Why would God pour out his Holy Spirit on such a church?

Godly leaders are calling the church to prayer for great spiritual awakening in America. Like Hosea, they call on the people to “bring your petitions and return to the Lord.” (Hosea 14:2a NLT)

An outpouring of God’s spirit, however, comes only after true repentance. Genuine sorrow and confession precede true repentance and forgiveness. Hosea calls out the sins of the people like charges being read in court.

Today’s church will experience renewal when, like Israel, American Christians recognize they are Gomer to the Lord’s Hosea: enthusiastically engaging in worship that is meaningless before the Lord, following false religion and bearing children that are not the Lord’s, seeking security in military might, making idols of their silver and gold, filling the land with violence and immorality, slaughtering their own children, forming alliances with godless foreign powers, getting rich through injustice. Even the king makes a fool of himself.

Why would God pour out his Holy Spirit on such a church? “They have become as worthless as a half-baked cake!” (7:8b) They are like “an old man with graying hair, unaware of how weak and old he has become.” (7:9b)  They are “a crooked bow that always misses its target.” (7:16b) “They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind.” (8:7) The prophet describes in horrific detail the punishments God is about to personally inflict on his people.

The people arrogantly refuse to walk in God’s ways. “The people have been offered new birth, but they are like a child who resists being born.” (13:13a) O foolish people! You will be destroyed, for you refuse to understand.” (4:14b)

Hosea’s call: “So now, come back to your God! Act on the principles of love and justice, and always live in confident dependence on your God.” (12:6)

Hosea’s warning: “Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those who are discerning listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But sinners stumble and fall along the way.” (14:9)

 

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The silent heart knows the truth

“Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation. … Laughter can conceal a heavy heart; when the laughter ends, the grief remains.” (Proverbs 14:9,13 NLT)

Our society celebrates brokenness and mocks God’s ways, but after the TV is turned off … when the movie is over … when the bartender has called closing … and now you sit alone in the dark, the silent heart knows the truth.

Love your neighbor. People are lonely and confused.

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The word ‘Gospel’ is not a magic charm

The word ‘Gospel’ is not a magic charm that need only be repeated constantly. Understand what this good news is and how it makes a difference for both eternity and today.

Proclaim salvation from the penalty of sin and everlasting afterlife in God’s presence; proclaim salvation from the power of sin and restoration of broken lives in this world. Jesus died so those who trust him will not perish in the hereafter; he came to destroy the devil’s work and give them abundant life here and now.

The spirit of the Lord is upon you to comfort the brokenhearted. Announce release to captives and freedom to prisoners. Through you, the Lord gives them joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair.

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This is not who you are … you don’t have to live this way

Some folks talk a lot about sin, but hardly anyone understands what it is anymore.

Sin is one part brokenness and one part rebellion.

Brokenness is hardwired into the world. You have to look hard to find something that isn’t messed up.

It’s been this way so long, we think the nightmare is reality. The dream of how things should be is just a wisp of fog that vanishes in the oppressive heat.

It’s just how things are.

In the lecture hall, they debate “the problem of evil.” Out here, we’re living with hell on earth — and everyone tells us to just make the best of it.

Many of us suffered trauma at an early age — rejection by a mother who didn’t want us; a father who was never there; emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; simple neglect … a host of other possibilities.

We were so young, we may not remember it. We think we were “born this way.”

The brokenness creates strong feelings. We struggle with compulsions we don’t understand and can’t control.

We begin to think our brokenness is who we are. Our broken world tells us to just accept it as a fact — to celebrate it even.

We plunge headlong into a way of living filled with pain and regret. Our feelings of shame are buried deep.

We keep telling ourselves, “This is just who I am. I have no choice but to live this way.”

But God did not create you to live a broken life. He intended better for you. He still does.

God sent Jesus to show us the better way. Jesus suffered and died so you could be set free from your pain. God raised Jesus from the dead to prove he has the power to give you a new life.

Accepting the captivity of your brokenness is rejecting God’s good plan for you. When you celebrate brokenness as your identity, you alienate yourself from your creator.

At some point, your rejection becomes rebellion against his ways.

God warns, “Don’t open that door!” But you do.  And evil comes storming in to wreak havoc in your life.

God wants to give you a life that is full, free, and forever. You choose the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

And you pay an awful price.

You can reject your brokenness. You can put down your own rebellion. Open your heart to the goodness God created you to enjoy. Look to Jesus for freedom from captivity. Pursue healing instead of brokenness.

This is not who you are. You don’t have to live this way.

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Coptic martyrs and ISIS murderers

Unfathomable, the spiritual deception and hardheartedness, that a man is willing to put his knife to the neck of another. Even more that a child of God kneels to be slaughtered.

coptic martyrs 150215

Praise God for his grace toward those murdered because they claim the name of Christ. Plead with God for grace toward those blinded by hatred and false teaching, that they would come to know his saving love.

يسوع المسيح هو الرب

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‘Even in famine they will have more than enough’

How easy it is to worry about paying the bills, when we should instead be focused on multiplying God’s kingdom. We envy the wealth and power of worldly people, when our hearts should be filled with gratitude that the Lord gave us another sunrise.

It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and possess much. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the LORD takes care of the godly. Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent, and they will receive a reward that lasts forever. They will survive through hard times; even in famine they will have more than enough. (Psalm 37:16-19 NLT)

Often the short chain in our captivity is discontent. In Philippians 4, Paul said the secret to freedom is learning to be content “in any and every circumstance … being filled and going hungry, … having abundance and suffering need.”

God knows your circumstances. He cares. He is able to provide out of resources you don’t even know exist. Don’t let the enemy bind you with the chain of discontent. The Lord designed a world where birds and flowers have their needs met; you are included in that plan too! Adjust your expectations and stay focused on your mission.

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‘Man who dances with wolves …’

In relating to our unbelieving society, followers of Jesus are supposed to be not just harmless, but also wary.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be as wary as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and beaten in the synagogues. And you must stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. This will be your opportunity to tell them about me — yes, to witness to the world.” (Matthew 10:16-18 NLT)

Too many sheep are being consumed by the wolves because they are unwary about worldview and values. For one generation it was about “choice,” for another it is same-sex “marriage.”

No one wants to be hated, but how else do you stand for God’s ways in a wicked world, except to be counter-cultural? Jesus warned, “Everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me, but those who endure to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

Do you understand what he meant when he said, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword.” (v.34)

The sword is the one on your neck.

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