The day after celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ with the joy and assurance of our hope followed by the family gatherings over great food, along with the laughter of kids playing together, we rest in our thoughts as we prepare for another work day with regular activities, same thoughts of accomplishing what we need to do for this day, or with clean up from the day before. Whatever you do at your house, I pray that the joy from yesterday is not allowed to be taken from you as the evil one prowls your thoughts and tries to pull you away from the One who loves you most and loves you best.
If we listen to the evil one call out to us to “get back to normal” and live for self, then our faith is proven to be as fickle as the faith of Israel. Hosea words help us to hear God as He shares his broken heart for those who walk away from his love, help, provision, and protection. His heart breaks to see our fickled minds run off to play with all that is not God—which will destroy us—if we do not turn back to God.
Hosea 11, The Message
Israel Played at Religion with Toy Gods
1-9 “When Israel was only a child, I loved him.
I called out, ‘My son!’—called him out of Egypt.
But when others called him,
he ran off and left me.
He worshiped the popular sex gods,
he played at religion with toy gods.
Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim.
I rescued him from human bondage,
But he never acknowledged my help,
never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon,
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek,
that I bent down to feed him.
Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria—
anything but return to me!
That’s why his cities are unsafe—the murder rate skyrockets
and every plan to improve things falls to pieces.
My people are hell-bent on leaving me.
They pray to god Baal for help.
He doesn’t lift a finger to help them.
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim?
How can I turn you loose, Israel?
How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah,
devastated like luckless Zeboim?
I can’t bear to even think such thoughts.
My insides churn in protest.
And so I’m not going to act on my anger.
I’m not going to destroy Ephraim.
And why? Because I am God and not a human.
I’m The Holy One and I’m here—in your very midst.
10-12 “The people will end up following God.
I will roar like a lion—
Oh, how I’ll roar!
My frightened children will come running from the west.
Like frightened birds they’ll come from Egypt,
from Assyria like scared doves.
I’ll move them back into their homes.”
Ephraim tells lies right and left.
Not a word of Israel can be trusted.
Judah, meanwhile, is no better,
addicted to cheap gods.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
We are either with God or against God. Those are the only two directions in which to decide to travel. The journey without God looks and feels good for a moment as we assure ourselves, we’ve got this—until we don’t have this and we fail and fall on our faces.
But God pursues those fickle in faith whose hearts have turned cold and hard. He still loves his created, even those with forgotten faith in Him. In fact, those are the ones He seeks with diligence according to Jesus who tells the story of the Shepherd who leaves the 99 to pursue to one who strayed and is in trouble.
God does not call us by our sin, but calls us by name. God does not define us by what we have done or by the failures we have had in life. God simply loves us and calls us home to be with Him. We are prodigals. He is the Father, waiting at the end of the driveway for us to turn around and run to Him as He runs to us. As we take steps toward Him, He runs to us, puts His arms around us and calls us his own. Wow. What kind of love is this? Agape love. It is a love that never stops, never gives up on me/us.
Where are you going, dear friend? We all have tendencies to redefine ourselves according to our catastrophes. “I am the divorcée, the addict, the bankrupt businessperson, the kid with the disability, or the man with the scar.” We settle for a merely small activities on our journey: to make money, make friends, make a name, make muscle, or make love with anyone and everyone to gain significance for a moment or two. Avoid the smallness of life. Thinking that this is all there is to life is a costly mistake. And what happens when you lose all that you have built?
Think you have lost what you had with God? Here’s the thing, you haven’t. “God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded” …Hear what God is saying to all of us! “But looked at from the long-range perspective of God’s overall purpose, they remain God’s oldest friends. God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.” Romans 11:29, MSG…read all of chapter 11 to understand even more. God is for us, not against us!
No matter what happens in life we are still a child of God. He will never leave or forgive us. He knows us by name. He knows what we are going through for nothing escapes the notice of God. Repeat after me, “I am God’s child. My life is more than this life. These days are a vapor, a passing breeze. This will eventually pass. God will make something good out of this. I will work hard, stay faithful, and trust him no matter what.” You will not believe the power that is infused into our being when we truly believe who God says we are….His.
If you have never said yes, to God, then believe, repent, say yes now and be saved for eternity! His love never changes.
Thank you for consistently pursuing us, calling us by name, not by our sins, until we turn and run back home to You. You are life on the ordinary days as well as on the days of special celebrations of remembering you and what you have done for us and in us. I want Your love, care, protection, and provision. I don’t want to live life on my own. I want to remain in you as you remain in me. Show me your way and I will walk in it—with You.
In Jesus Name, Amen