A Glimpse Inside God’s Heart: Hosea 11:1-12

[Sermon Transcript]

Here at Living Hope Church we have been looking at the book of Hosea, and studying the incredible truth that our relationship with God is like a marriage. Every other analogy of how God relates to us: king to subjects, potter to clay, even father to child, falls short of describing what He is after in a relationship with us.

However, sometimes our relationship is more like a bad marriage than a good one, and so it was with Israel. But we have seen over and over again, that any deficiencies in our marriage with Him are always caused by us, yet He continues to pursue us, woo us, and shower us with His love. We saw earlier in the sermon series that God conveys this truth to us by commanding the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute and remain faithful to her even in her unfaithfulness to Him, and thus demonstrate God’s faithful love to us.

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Six Key Benefits of the Necessary Evangelism Component in Discipleship

Yes. I am afraid. Every time I begin to share about Jesus with someone, millions of thoughts run through my head about how I may offend or be received wrongly. Have you ever felt the same?

This is the log jam in the discipleship process and to fulfilling the Great Commission: evangelism. Sharing our faith. Why? Often times it is because we haven’t seen it modeled, or haven’t been taught “how.” Even in our rigorous attempts at discipleship have not fixed the problem, because discipleship has come to be regarded as a practice without the necessary component of evangelism training or practice. However, treating evangelism as a necessary part of discipleship helps to grow mature disciples, and is absolutely necessary. I read a great article recently highlighting 6 reasons why. Here they are: Continue reading

Does God Desire To Show Some of His Attributes More Than Others? -Dr. David Holt

God “much prefers” to express His compassion and grace than His judgment and discipline.  I can relate to this as a father.  I “much prefer” to be gracious and giving to my children rather than discipline them for disobedience.  I will do the latter if their behavior warrants it, but I “much prefer” the former.

And so it is with God and us. He “much prefers” that we remain in intimacy and obedience with Him, so that He can bless, help, show compassion, empower and reward us. But if our behavior warrants His judgment and discipline, He will have to express that. Continue reading

My Gentle Wife & God’s Chisel

“…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4

 

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My wife is a quiet and gentle woman; I am not a quiet and gentle man. I want to be. I pray daily to be…but I am constantly acting in pride, selfishness, and harshness. I grieve these sins, because I know they grieve my Master. But thank goodness, my God has given me an amazing wife-a daily reminder, and frequent conviction, to pursue gentleness, and to be slow to speak, slow to anger, and quick to listen. Continue reading

Discovering The True Jesus (pt. 9)-Jesus’ Aching Love For You.

the-lion-bobby-shawSo far we have looked at many reasons why Jesus came to earth, lived, and died for us. We have looked at who He was, what He taught, and ultimately how He saved us. We have discussed how He left heaven,  became the perfect sacrifice, took the Father’s wrath, rose from the dead, and secured for us a relationship with God and an eternity in Heaven. But today I want to discuss one of the key motivating factors in Jesus’ life and purpose: His own intimate love for each one of us. Continue reading

Discovering The True Jesus (pt.8)- Who Needs Jesus?

So far in this series, we have talked about who Jesus is and what He accomplished during His time on earth. However, it struck me this morning that all of this is in vain if we do not understand our need for Jesus. There is no benefit in understanding who He is and what He did, if we don’t understand WHY we needed Him to do it. In other words: We can’t appreciate Jesus, or even trust Him, without understanding our true need for Him.

So, what do you think? Why do we need Jesus?

Our problem, and our subsequent need, is clearly perceived when we focus on God’s attributes. He is Holy, Just, Perfect, and completely Good. These are all great things, aren’t they? But let me ask you this: what does a Good, Holy, Perfect God do with those who aren’t good, holy, or perfect? Can He have fellowship with them? Can He just forgive their wrongdoings? Unfortunately, He cannot. God cannot maintain perfect holiness and goodness if He pardons evil and sin. Similarly, a state judge would not maintain status as a “good judge” if he pardoned every criminal that walked into the courtroom. Even in society, there are standards to live by, and if one breaks the standards, there are serious consequences.

In the same way, God has set up certain standards for us to live by. These are summed up in the Ten Commandments, which we all have broken many times. Jesus summed up the commandments up when He said, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12). Any single breach of these commandments has a consequence: separation from God. Any act of selfishness, greed, worry, dishonesty, pride, envy, or idolatry all break God’s standards…And He can’t simply forgive us just by us asking; there must be a payment. And as often as we will break these commandments, there must be an everlasting payment that can cover all of them! Are starting to feel your need for someone to intervene on your behalf?

In my quiet time this morning, I read in Romans 3,

None is righteous, no, not one;
    no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”

Paul was writing to Jews and non-Jews, showing them their desperate need for Jesus. He squashes the assumption that some people are pretty good, and he leaves no room for the possibility that some people are good enough to have a relationship with God. Paul says that no one does good, not even one- they have become worthless. 

