The Hosea Sermon

I was so honored to preach at my church, IntentionalChurch.tv, this Sunday. I had no idea how to name this sermon, so I will call it The Hosea Sermon….

 

and I hope you listen and are moved by the faithful love of GOD (-:

 

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Hosea 13, “God in a Box”

day 18 response to #shereadstruth Hosea devotional

 

I’ve put You high

in unseen places.

 

A shelf with a box has Your name on it.

 

Shall I get You down in emergencies?

Shall I place You next to the band-aids?

 

Bandage of the soul and spirit, You are

In the box, on the shelf, placed high and

just out of reach.

 

But You, You belong on my tongue.

And You, You belong at my dinner table.

And You, You belong on my door frames,

Strong and ever-ready, purposed for entry.

 

Yes, You, You belong in the mundane moments,

In the everyday, spilling into seeds of eternity sown in fertile ground.

 

Yet, You, You’ve been reduced to emergencies,

There, on that shelf, in that box, placed just out of reach.

 

And so I take You down and I place you higher,

I take You down and I place you higher.

In my heart, in that darkest space, under my ribcage,

I place Your light, let it shine, Glory shine!

 

For you, You are Yahweh come,

The only SAVIOR that exists ,

There is no other One but You….

 

Breaking out of the box

Breaking into my heart

Breaking light into dark

Your glory can’t be contained.

Hosea 11

Sow in me righteousness,

Reap in me steadfast love,

Break in me fallowed land

 

It is time to seek You, Lord…

 

Come like the rain,

Your goodness pouring down.

 

For though I run, scattered in sin,

You do not lose me.

 

Your faithfulness reels me in,

Your fences protect my life

The boundaries of Your mercy secure me,

Your blood brings me into Your family.

 

O tender love of God,

It is time to seek Your face.

Even the Wanderer… A Hosea Response

And a wanderer was I,
Living in a house of rebellion
                                         Reclining on furniture of shame,
                                   Snuggling with blankets of humiliation,
                                                                And
                                              Sleeping in chains of sin
Let the sun come up
And shine on me,
For this darkness needs light….
I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
So far away was I
But drawn near to the Messiah
By the blood of Christ
You beckon me to my true home
And
Father, I’m coming, I’m running back
Oh Let the sun come up, 
And shine on me
For this darkness needs light
I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
It’s the great exchange:
My rebellion for contrition
My disobedience for repentance
My sins forgiven,
My humiliation forgotten!
My heart, for Your kingdom
Your plans for my own
My life for your instrument
My wandering for Your home…
For I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
And
I’m coming, I’m running back
HOME.

Unedited: “The Sower of the Wind.”

