I always enjoy my Tuesday morning devotional and prayer time with some of our county officials and other pastors and leaders. I believe this was started to support and encourage some of our elected officials, but it is a time of encouragement for all who participate.
This morning I did have my fitness center workout. My trainer wanted to use some, “functional exercise” – so I worked on moving from the floor (on my stomach) to a chair eight times. It is in those moments I discover the challenges that still exist in my recovery.
The rest of the day was office work and my own “functional exercise” in wrapping up my landscaping project of removing rock from the perimeter of my house where we need to regrade the slope.
BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “Come back to the Lord and say these words to him: “Take away all our sin and kindly receive us…” Hosea 14:2 NCV
From my early years growing up in a strong Bible-based church, I remembering learning how to share my faith and to “lead someone to Christ.” Part of that training was leading someone in the “sinner’s prayer.” We realized that it was not the “words” that brought forgiveness, but the sincerity of heart. We were just prepared to help those who had never prayed or need some guidance. Perhaps you are familiar to a similar prayer at the end of a church service.
That is what we see at the end of Hosea. The prophet implores a rebellious people to “come back to the Lord.” He then shares the most simple of prayers for those who had done so much wrong, for so long. “Take away all our sin and kindly receive us and we will keep the promises we made to you.” Perhaps those final words could be expressed today as, “….and we will live for you.” That simple, yet that powerful. No list of actions or sacrifices or acts of penitence.
At times people have a hard time grasping the depth of God’s love and willingness to forgive. If there were any people who could have been in that situation it was God’s chosen people. They broke the Ten Commandments and then walked all over them. After the Lord listed their sins and condemns their idolatry He says, “But they still keep on sinning more and more.” (Hosea 13:2 NCV) Even as the people faced the consequences of their sin, there was hope for “a comeback.”
I am thankful that the Lord redeems and restores. In the past, I found it easy to look at the history of God’s people and feel frustrated at their hard hearts and rebellion. Now, I a take heart in their story. Not because of their sin, but because of the revelation of God’s mercy and redemptive character. That gives hope to every person, in every situation.
The Lord then communicates these words of encouragement to those who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration, “The Lord says, “I will forgive them for leaving me and will love them freely…” (Hosea 14:4 NCV) That is grace that is “greater than all of our sin.”
For those who feel “away from the Lord” for those who feel they have done too much bad for too long; there his hope. Allow the provision of Christ’s death on the cross, give even greater power to the words of the Old Testament prophet, “Come back to the Lord and say these words to him: “Take away all our [my] sin and kindly receive us [me]…”