Please turn in your Bibles to Hosea 10:9-13:
O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows. And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
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As you know, we are in a series titled "Break Up Your Fallow Ground: It Is Time to Seek the Lord" which is based on Hosea 10:9-13. In this passage, Hosea calls the children of Israel to turn away from their sins, repent, and get right with God.
Hosea was the last prophet who God sent to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He prophesied during the reign of King Hoshea who was the last king of the northern kingdom. You might remember that Hosea was the prophet who God called to marry "a wife of harlotry". And then when his wife committed adultery repeatedly, God told Hosea to go and get her and bring her back as his wife.
This picture of a longsuffering husband was meant to be an image of God's relationship with His people, the children of Israel. God had repeatedly overlooked their sins and transgressions and had upheld the covenant relationship that He had made with their forefathers. However, a time came when God said that time was up. Time was up for mercy. Time was up for longsuffering. Time was up for second chances. God was getting ready to bring judgment.
Bible scholars tell us that chapters 4 through 14 of the book of Hosea are structured like a legal case -- specifically a writ of divorce. The Israelites had violated the sacred covenant with God, and in a legal argument, God one by one shows their violations. Israel had broke its covenant with God, and so God is entitled to "divorce" himself from Israel and turn them over to be punished as the covenant had also stated.
Now, in this series of messages, we are addressing specific sins that folks in the church need to confess and repent of in order to get our hearts right with God, and so that we can ask God to send revival in our personal lives, our families, our churches, our communities, and our country. So far we have addressed thirty-eight sins in total, and today, we are going to continue this series by addressing three more sins from our list.
1. The first sin we will address today is the sin of divorce. As you know, divorce is the ending of a marriage between a husband and a wife. Divorce is unfortunately a growing problem in America and the casual attitude that the world has toward divorce is slowly spilling over into the church, where divorce statistics are only slightly lower. The US Census Bureau says that in 1920, there was 1 divorce for every 7 marriages. That is 14%. In 1960, there was 1 divorce for every 4 marriages. That is 25%. In 1972, there was 1 divorce for every 3 marriages. That is 33%. And in 1977, there was 1 divorce for every 2 marriages. That is 50%. The divorce rate has stayed around 50% since the 70's, but has recently exceeded that.
What is God's view toward divorce? As Christians, that should be our primary concern -- not what she said, or what he did, or whether or not you should have gotten married in the first place. What does the Bible say?
Malachi 2:16 reads, "For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously."
When Jesus was talking about divorce and marriage in Mark 10, he said: "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Paul also wrote in I Corinthians 7:10-11: "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." Notice how Paul says that it is not him, but the Lord who gave this commandment.
Now, the question that is always asked is whether or not there are any exceptions. Well, the Bible makes provision for two cases where divorce is allowable (but not necessarily encouraged): the first is in the case of adultery, and the second is if you are married to an unbeliever, and the unbeliever initiates the divorce.
I believe that Jesus Christ is very interested in Christian marriages staying together. The reason is because a Christian marriage is supposed to be a depiction of Christ's relationship with the church. Jesus Christ says in Hebrews, 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.' Paul writes in Romans 8 that 'Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which we have in Christ Jesus.' In other words, no matter what, Christ will never end His relationship with His children and He wants those who are married to reflect that dedication in their relationships as husbands and wives.
Now, if you have gotten a divorce already, please remember that God is very forgiving and loving. Jesus bore all your sins on the cross, even the sin of divorce. Simply confess this sin and seek God's forgiveness. It has already been paid for and He will not bring it up again.
2. The second sin we will address today is the sin of not being hospitable towards others. The Bible says in I Peter 4:8-10: "Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
Hospitality and "brotherly love" should be the hallmark of the Christian community. We should treat other believers as we want to be treated, and we should then extend the same kindness to the world.
Christian hospitality should be present in the church. How we treat visitors who come to our churches is an expression to them of how they can expect to be treated by Christ. We, as the body of Christ, are the face of Christ to the world.
The story is told of a statue of Jesus that was damaged during a bombing in World War II. The repairmen, who repaired the statue, were unable to find the hands which had been blown off during the bombing. So, instead, the church people placed a sign on the statue that said, "Be My Hands." That is Christ's message to us today. We are to be His hands, His feet, and His heart to the world. Just as Christ walked physically among men to show what God is like, we are on earth to show the world what Christ is like.
Christian hospitality should extend into our personal lives as well. How we treat our family members, friends, co-workers, the bank teller, the cashier at the grocery store either adds to or takes away from our Christian testimony. If you are negative, disagreeable, unwelcoming, and hard to get along with, then you damage the name of Christ in the eyes of those people you come in contact with.
Now, I know that some people are not naturally inclined to be hospitable. But there are some things we should be willing to do for Christ's sake because He had done so much for us.
If you have failed in the area of being hospitable to otherS inside and outside of the church, may I encourage you to confess this as sin and make a new commitment to treat everyone you come in contact with grace and hospitality.
3. The third sin we will address today is the sin of judging others. Matthew 7:1 says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Judging others is probably one of the most pervasive sins in the body of Christ because it is such an easy trap to fall in to. But in this passage, Jesus essentially says, "How do you want to be treated? Then treat others in that way....If you don't want to be judged, then don't judge others.'
Judging others often comes in the form of silently looking down our noses at others because of some perceived flaw in that person's life or because of something that we know they have done wrong. Many times, it is just a simple misunderstanding that can be resolved if we go and talk to the person instead of jumping to conclusions about them.
There are three specific aspects of life in which we have to guard ourselves against judging others.
1. We should not judge others' moral failures. Instead, we should forgive them and humbly realize that we are not above falling into the same sin.
2. We should not judge others' on non-essential matters. For example, if one brother believes Christians should not eat meat and another believes Christians can eat meat, neither brother should judge the other.
3. We should not judge others' inner motives. What appears to be a bad situation may not necessarily be a bad situation. Only God knows a person's heart.
Someone once said, "This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!" That's good advice. Having a judgmental attitude and spirit only causes division and stirs up animosity in the church.
If you are guilty of judging others, whether you have kept your thoughts to yourself or discussed them with others, confess this as sin toward God, and commit to loving the people you come in contact with unconditionally, just as you would like to be loved.
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In closing, I want to encourage you to not let any sin that we have discussed today or in previous weeks remain unconfessed. Allow God's Holy Spirit to reveal every part of your heart. And get rid of anything that is not in line with God's Word. Begin to break up your fallow ground by asking God to forgive you and cleanse you of your sins. Then you can enjoy the sweet fellowship of a relationship with God that is unhindered by sin and wrongdoing.
If the Lord should tarry his coming and we live, I hope that you will be with us next week so we can continue this journey of getting our hearts right with the Lord and getting back to serving Him. Break up your fallow ground: it is time to seek the Lord.
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Now, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how you can be saved from sin and the eternal punishment of sin.
All you have to do is believe "that Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" and you will be saved. And, like millions of others, you can come to know the risen Lord Jesus Christ for yourself.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
If you are willing to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, please pray with me the following simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read "What To Do After You Enter Through the Door".
God bless you and have a great week.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of sixteen books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel's Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor's degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master's degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @danielwhyteiii.
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