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9/2/2015: HOW MUCH DOES GOD LOVE YOU?
"I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense,
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
'O Ephraim, what shall I do to you?
O Judah, what shall I do to you?
For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud,
And like the early dew it goes away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, [I cut you in pieces with my prophets]
I have slain them vy the words of MY mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings'."
HOW MUCH DOES GOD LOVE YOU?
Enough to tear you to pieces
Enough to put the pieces back together
Enough to send true prophets to correct
you and not tickle your ears
My dear Christian friends, grace, mercy and peace are yours this Labor Day weekend (in the U.S.) from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
How do you measure love? Love doesn't come with a dipstick, does it? Love doesn't come with a measuring spoon. Love doesn't come with a tape measure.
How do you measure love? Some people measure love by how eager you are to take away someone's pain.
But measuring love isn't that simple. Sometimes you measure love not by now willing you are to take hurt away but by how WILLING YOU ARE TO HURT OTHERS AND HOW WILLING YOU ARE TO ENDURE SEEING THEM STAY HURT UNTIL THEY REPENT OF THEIR SINS. I never enjoyed getting a spanking when I was young. My grandfather didn't enjoy seeing the tears roll down my cheeks. What he did enjoy is hearing the words, "I'M SORRY GRANDPA!" What he did enjoy is assuring me that all was forgiven.
Parents who truly love their kids don't enjoy seeing their children hurt. But, if those parents truly love their children, they will hurt them in a way that seeks their children's spiritual good. I am not talking about CHILD ABUSE; I am talking about CHILD DISCIPLINE.
We live in a day when CAUSING SOMEONE TO HURT is seen as loveless. CHILD DISCIPLINE is not popular. CHURCH DISCIPLINE is not popular. But while it is not popular, it is one way love is measured. The Bible says, "HE WHO SPARES THE ROD HATES HIS SON, BUT HE WHO LOVES HIM IS CAREFUL TO DISCIPLINE HIM. (PROVERBS 13:24)
The first answer ouf text gives to that question is this: GOD LOVES YOU ENOUGH TO TEAR YOU TO PIECES.
God loves His people of old enough to tear them to pieces when they needed to be torn to pieces. God loves you enough to tear you to pieces when you need to be torn to pieces. When do we need to be torn to pieces? When we refuse to admit our guilt. When we are not sorry for our sins.
Through the prophet Hosea the Lord spoke to His people and said, "THEN I WILL GO BACK TO MY PLACE UNTIL THEY ADMIT THEIR GUILT. AND THEY WILL SEEK MY FACE; IN THEIR MISERY THEY WILL EARNESTLY SEEK ME." Hosea 5:15
Note these words, "...IN THEIR MISERY THEY WILL EARNESTLY SEEK ME." Who brought that misery upon them? God did. If we skip ahead to chapter 13, this what the Lord says, "SO I WILL BE TO THEM LIKE A LION;
LIKE A LEOPARD BY THE ROAD I WILL LURK;
I WILL MEET THEM LIKE A BEAR DEPRIVED OF HER CUBS;
I WILL TEAR OPEN THEIR RIB CAGE,
AND THERE I WILL DEVOUR THEM LIKE A LION.
THE WILD BEAST SHALL TEAR THEM." HOSEA 13:7-8
That's quite a description of what the Lord said He was gonna do to His own people.
Was the Lord serious? Here is the thing about our God dear people -- you must take this to heart. You know how parents will often threaten and not carry through with their threats? "You kids behave or I'm going to kick you out and make you walk all the way home!" Yeah, right!
God is not like that. People today don't take God's threats seriously. People is this country think the freedom to sin is an inherent right.
We do not have the freedom to sin. You got that? We do not have the freedom to willfully sin against God and then say, "Jesus died for me," and then go on our merry way and think all will be forgotten. We do not have the freedom to sin. Jesus died and rose again and through faith in Him He gives us the freedom to die to sin and rise with Him and live in the newness of life by daily repenting of our sins.
When we do not daily repent, God will follow through on His threat to tear us to pieces. The people of Hosea's day said, "He has torn us to pieces...He has injured us..."
How does God tear His people apart? Through His law. "THEREFORE I CUT YOU IN PIECES WITH MY PROPHETS, I KILLED YOU WITH THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH; MY JUDGMENTS FLASHED LIKE LIGHTNING UPON YOU." The Bible says God's word of the law is powerful. "FOR THE WORD OF GOD IS LIVING AND ACTIVE. SHARPER THAN ANY DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD, IT PENETRATES EVEN TO DIVIDING SOUL AND SPIRIT, JOINTS AND MARROW; IT JUDGES THE THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES OF THE HEART." Hebrews 4:12
The main purpose of the law is to show us our sin and reveal God's wrath against our sin. NOW WE KNOW THAT WHATEVER THE LAW SAYS, IT SAYS TO THOSE WHO ARE UNDER THE LAW, SO THAT EVERY MOUTH MAY BE SILENCED AND THE WHOLE WORLD HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO gOD...THROUGH THE LAW WE BECOME CONSCIOUS OF SIN." Romans 3:19-20
The people of Hosea's time needed to be shown their sin and guilt. What was their problem? Especially these three things:
