RETURN! (Applying Hosea 14 to our lives today)

Return, O United States of America. All you leaders. All you people – all men, all women, all children. Return to the LORD GOD Almighty! Prepare your confessions and come back to GOD. Say to Him, “Forgive us for all our sins and graciously receive us again, so that we may offer You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise. For our military might cannot save us.  Our wealth and wile cannot save us. Our education and ingenuity cannot save us. Our prideful independence cannot save us. None of these idols that we have created can save us. No, only the shed blood of Jesus – His death and resurrection can save us!

In You alone, LORD GOD, do we find grace and mercy and love. Will You help us LORD? Will You heal us LORD? Will You give us hope again LORD?

We have made idols of money, beauty, sex, and success. We idolize athletes, actors and actresses, performers and politicians, raunchy and racy rebels. We have become faithless towards You. O LORD, forgive us! Correct our waywardness! We fight over bridges to nowhere, Confederate flags, and fracking. We have the audacity to debate such issues as abortion, marriage, euthanasia.

O LORD GOD! O LORD GOD! Refresh us, reform us, renew us. Shower us with Your dew from heaven. Make us bloom like the lilies in spring. Give us deep roots like the wild fig trees that we may grow deep in You. Give us wisdom, O LORD. Help us to understand Your Word and Your ways. Give us ears to listen carefully and minds to discern these things. Teach us how to walk Your paths taking routes that are good and true and right.

O LORD, we have stumbled, mumbled, and tumbled far too long.

Return to the LORD, O United States of America! Accept GOD’s love! Receive GOD’s forgiveness! Believe in GOD’s Son, the LORD Jesus Christ, your Savior!

HALF-BAKED, WITLESS, & CROOKED

Long ago, the prophet Hosea gave the people of Israel Yahweh’s message – pointing out the wickedness that had permeated every area and aspect of their lives and relationships.

He described them as:

worthless as a half-baked cake,

“My people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners, picking up their evil ways. Now they have become as worthless as a half-baked cake.” Hosea 7:8

 

like silly, witless doves,

“The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves, first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria.” Hosea 7:11

 

and like a crooked bow that always misses its target,

“They look everywhere except to heaven, to the Most High. They are like a crooked bow that always misses its target.”   Hosea 7:16a

 

The people of our nation could easily be portrayed in these same ways today.

We are half-baked in having lost our direction, as we no longer consider GOD’s Word, The Bible, as our “True North” – as the ultimate truth that guides our thoughts and actions. We fail to build upon the sure, solid foundation of Jesus Christ – realizing that the salvation of lost souls is the greatest need in life to be met. Instead, everyone is doing what they consider to be right in his/her own eyes, and this is leading us into ever increasing chaos, confusion, and conflict.

We are witless in the fact that we have turned away from GOD and do not put our trust in Him as our provider and our protector. We reject, mock, and ignore Him, while relying upon our government and our own ingenuity. We foolishly attempt to live independently of Him, and it is only a matter of time until we will find out that nothing is more arrogant in all of life, than our refusal to worship the Holy, Almighty GOD who created us and the earth we inhabit.

We are crooked as we pursue evil rather than good, and stand for what is wrong over what is right. Greed, gluttony, and gossip roam unchecked amongst those us. The United States government and the Western church are two of the most divided, disjointed, and derisive institutions on the planet, and both are becoming more and more irrelevant in our society.

The United States is not Israel. We are not the chosen people of GOD. Still we can learn from their mistakes and avoid the consequences of our ways if we listen, trust, and obey.

DYING

There is a lot of dying that occurs every day. People of all ages and in all stages of life die. Young people die and old people die. Babies die, as well as grandmas and grandpas die. Kids die, teens die, young adults die, and middle-aged folks die. Thousands and thousands of people die every day all around the world from every tongue, tribe, people-group, and nation.

So what makes dying so hard to deal with? We should expect it. We should plan for it. We should prepare for it to happen at any time, in any way, on any day. Dying is a normal and natural part of life – just like being born is, just like breathing is. And even though dying can seem scary, it doesn’t need to be, because physical death is not the end of a person’s existence.

Our Creator, Almighty GOD, made human beings in His very own image. He made us as males and females, with an eternal, spiritual dimension just like He has – for GOD is Spirit. Our physical, earthly lives are short-lived and quite limited, but our spirit-life is forever. And we can live eternally, in an absolutely glorious existence if we want to. Or, we can experience an eternity that can be worse than anything we can ever imagine. The choice is really up to us. For GOD sent His Son, Jesus, here to earth to save us – and everybody needs saving (please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Jesus said:  I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent Me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.  John 5:24 

And the Apostle John wrote:  And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  1 John 5:11-12

Those who believe in Jesus (in His death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb) have received a life that far surpasses this one. And dying is no longer an end to life, but rather a gateway into a higher and better dimension of living. Thus, when dying is faced in faith, fear is replaced with peace and assurance.

