The Prophets' Problems: Devotional Guide

This summer we are exploring a sermon series called The Prophets’ Problems. Each week we will discover the main theme of one of the 12 minor prophets (starting in Hosea and ending in Malachi). 

To help you engage with this series, we’ve put together a supplementary devotional guide. Each week consists of 5 days of devotional practices, which include scripture reading, watching videos, listening to music, journaling, spiritual exercises, and prayer. These devotional practices are designed to be completed anytime during the week leading up to the sermon.  

Joel | May 27-June 2

Introduction: This week invites us into the whole history of God’s people and calls us to join them to repentance.  We call on God to pour out his Spirit, transform our hearts, and restore Eden on earth.  

  • Listen (16 min): The Book of Joel

    • Listen to the entire book of Joel.  
    • As you listen, try to imagine the impact of these words to the people of Israel as they first heard Joel speak: a people sitting in the midst of devastation with danger still threatening, a people turning to God while acknowledging their own guilt, and a people yearning for a future where God restores their joy.  

    Pray (1 min): Respond to God

    • Talk to God and express whatever is on your heart of mind in response to hearing these words.  
  • Watch (7 min): Book of Joel Summary

    • Pay particular attention to the way that the message of Joel fits into the whole story of the Scripture.  

    Listen (5 min): Hear This

    • As you listen, reflect on the story of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) and your connection to that story.  

    Reflect (3 min): The story of Scripture

    • Take a few minutes and think through the stories of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament).
    • Reflect on the stories where humans have chosen evil and brought destruction.  
    • (If you need help, flip through Genesis, Judges, or Kings.)
    • End by acknowledging that even in the devastation, God is still present.  
  • Exercise (15-30 mins): Fasting

    • Fasting is the practice of going without food for a period of time for a specific reason.  
    • The time that is normally spent eating is replaced with prayer.  
    • For this exercise, consider going without lunch and working through the rest of these exercises during your normal lunch time.  
    • If you are unable to go without food, consider delaying a meal slightly and going through these exercises right before you eat.  

    Read: Joel 1:13-15

    • As you read these words, remember the stories of deviation that you reflected on yesterday.  

    Prayer: Work through the following prompts and questions in prayer with God.  

    1. Self check: How are you feeling? Pay attention to your body. What is your body communicating to you?  
    2. Center your time: Express your desire to meet with God. Ask God to give you a desire for his presence that is greater than your desire for food.  
    3. Personal Repentance: Examine yourself with God. If you become aware of sin in your life, confess it to God. For the purpose of this time, keep your personal repentance brief.  
    4. Corporate Repentance: Spend an extended time reflecting on the sins of the church and confessing these to God. Don’t think about the sins of our culture, but think specifically at the sins that are committed by Christains. Don’t think of your personal failures, but think of the ways that all Christians fall short of God’s call to be perfect. The goal of this exercise is to see yourself as part of the church (the assembly) and to join in the confession of the whole church. 
  • Read (3 min): Joel 2:12-14

    • As you read these verses, remember the time of corporate confession from yesterday.  
    • As you come to descriptions of God’s character, connect them to all the stories of God’s faithfulness and restoration in Scripture.  

    Listen (5 min): Remember and Proclaim

    • As you listen to this song, think about the words of the chorus.
    • Remember: remember who God is and the things that are true of his character. 
    • Proclaim: think of the ways that God has shown his grace and mercy to you.

    Journal (7 min): Remember

    • Take some time to write down your experiences based on these three prompts:  
    1. List times in your life when you experienced God’s grace, compassion, and abounding love. 
    2. List times in your life when you experienced God as being slow to anger and relents from punishment.  
    3. Which is easier to identify? Why?  
  • Read (3 min): Joel 2:28-32

    • As you read these words, remember that Peter quoted them as a description of the church.  
    • Remember that what Joel longed to see is happening today and that you are part of it.  

    Listen (5 min): Holy Visitation (Between Porch and Altar) 

    • As you listen, think about the presence of the Holy Spirit in the church throughout history and today.  

    Prayer (7 min): Asking for God’s Spirit

    • Open a news website (like this one) and look through the headlines. 
    • Do not read the stories.  
    • Instead, for each (and every) headline, ask these two things:
    1. God, pour out his spirit on men and women who are already involved in this situation.  
    2. God, restore the blessing of Eden (abundance, fruitfulness, peace) to this situation. 
  • Album: We Will Remember: Songs Inspired by the Book of Joel by Christopher Williams

    Song: Joel 2 by Sarah & Andrew Ross

Hosea | May 20-26

Introduction: This week is about knowing God–not about knowing about God or being able to do the right things on Sunday. It’s about knowing and experiencing God in relationship throughout the whole week. At the same time, it is an opportunity to examine our unfaithfulness to God and God’s restoration in spite of our unfaithfulness.  

