Saturday, December 27, 2014

Out of Spiritual Exile & Back to the Lord

Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”

Pastor Kyle told us in one of his recent Sunday Sermons that God had a  lot to say about the coming of the promised Messiah (Jesus) in the Old Testament, while at the same time calling the exiles back into being His people; the people that God wants them to be. He is still making that call today.

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.

We have to be very careful when we doing something because “God told me to do this.” Almost all of the time, the proof of God’s direct in our life is seen in the rear view mirror. We going through life with all sorts of things (good and bad) happening and only see in retrospect that those pieces of the puzzle along the broken road were orchestrated by God and fit together perfectly lead us to where we are. So, we cannot jump to spontaneous decisions and attribute them to God, when they are really our desires being justified. In our sin nature, like the nation Israel in Hosea’s time, a person or a nation can run away from God and prostitute themselves to other gods. The good news is that no matter how much we run away, like Hosea after his wife, God keeps pursuing us. Even so, there are consequences for our faithfulness of thoughts, words and actions.

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Dr. Gary V. Smith states that Hosea was a living illustration of God’s love and commitment to us. The way that we picture God and Jesus will affect our life. There is the “God Concept”, which are our Creeds, our worship, our praise songs, our Theology, our Doctrine, et cetera. But there is also the “God Image”, which is how we picture, feel about and interact with God. Our choices. Egypt (in the opening verse) represents sin and sin distorts our image of God and ushers us into the bondage of spiritual exile. The answer: insert a bigger image … the true God, who is calling the saints (meaning those who are sanctified) out of spiritual slavery through Jesus the redeeming Savior. Like in our earthly relationships, we do not really fall out of love, but stop pursuing God for another. Sin is nothing more than spiritual prostitution, selling ourselves to the devil. Loving anything more than God is spiritual adultery. True love is to pursue God.

Psalm 103:11-12 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Exile means removing ourselves from the presence of God. There are four types of exile: (1) Self imposed exile – isolation from pride to guilt, (2) Addiction exile – substituting, trying to fill our needs outside of God, (3) Good old-fashioned sin – off doing our own things (what we want, when we want), and (4) Life-imposed exile – family needs, job issues, health problems, marriage struggles, et cetera. All these exiles lack a pursuit of Almighty God in common and lead to isolation and hiding.  

Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

There is no set limit, no line crossed or final straw, because God extends His infinite hand of grace to all sinners. Jesus extends infinite forgiveness and grace. There are always those in desperate need of forgiveness by those in desperate need to give forgiveness. There is one human race and we are called to forgive as we have been forgiven and help as we have been helped. We are all called out of exile; not to tolerate exile. That may require taking a step back, but we must not give up because we need to show up and keep pursuing.

In Christ, Brian

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