by Pastor Lee Hemen
April 1, 2008
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors… (Hosea 10:12-13)
Often times we hear of evangelists using these verses to get people to return to the Lord. It is a great passage to remind people of exactly what they need to do in order to be renewed in Him. In our day and age where revivals are “old fashioned,” we find spiritual malaise, biblical ignorance, and self-centered worship. Hosea faced similar problems within the rank and file of the Israelite nation.
Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom (also called “Jacob” here), was described by God as “a trained heifer that loves to thresh.” They had sold their souls to sinful laziness. Threshing was the lightest task a beast could perform on a farm, so God relates that if Ephraim loved spiritual laziness so much, “I will put a yoke on her fair neck.” It was the yoke of sin. Judah, the Southern Kingdom, would man the plow Jacob would pull. It was a plow that would be used to “break up the (fallow) ground” of slothful sin Israel was enjoying, just like much of Christianity does today.
Israel had grown content in its sin, secure in its shallow spirituality, and wanted its shepherds (pastors) to give them fine sounding sermons instead of all this stuff about sin, war, and laziness. God warned those caught in the easy sinful life, “Sow for yourselves righteousness.” Go back to living as God intended, not as you desire. “Reap fruit of unfailing love,” which for the believer is the fruits found in the lives of those who live for the Lord which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Do you dear child of God display these “fruits” in your life? These are not fruit that you are to try and obtain to, rather these are fruits that are grown on the vine of those who abide in Jesus. They are to be evident in any Christian’s life! Just as Israel was to walk with God, follow his lead, and be blessed because of their relationship, the Christian is to allow the Gardener of our lives to produce in us these fruits. Paul warned that “the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.” (Galatians 5:17) Does your “spirituality” find too much comfort and familiarity in living on rocky soil? You know what I mean. Is it easier for you to be around the ungodly world than with the saints of God? Does your lifestyle reflect a self-centeredness that gives God and His church only second best and your leftovers? Do you find it difficult to tithe, join a church, witness, or live as you should? Then you need to take the “nipple” out of your mouth! Here’s what I mean:
Today’s church has become fatted veal waiting at the milk station for others to bottle-feed them, unaware that they are being sated for the slaughter. They suckle at the false rubber nipple of prepackaged spirituality and call it “good enough.” It is time for today’s church to “break up your unplowed ground” of sinful soil. To tear out the weeds of destruction within our churches and lives. To sift the rocks out and fertilize the unproductive ground of modern day mediocrity!
Ephraim felt good about itself, like a stupid trained heifer, a family pet, that daily did the same old thing. They equated their fine buildings and wealth with spiritual growth, when in fact they would ultimately be destroyed. Instead of producing Godly spiritual fruit, they had planted wickedness, reaped evil, and had eaten the fruit of deception. How could God say such hurtful and angry things to those He loved? He responds, “Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors.” And that describes much of today’s Christianity.
A wise pastor once told me, “If what you can accomplish as a church or as a Christian can be done by you in your own strength, your own plans, or your own dependence, then it is unlikely God had anything to do with it at all. God desires to do things that only He can do through you, not that you could do on your own with enough resources.” Like today’s church that depends on the latest gimmick, marketing promotion, or tactic Israel had fallen prey to its own evil deception. The glory of God had left them because of their spiritual blindness and they were depending on their own merits and schemes for success.
God’s answer, while being tough to take and hard to swallow for those loving the good life of sin, was the only way they could recover. Today’s church needs to break up its sin-hardened ground, sow seeds of righteous behavior, reap the fruit of God’s unfailing love, and seek the Lord. It was not easy for Israel to do nor is it easy for us, but it has to be done. We must stop depending on ourselves, gimmicks, promotions, and the latest Christian self-help book, and begin anew to depend on God and Him alone. Come back to Him through our devotion of prayer, personal submission, open confession, reading His Word and applying it to our life, and walking instep with His will instead of depending on others to spoon feed us our spirituality.
Today, dear child of Jesus, be renewed and restored by returning to the Lord!
NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety. This devotional will follow Morning by Morning by C H Spurgeon. You may use it however you desire.