I have seen this countless times in evangelism. Most people that I talk to, even people who claim to be Christians, place their hope in heaven or in their relationship with God based on the fact that they are “pretty good,” or that God is “a forgiving God.” If that is the basis of your hope for salvation, I can promise you that you don’t understand Jesus. Paul also says in Romans 2 that it is foolish to presume upon God’s grace or mercy, assuming that He will just pardon us. Why? Because a Holy God cannot forgive and associate with unholiness beings. He has wrath for every unrighteous act that has ever been committed, and He will pour it out on all mankind, unless a holy, perfect sacrifice can appease His wrath, and pay for the sins of mankind.

Do you see our need for a Savior yet?

Jesus fulfills our need and takes us from our helpless state and reconciles us to God. Here’s how:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (with my italics added):

For our sake he (the Father) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus came to earth to take on our sin, and pay for it completely on the cross. The wrath (punishment) that must be poured out on mankind for every unrighteous act ever committed, would be poured out on Jesus on the cross. All of this happened so that “in Jesus,” through trusting in His sacrifice, we might become “the righteousness of God.” Meaning, we are made perfectly righteous in God’s eyes.

When we trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, an amazing exchange happens: Jesus takes our punishment, we are given His perfect record. From that moment on, when God looks on us, He sees the perfect obedience of Jesus. He no longer sees us as unworthy, unholy, imperfect people. He sees us as perfect, because “in Him we have become the righteousness of God.” That is why the Bible can say that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) because there is no more record of our wrong doings! In fact, our entire record has been shredded! There is no more punishment for our sins, past, present or future, because Jesus paid for all of them when He experienced God’s wrath on the cross.

And this wasn’t just a coincidence: it had been planned before the foundation of the world! Jesus wasn’t just conveniently killed by Roman soldiers and God said, “alright, that’ll work!” No. You see, God has been passionately pursuing us since we committed our first sin. He has been on a mission since day one to show us how much He loves us through a relationship with us. And He knew that He could only do this through giving up His own Son to be crucified and abandoned. Isaiah 53 says,  “it was the Lord’s will to crush Him (Jesus).” It was planned by God to send His Son to pay for our sins. Out of His great love for us, He planned to send His Son to die for us. And out of His great love for us, Jesus came down to save us.

THIS is why we need Jesus: Because now, in Him, God can show us His love and care in a relationship with us without violating His attributes, because we are now righteous in His eyes, and because all of His wrath toward us, was poured out on Jesus. The payment for our sin was paid in full.

Do you see your need for Jesus?

Then look to Him! Trust Him as the perfect sacrifice for your sin! Trust Him as the bridge between you and a holy God! Trust that He did all of this- because He loves you and wants a relationship with you! Jesus is the ONLY way to have forgiveness; He is the only way to have a relationship with the very God that created you.

Do you trust Him?

If you have any questions about what I have said above, please email me at jrfletch@uga.edu.

Discovering the True Jesus (pt. 6)- God’s Radical Pursuit of Mankind

I was able to preach this Sunday at Living Hope Church, so instead of writing a post this week, I decided to post a video of a sermon clip from this week’s sermon. This clip is about how Jesus came to earth as a result of God’s radical pursuit of mankind that has been going on ever since we broke relationship with Him in the Garden of Eden. I hope you enjoy.

The Never-Changing God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Our God NEVER changes. One may think, “great, how is that of use to me?” It is of great importance to us! Think of the ways that Jesus responded to the crowds in the first chapters of Mark: there were three different instances when Jesus was almost crushed by crowds of people. He even had to tell his disciples to prepare a boat that He could get in if the crowds started to crush Him (yes, that many people were running to Him!) When He went home to sleep that night, the scriptures say that the entire town was at His house! Yet, He skipped his meal, stayed and ministered to and loved on the people so much that his own family remarked that he was “out of his mind.” So, if He never changes, He still has this disposition, and He still reacts this way to those who run to Him.

Here is solid comfort. Our human nature cannot be relied on, but we can rely on God! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God does not change. If He changed as we do; if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by His mood, who could reveal their secrets to Him? However, we can bring Him praise and worship, because He is ever the same! His purpose is fixed, His will is stable, His Word is sure. Here then is a Rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty oceans of life try to sweep us away. (My translation of A.W Pinks Attributes, pp 692 Kindle)

Think about it. His character is permanent. He could never change for the better, for that would imply that there was something about Him that needed improving before, and thus, He wouldn’t be a perfect God. He has always been, and forever will be, the same, perfect, God. The permanence of His character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises:

For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”               Isaiah 54:10

His promises are true. His hatred of sin endures forever. His love for His children never changes. His satisfaction with the sacrifice His Son paid for our sins will never change…Aren’t you glad that our God never changes?

Looking Unto Jesus- Charles Spurgeon

“Looking unto Jesus.” —Hebrews 12:2

“It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.

He insinuates, ‘Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of His children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.’

All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: He tells us that we are nothing, but that ‘Christ is all in all.’

Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits.

Therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith.

We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by ‘looking unto Jesus.’

Keep thine eye simply on Him; let His death, His sufferings, His merits, His glories, His intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to Him; when thou liest down at night look to Him.

Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after Him, and He will never fail thee.

‘My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesu’s name.’”

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–Charles Spurgeon, “June 28 – Morning” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994), 378.