After work, I’ll probably be annoyed that I posted this morning’s journal entry without bothering to edit it. I am compelled  to share this in its raw form though…and I hope even there, that it resonates with someone.
DAY 11, #Shereadstruth devotional
“They sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.”
Hosea 8:7
 Here I am, more often than not. Sowing the wind. Plowing through air, planting seeds of air, weeding seeds of air, and, sweating,  toiling and struggling, thinking I am sincere, but forgetting something.
 The WIND is an immovable force of nature,  and here I am sowing into her with abandon and all-intention, putting myself in harms way ….
 IN the face of God, his assurance and hope, his wisdom and beckoning call, I fail, time and time again.
 I try to construct my own safety nets. I run to the sight of false hope, disguised as eternity when in reality they are temporary distractions. I hire out for myself lovers, paying them to fill the void within me, when I should be running and skipping back to the cross, where the stripes of Jesus paid everything in my name….
 And, as I do so, my appetite for destruction grows to such an extent that I began to operate from what I need instead of what I’ve already received. I began to operate as a child of a temporary, fading world instead of a child of an eternal, expanding Kingdom.
 Until I see I’m standing in the path of the whirlwind, her winds turning and funneling before me, swelling and growing and whistling with danger.  And then, I look at my sweaty hands, my calloused palms and remember the LORD.
 And in the light of repentance, I see that I’ve placed my hope in the wrong things. I see that I’ve lived so much out of my own strength until I became the mini-little g- god in my own world. Controlling, stabilizing, manipulating, shopping, laboring at the plow trying to produce security in this fallen world , sowing the wind, and working so hard to fight against the pain in this world that looms like a big dark shadow over me.
 But, at the feet of Jesus, my eyes are opened and I’m so ashamed of what I’ve brought to the throne of grace that I began to fall away. And, as I kneel, bits and pieces of my broken heart, my sinful flesh began to fall and I lay before him in jagged fragments; discarded pottery at the foot of the LORD, I am….weeping and ashamed and SO wrecked before Him because NOW I can finally see and it’s not good folks.
 It’s not good. One glimpse into His glory and I break like glass before His face. I can’t handle all that grace, all that mercy , all that FIRE of truth burning before me. So, I break and then I wait for his hand to sweep me away or to do something with all these pieces that are SO shattered it would require divine patience to mend.
 Then, like a warm oil, I feel His hands. The hands of JESUS, who came for sick, broken people like me. The hand of Jesus, with scars from nails driven in, who know how to minister to pain. The hands of Jesus, who are imprinted with hope and mercy for the undeserving.
 He slowly begins to piece me together, taking choice pieces and leaving out others. Even in the remaking, I do not fear. Even in the discomfort, I do not shy away. For I am in the builder’s hands now and He knows what He is doing. And when all that is usable is done, he sanctifies me for his bidding, filling every empty part with the Spirit of the Living God; tracing over every seamed together piece with fingers readied to forever HEAL..
 And when I say, “Lord, look at what I’ve done! Look at who’ve I’ve been! I am not worthy to be YOURS”… He said I’ve made you worthy. 
 And when I say, “But Lord, my flesh is sinful; I am not holy!” He says, I’ve made you holy!
 And what I say, “But Lord, who am I to be with you? ” He says, YOU are mine.
 And before me, he shows me a cross. He shows me everything I’ve done, the sin I’ve confessed and the secret shames I’ve hidden. He shows me every.single.sin nailed to that cross, and I recoil back in shame as I SEE the face of my sin, JESUS, covered with my shame and everything I’ve ever done…
 You see, even though every bible book has told me,  even though I already knew, I realized I didn’t really KNOW.
 But this isn’t the end because the LORD doesn’t’ leave us in grief, to agonize over what JESUS did for us. You See, this is a gift meant to be received with JOY!
 And as He shows me that NOW, because of THIS, I am free, I am accepted , sanctified and that the beautiful process of remaking was because of JESUS’s work at the cross…
As He shows me that I was able to break apart before him and experience his tender hands of grace….
As He sings his song of love over me…As He rejoices over my deliverance with me …
 I weep and sing and dance, simultaneously experiencing joy and agony because this is what it means to be a child of God…
 Being so full of JOY that you shine like the sun, but so in agony over the destruction of sin that you burn for righteousness; this is my heritage.
 And I, the sower of the wind, am now the sower of righteousness now. Planting seeds of hope and eternity, I labor without exhaustion for the LORD is REST for my soul.
 Indeed.
 Amen.

Change

A few months ago, or maybe many months ago, I was asked to do the Wednesday night service teaching over Genesis 34:1-36:43

This is an tiny excerpt, my conclusion, and my call to allow change to seep into our souls.

  • GOD can bring good out of EVIL.
  • God is able to use the evil that people do, bringing about positive results.
  • God’s has the ability to overcome any obstacle; His covenant will always advance
  • God cannot be bought and his favors are not for sale. Instead, He has purchased our brokeness and our stench of death and mended us! With his blood, He has set the righteousness of His life in us, and he does not even charge us!
  • God is the ultimate changer: life-changer, heart-changer, emancipator King, our God.
  • We cannot pay him or ever afford to pay him. No amount of money in the entire universe would be enough to afford His mercies. We can only give him tokens of love and worship him for who HE is to us and for us.
AND
  • WE can change by renewing our minds and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, transforming our attitudes, leading with love, not holding God to our humanistic expectations, not trying to fit God into our systems of accountability, and by not treating Him as a mercenary providing favors that can be bought.
  • We CAN change because the Holy Spirit strengthens us with grace! We can change because we are laid down to death with Christ and we are crucified with Him. We live raised to life and seated  with Christ! And, if our God is for us, nothing can stand against us, in between us or separate us!  The accuser cannot condemn because GOD is the judge and He, by  dying for us, paid our debts and won the victory over death’s grip! We out of spiritual debt and  get to thank GOD forever for his abundant mercies.
  • We can change, because we are together in this! I may be one of a few or many who do not have blood family near. You guys are my family. We are a spiritual , covenant, broken family living in a broken world, but we are bound together by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and united in faith, love, worship and the precious blood of Christ.
 God….He does not demand instant perfection. And Hallelujah! For He leads us little by little, making inroads of our self-centeredness and doing his work in our lives one step at at a time.

