Over the years since I have become a Christian, I have not been able to make it out to as many special meetings, men’s retreats, prayer breakfasts (and other such things) as I would have liked. Frequently, the demands of secular work, the demands of my family or even the demands of the church have kept me from them. Oh well. It makes me enjoy the ones I make it out to even more!
When I do make it to some such meeting, I find I am always greatly blessed. For example, this last fall I was able to attend the WCBF Men’s Retreat in Alix, AB. Several hours in a car with a good friend, good, deep, Bible teaching on an important subject, prayer time with men of God as well as casual fellowship were an immeasurable help to me (not to mention the great food!). Not to sound too cliché, but I always come away from those meetings refreshed and having made some decision about growth and my commitment to Christ. This last fall, again, was no exception.
One of the things we will often hear in church before and after special meetings of this kind, whether it’s evangelistic meetings, youth retreats, ladies’ retreats, etc… is a particular prayer I’m sure you will relate to and it goes something like this: “Lord, please let the decisions made at (insert event here) stick.” Let the decisions stick. Stick? As opposed to what? Well, I guess the opposite of sticking would be slipping. We could be saying “Lord, please don’t let the decisions slip away.” Why do we pray these things? Sad as it is, the fact is that many such decisions do slip away. Some happen quickly, some take time. There is a song written about decisions that seem to be forgotten “between the altar and the door”. It’s sad, but it’s a fact.
This morning, I was reading in Hosea for my personal devotions. In this book, God compares Israel to an adulterous wife, repeatedly unfaithful to her husband. He rebukes Israel for her idolatry and pronounces judgment on them for it. Strictly speaking, Hosea is written to the Jewish people - the nation of Israel - and is an indictment against them for leaving the God of their fathers. But in the New Testament, we are told that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ” (2 Timothy 3:16,17) So then, according to Paul, the book of Hosea can be of benefit to you and I as well.
Let me give you several verses from chapter 5.
Verse 4: “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. For the spirit of whoredom is within them, and they know not the Lord. ”
Verse 6: “With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them. ”
Verse 11: “Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after (human precepts).”
Verse 12: “But I am like a moth to Ephraim, and like dry rot to the house of Judah.”
Verse 13: “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound. ”
These are sad verses. Israel had sinned by leaving the God Who had made them the great nation that they were and choosing lesser gods (who were no gods at all). As a result, He judged them as He had said He would. Their solution was, sadly, to run to even lesser beings - human kings - and to seek their help. But they could not help. So God says, in verse 15, that He will wait for them to repent and return to Him: “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.”
Then, for one bright moment, in chapter 6 verse 1, we read “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. ” Israel seems to be making a right decision! Praise God! But God knows the heart and see how He responds to them in verse 4: “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.” He says to them, in effect, “Israel, it’s great that you are again declaring your love for me. It’s great that you are making this wonderful decision to return to me. These are the words I want to hear! But they are nothing more than a morning fog! By the time the sun is fully risen, the fog has risen away and is no more. So will your ‘decision’ be. It looks great now. But in a short while, it will be gone. Forgotten, as if it never had been.”
As I read Hosea 6:4 this morning, God’s Holy Spirit gave me a stern poke. “Don’t be like that.”
What about you? How long do your decisions for the Lord last? That decision you made at the last retreat… That commitment you made following the message your pastor preached last Sunday… That promise you made to God after reading your Bible the other day. Will it stick or will it slip away? Is it anything more than a morning fog?
- Pastor Mike
Sunday Service Times
9:45 a.m. Sunday Morning Bible Study
11:00 a.m. Sunday Morning Worship
120-1081 Central Ave N,