“Is Your Faithfulness True?”

Faithfulness: like a morning mist or like the noonday sun?

Hosea 5 to 7 Hosea reminds the Israelites that God sees their unfaithfulness just like the morning mist which disappears with the sun. He reminded them that instead of seeking God they sought Assyria.  Their sacrifices lay upon the altars but are not consumed because of their broken relationship.  God is calling them, and us, to delight in Him alone!  He delights in our faithfulness to Him that He might sanctify us. He is not interested in sacrifices. Instead He delights in our acknowledgment of Him.

The world is saying: God is archaic! God’s words do not bring hope!  Hebrews reminds us that because God is omniscient we should be careful not to “be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.” Instead, cling to this truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Heb 13] because even if “Heaven and earth pass away, His words will never pass away.” [Mark 13]

Beloved, where have you fallen for the mantra of the idols of wood, stone, and that which perishes?  God is saying I delight in faithfulness, not simply sacrifice. God says “return to me, and I will return to you.” [Mal 3]

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The Before and After Story…

Hosea 1-4 Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer is a real-life picture of how God feels about His people’s rejection of Him. He is an example of what an obedient child of the living God does— even when he does not understand—therefore, we must take note.

Hosea was to find a prostitute and marry her. So, he went to the dump and found Gomer gathering garbage; he redeemed her and married her lavishing upon her riches untold, just as God did for us.

Yet, even with all those precious gifts, Gomer, walked away from Hosea and returned to the dump where the   “pimp”/Satan found her and promised what he could not deliver. Gomer/Israel saw with her eyes but not her heart. She heard with her ears but failed to recall:  “I chose you out of many peoples and redeemed you for one reason: I loved you.

The Living God has a message for us in this story. Just as God promised restoration to Gomer and Israel, He promises restoration to us. God wants a people to be a sweet aroma of Christ to the lost and dying world.  As Hosea paid the price for her redemption,  Christ paid our redemption price willingly out of love. 

God has paid the price for your redemption because He wants you to know He loves you and has redeemed you with the blood of Christ.   Will you be like Gomer or Hosea?

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“Jesus in Ezekiel”

Jesus is shepherd Jesus is Lion of Judah

Ezekiel 34 From Genesis to Revelation, each author presents Jesus. He is sometimes seen as a teacher or a mentor, but in Ezekiel, he is the Good Shepherd in contrast to the bad shepherds who did not care for the sheep. Ezekiel receives a message from the Lord God to prophesy against the false shepherds of Israel. They plundered the weak sheep, which were scattered and became food for every wild beast. But, the Good Shepherd will search for His sheep and gather them from their distant places to feed on the rich grass of the mountains of Israel.

Later when Jesus came, he saw Israel once again floundering and the sheep wandering because of the bad shepherds. He pronounced judgment on them and reminded them that they would have repented long ago if they had seen the same miracles that Chorazin saw. Even though the bad shepherds refused to yield to God, one day the Good Shepherd would come, and He would lay down his life for them. Ezekiel’s message to the exiles was that the Sovereign Lord knew what was happening. He will seek the lost and bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the sick while the bad shepherds would be judged. “And then you shall know that I am the Lord” for He is the Good Shepherd and the Lion of Judah. God sees and He will judge all sin.  [Num 32:23]

Trust God; He is Sovereign, He is the Good Shepherd and the Lion of Judah

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God’s Love

God loves

Jeremiah 31, “I Love you! God!”

Long ago a hymn writer penned these words to those who need a fresh look at God:

“O Soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior and life more abundant and free. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Truly “God loves with an everlasting love, and that is why He has been and always will be faithful.” [Jer 31:3] Perhaps you, like the exiles in Babylon, need to hear those words. Maybe that is why Jeremiah wrote this letter to them and adds this postscript: “Sweeter words cannot be said than I love you! Greater is the phrase, I have always loved you and I always will.” 

Centuries later, John wrote: “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16] And later still, God’s Son Jesus said Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends. [Joh 15:13].

Today ponder those thoughts, sing that hymn, and know this truth:

“God loves you, and God loves me!”  

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God’s Puzzling Patience

God knows each puzzle piece

Isaiah 64 to 66 If you have ever worked on a jigsaw puzzle, you know that you must have patience as you search for that piece that seems to hide in the pile of pieces. God is a master at puzzles, and although we do not know where that persnickety piece is, God has no problem. He knows which piece fits and He patiently finds it and places it to complete the picture. Isaiah, as God’s prophet, has been faithfully piecing the puzzle pieces of Israel together. Although he will never see the birth and life of the Messiah, the Holy Spirit has graciously shown him the pieces needed to see the finished picture. He has faithfully written the words that the Holy Spirit has given to him. Some were harder than others, and some were praiseworthy.

In a particularly hard time, Isaiah pours out his heart and looks for that missing puzzle piece as to when the Lord will come to rescue them. But, God the Almighty tells Isaiah that He will not come “yet.” Their sins are like scarlet, and their so-called righteousness is as filthy rags. Their praises are not for Jehovah but for the idols they fashion. God had promised centuries before, and He will again: I will not abandon my children.

The patience of God is amazing. He will not leave his children even as sinful as they are. Peter answers the “why” question: He is not slow but is patient because he does not wish any to perish but for all to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

God is faithful and patient. Are you?