1. When they were satisfied they forgot God.
2. In their misery, they would week refuge in false gods.
3. They were sinfully stubborn.
Are not these also our problem areas? When life is good for us what do we tend to do? We tend to live as if God did not exist. We tend to live as if we evolved from monkeys. Listen to what the Lord told these people: "BUT I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUR OF EGYPT. YOU SHALL ACKNOWLEDGE NO GOD BUT ME, NO SAVIOR EXCEPT ME. I CARED FOR YOU IN THE DESERT, IN THE LAND OF BURNING HEAT. WHEN I FED THEM, THEY WERE SATISFIED; WHEN THEY WERE SATISFIED, THEY BECAME PROUD; THEN THEY FORGOT ME." Hosea 13:4,5
And then when God brought misery into their lives what did they do? They sought refuge in false gods. God said of these people, "WHEN EPHRAIM SAW HIS SICKNESS, AND JUDAH HIS SORES, THEN EPHRAIM TURNED TO ASSYRIA AND SENT TO THE GREAT KING FOR HELP. BUT HE IS NOT YOUR CURE, NOT ABLE TO HEAL YOUR SORES. Hosea 5:13 Isn't this also our problem? When we have difficulties do we not turn to our President and the government for help instead of God or the church?
When the Lord begins tearing us to pieces what do we tend to do? We tend to seek refuge in HUMAN FRIENDSHIPS instead of seeking refuge in the ONE who is our greatest Friend -- Jesus Christ. We seek refuge in sex, drugs, alcohol and all forms of entertainment; we seek refuge in depression and seclusion; we seek refuge not in God's word of wisdom, but in the words of human wisdom.
And we have another problem that God's people had in the Old Testament. The Lord said, "THE ISRAELITES ARE STUBBORN, LIKE STUBBORN HEIFERS." Boy, can I ever relate to those words! We have, in our lives dealt with many stubborn heifers in our ministry. We, too, can be sinfully stubborn. When told to repent and change our sinful lives we grit our teeth and say, "No, I'm not going to do it and you are not going to make me!"
So you know what God does? HE LOVES US. He loves us so much that He will tear you and me to pieces. and then when we are lying there in pieces like some Humpty Dumpty out of a fairy tale, the Lord will wait...and He will wait...and He will wait...and He will wait. This is an amazing thing about our wonderful God. God will NOT COME TO THE RESCUE TOO SOON. On the one hand God does not derive pleasure from our pain. The Bible says, "FOR HE DOES NOT WILLINGLY BRING AFFLICTION OR GRIEF TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN." (Lamentations 3:33) But on the other hand, He will patiently endure letting us remain in pieces until the right time. How many parents come to the rescue of their children too soon? A child who ends up in jail for something that child did wrong. The child calls home, "Dad! Come get me out!" Dad immediately bails his child out of prison. Probably not a good thing or what God wants at that time.
God will not come to the rescue too soon. When is "too soon?" Listen again to what the Lord says, "Then I will go back to My place UNTIL THEY ADMIT THEIR GUILT." Too soon is when we have yet to admit our own guilt. Too soon is when we are still putting the blame on others. Too soon, is when we have yet to confess, "FOR I KNOW MY TRANSGRESSIONS, AND MY SIN IS ALWAYS BEFORE ME. AGAINST YOU, YOU ONLY, HAVE I SINNED AND DONE WHAT IS EVIL IN YOUR SIGHT..." Psalm 51:3-4
Dear ones, God loves you. He loves us enough to tear us in pieces and He will leave us in pieces; He will leave us to squirm in our guilt; He will leave us suffer in our shame; He will leave us cry in our self-pity without providing any tissues UNTIL WE ADMIT OUR GUILT. What great love our God has for us. May the Lord have to wait for you NO LONGER! The book of Hebrews provides us with a word of warning and encouragement: "TODAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS YOU DID IN THE REBELLION, DURING THE TIME OF TESTING IN THE DESERT, WHERE YOUR FATHERS TESTED AND TRIED ME AND FOR FORTY YEARS SAW WHAT I DID" Hebrews 3:7.
Today we lie in pieces. Our God has torn us to pieces. He has shown us our sin and guilt. I trust that as you read this you are willing to admit your guilt and that you fully intend to change your sinful life by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And so what comfort then do we have? We have this comfort -- not only does out God love us enough to tear us to pieces. How much does God love you?
GOD LOVES YOU ENOUGH TO PUT THE PIECES BACK TOGETHER.