For us…sometimes the best word we can give to the Lord is “thank you.” Thank you Lord!

 

The Woman With The Issue of Blood

We don’t know her name, but Jesus did…
And, just like the world doesnt know our secret sins, our shame,  the infirmities of our hearts, our bones…
Jesus does.
And still…
He waits, among us, Jesus WITH US, and He does not sit still.
No, JESUS continues in HIS work,
Yet….
All the while waiting for a touch made in faith.
TODAY,
As we casually bump into him,
Press into him,
Bumping, shoving, rushing…
HE walks among us and waits for that touch of faith,
Fearful , trembling, but believing.
He makes available to  us the outer garments of His GRACE.
And so…
Let us bring our bodies, weak, trembling,fearful, and stricken with humanity.
And then,
Let us bring our hearts, believing, expecting, hoping, and forging a path through the chaos of distraction.
And finally,
Let us bring our confessions, with great joy!
For now, we are made whole, clean, free; we are justified, vindicated, emancipated, LIBERATED.
For You, Jesus, desire mercy.
You, Jesus, delight in Mercy, abound in mercy AND
You know our names.
You know our names and YOU have made us to be a people on our knees before You so we can arise in the heavenly places BESIDE YOU.
You, Jesus, know our names.
So… we surrender.
We surrender in good faith, and  the fount of our bleeding ceases as the well springs of living water rush in to mend the violence of sin.
Psalm 67: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you”
GOD,
We praise you.
Your grace is inexhaustible. Your affection is without end. Your mercy has no boundaries……
and
You know our name.
Surely, surely, we are blessed.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is : God’s Son.

Jesus is : The Mediator between God and man.

Jesus is: The only Being to have lived a life of perfect righteousness.

Jesus is: The Slain Lamb;  The Perfect Sacrifice.

Jesus is: The Atonement for the sins of the world – Once and for all!

Jesus is: ALL authority in heaven and on earth.

Jesus is:  The Living and Appointed Heir of all things.

Jesus is: The Ruler over every corner of creation!

Jesus is: Supreme; He is he ultimate in glory, the ultimate in power, the ultimate in authority!

Jesus is: The Head of the body and the church,  The Beginning and The End, The Firstborn of The Dead!

Jesus is alive! 

Our minds cannot grasp His fullness! Our hearts cannot replicate His goodness! Our souls will not perish in His presence!

Jesus is: the very picture of Grace! He makes us alive, by His grace! Using our tiny seeds of faith, He makes us who were dead in our sin alive in His righteousness!

This is Jesus! He is the Alpha and Omega! He is the Lily of the Valley! He is the Great I Am! He is Ruler, He is Provider!

He is Comforter! He is Rapha-Healer! He is The Chain Breaker! He is the Soul Savior! He is the Death destroyer! He is the Grave Leaper, our Liberator and Emancipator!

He is the Sun of Righteousness! He is The Judge, The Advocate! He is the SIN BEARER!

He doesn’t turn away from the stench of our sins! He isn’t repulsed by the smell of death!

Death cannot arrest Jesus!

Death has no hold on His life! He gave His own life up! He laid His own life down! And He took His own life up again!

Ha ha! Jesus is The Laughter in The Face of Death!  Because of Jesus, we can shout

Death! Where is your sting!

Because of Jesus , we can sing:

THE last enemy of death HAS BEEN DESTROYED!

Who is Jesus? This is Jesus! A worthy-to-be-praised JESUS!   And, this is what Easter, Resurrection Sunday says of Jesus!

This is Jesus; and He has overcome.

