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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

God Demands Loyalty & Faithfulness to Him



Many Christians simply go through religious motions while ignoring that God demands true loyalty & faithfulness to Him.

Hosea 6:1-3 says this:

"Come, let us return to the Lord.  For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.  He will revive us after two days, and on the third day, He will raise us up so we can live in His presence.  Let us strive to know the Lord.  His appearance is as sure as the dawn.  He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land."

Because the people had not remained loyal to the Lord, He declared, "I will depart...until they recognize their guilt and seek My face; they will search for Me in their distress."  Hosea 5:15.

Have you noticed that straying from the Lord brings you great distress?  What personal distress have you experienced as a result of turning away from the Lord?

The purpose of distress is to lead us back to the Lord.  Hosea 6:1-3 speaks of the attitude with which straying people should return to Him.  The verses above show the confidence we have in the Lord when we repent (or "return" to God).  When we repent and return to the Lord, He wants us to do so on His terms, not ours.  We are to abandon our willful and wicked ways and to recommit ourselves to walking  with the Lord.  When we do, "He will heal us...and He will bind up our wounds."

This healing doesn't mean we won't bear the scars of our sin's wounds, for sin always has a destructive impact.  But it does mean that we will be forgiven and restored to His fellowship and to useful service.

Hosea 6:4-6 says this:

"What am I going to do with you?  Your loyalty is like the morning mist and like the early dew that vanishes.  This is why I have used the prophets to cut them down; I have killed them with the words of My mouth.  My judgment strikes like lightning.  For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burn offerings."

Most of us are far from perfect in our Christian walk.  We have strayed off of the straight path more than once.  Those who readily declare their repentance but quickly return to their false gods and wicked practices are "as the early dew that vanishes," so, too, their loyalty to the Lord evaporates in their day-to-day living.  Loyalty to God cannot be empty words.  You must have a sincere and honest heart. 

You claim Jesus as your Lord...but do you do what He says to do (as well as what he says not to do)?  Do you help others?  Do you lead others to His saving grace?  Do you follow the 10 commandments?  Jesus used Hosea 6:6 to expose hypocrisy. 

God spoke...and still speaks to us...through the prophets.  Are you listening?!  The prophets declared God's devastating judgment on His disloyal people.  Yes, they piled up sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord...but they withheld their loyalty and stood condemned.  Our religious activities are meaningful only when they express our heart's devotion to the Lord.  We live out our devotion in prayer, Bible study, public worship, and in our daily lives.  God expects this kind of loyalty from His people.

*taken from LifeLessons Bible Studies for Life, "The Roads Less Traveled," learner guide for Winter 2010 - 2011.

Questions and Answers to Share with Your KoTH Partner:

  1. Why do you think many people choose to live with their spiritual pain rather than return to the Lord?
  2. How are you striving to know the Lord better?
  3. When you repent and return to the Lord, does your repentance last?
  4. What threatens to push aside your loyalty to the Lord?
  5. Could you be depending on your religious activities to please God rather than your personal commitment to Him?
  6. The term "loyalty" comes from the Hebrew word "chesed."  Chesed represents the commitment two parties have to a covenant relationship.  Please locate the Webster's dictionary meaning for the term "loyalty" and write it down.
  7. How can your KoTH partner pray for you this week?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oh, Praise Him!



“As the deer searches for streams of water, so my soul searches for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).


When was the last time you raised your arms to God and praised His Holy name?  When was the last time you spent time loving on the Creator of this world?  When was the last time you stopped everything you were doing, dropped to your knees, and cried tears of joy and thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for you?

When was the last time you felt this way (see below):

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:1-8).

I would ask that this week, you set aside 15 to 30 minutes to do just that: Praise, magnify and glorify the Name of the Lord, and love on the one, true God of this world.  Put down your novel, set aside your household duties, say "not right now," to the TV programs that draw your attention away from God, and tell your children/grandchildren to give you a few moments alone while you worship the Lord God.

Below is a video of a man on the streets of New York City who took time to outwardly and unashamedly praise the name of the Lord.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpVsF4W8V2Y

Turn your ear
To Heaven and hear
The noise inside
The sound of angels awe
The sound of angels' songs
And all this for a King
We could join and sing
'All to Christ our King!'

How constant
How divine
This song of ours will rise
Oh, how constant
How divine
This love of ours will rise
Will rise...

CHORUS:
Ohh praise Him!
Ohh praise Him!
He is Holy!
He is Holy!

Turn your gaze
To Heaven and raise
A joyous noise
Oh the sound of salvation come
The sound of rescued ones
And all this for a king
Angels join to sing
'All for Christ our King!'


CHORUS {x2}

Oh la la la la la la..
Oh la la la la la la..
Oh la la la la la... laaa laa laa laaa!

CHORUS

How infinite and sweet
This love so rescuing
Oh how infinitely sweet
This great love that has redeemed
As one, we sing...

OUTRO:
Hallelujah,
Hallelujah
He is Holy,
He is Holy
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Questions and Answers to Share with your KoTH partner:

  1. How did you feel after spending time on your knees before the Lord?
  2. How difficult was it to set aside time to do this?
  3. Do you feel that this is something you should be doing on a regular basis?
  4. What other worship and praise songs can you share with your KoTH partner that will help her to worship the Lord?
  5. Go to the Scriptures and find two verses that speak of worshiping and praising the Lord, and share them with your partner.
  6. Ask your partner how your can pray for her this upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When the Journey is Difficult


"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." - God

What are you struggling with today?  No matter how painful or how terrible, it is temporary.  Look to God and His eternal Kingdom.  Thank Him for your glorious future dwelling place, free from sin, sickness, conflict, or need.

Left colum:  What you say.  Right column:  What Jesus says to you.

"I can't go on." ...................................... "I will carry you." (Isaiah 46:4)


Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.


"I am too tired." .................................... "I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."


"It's impossible!" ..............................  "All things are possible."  (Mark 10:27)

Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God."


"I am empty inside." ............................ "I will fill you up." (Matthew 5:6)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

"I am dying."  ....................................... "I will raise you up."  (2 Corinthians 4:14)

We know that the one who brought the Lord Jesus back to life will also bring us back to life through Jesus.


_____________________________________

Questions and Answers to Share with your KOTH Partner:

  1. What are you struggling with this week?
  2. Which scripture above comforts you?
  3. Ask your partner what she is struggling with this week.
  4. Share with her some additional scripture that will be of comfort to her.
  5. Write out a prayer for your partner and her specific need.