Where are you in regards to dying? Have you thought about your own death? Do you expect it? Have you planned for it? Have you prepared for it? What about the death of those people who are important to you? Do you expect them to die? Have you planned for their deaths? Have you prepared for their deaths?

All people die. You and your loved ones are no exceptions.

Talking about dying, expecting to die, and planning and preparing for it, doesn’t expedite it.

It just makes the reality of it…real. Then when it does come, you’re ready.

So get real. Get ready. And make sure you got the life that Jesus gives.

THE WEATHER…

We sure spend a lot of time talking about the weather. It seems that half of each local newscast is filled with weather-related content. Do you ever wonder if the events we see occurring in the weather patterns these days may have a direct correlation with the spiritual condition of our nation? We learn in the Bible, especially during the Old Testament eras, that the people believed this was the case.

Think about what we have witnessed recently – so many weather records:

  • record snowfall in the East this past winter
  • record draught in the West currently taking place
  • record rainfall in the Southwest last month
  • record cold temperatures in the Midwest last February

Add to these the devastating snowstorms, hailstorms, thunderstorms, tropical storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes that have hit various regions around our nation over the past few years. There have also been many fires, floods, avalanches, and even earthquakes.

We are seeing many extremes in the weather – extreme storming, extreme temperatures, and extreme precipitation (and lack of it).

Most of our citizens will likely disagree with this, but as our nation is becoming ever more hostile and even indifferent toward GOD, our weather patterns seem to be less predictable and more volatile. Is this coincidental or providential? Our United States continues to play foolish games with the most obvious and basic principles of our humanity; believing we should “govern” over matters of gender, marriage, and family, and allow any and every preference, perversion, and preoccupation to become a legally protected practice.

Now, I am no prophet, nor even the son of a prophet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the weather changes we are seeing are just the beginning, and we will likely find ourselves in more and more turmoil and facing increased conflicts both within and outside our borders.

Perhaps we should take notice? Perhaps we should consider our ways?

THE SIXTH SENSE…FAITH

The five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste are absolutely incredible. The intelligent, intricate design and functionality of the eyes, ears, nose, nerves, and taste buds allows us to experience all the richness that life offers. Still, there is another sense – a reality for some, but unknown to many – that brings with it a heightened awareness, not only of these five senses, but also understanding and knowledge to give unparalleled meaning to our existence here on earth.

This sixth sense is faith.  

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  Hebrews 11:1 

So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.       Romans 10:17

The Good News about Christ is this: Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.

Faith is what opens, unleashes, and awakens the Fear of GOD inside of us. Fear of GOD is not being frightened of GOD, but rather living with a holy reverence and awe of Him.   

Faith creates a Fear of GOD which:

Acknowledges GOD as GOD, believing that Yahweh – The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit is the One and Only, True and Triune GOD of this universe;

Attributes life itself and all that is good in life to GOD;

Admits dependence upon GOD for everything needed in life – how He is the provider of water, food, clothes, and shelter, and the protector from satan, his demons, and all evil;

Accepts that GOD is sovereign and can be trusted in everything – that life and death are in His hands…that He knows all of our pains and problems, trials and troubles, stressors and struggles…that He cares, and He is here to help us through them;

Adores GOD through worship, thanksgiving, and praise.

 

Faith is the crucial element that has the ability to change every aspect in us – our attitude, our outlook, and our ability to truly sense the world around us. Faith allows us to see more clearly, to hear more keenly, to smell more distinctively, to touch more precisely, and to taste more fully. 

Our planet is full of doubters, skeptics, and mockers who refuse to take GOD at His Word and employ their faith Him. Thus, they remain stuck inside a futile dimension of life that is limp, limiting, legalistic, and leading to nowhere but the grave.

Exercise the faith within you today and find out the difference CHRIST makes in you!

GOD allows suffering…

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, But two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

GOD allows us to suffer in life. I’m not sure why. He isn’t the cause of life’s suffering, pain, and problems, but rather it seems, He has determined to use these and the other difficult situations, circumstances, and events in life to teach us how to “get over” ourselves and stop trying to be self-reliant, self-protective, and self-focused.

I believe GOD wants us to do life in a bigger and better way – to put an end to thinking that we can handle it on our own – so He often allows trials, troubles, and tough things to occur which grab our attention and force us to turn outside ourselves for help – to look to Him and the other people He has placed around us.

When we are alone, we are most vulnerable. We can easily be attacked, beaten, and defeated. When lions and other predators hunt, they attempt to isolate single targets to take down that are unaccompanied and unprotected. Satan and his demons use similar tactics with us in order to steal from and destroy our lives.

GOD allowed His own Son to suffer – in fact He sent JESUS to earth for the very purpose of suffering and dying for us. I don’t know of anyone else who likes to or wants to suffer, but when it is properly supported and mutually shared, suffering can yield some astonishing results.

Life is too hard to do alone so don’t even try it. You need people and people need you. All of us need GOD. When we suffer, other people come to us and help us. When others suffer, we go to them and help them. And GOD is here in everything to help us, to heal us, and to give us hope.