  • Read (5 min): Skim the Book of Hosea

    • Choose your favorite version, but preferably one that has paragraphs and headings.
    • Locate the Book of Hosea in your Bible of Bible app (or use this version online). 
    • Do not read the text.  
    • Read the headings (or first few words of a section) and move quickly through the lines of text but don’t read every word.  
    • Don’t take more than 5 minutes.  

    Look for certain things: 

    • How does the book flow?  
    • Where are the section breaks? 
    • Where does it switch from prose to poetry? 
    • What things stand out in the structure of the book? 
    • What repeated words of phrases stand out to you?  

    Watch (8 min): Book of Hosea Summary

    • Pay particular attention to the story of the book and the overall themes of the sections.  

    Pray (2 min): Spend a few minutes speaking to God in your own words.  

    • Ask for God to guide and direct your time together this week.  
    • Ask for knowledge of God, not knowledge about God but the experience of a relationship with God.  

  • Listen (3 min): Hosea (Come Back To Me) 

    • As you listen, ask the question: How does this song reflect the character and heart of God?  

    Read (5 min): Hosea Chapters 1-3

    • Read through these chapters quickly.  
    • Try not to get stuck on names or places or words you don’t understand.  
    • Look for the big themes of covenant, unfaithfulness, and restoration.  

    Reflect and Pray (6 min): Take some time to think through these questions in prayer. Ask God to guide and direct your thoughts and pay attention to the places your mind goes.  

    1. Do any of these chapters trigger anything in you? This chapter speaks very candidly about adultery, sexuality, prostitution, children born from adultery, and slavery. Hosea is not addressing adultery or sexuality. These chapters are using this provocative imagery to describe the relationship between Israel and God. But before going further, ask God this question: Do these images bring up specific situations from my story, especially those that are painful or overwhelming?  
    • If so, acknowledge that part of your story to God and ask God to help you set it aside for now.  
    • If you are not about to set it aside, then stop here. Instead, read Psalm 116. Let it be a reflection of your story and your prayer to God.  
    1. What is stirring in your mind and your heart? These chapters are meant to be an allegory that describes Israel’s unfaithfulness with God. Gomer symbolizes God’s people, both men and women. And we, like ancient Israel, have also broken God’s covenant. What stirs in you when you are confronted with your own unfaithfulness to God? What excuses do you make?  
    2. Take a moment to be uncomfortable. Ask God to reveal to you the specific ways that you are unfaithful and the specific things that draw your love away from God. Think of the things you rely on for security. Think of the things you seek for pleasure.  
    3. Ask God to remove the things that draw your love away from God.  

    Read (1 min): Hosea 2:21-23

    • Ask God to help you know that you are loved and you are one of his people.  
  • Read (7 min): Hosea Chapters 4-11

    • Read through these chapters quickly.  
    • Try not to get stuck on names or places or words you don’t understand.  
    • Look for the big themes of Israel's unfaithfulness, the consequences of unfaithfulness, and the hope of Gods’ love.  

    Listen (3 min): Hosea

    • Think back to the ways you have been unfaithful to God.  
    • As you listen to this song, ask God to heal and restore you, to respond and to give you life.  

    Journal (5 min): Knowledge of God

    • In prayer, think back through your life and ask the question: Where has God responded or arrived?    
    • Look for times and places where you have experienced God, whether in big ways or in small ways.  
    • As you think of times and places, write them in a list.   
  • Read (5 min): Hosea Chapters 12-14

    • Read through these chapters quickly.  
    • Try not to get stuck on names or places or words you don’t understand.  
    • Look for the big themes of Israel's history, repentance, and Gods’ promise.  

    Exercise (10 min): Repentance

    • On a scrap piece of paper, make a list of the things (other than God) that offer you security, protection, safety, and the good life. Especially think of the things that you turn to when you are anxious or afraid. (Examples: money, food, news, politics, relationships, family, jobs, retirement funds, etc.) 
    • Read this prayer (from Hosea 14:2-3) aloud, replacing the blank with the first item from your list. Repeat this for every item on your list.  

    Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.

    _______________ cannot save us; we will not trust in _________________.

    We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.

    • Read Hosea 14:4 aloud three times as God’s response.  
  • Read (5 min): Hosea 4:1-9

    • Read these verses slowly.  
    • As you read, think about the theme of Israel’s unfaithfulness throughout the whole book of Hosea.  

    Read (5 min): Hosea 6:1-3

    • Read these verses slowly.  
    • As you read, think about the theme of God’s healing and restoration throughout the whole book of Hosea.  

    Exercise (5 min): Knowing God throughout the day

    • Set five alarms on your phone.
    • Choose random times throughout the day (something like 8:18, 10:10, 12:34, 3:33, and 7:07).  
    • When an alarm goes off, quickly pray through these two questions:
    1. What am I doing right now? 
    2. How can I know or experience God while doing this thing?  
  • Song: Hosea & Gomer by Bre'Ana Whiting (feat. Tned)

    Video: The Hosea Love Story (A modern day telling of the book of Hosea)