I Shall Not Want

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

I never truly understood the gravity of this verse until this morning. David’s words seem solid, firm, unmovable. The LORD IS my shepherd. He leads…I follow. He cares. He disciplines. And based on those things David then says, “I shall not want.” That’s where it hits me. I want for all kinds of things. New this…golf that. Dinner here, lunch there. But with God there is no want because David was satisfied by what he had by recognizing that it was God who provided for him.

Maybe today is a good day for us to step back and view life from David’s perspective. When David wrote this psalm he was fleeing from Saul who wanted to kill him. David had been wandering from place to place. He was in exile from his own people and was constantly living among strangers…even enemies. One could say that David’s life was in turmoil.

Yet here we see a heart that does not fixate on the problems around him or become engulfed in the things he wanted…like to be home. For the fighting to stop. To be at peace in his homeland. Lots of things we take for granted. Rather, he fixed his gaze on God, trusting that He had David’s best interests at heart. Let the words of this Psalm resonate in your heart today and meditate on what they mean: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

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Does God Want You to Have a 5-Year Plan?

I was asked recently by a very good friend of mine what I thought about 5-year plans. My response to him was simple, “I don’t have one.” I was waiting for the confused look of “Are you crazy?” but instead I was met with a look of relief. It seems that my friend was charged at work to take the weekend and come up with a 5-year plan and he wasn’t sure how to tell his boss that he didn’t feel led to plan one.

The more I thought about why I do not have a 5-year plan, the more I look like I’m coo-coo for Cocoa-Puffs. As a church planter, I can’t tell you how many times I have been instructed to come up with a 5-year plan. I’ve been told that if I fail to plan, I’m planning to fail (not sure what Scripture verse that is…but I’m still looking). I just can’t do it. And this is why…

  1. It prideful. For me to develop a 5-year plan is for me to tell God, “Hey, this is what I want to do…bless it will ya?” That to me seem arrogant…at best. The idea of telling God what I’d like to do and then disguising it as if it came from Him just seems….I don’t know…wrong.
  2. It’s not biblical. Jesus tells us to now worry about tomorrow, because today has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). We are also told to cease striving and know the He is God (Psalm 46:10). Don’t get me wrong here…I am not advocating laziness. I’m advocating walking by faith. We are told in 2 Corinthians 5:7 that we are to “walk by faith, not by sight.” But as sure as the sun shines I hear this, “Well, we are also told that without vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18). True! But what does the word “vision” mean in Hebrew. It means “revelation.” The revelation is from God’s Word. So…without God’s Word the people (believers mind you) will perish. This verse has nothing to do with a 5-year plan.
  3. It’s man’s thing…not God’s. So let me get this right, God’s Word says we are to walk by faith. God’s Word says we are to not worry about tomorrow. God’s Word says that we should seek to mature in His Word. But MAN says we are to have a 5-year plan. I think I’ll go with what God says…just sayin’.

I can’t think of anywhere in Scripture that God told a person he called to go out and make a 5-year plan. All kinds of folks will tell you Nehemiah…Ezra…Moses. But I’m pretty sure He didn’t promise any of them tomorrow. Each of them may have had a call to do something, much like I have been called to pastor a church. And they may have thought about seeing their work through until the end…as do I. I would love to die at an old age still preaching the Truth of the Kingdom. But in the back of our hearts we know…today could be the last day.

So what do we do? Focus on what God has called you to do today. Focus on deepening your relationship with Him today. Spend quality time with Him today. We are not promised tomorrow and even if it comes, we have enough to do today.

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Hosea 3:1-5 – We Must Do Our Part

Recap:

Once again, God gives a command to Hosea to go back and get Gomer. This time, she has strayed so far away that Hosea needed to buy her back (verses 1-2). He does so for 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a half of Barley. The rich typology continues in this book as we look at both silver and barley. Silver is always associated with redemption or to buy back. Barley represents the rich blessings that await those who come back to the Lord from their backslidden state. The numbers themselves are important. 15 is the number 5 x 3. Five stands for grace, and three is God’s number. So, it is only by God’s grace that the runaway Gomer (or believer) can return. It is also the only way a person can be saved! But what’s with the 1 ½? In Hebrew, whenever a ½ is used, it means that we are not seeing the complete picture. In order to see the complete picture you must add the rest (or 1 ½). 1 and ½ plus itself equals 3. So, the rich blessings that await the runaway Gomer are partly hers, but the rest is up to her. God has done his part, but she also must do hers!

When Hosea finds her and buys her back, he instructs her that she is not to leave anymore and warns her not to be involved in adulterous relationships (verse 3). And in yet another foreshadow, God says the people of Israel will not have a kingdom to call their own (verse 4). But there will come a time when the Messiah comes to set up His kingdom, that Israel will again seek the Lord and David their king (he will be resurrected and sit on a throne with Christ), and they will know that God is Lord of all. This will happen in the last days (verse 5).