God, Moses, Fear, and Obedience

**** This is an older blog I wrote, 2 years ago on my old blogger page,  AliciaKristina.com
Numbers 14:1-12
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”
I’ve read this scripture numerous times. Not just this specific one, but many like it in the old testament. The Israelites were saved and delivered by God’s miraculous and mighty hand. And throughout their journey in the desert, they grumbled. They complained. They were difficult, and in words my 4 year old would use, “naughty and not listening.”
 As a young girl reading these passages, I could not fathom why the Israelites were so untrusting of the Lord. Hadn’t He, in their lifetime, delivered them from slavery? Parted the sea to send them to safety? Sent food down from heaven? Led them, VISIBLY?
 But as an adult, I understand. The reality of the world and resulting hardness has affected me. My childlike awe and wonder is not so childlike anymore.
 My ‘AHA” moment from this passage is coming…
So, the Israelites cry out that they would rather have died in Egypt or the wilderness. You see, God has already promised them this land , flowing with milk and honey (abundancy). But in their humanity and unbelief, they asked to send spies to assess the land. Moses agreed- and he probably shouldn’t have- but he did. And out of the 12 spies, ( who represented each tribe) only TWO came back with faith in God’s promise. Only TWO remained faithful  that God was with them and that victory was theirs. The rest said something like, “even if God helped us, we would be defeated. They are too mighty…too many.”
Sound familiar? I certainly can see myself as an Israelite in the wilderness. And, that’s funny. Because as a child, I really related to Joshua and Caleb’s cry to the people, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
As a child, my heart was screaming, “ Trust in God people!” And now, as an adult, I’m saying, “Trust in God  (YES),”  but with also greater understanding of the humanity of the Israelites and their imperfection, fears, excuses…
Still..this is just leading up to my AHA moment.
While Caleb and Joshua pled with the people, Moses and Aaron fell prostrate before God. Most likely in prayer, because as their leaders, they knew too well the seriousness of this situation. Only falling before God and praying for his mercy would help.
So why…..why would God be angry? Or why would Joshua, Caleb, and God consider the Israelites words to be rebellious, contemptuous and faithless?
Here’s the thing,
Being afraid, fearful, and questioning on its own is NOT rebellion against God. Its pretty normal for us- actually, for me. I confess.
For example, Moses questioned his leadership skills before God. He wasn’t confident in his speaking abilities. And even Jesus, JESUS, was fearful of the upcoming Via Dolorosa. He knew all too well what was expected and what was to come. He said, ““Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
But AHA!
Jesus (and Moses) , although fearful and afraid showed us that even though we possess fear, we can still be strengthened, by the grace of God, into obedience. And, that, is the difference. The Israelites were not only fearful, afraid and questioning. They were fearful, afraid, questioning, AND disobedient. THIS constitutes unbelief. THIS constitutes rebellion against God. And, THIS rebellion was not accidental or unintentional; rather it was CHOICE.
I want to go back to Joshua and Caleb, for a moment, who tore their clothes in grief. Our pastor explained the symbolism of tearing clothes a few weeks ago at church. It was serious; It was done in mourning, because of death or imminent death. Joshua and Caleb may have been young, but the repercussions of the people’s rebellion were not lost on them. As a result, in a true rebellious spirit, Israelites conspired to stone Joshua and Caleb. “Who were these two young men? Who do they think they are, questioning us and our “faith.” We take offense! How dare they offend us; they know nothing!”
Now, this is me just guessing about feelings that led to this conspiring. As  fellow humans, I think we can pretty much guess the intensity of the conversation they were having. Yet, at this moment God appeared. And, He wasn’t too happy. And, the rest of the passage (not quoted here) is pretty long, and I won’t go too much in-depth over it. But, what happened is nothing short of spectacular.
Moses interceded for the people in an authentic plea for their mercy.  If you read the rest of the scripture, you can see how much Moses KNEW God. How much he yearned for His glory to be revealed…and how much He loved his people, despite their rebellion. You see, Moses was a leader who took the plea for his people seriously. But even more so, he took God seriously. He took God’s revelation of character seriously. And most importantly, because he KNEW God, he knew God’s character. He know God to be loving, patient, and long-suffering. With this knowledge, he asked God to display His power, not by a strong arm, but by mercy.
WOW!! This is a great example of intercession. Moses appealed to God’s power, His glory, and His promise, with a heart that was completely others-centered.  NO self-centeredness. NO agenda. NO insecurities. NO public dramatic self promotion. You get the picture.
Moses not only displayed that he knew Gods heart, but he also displayed that he shared God’s heart. This is why Moses’ intercession was so spectacular….think about it for a few minutes.
I really encourage anyone reading this to finish the scripture on their own.
Lastly, when I write or blog, most of the time, it is inspired by my own convicted heart. And I confess, that here, I am convicted.
I do not want to be fearful, afraid AND disobedient. I don’t want to live in rebellion of God….not even for a moment. That is not what I want to lay before God at the judgement seat.
GOD,
JESUS, 
I need….
Your
Courage,
Boldness,
Faith.
But always, Your grace. 
Give me grace to choose you.
To be obedient, 
despite my fears.
To be others-centered,
to be humble.
I want to KNOW you.
MORE.
I want to knowYour heart.
I want to LOVE others…
Like You.

