Tear-drying, heart-rejoicing, dream-fulfilling words of hope

I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy.—Hosea 2:23

“I will not have mercy” are the most terrifying words a sinner can hear from the mouth of the Lord. These words will destroy the souls of the unrepentant sinner on the Day of Judgment. These words will echo round the chambers of hell forever: “I will not have mercy.” And who can argue with them?

Those who spend their earthly days saying, “I don’t want mercy,” can hardly complain when at the end of their days God grants them their request eternally, “You didn’t want mercy, and so you will not have mercy.” These words dash every dream and quash every hope, “I will not have mercy.” Oh, mercy-spurning sinner, will this be your death-sentence? Will you ever hear these “No Outlet” words?

Oh my soul, woe is me! Have I not rejected God’s offered mercy time and again? How many times I have whispered in my soul, “I will not have mercy.” How many times I have stubbornly insisted, “I want merit, not mercy. I want to be a creditor who is owed, not a debtor who can never repay.” And now, here I am hastening to judgment and eternity with neither merit nor mercy. Oh woe, woe is me!

But here is hope, despairing soul. Israel was just like you; she refused mercy time after time. She was judged by the removal of mercy in foreign exile (Hos. 1:6). But God looks down in pity on her merciless condition and says, “I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy.” What a turning point! What tear-drying, heart-rejoicing, dream-fulfilling words of hope!

Go to the Lord and say, “I have not obtained mercy because I did not need nor want mercy. But now I desperately need it and earnestly want it. I abandon all my imagined merit. Oh Lord, be merciful to me, the sinner.” And wait, what do you hear? Can it be, “I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy”?

And dear Christian of many years, recall what turned your life around. It wasn’t your merit or will; it was God’s mercy and God’s will. It was when He said—oh, blessed moment—“I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy.”


Check out

Blogs

Is Racial Harmony a Black Issue? | Trillia Newbell
Here’s a wise voice I’ve been listening to and learning from for a long time:

“These shootings have left us asking the same questions I believe we’ve been asking over the past few years, but this time something has changed. What has typically been a discussion predominantly among African Americans has now found an increasing amount of white voices speaking out—it’s not enough, but it’s a start.”

Di-ver-si-ty: Overcoming Homogeneity in Our Churches |  Ed Stetzer
“In living out these five truths of diversity, our churches will reflect more of the eschatological kingdom of God in the here and now!”

Gay Political Power Reaching Record as U.S. Attitudes Shift } Bloomberg Politics
“The gay power base has never been stronger. Maloney is one of seven openly gay U.S. lawmakers — the most ever — and membership in the House LGBT Equality Caucus has surged 58 percent this session. There are about 500 LGBT politicians serving in elected office at all levels of U.S. government and almost 200 more running for office this year, including 11 for Congress, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which supports those candidates.”

The Peculiar Nature of Christian Longings |Right With God
“The fundamental thing about christian longings is that the enjoyment of these longings does not depend on the fulfillment of them.”

BBC Radio 4 – A Point of View, After the Vote, Onora O’Neill
This short reflection on the Brexit debate has important lessons for the USA too especially about how to repair the democratic deficit.

Fighting for Faith in a Fostering Family
“Providing a haven of consistent, safe days is the role of foster care. The attachment we built with Casey lays a foundation for his life. It allowed for his brain to develop, and for him to build skills and personality. He learned the basics of trusting relationships in a stable, safe, and loving environment. Success is not based on “us together.” Success is based on Casey’s thriving. The separation we experienced no doubt caused trauma for him, just as it did for us. But the roots he grew while starting in a loving family will keep him from withering by God’s grace.”

How We Rewrote Our Company’s Mental Health Policy | Harvard Business Review
I wish our churches were leading the way here rather than bringing up the rear.

“Regardless of whether you acknowledge it, at least one person on your team is living with a mental illness right now. And as someone with a family history of mental illness, I can tell you that while it’s an inherently personal battle, mental illness’s effects aren’t limited to your employees’ personal lives. In fact, the World Health Organization found that without improved treatment, the world will lose 12 billion workdays by 2030 to depression and anxiety disorders alone.”

New Book

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Rod Dreher gave this his highest commendation recently, as a book that gives essential insights into an increasingly alienated and forgotten part of our society.

Kindle Books

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Jock Talk: Five Communication Principles for Leaders from Legends in the Sports World $0.99.

 Date Your Wife by Justin Buzzard $2.99.

Family Worship: In the Bible, in History, and in your Home by Don Whitney $3.99

Video

Dallas Police Chief Testifies to God’s Grace and his Sweet Tender Mercies
I wish this man was running for President.


Heavenly Argriculture

I will sow her for myself in the earth.— Hosea 2:23

What’s the point of a land full of fruit if there are no people to eat it? Having promised to fructify the land in the previous verses, God now promises to populate it. He will not only sow corn, wine, and oil, but people.

Because of sin, Israel’s fields and towns lie empty and still. But that barren and empty land will be filled with produce and people by God’s great “I will.” He will take the remaining seed of His people—few and weak as they are—and sow them in the land again.

Onlookers might scoff at the dim prospects for such a seed in such a land. But in God’s time and with His blessing, that handful of seed will flourish and fill the land again to the astonishment of all. “Look!” says the now startled scoffer. “Look at what God has produced! What a farmer!”

Weak seed plus almighty sowing results in glory for the Sower rather than the seed. I will sow her “for myself” in the earth. When the Lord sows, it is for Himself, it is to His praise and honor.

Barren soul, frail seed of humanity, the divine “I will sow her for myself” is your great and only hope. Plead with the heavenly Agriculturalist to sow you to Him and for Him in the earth. You look at yourself and see deadness and dryness, and you conclude that God can find better seed to work with. This is true. But He is looking for weak and worthless seed. That should be your hope, not your despair.

