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Sunday Service 09/08/20

Theme: Turning to the Lord

Bible reading: Hosea 6:1-3

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wound.”

My dear brother and sister in Christ, today I have three (3) questions for us to think about and possibly answer them for ourselves with all sincerity: 1. Can you remember something that you said to someone OR said about them of late? 2. To your mind and conviction, is what you said edifying or scandalising? 3. Have you been a source of happiness OR pain to someone recently?

Today’s sermon is on Hosea, the first of the twelve (12) Minor Prophets of Israel. Hosea, whose name is ‘Yahweh saves’, was a passionate man with deep emotions and tender loving care for his wayward wife, Gomer. He lived in troubled and chaotic times of great political and social instability and apostasy. And Hosea is very much concerned that Israel’s sin of turning away from the Lord and going after false gods and spiritual degeneration had brought God’s anger and wrath on them. He, therefore, calls upon them to turn to the Lord,

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wound.”

Hosea recognises that God does not abandon Israel. Instead, He pursues them in love, longing for them to turn to Him so that He can welcome them back home, just as the father welcomed the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. Thus, Hosea recognises that God’s gracious forgiveness and compassion are the only means by which His people can ultimately be restored to Him.

But although the people of Israel “repent” and “return” to the Lord, they do so only for what they can get out of the relationship with God. They admit no guilt, and their motive for return is selfish despite the fact that they recognised their sins.

This morning, like the wayward people of Israel of Hosea’s day, God is calling on us also to repent from our sins and return to Him. And what we should be happy about is that despite the fact that God chastises us for our sins, just like the Israelites, He does not, and will not abandon us; because His gracious forgiveness and compassion are available to us; He will heal our sickness and broken hearts; and He will bind up our broken wounds and fractured bones. What amazing love?

This calls on us to repent from our sin and turn to the Lord. But how can we turn to the Lord when we actually don’t know Him? Do you know the Lord? And if you do, how do you know Him? But if you don’t, how would you get to know Him?

Brothers and sisters, our knowing the Lord means we should endeavor to repent and turn to the Lord. No matter how we see ourselves in the grand scheme of things this morning, the Lord is calling on us to repent and return to Him genuinely and not superficially, as the ceremonial repentance of the people of Israel in Hosea’s days.

A repentance that leads to a life characterised by integrity, selflessness, and the purity of heart, mind, and action –

Let each of you look not only to his or her own interests, but also to the interests of others and having the same mind as Christ Jesus (Philippians 2).

What is the mind of Christ? Love, joy, peace, patience, truth, integrity, selflessness, sincerity, purity, caring, reconciliation, and above all unity; without this our knowledge of the Lord and our practice of Christianity is of no benefit neither to God nor others; don’t forget, God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in truth and in Spirit (John 4:24).

Brothers and sisters, let us sincerely return to the Lord this day and give out our hearts to Him. Today is our opportunity to do so; tomorrow may be too late for us; as the Prophet Isaiah declares; Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6). This concerns us all; for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:23). Of course, no one is in the position to claim self-righteousness apart from Christ alone.

Back to my questions brothers and sisters, 1. Can you remember something that you said to someone OR said about them of late? 2. To your mind and conviction, is what you said edifying or scandalising? 3. Have you been a source of happiness OR pain to someone recently?

What I am trying hard to do here is to help us recognise and appreciate God’s gracious forgiveness and compassion and unconditional love for us; which makes us come to know him as a pardoning God and a loving father, who protects and supplies our needs according to the riches of God’s glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

And as Jesus commanded the lawyer in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10; can we also go and do likewise; by forgiving and showing the love of God to others? That is what it means to be created in the image of God; reflecting divine moral attributes in a world full of hurt, wickedness, disappointment, discrimination, betrayal, selfishness, temptation, neglect, abuse, violence, pain, agony, and suffering. This, we are called to use the love of Christ to counter and defeat to the glory of God.

How refreshing it is to represent the Lord this way in God’s world? Like Paul, must we not desire to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings in order to reflect and share his love in the world? Must we know that the strongest tool to use to defeat evil in the world is Love? LOVE conquers all (1 Corinthians 13).

In the beatitudes, Jesus taught us, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”; “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”; “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5). And Paul rounds it up, “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Rom. 12:18); and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Indeed, brothers and sisters, a heavenly refreshment awaits those who know the Lord and show his love in the world; for them, God’s ever-flowing and everlasting joy and peace awaits in abundance.

May God grant us the grace to continue pressing on in love so as to continue receiving His bountiful blessings in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Rev. Confidence Bansah (Ph. D.)

Minister, St. George’s and Christ Church

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