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“Anointed for Service”

Isaiah 61 Have you ever said: What does God want me to do? Messiah didn’t have that problem. He knew that the Lord had chosen and commissioned him. We may be centuries apart, but the Israelites to whom Isaiah was writing and speaking had the same questions you have.

Listen as Isaiah allows Messiah to speak. “I have been anointed for the service of the Lord.” Centuries later, the Apostle John wrote:  “Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One,” [1 Jo 2:20] Peter wrote:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1 Pet 2:9]

Messiah knew his calling, his anointing, and the reason God chose Him. He would encourage the poor, help the brokenhearted, and free those imprisoned by sin. God gave him spiritual insight to see men’s desperate need for healing of the soul, mind, and body. Today, this same Holy Spirit has anointed you to fulfill these same areas of need in the lives of those around you.

Has God shown you someone that needs a refreshing word from the Lord? It might be a parent who has a child that has made a wrong choice, or someone has lost their job, a pastor who has heavy responsibilities, a missionary in a far off land that is lonely—or just perhaps a friend or an acquaintance.

Remember, God has called each of us to fulfill the Great Commission.

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Eternally Secure

Eternally secure

Isaiah 49 Of all the disciples, only John remained at the cross and witnessed the death of Jesus. In the evening, Jesus came and stood before them, but Thomas was absent. He had said I will not believe unless I can put my hands in the holes where the nails penetrated. Jesus lovingly came and offered Thomas that witness, and he responded, “My Lord and my God.” 

One of the many questions men ask is: Can I be sure of my salvation? Am I eternally secure, or can I lose my salvation? “Scripture clearly affirms the fact we are protected by the power of God through faith. Faith brings us into a grace relationship with God as a gift of God through the merit of His beloved Son. We are saved by His record, not ours.” [H. Keathley III]

Although we haven’t had the privilege of visually seeing the holes as Thomas did, we do have the Prophet Isaiah’s and the Apostle John’s words: “I [God] have inscribed your name on my palms.” [Is 49:16] Jesus said: “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” [John 10:29] Each time you close your hands to shield your palms, picture yourself securely enfolded in his.

Today as you wash your hands, fold your hands in prayer, or go about your daily duties, stop and look at your hands and picture your name inscribed on His. 

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Trust in Horses/Chariots or God?

Trust God

Isaiah 30/31 God speaks to His children through Isaiah: woe to you who makes alliances with those who are not My Sheep. You are a rebellious people who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord. You are saying we don’t want to hear any more about the Holy One of Israel. To the prophets, you say don’t prophesy to us what is right, speak to us of pleasant words, prophesy illusions. Does this not sound just like today?  

2Ti 4:3 “For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things.” 

And so they will seek an alliance with “Egypt.” It is like God saying, what did you not learn after 430 yrs. of bondage? These are the very ones who held you captive, and only after ten plagues did they release you! Their gods did not save them, and they won’t save you. Why do you trust in them instead of the Holy One of Israel?

If you are like these to whom Isaiah was speaking, return to Him, and trust Him. He alone is God and will be gracious to you. He is waiting.

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“Are We Fishers of Men?”

Feed the Flock

John 21 What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Do you chill out with food or binge on TV? For Peter, who had not a clue what was next, he returned to fishing, which is where our story picks up. It is familiar territory where life is simple. What is “the doing” for you?

The story unfolds in the early hours of the day when the sun is just creeping over the horizon. A voice almost sarcastically says, ‘you don’t have any fish, do you?’ Translation, what a wasted night you have had. But in obedience, just like before, the net is moved, and fish swim into the net. The disciple Jesus loved, a.k.a. John recognizes that this had to be the work of the Master. On the shore, the Master has prepared breakfast, but it isn’t until after breakfast that we see the whole purpose of this time together.

Jesus begins his work of restoration for Peter with three simple basic questions but with precise instructions. May we glean the instructions for ourselves.

Turning to Peter three times, He reminds him that He called him to be a fisher of men. That is our reminder too! Three times Jesus asks: Do you love me? Go and feed my lambs, shepherd my sheep, and feed my sheep. Jesus is saying my instructions are not to just any lambs, but “MY” lambs. Not just any sheep, but “MY” sheep. I am calling you and am leaving you to do “MY” work amongst the flock. Do you love me more than x, y, z?  

Jesus asks us those same three questions. Feed/Shepherd/Feed the ones I have called, wrapped in my love, and kept from the enemy. Will you do that?

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Is your light under a bushel?

Ps 22 & Ps 78 The psalmist says we are to tell the next generation about the Lord and his saving deeds and what he has accomplished. We can’t pass that job off onto the preacher or the missionary because the psalmist says, “we” will tell. Jesus said to “go and tell.” How many of us are like those who say, “my faith is personal, I don’t share it, I just live it?  Jesus left us a commandment: go and make disciples. That means we do just that; we tell about God’s saving grace.

Do we realize that God will hold us accountable for lives who would have chosen Jesus had they had heard the gospel message? The psalmist says to tell the next generation so that the truth will be heard from us to the next generation.   They need to hear from our lips the truth of the gospel message. We also need to do that so that they will not be lost and without hope.

Psalm 78:6 says to tell the next generation, and they, in turn, will tell the next generation about Jesus. If each generation carries on this tradition, imagine how many souls will hear the gospel? And in contrast, if we don’t tell how many souls will enter a Christ-less eternity because we have failed in our responsibility?

Today I challenge you to tell someone about Jesus.

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