asked by married couples to lead them through a ceremony to “restate” their wedding vows. Sometimes this request is made in honor of a significant milestone – like a 25th wedding anniversary. Other times a couple is seeking to affirm their commitment to each other following a significant threat to their marriage – an experience of intense conflict or perhaps even a time of infidelity.

Three times in Hosea chapter two we see the word “betroth.”

(19) I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.

I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.

We don’t use the word “betroth” much in our culture, but it’s a great word. To “betroth” is to make a holy promise; to bind oneself to another in a promise of absolute faithfulness and love. In a sense this is what a man does when he says to a woman, “Will you marry me?” For when he asks that question he is stating that he has already invested his love fully in her; he is already committed lock, stock and barrel – all that remains is her response.

The Bible is saying that God has offered himself to us in “betrothal”; that is, he has utterly committed himself in love to us – and this is most clearly seen through Jesus Christ. All that remains is our response!

Notice there are two promises that come with this betrothal.

There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

Then she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

The first promise is redemption and blessing. Throughout the Old Testament vineyards are a symbol of God’s blessing. Furthermore, the literal translation of “Valley of Achor” is “valley of trouble.” So God is promising to redeem the rebellion and sin of his people into blessing and prosperity.

The second promise is joy.

“Then she will sing as in the days of her youth,” Hosea says.

Despite her unfaithfulness; despite her sin; despite her failure to return his faithfulness and love, God loves his people and promises to restore them – not only to relationship with himself – but to the joy for which he created them.

Do you know you were created for joy? Do you know that sin, no matter how enticing and attractive, always diminishes and kills your joy? Do you know that God pursues you, confronts your sin, and forgives you – so that your joy might be restored in him?

In this way the prophet Hosea also points us toward Christ; for Jesus said:

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

Thank God for his redeeming love and ask him to make his joy complete in you!

Pastor Brian Coffey

Thursday, June 25th

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Hosea 2:14
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

Do you have a favorite place?

As you look back over your life, is there a particular place – or places – that are filled with memories of warmth, joy or intimacy?

If you are married, one of those places might be the hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you first felt the fire of romance kindled in your heart.

It might be the place where you first said the words, “I love you.”

Or the place where you managed to utter the phrase, “Will you marry me?”

Or the place – perhaps a first home or apartment - where, through the fog of “early parental exhaustion” said to your partner, “Your turn to get up with the baby.”

Most of us have such special places anchored in our memories. Such a place for me was the restaurant where my wife and I had our first date. I don’t remember what I ordered from the menu, or much about the conversation over dinner that night, but I do remember the feeling that came over me when our elbows touched while standing next to each other at the salad bar!


Notice the special place to which Hosea leads his unfaithful wife:

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

The desert! What kind of special place is that?

We think of the desert as a place of extreme heat and barrenness; a place of loneliness and isolation; we think of the desert as a place to avoid. But the desert was actually a good place in the history of Israel. When God led his people out of captivity in Egypt and toward the promised land, he took them through the desert first. The desert was where he gave them his law. The desert was where he gave them his presence through the cloud of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night. The desert was where he gave them manna each day and taught them to depend completely on his provision.

The desert was the place where the covenant was sealed and where Israel experienced communion and intimacy with God.

Is there such a “desert place” in your life? Maybe your “desert” is a literal place; a favorite chair in your house where you meet with him in prayer every morning; or perhaps a walking path by the Fox River where you find he walks with you. Or maybe your “desert place” is a time in your life when circumstances of loneliness or pain led you into a deeper experience of God’s love and strength.

Whatever it is, we all need such a “desert place” in our lives for that is the place of intimacy and communion with God. Ask him to lead you to that place frequently and to meet you there.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Wednesday, June 24th


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Hosea 2:14
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

My wife and I met at Taylor University in Indiana when I was a graduate student and she an undergrad at Taylor. In the early days of our courtship I was definitely the pursuer and she was the pursuee! In fact, I would say that I pursued her well before she actually knew she was being pursued.

As my interest and feelings grew I had a problem. While I wanted to get to know her better and therefore to be around her as much as I could, I sensed that her level of interest did not exactly match mine – which on a scale of 1 – 10 was about a 35.

So how could I pursue this possible relationship without coming on too strong, or seeming desperate – which I most definitely was! I needed something a little more subtle, I needed a plan.

So I gathered enough “intelligence” to figure out her daily schedule and I planned my days around that schedule so I could “accidentally” bump into her several times each day. I think this is now called “stalking.” If it was time for chapel, I would sprint across campus just so I could manage to walk up the stairs at the same time she did. If it was lunch time, I would hustle to get in line first so I could offer her and her friends a spot in front of me. It never occurred to me that she might wonder why I kept turning up – or why I was always out of breath!

I pursued her because I was convinced that if I could just spend enough time with her I could win her heart. And I did!


Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.

The New Living Translation says, “I will win her back again!” Yet another translation of the Bible reads, “I will go and romance her.”
Do you see what’s going on here?

This is not just Hosea going after his wayward and unfaithful wife Gomer to win her back. This is a striking, almost embarrassing picture! This is God himself, his heart breaking with unrequited love, pursuing the object of his passion – his people – wanting desperately to woo them back to himself. This is the God who pursues us; who wants to allure us, romance us; to win our hearts and draw us back to himself!