Reverently argue your poor condition with Him: “Lord, I am poor and needy. Many scoff at me. I scoff at myself. For I am truly hopeless and helpless. But if you will sow me in the earth, all scoffing will be silenced. Think of what they and I will say if you will sow me in the earth with your divine benediction. No more will they mockingly say, ‘What pathetic seed!’ But, rather, ‘What a great Sower!’ O sow me for yourself in the earth. Make me an exhibit of what divine sowing can accomplish with the least promising of materials.”

God always rises to the challenge of this persuasive argument.


Check out

Blogs

I’m Never Bored, and I Think It Might Be Killing Me | The Blazing Center
The danger of never being bored.

Alcohol Abuse, Perry Noble, and the Church’s Response—What Now? | Ed Stetzer
Another celebrity pastor bites the dust. You can almost see these coming now and forecast who’s next.

What’s Going On? : The Front Porch
Tony Carter reflects on last week’s bloodshed. And here’s How to Pray in Our Time of National Crisis

Grandparents, We Need You! | A Small Work

The Frustration of Slowing Down | For The Church

Research: Want More Entrepreneurs? Make College Cheaper

Kindle Books

Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Those who Know you Well by Randy Newman $2.99.

Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters who Walk with God by Voddie Baucham

Getting to No: How to Break a Stubborn Habit by Edwin Lutzer $3.99

Scatter: Go Therefore and Take Your Job With You by Andrew Scott $0.99.

Video

How a Busy Mom Can Stay Consistent in the Word


Weep, Love, and Pray: A Christian Response to Dallas, Castille, and Sterling

Heal

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

What to say? What to do?

We are in desperate times.

Spiritually desperate.

Politically desperate.

Morally desperate.

Socially desperate.

Economically desperate.

Militarily desperate.

Culturally desperate.

Judicially desperate.

Nationally desperate.

Internationally desperate.

What can Christians say? What can Christians do?

Weep, love, and pray. Weep, love, and pray.

Within hours, the politicians and the pundits will come up with the latest round of agenda-driven divisive solutions. Even if some have merit, where is the trusted leader and statesman to lead the nation in a wise and winning way?

The Christian response is to weep, love, and pray.

To weep with those who weep. With the families of Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, and many other slain black lives. With the families of the dead and injured Dallas policemen, and the 61 other brave men and women in blue who have lost their lives in the line of duty in 2016.

To weep over our torn and shredded nation. Abounding violence and oppression, injustice and inequity, prejudice and favoritism, lawlessness and illegality, are ripping out the heart of our country and creating a new entity — the Divided States of America

To weep over our own personal sins. “What can we do?” is the cry of our hearts. I am utterly convinced on the basis of 2 Chronicles 7:14, that the best thing Christians can do today is set aside time to repent of personal sin. No one will see it, or hear it, or “like” it, or “re-tweet it.” But God promises that he will see it, hear it, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

Although it may seem ridiculous to connect our sins to this week’s bloodshed, God makes that connection. He connects personal sin to national disintegration, and personal repentance to national restoration. There is no power to change a nation greater than nationwide repentance. Penitent words to God are far more influential and transformational than presidential statements.

And let’s take time to love our neighbor today — especially white ones if we are black, or black ones if we are white, and blue ones regardless of our color. This is a time for reaching out across our divides; across the checkout counter, across the fence, across the street. Let’s not just proclaim our love on social media but practice love in our society. Imagine if 300+ million people loved one or two new people today, and tomorrow, and the next day. We can help to heal our land by loving in ways we’ve never done before, by loving people we’ve never loved before, especially by loving those who look and sound most different to us.

Above all, let’s pray that God would prevent more bloodshed — whether of black blood, blue blood, white blood, or gay blood. And let’s pray that many would turn to the atoning blood of Christ, because ultimately only his mighty blood can heal our hearts and thereby heal our land.


Is God Hovering Over Your Life?

I will hear.— Hosea 2:21

“I will hear, says the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel” (vv. 21–22). Here, the sky asks God for clouds, and God gives it. The earth asks the sky for rain, and the sky gives it. The corn, the wine, and the oil ask the earth for fertility, and the earth gives it. Jezreel, or Israel, asks the corn, wine, and oil for sustenance, and they give it. This chain of giving encourages Israel to trace the links all the way back to God. The success of every request to supply need encourages Israel to bring her own requests to God. Verse 18 spoke of the restored harmony of the animal world, and here a picture of agricultural harmony is added.

One of Israel’s great sins was the worship of Baal, the heathen god of fertility. They prayed to him for fruitful fields and also attributed the results to this idol. For too long, God could say, “I don’t hear.” Israel failed to bring their requests and their thanks to Him. He did not hear them. As He waited over Israel, listening—nothing. Nothing but deafening silence. For this, Israel was to be judged.

However, this infliction would restore the golden chain of God’s providence to their lives, both national and personal. They would again recognize their need of and debt to God. So, God predicts, “I will hear.” Israel would once again pray for divine provision and recognize it with thankful worship. And with satisfaction, God says, “I do hear.”

Has God been hovering over your life and hearing nothing? He is listening but saying, “I don’t hear.” “I don’t hear prayer for daily bread. I don’t hear thanks.” You are attributing your blessings to your own strength, to luck, or to sheer coincidence. You are patting yourself on your back rather than praising God with your lips. The golden chain of prayer, providence, and praise has broken down. But God is saying, “I will hear.” He is coming to break your Baal. When it lies shattered before you, you begin to look heavenward, prayer is stuttered and stammered heavenward, and heaven replies, “Now I hear. And you will be heard.”