Because of God's undeserved love for us in Christ Jesus, you won't be going home in pieces today -- you will be going home in peace. Take to heart what you will be singing at the end of this message:
In peace, Lord, in peace You let Your servant now depart according to Your word.
For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared for every people.
How much does God love you? Enough to tear you to pieces. Enough to put the pieces back together.
In this message we hear the words of God's people: "COME LET US RETURN TO THE LORD. HE HAS TORN US TO PIECES BUT HE WILL HEAL US; HE HAS INJURED US BUT HE WILL BIND UP OUR WOUNDS. AFTER TWO DAYS HE WILL REVIVE US; ON THE THIRD DAY HE WILL RESTORE US THAT WE MAY LIVE IN HIS PRESENCE. LET US ACKNOWLEDGE THE LORD; LET US PRESS ON TO ACKNOWLEDGE HIM. AS SURELY AS THE SUN RISES, HE WILL APPEAR; HE WILL COME TO US LIKE THE WINTER RAINS, LIKE THE SPRING RAINS THAT WATER THE EARTH."
How does God put the pieces back together again? God did it by sending His only begotten Son to this earth. God put the pieces of this fallen human race back together again by ripping apart His innocent Son on that cross. The sinless Jesus was torn to shreds by the punishment He received from His Father. All our sins were laid on Jesus. All the Father's anger was taken out on Jesus. And now what is there for us? Let me tell you what there is not for us. "THEREFORE, THERE IS NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS." Romans 8:1
In baptism the Lord put you back together my friends. Through faith He justifies us. Our sins are fully and freely forgotten. And then, throughout our lives on this earth He sanctifies us. While our justification is complete in Christ, our sanctification is an ongoing process. The Lord is continually putting the pieces back together until at last we reach heaven where all will be restored. This is how much God loves you. He puts all the pieces back together again and makes us fit for heaven. When people of Hosea's time repented, God said, "I WILL HEAL THEIR WAYWARDNESS AND LOVE THEM FREELY, FOR MY ANGER HAS TURNED AWAY FROM THEM." Hosea 14:4 God does the same for us.
How wonderful God's love is. The Psalmist says, "YOUR LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIVE." In those words the Psalmist is simply confessing that God's love is better than anything this life has to offer. Remember that this weekend would you? God's love is better than anything the Labor Day weekend can offer us -- better than any fireworks; better than any cookout; better than any cold brew.
In response to this great love of God to us let be stubborn no more. Let us accept God's hurting hand that we may be saved by God's healing hand. Remember that being torn to pieces by God is not a bad thing. "MY SON, DO NOT MAKE LIGHT OF THE LORD'S DISCIPLINE, AND DO NOT LOSE HEART WHEN HE REBUKES YOU, BECAUSE THE LORD DISCIPLINES THOSE HE LOVES, AND HE PUNISHES EVERYONE HE ACCEPTS AS A SON. NO DISCIPLINE SEEMS PLEASANT AT THE TIME, BUT PAINFUL. LATER ON, HOWEVER, IT PRODUCES A HARVEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE FOR THOSE TRAINES BY IT."
Today we have some of the greatestsins riding on the backs of both the church and the Christians!
2. Gay marriage
4. backbiting and gossip
5. division and contentions
6. lack of Godly love
7. Simon the sorcerer's spirit of greed in the churches
These are just some of the sins besetting us daily, so let me ask again:
HOW MUCH DOES GOD LOVE US?
God loves us enough to warn us of a conspiracy of false apostles and prophets throughout the churches today. These prophesy that for a certain amount of money you will receive health and wealth and wisdom from God. But this conspiracy is nothing new. Let us go back to the book of Ezekiel 22:25-28
"There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they h ave taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken."
In many of the churches today it seems that both the pastors and the members want and enjoy this. But again, as we look at Isaiah 30:10-13, it is not new:
"Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant." Isaiah 30:10-13
Because you listen to these false apostles and prophets you will endure God's punishment. Throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, God warns of these false apostles and prophets and how they will consume you with their words. This is why the church has no power from the Holy Spirit, because the church is trying to receive it's power form the human spirit. The spirit of Simon the sorcerer which seeks to prophet from God's blessings. It is time to turn back to God and those who have a true word from God so that the Body of Christ can be set free and once again be surrounded by God's love.
Enough to send true prophets to you to tell you what is going to happen whether it be God's love or God's judgment.
This is how much the Lord loves us -- enough to tear us to pieces; enough to put the pieces back together. May our prayer be that of the psalmist: "MAY YOUR UNFAILING LOVE REST ON US, O LORD, EVEN AS WE PUT OUR HOPE IN YOU."
A RIGHTEOUS WARRIOR FOR THE MOST HIGH GOD
Daniel Yodert says, "YOUR LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIVE." In those words the Psalmist is simply confessing that God's love is better than anything this life has to offer. Remember that this weekend would you? God's love is better than anything the Labor Day weekend can offer us -- better than any fireworks; better than any cookout; better than any cold brew.