Kingdom Truth Reflection:

I heard something yesterday and posted it for my Facebook status. It was, “Bible knowledge is good, but it means nothing if you do not have a heart for Jesus.” When I heard those words, I was reminded of how much God had shown me in His Word. The different types, the truth of the Kingdom, the intricate details He has shown me in Scripture. But I was also reminded of how easy it is to sit on a pedestal and think we have some pretty good knowledge that most don’t know, but if I don’t sacrifice my life daily for Christ, it all means nothing. Nothing at all. It is akin to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13. We can have good knowledge, we can have cool stuff we know, but if we don’t have love, if we don’t have an intimate relationship with Christ, it amounts to nothing. And that beloved, is a scary thing.

Much like the homer and ½ of barley, God has (by grace) done His part, but we must also do ours. We must respond when the Word of God calls. We must answer when we are disciplined. We must pray that our hearts stay soft and pliable.

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Hosea 2:21-23 – The Gift of God

Recap:

God continues to speak of what will happen in that day which we saw yesterday points to a time in the future of peace. This kind of peace can only come when God Himself will rule the earth. God says that He will respond to the heavens, which in turn respond to the earth, which in turn responds to the grain, wine, oil. Each will respond to Jezreel, or what God sows (verses 21-22). This is a connection to what God stated in chapter 1 verse 4. We’ve heard the term, “you reap what you sow.” Here, God has sown a promise, and that promise He will reap. But there is an underlying promise that God make here that relates to those of us who are not Israelites. In verse 23, God says He will have compassion on those who had not obtained compassion and to those people, God will say “You are My people!” In return, they will say, “You are our God!” (verse 23)

Kingdom Truth Reflection:

The call of Israel was to be a nation of priests that went to those who did not know God and be a mediator for Him. Instead, they became self-absorbed in who they were and Whose they were that those whom God sent them to became “enemies” of sorts. Those other people were not good enough (besides, look how they lived) to be told of this Mighty God that saves all. The story of Jonah connects here.

But what God is telling us here, is that there would and will come a time when people who were not called God’s people, will be in fact called God’s people. These people were the Gentiles. In other words, all people that are not Jewish. And this is exactly what has begun to take place. We have been “grafted in” by God’s grace (Romans 11:16-21). And we must remember as God’s people, that in the same way they were disobedient, we also have the choice to be the same way. We must take much care in how we respond to God’s call.

Being Christmas Eve some will be opening presents today. Think about this present: God gave His One and Only Son to die in your place, so that you can have the promises He so richly has bestowed upon His people. How do we treat that gift?

Merry Christmas everyone. Merry Christmas indeed.

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Hosea 2:14-20 – “In that day…”

Recap:

In this section, God speaks of the restoration of Israel. God so cares for His chosen nation Israel that He will set her apart with kind and soft words as only a husband would do (verse 14). He will bless her and take care of her as He promised, looking past their chastisement that has taken place and is no more (verses 15-16). God will overtake them with such love that they will not even remember the name Baal (verse 17). When that time comes, there will be peace on the earth (verse 18). There will also be the bride which lives in righteousness, justice, loving-kindness, compassion, and faithfulness (verses 19-20). We must understand that when we read verse 18, God is speaking of a time to come in the future for He says, “In that day,” these things will happen.

Kingdom Truth Reflection:

But when is that day? Was it after the Jews came out of exile? Is it now? Or is it later? The only thing we need to do to understand then “when” is to look at verse 18. One simple question is…is there any more war? There surely was war when the Israelites came out of exile for Jerusalem fell in 70 AD. When we look on the television today we see war, even war involving the Israelites. Also, when God “abolishes” something, it’s a pretty good bet it won’t happen again. When we review the other things in verse 18, we do not see those things taking place either.

No, God is speaking of a time to come. That time is the millennial reign of the King. That King is Jesus. When Jesus returns again, He will rule and reign for 1,000 years in the Kingdom of Heaven with His Bride as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The Jews, which are now the tail of the nations, will again become the head of the nations. The prophecy we see here (and many other places regarding a coming peace), which involves peace, safety, and security will happen then. Notice the Bride will be betrothed to God forever in verse 19. The Bride of Christ will be so due to the five (5 stands for grace) qualities of her character. When we live in those five qualities, what happens? We will KNOW the Lord! That connection points directly to Matthew 7:21! Jesus knows everyone, but what He was saying there was that He did not have an intimate relationship with those people. It isn’t that they aren’t saved, they are much like Israel here…harlots who love the world more than they love Him.

Many people this week are looking forward to Christmas. What will I get? Will I get that one thing I asked for? Celebrating with family. Sharing the Christmas spirit with those less fortunate. Yes Christmas, we look for you every year. But I wonder…do we have the same expectation and awe for the coming Reign of our Lord as we do December 25th? Are we making our wedding garment and clothing ourselves in righteousness to be prepared when the bridegroom comes? Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time of year. But it happens every year. The second coming of Christ will come one time. We must learn to celebrate the Messiah…from the cradle, to the cross, to the crown.

