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God's Tough Love: Does God want me back?

 

Hosea 11:1-11
Related Sunday School Lesson,Family Bible Series, Feb. 20

Since I have failed God in the past, does He want me now? Most of us have heard someone else ask this question and have even felt it ourselves. Human failure is commonplace. All around us are Christians who have fallen short of God's plan for their lives.

Yet God, through His love and mercy, wants to restore every broken relationship with mankind. He wants to forgive the past and provide hope for the future.

This concept is difficult for most adults to understand. In today's world past failures often haunt people for years and years. Perhaps they cannot forgive themselves; perhaps they do not understand God's mercy. Either way, God's desire is to overcome our past and to set the course for a God-pleasing future.

Hosea illustrates this truth by looking back to Israel's history. Throughout their past God's faithful lovingkindness was wooing His people back to Himself.

 

Drifting Away, Hosea 11:1-2

"They kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols." (Hosea 11:2 NASB)

 

Hosea recounts the time in the nation's past when they drifted away from God and worshipped false gods. He specifically identifies when they sacrificed to Baal as well as when they burned incense to idols. Israel violated the very core tenants of their law, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) and the Shema (Deuteronomy 6).

Left to ourselves, our hearts will lead us to drift away from God. If we are not consciously working to grow closer to God, we inevitably slide away. And as we move away from God, we replace Him with other things.

Often our idols are found in seeking possessions, pleasure, and power. Of course, these idols only give fleeting fulfillment. Only God can fully and completely satisfy our souls.

 

Think About It ... What tools has God provided for us to draw closer to Himself? Read Philippans 4:6; 1 Peter 2:2; James 4:8; Hebrews 10:23-25; Psalm 19:1-6.

 

Persistent Love, Hosea 11:3-4

"I took them in my arms ... I led them ... with bonds of love." (Hosea 11:3-4 NASB)

 

Even though God's people drifted away from Him, His love remained persistent. Notice Hosea speaking of God taking His people into His arms and leading them with love.

Because of our failures we often doubt God's love. Somehow we apparently believe that the basis of God's love for us is our own goodness. Therefore, when we are not good, we believe God withdraws His love. This is a gross misunderstanding of God's character and love. His love for us is based upon who He is, not who we are. God's love is faithful and continual.

 

Think About It ... Does the daily routine of your life draw you closer to God or allow you to drift further away?

 

Determined Rebellion, Hosea 11:5-7

"They refused to return to Me ... My people are bent on turning from Me." (Hosea 11:5, 7 NASB)

 

God desires for His drifting people to return to Him, yet He allows us the freedom of choosing whether or not we will come to Him. Some are determined in their rebellion. They have set their hearts away from God even though God gently seeks to bring them back to Himself.

In such cases God uses stronger measures. But whether God acts in gentleness or strength, His actions always stem from His love.

 

Think About It ... Why is it beneficial for us to draw close to God? Read Psalm 139:1-18; Psalm 1; Psalm 19:7-11.

 

Amazing Grace, Hosea 11:8-11

"How can I give you up ... My heart is turned over within Me, all My compassions are kindled." (Hosea 11:8 NASB)

 

It baffles the human mind to think that the God of this universe would speak with such yearning and tenderness about creatures as finite as ourselves. And yet these words of God, spoken through the prophet Hosea, apply to each one of us: To you and to me.

When our hearts continue to drift and rebel against God, how can He continue to love us? Why does He not give up on us? The only answer is found in God's amazing grace and in the depth of His love for us.

Grace is God's undeserved favor which He bestows upon His children. Although we fail and falter, God's grace is not only picking us up but also cleaning us off. Through His grace we know that God provided His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we might live forever in a close relationship with Him. Have you allowed God's love to draw you back to receive His grace?

 

Think About It ... What changes can you make to your life's daily and weekly routine that will draw you closer to your Creator?

 

Biblical Truth: In spite of our repeated failures, God loves us and desires a restored relationship with us.