Your grace,
All-sufficient.
for me.


-A.

Who can we bring to Jesus?

“Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, those who could not speak, and many others. They put them at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them.” – Matthew 15:30

When I read this scripture, I was immediately catapulted back into time, thrown into an image of Jesus surrounded by a great crowd of people.

All around him, people desperate for healing.
All around him, people desperate for hope.
All around him, people desperate for freedom.

Then, I imagined the people experiencing the healing ministry of Jesus, and:

I heard the cries of joy.
I saw the dances of jubilee.
I marveled at the fog cleared from eyes previously blind.
I cried at the sound of voices released into freedom.

And then, all of a sudden, I felt a question rising in my spirit.

 “Who can we bring to Jesus?”

You know, it isn’t surprising that humanity hasn’t changed much since Jesus walked the earth. We still live in a humanity teeming with brokenness and completely unaware of the Divine in the chaos.

To me, it feels like walking on a tightrope at times. On one end, there is faith in humanity and on the other end, there is faith in the divinity of Christ.  As novices we walk between the two sides, teetering, tottering, and sometimes falling, but all of the time crying out, “Lord, SAVE ME!”

And true to who He is, Jesus catches us, saying, ”Stop jumping on that tightrope and STAY AT MY FEET. Don’t you know that it is at My feet where faith grows, the fog is cleared, miracles happen, and freedom is released?”

So, who CAN we bring to Jesus?”

The scripture mentions that the lame, the blind, the mute, the crippled, and many others were BROUGHT to Jesus. They weren’t just brought into the general vicinity. They didn’t find themselves there by accident. No, they were PUT at his feet and then healed.

Immediately, I envision friends bringing friends.

I envision mothers and fathers bringing sick children.

I envision brothers and sisters bringing parents.

I envision friends rallying up everyone in their circle, yelling,

“Salvation is here! Salvation is here! Come and see Christ, the Messiah, He is here at last! Finally, all of our hopes are fulfilled! Salvation is here! Let’s go, all our lives are found today! Run with me, by His very touch we can be healed! He is here! Lets GO!”

And then I see this cord, this thread, weaving through everyone, binding and CONNECTING everyone together in perfect unity. And I realize that this cord, this thread is one of…

Relationship.

Friendship.

Kindredness.

They knew each other!  They were friends, relatives….simply put, they were friends.

In light of this, the the question changes. It is no longer, “Who can I bring to Jesus?”  but,

“Who can I bring WITH me to Jesus?”

I leave you with this question and a prayer challenge.

1. Ask God the question, “Who can I bring with me to Jesus?”

***** Listen for 5 minutes…wait and allow the Lord to answer.

2. Begin to pray for the person or persons the Holy Spirit brings to mind.

3. Pray for genuine friendships to be cultivated.

4. Pray that God give you opportunities to share of your walk with Jesus.

6. Finally, pray that God gives you the courage to invite them to church and that He will prepare their hearts for your invitation.

God,

Bless every new friendship of ours. Let our hearts be bound in Christian love. Let our fellowship be kindred in spirit. And, let us run with each other to the feet of Jesus, Your Son, who ministers to our EVERY need. Amen.