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Hosea 2:1-13 – God’s Broken Heart

Recap:

God uses not only Gomer, but her two children she bore out of wedlock as an example once again between His relationship with Israel. God’s warning of a coming punishment is stern here, but rightly so. We see that Israel (Gomer) is not His wife (not the bride)(verse 2). For the bride is faithful and righteous. This does not mean that these people are not saved, they are unfaithful. We’ll see an example of this in a moment. For her unfaithfulness, God will expose her for what she has done (verses 3-5). And when He does, He will surely punish her even though she will continue to chase after others that are not God (verses 6-7).

But look what happens at the end of verse 7. There will come a time when she will have enough and will repent and turn back to God. There will come a time when she will come to her senses and realize that God was indeed a faithful Groom. So faithful that she will understand that it was God all along that provided for her…even to walk away (verse 8). Because of this, God will take back what is rightly His (verse 9). And there will be no one that can save her from this day of coming punishment (verse 10). The punishment will fit the sin she has committed, if for no other reason than to let Israel see how far she truly has fallen (verses 11-13).

Kingdom Truth Reflection:

I mentioned when I began this study that I thought this book was a sorrowful book. And these verses, especially the end of verse 13, shows us this. Israel was so unfaithful and chased after worldly things, that she “forgot” God. When we contemplate this, we see it as unbelievable that the country formed by God would do such a thing. God’s heartbreak is so vividly clear here. He was faithful to provide for Israel…for all of those years, and she repaid Him by chasing after false gods and worldly things. One of the saddest days in Scripture is the day they asked for a king so they can be, “just like the others.”

It is here that I face myself in the mirror and see the name Gomer across my forehead. I too have fallen away from the Lord. I too have been unfaithful. To think of all the times He has provided for me and I decided that it was not enough or not good enough reveals a side of me I hate (I know that’s a strong word, but it fits). My old nature wants what it wants. And if I’m not careful, I can let it lead me astray.

God has given us the ultimate gift in His Son, Jesus Christ. By believing in what He has done on the cross for us and trusting that what He accomplished is once and for all, we have eternal life. But we mustn’t stop there. We have a daily life to lead. We have daily choices that must be made. God protect us from ourselves! Protect us from our old nature.

Please God, I do not want to break Your heart by my adultery of wanting what the world has to offer. Lead us home to be faithful to You. If this is your prayer this morning, I am praying with you. I understand now what Paul meant when he said, “the very things I do not want to do, I do. And the things I want to do, I do not do. Wretched man that I am!”

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Hosea 1:5-11 – God Does Chastise His Own

Recap:

God continued telling of the punishment of His people in verse 5. The story then shifts back to Gomer (who is a type for Israel), and the next child that she bears. Notice this time, Gomer conceived, but there is no mention of Hosea being the father. In verse 3 we saw that Hosea, “went and took Gomer…and she conceived.” Thus this child born in verse 6 was born out of an adulterous relationship. Or as we see Israel, they decided to follow after other gods! What a picture! The name of this child, a daughter, would be Lo-ruhamah (verse 6). Lo-ruhamah in Hebrew means “no compassion.” And God explains the name of the child (also a type for the offspring of Israel) for the rest of the verse. In a twist of events however, God relayed that He would have compassion on the house of Judah (verse 7).

When Gomer weaned Lo-ruhamah, once again she gave birth to another adulterous child, this time a boy (verses 8-9). This child’s name would be Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people.”

Kingdom Truth Reflection:

WAIT JUST A SECOND! Are we to infer from these verses and the names of these children, that the God who had compassion on the Ninevites now had not compassion on His own people?! Are we seeing here that God has abandoned His people, even though He promised He would never leave them or forsake them (Deuteronomy 31:6)? Or are we seeing that because Israel acted the way they did, God was just in walking away from them?

The answer comes in verse 10. Although God WILL punish Israel for what they had done (because He had to…making Him a perfectly just God), He would still give them what He promised them. They would be like the “sand on the sea,” implying that even though they were in the world (sea is a type for the world), they would still be His people because of the promise God made with Abraham. Notice what God promises in verse 11. Even though a punishment of God’s own people is coming, the sons of Judah AND THE SONS OF ISRAEL will come together! Yes, God was going to chastise His own. He would have Israel (and Judah as well) endure exile for a time, but it would not last forever.

TYPE ALERT!!! The same is true of God’s people today! When the rapture happens and all of the people of God go to the Judgment Seat of Christ, some (due to their adultery, i.e. loving the world more than God) will endure chastisement (1 Cor. 3:15), yet in the end they will enter eternal life! The Old Testament is littered with example of how God chastised His own people! Why would we think we are any different?!

Remember beloved, God’s ways are not our ways. God is a God of love, compassion, mercy…and justice. If He were to chastise an unfaithful generation, He is well within His right to do so. Lesson learned: be obedient.

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