Hosea 11 – God’s neverending love

I read one of the most beautiful passages of the Bible yesterday. The chapters before this one are full of God’s wrath, but then the Lord shows a different aspect of himself:

““When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
“Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent?
A sword will flash in their cities; it will devour their false prophets and put an end to their plans.
My people are determined to turn from me. Even though they call me God Most High, I will by no means exalt them.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man— the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities.
They will follow the Lord; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west.
They will come from Egypt, trembling like sparrows, from Assyria, fluttering like doves. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the Lord.” (NIV, for once)

I was really moved by this passage. God looks so personal, so loving, so human in a way – and not human, the Holy One who doesn’t remain in his wrath! This is the strongest illustration of the personal, caring God Father I know.

This helped me to see the cross in the right light, because I take it for granted way to easily. It helped me understand how much the Lord hates sin, and how much he loves his people! The only proper response we can give is Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV again, it helps us not to overlook the “mercies of God” part)

Praise the Lord!

2. Timothy 2:21 – Used of the Lord

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

Do you want to be used of the Lord?
I want to. Many people – in fact, most churches – want  to. We want to bear fruit. We want to prepare the kingdom of God. Right? But why do we often feel so useless??

The answer can be found in this passage. To be useful to the Lord, and so, to bear fruit, we must clean ourselves and set ourselves apart as holy, completely dedicated to the Lord’s cause. I will quote Paul Washer again. We aren’t relevant because we conform ourselves to the world. We are relevant because we are set apart, living our life for the Glory of God.

You see, you can’t convert anyone. Nor can you withstand the temptations of sin. Why then would you want to live like the world to minister them? The only thing you will achieve is weaken yourself through sin! If you want to be used of the Lord, then live your life his way, and he will work through you! He will use you, and he will convert people through you if you set yourself apart. But you gotta do it his way. Your way isn’t an alternative to a holy, set-apart life – if your way isn’t God’s way, your way hinders God! Pastors, elders, parents, let me tell you this: If you want your church to be relevant, if you want the Lord to save people using you, then do not be conformed to this world!

In Hosea, Israel conformed itself to the world. It sinned against God in many ways. What is our Lord’s view on this?

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)

Israel didn’t turn to the Word for knowledge. Modern, popular “christian” churches are in imminent danger of this: They listen to pop culture, to psychology, to philosophy, and they try to be attractive to the world to save people. God doesn’t need you to be attractive. God is Sovereign! He can save people without you looking like them. In fact, that’s the way he wants to do it. Do NOT be conformed to this world!
That’s also the way Paul tells the gospel. Did you notice that he never alters the gospel to be politically correct? Never. He explains differently from culture to culture so that his audience may understand better, but he never leaves anything out. And he always makes people mad – because that’s the reaction you will get if you preach the gospel. Do you preach the gospel? Or do you teach your politically correct view of God, so the pagans will like what they hear? If so, good luck: “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” (Titus 1:16)
You probably know the gospel of Matthew. If you don’t bear fruit, be afraid!
“Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:10)

One final thought about sin and being conformed to the world; again, from Hosea:
“Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not; gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not.  The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all this.(Hosea 7:9-10)

Sin, if tolerated and pursued – as churches that want to be like the people they minister to in order to be relevant do – will weaken you to the point that you cannot serve the Lord.

If you want to be used of the Lord, set yourself apart in holiness!

The weight of the world – Leave everything behind!

Again, this is based on Paul Washers sermon on biblical manhood.

If you look at the fake fantasy of the world, or you won’t be satisfied by the beauty of God’s creation! Nor will you be happy with your wife… You get to the point where you are so bombarded by fiction that the real thing won’t bring you any joy! The false prophet isn’t only mormon or jehovas witness, it’s wall street and marketing!

“In our own home, we don’t have cable, we don’t have anything! We can selectively watch things.”  Spongebob would have been considered grotesque, viral, disgusting a few years ago – now, it’s for children. Same thing here. In my home, we have an LCD screen, and we watch stuff from a Raspberry Pi , or a laptop. No ads, no movies we don’t wanna see, no waste of time. You can watch so many things that you lose discernment for what is good and you become animalistic.

Even good things can be bad. Don’t let good movies replace the time you spend reading to your children! When books will replace multimedia in the home, you will see a transformation in your home! Not just christian books, any good books! Nothing can replace the social interaction of a father reading to his sons. This will build relationship, and the sons will learn a lot more from it than just the content of the book!
You see, Christianity goes really, really deep. It’s not about going to church on Sundays and not doing a few things, it changes everything! You don’t have to become a road scholar to change this, it’s simple things like reading with your children! Or else, the media will get you!

Avoid people who do not fear the Lord. Do not hang around with people who do not resemble the scripture. Do you hate the works of the world? Flee them! They shall not cling to you!

 2 Timothy 2:16-21

Even ungodly speech will affect us to the point where it will lead us into ungodliness! “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
You want to be used of the Lord? Take inventory of your life. Separate yourself from the wicked things. Like and athlete, follow Hebrews 12:1-2. Leave anything that is wicked and wrong behind. If you really want to reach your goal, it has to be your only goal! Everything you do will have to bring you closer to your goal. If it doesn’t, stop it!

Do not learn a new truth in one evening and impose it upon your home. That’s legalistic and may turn into a dictatorship.

  1. Test the truth in the scripture.
  2. Study to find out what you can apply.
  3. Apply it in your life.
  4. Talk it over with your family.

Most of the things called “christian” in America today are not christian. Are you ready to set yourself apart, and be used of the Lord?