Throughout scripture we see that God is always the pursuer and we are always the pursuee. In the book of Genesis, following their sin we see Adam and Eve hiding from God in the garden for they are ashamed. But God went looking for them, “Where are you?” he said. In the story of Jonah, which we will look at in a few weeks, God pursues his runaway prophet through a storm and by having him swallowed up by a great fish. In the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus is on his way to persecute followers of Jesus when that same Jesus confronts him in a blinding light and says, “Why are you persecuting me?”

And God pursues us; you and me. He pursues because he loves. He pursues because he wants to draw us to himself’ he wants to win us back from all the “lesser gods” who would capture our hearts and lives.

How is God pursuing you today? Is he speaking to you tenderly of his love? Is he using events in your life to turn your eyes toward him? Is his Holy Spirit convicting you to make changes in some area of your life?

Thank him for his relentless and pursing love – and ask him to help you be more and more aware of his presence in your life.

Pastor Brian Coffey

Tuesday, June 23rd

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Hosea 1:1-3
The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah , and during the reign of Jereboam son of Jehoash king of Israel.

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

Have you ever loved someone who didn’t love you back? Ever had a broken relationship? Or maybe an old flame who delivered the bad news that “It’s not you it’s me”? Are you a Cubs fan?

At one time or another most of us have had the bittersweet experience called “unrequited love” – that is, love that is not returned.

Whenever I think of the phrase “unrequited love” I think of Charlie Brown and his infatuation with the “little redheaded girl.” Throughout some 50 years of Charles Shultz’s cartoon strips the “little redheaded girl” is a classmate of Charlie’s at school. He develops a serious crush on her but never musters the courage to actually talk to her. He watches her from a distance on the playground and in the school lunch room. He daydreams of inviting her to sit with him during lunch but he never does. Finally, he says wistfully to himself,

“Nothing takes the taste out of a peanut butter sandwich like unrequited love.”

As the book of Hosea begins we see that God calls on his prophet to do a very strange thing.

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.”


Quite literally, God tells Hosea to take for himself a wife who will be unfaithful to him; a wife who will not love him in return for his own faithfulness and love.

Why would the God who created marriage to be holy require such a thing of his prophet? He does so to illustrate the unfaithfulness of his own people, Israel.

In Hosea chapter 4 we read:

Hear the word of the Lord you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.”
Hosea 4:1

By this time in her history, Israel was divided into two kingdoms, north (Israel) and south (Judah). The kings of the north were fearful that their subjects would be drawn to the southern kingdom so they could worship in the holy city of Jerusalem. This, together with the threat of impending attack from the Assyrians, led King Jereboam II to continue to worship the pagan Canaanite idols that his predecessor, Jereboam I, had set up rather than the God of Israel. This led to all manner of detestable worship practices, including cult prostitution.

So God calls upon the prophet Hosea to take for himself an unfaithful wife and then to demonstrate God’s own steadfast love by continuing to love a woman who does not return his love. In this way the book of Hosea, like all of the minor prophets, points us to Christ himself!

But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 

 
Even though Hosea lived nearly 2700 years ago and spoke God’s word to a much different culture than ours, that word is still very relevant to us today. For, in a way, because of our sin, we are the unfaithful wife; we have not returned his faithful love with our own; we have given ourselves to lesser gods; and we are desperately in need of his forgiveness and grace.

And thus the prophet of the Old Testament points us toward Christ and the gospel of grace that permeates the New Testament.

Take a moment to thank God for continuing to love you even when, at times, you may not always love him back!

Pastor Brian Coffey


Monday, June 22nd

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


“My old man loves his lawn more than he loves me.”

That statement was made by a 17 year old boy as he sat eating pizza with a table-full of his peers. I was a Youth Pastor at the time and was leading a small group of students on a ministry trip. We had gathered for a meal and the conversation had turned to parents. The kids were taking turns talking about their respective relationships with their parents, and most were surprisingly positive. This particular young man had been a quiet observer for most of the conversation – until he finally spoke up and said, “My old man loves his lawn more than he loves me.”

As the young man continued on to explain his comment – it became clear that, while his father did indeed love him as his son, he certainly did not know how to communicate that love in a way his son could understand or feel it.

Paul says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love…” That is, the very first sign that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts is the capacity to love. Now it is easy to think about “love” – and the rest of the “fruit of the Spirit” - in a kind of abstract way. We think to ourselves, “Sure I believe that love is important!”, or, “Sure, I love my family!” But we rarely ask ourselves, “How have I demonstrated my love; how have I communicated my love; how have I shared my love so that my wife, husband or children can know without a doubt that I do, in fact, love them?”

This is why Paul also takes the time to teach us about what love is and what love does in 1 Corinthians 13. We most often hear this text during wedding ceremonies – but take a moment to read it in the context of “Faith @ Home.”

 I am patient and kind at home – with my wife and children. I make a point not to be proud or rude at home – and I seek to care for and serve my family before myself. I am not easily angered, and do not keep track of times when I feel hurt or disrespected by my family. I do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. The love I have for my family leads me to always act to protect those I love, to trust and to be trustworthy, to hope for God’s best and to persevere in love even when it is difficult to do so. (my paraphrase)

Like most of scripture, it sounds just a bit different when applied directly to our own lives! So let’s end today with a question; is the kind of love Paul is talking about in both Galatians and 1 Corinthians real in your home – or is it just an idea?

Ask the Holy Spirit to grow love in your home!

Brian Coffey