In the US (and many other countries), we have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and look at the consequences! It has affected education, politics, business, family life and more. Lawlessness is at an all-time high and, if that’s not bad enough, we continue to see a rise in terrorism around the world and here at home. But, could we, like a handful of faithful men and women in the first century, turn the world upside down?
Hosea 3 & 4
1 John 4.1-21
Could We Turn the World Upside Down?
Hosea 3 & 4:
Here in the book of Hosea, we have a beautiful picture of God’s mercy with His people and the fact that He will, eventually, redeem the true church and the nation of Israel.
Verse 3.1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ ”
But … Our Choices, Like Theirs, Are Not without Consequences
But as I’ve said before, it doesn’t mean there are no consequences for sinful behavior.
It’s impossible not to see some of the parallels between America and rebellious Israel. We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and loved a lover, a god, of our own making—one who allows us to live however we desire. Look at some of the phrases in chapter 4:
“…no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … swearing and lying … killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint … bloodshed upon bloodshed … you have rejected knowledge … forgotten the law of your God … they set their heart on iniquity.”
No truth or knowledge of God: He has been “kicked out” of our schools, our government, and the public arena. And sadly, we’ve thrown common sense out the window, too.
Swearing and lying: In politics (ad nauseam), in business (whatever it takes to make a buck), and the list goes on.
Killing and stealing: Just turn on the nightly news.
Committing adultery: Too often we have excused and justified it when it was our life or our side of the political aisle. We looked the other way when a sitting President had sex with an intern in the White House. We’ve demanded that everyone has the right to decide what’s right for them. The result is a culture of sexual harassment, broken marriages, serial relationships, abortion, and the lowering of every sexual standard.
Breaking all restraint: We have demanded and won the freedom to live out almost any lifestyle we choose. But we’re no longer happy to be allowed to live in sexual sin, we demand that everyone else accept, even applaud it. And we’re willing to destroy anyone who disagrees, dares to tell us we’re wrong, or refuses to participate in our choices!
Bloodshed upon bloodshed: Rioting, gang violence, wholesale murder in some of our inner cities.
Rejection of knowledge and the law of your God: Anyone holding to a biblical standard will be mocked, accused of ramming their opinions down the throats of others, or worse.
Hearts set on iniquity: There are those who live to lie, cheat, and steal.
The prophet also shall stumble with you: Even some churches have removed a biblical standard and a call to holiness, refusing to use the word sin or to say anything that might offend anyone, ordaining gay clergy, and looking the other way concerning abortion, just for starters. And, sadly, far too many religious leaders have fallen personally (Hosea 4.5).
And look at some of the consequences:
“Therefore the land will mourn … everyone who dwells there will waste away … even the fish of the sea will be taken away … you shall stumble in the day … I also will forget your children … I will change their glory into shame … they shall eat, but not have enough …” (4.3-10).
Look at the condition of our nation as a whole. There is a lack of morality and justice. Our economy continues to falter. Selfishness rules the day and everyone does what seems right and feels good to him.
Turn the World Upside Down
“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days” (3.5).
- Pray! Pray for our nation, our leaders, our neighbors, our families and ourselves.
¹Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.1-4).
- Go! Jesus said we are to take the gospel to those in our neighborhoods, our cities, our nation and the world.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28.19).
- Disciple! We’re to help others grow in their faith and help them understand how to apply God’s Word to their own lives.
” ‘teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” (Matt. 28.20).
After Christ’s resurrection and ascension, a few faithful men and women turned the world upside down (Acts 17.6). We, too, can make a huge impact on the world around us if we will step out in faith.
Let’s prayerfully consider what more you and I could do to share the gospel during this holiday season and beyond. Is there someone you could come alongside and disciple? That might be by reading and studying the Bible together. Or by going through a book like The Excellent Wife together.
Whether you share God’s truth over a cup of coffee, teach adults or children, homeschool your kids, lead a small group, or a million other things you could do to further God’s work in your neighborhood and the world, you can make a difference.
Today’s Other Readings:
He Will Perfect What Concerns Me
Verse 8, “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands.”
Because of His great mercy, we can be assured that He is perfecting—bringing to maturity—the work He is doing in us (Phil. 1.6).
True Peace, Joy, & Happiness
“Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law.”
It looks like God is driving that point home to us today. Where there is no knowledge or understanding of God’s Word, people throw off any restraint.
The NLT says, “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.”
When God and His Word are removed from a society, it gives place to every kind of evil and wickedness.
But even in the church where we hear the word preached, we must apply it to our lives Monday through Saturday. It’s God’s law, not His divine suggestions!
Our sinful hearts tell us that it’s in freedom from restraint that we find happiness, but the opposite is true. True peace, joy, and happiness are found in living God’s way!
1 John 4.1-21:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world … We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4.1, 6).
We recognize error by knowing THE TRUTH. That only comes from a steady intake of God’s Word.
If truth and knowledge are to come back into our land, we must be able to “test the spirits” (v. 1) and recognize the “Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (v. 6). Only then will we “fear the LORD and His goodness” (Hos. 3.5).
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about false teachers, friendship, judgment, the Rapture, the Tribulation, Assurance of salvation, grace, and the responsibility involved in being a true friend.
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Getting ready for 2018 with a Chance to Win a Bible & Journal
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading and prayer an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible and to sign up for my daily encouragement. This year I’ll be adding Scripture-based prayers to each day’s post. If you sign up before December 15 you’ll have a chance to win a MacArthur Daily Bible and a journal to record your thoughts and those Scripture-based prayers. Email subscribers will also be automatically entered into a drawing for monthly giveaways throughout 2018.
I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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Today’s Featured Resources:
I love this book and the simple instructions for sharing the gospel with others. Just recently, I heard from two friends who led someone to the Lord for the first time using the simple list of verses recommended. The joy and excitement they experienced was palpable.
In recent years, the Share Jesus without Fear book and its growing family of ancillary products have sparked a faith-sharing movement that continues to gain momentum. It began with the jaw-dropping story of William Fay, once a money-driven businessman with Mafia ties who ran a house of prostitution until it was raided by police. Facing the threat of jail time, Fay turned to Jesus Christ for redemption and ever since has been turning others to Him as well. Now featuring a fresh new cover design, Share Jesus without Fear relays Fay’s passionate, effective instructions on how to share the love of Christ with anyone–without feeling intimidated on either side of the conversation. Bold and joyful, the outreach movement continues without fear.
Martha has written a straightforward book about what it means to be a godly wife. It is biblically based, easy to read and understand and offers great practical ideas for living out God’s commands, even in a difficult marriage.