Faithful Grace

David continues in our "Radical Grace" series by discussing God's continual grace that He gives to us again and again and again.


Good morning.  David Sorn. Pastor of Renovation Church
Thanks to Bjork, Matt, and Tim for helping out in worship today
As Bjork said at the beginning, Zach leading at Camp Shamineau
Which is actually where I met Zach
Tell story of meeting with him
We are continuing our “Radical Grace” series
Last week talked about “Saving Grace” (Grace (“Undeserved Favor” at the beginning, the cross)
This week: Faithful Grace
It’s the idea that even though he forgave us with that “Saving Grace,” we continue to sin anyway…and yet, he is still FAITHFUL, and continues to forgive us…show us grace!

I want to look at a story in the Bible that illustrates “faithful grace” that might not be as familiar to many of you
It’s the story about prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer (baby name)
Story is in the book of Hosea in the Old Testament (explain OT)
Hosea was a prophet (heard from God) and explained truth and future
Hosea’s ministry took place around 750 – 715 BC or so
Hosea lived in the tragic final days of the northern kingdom (SHOW MAP)
Israel, at that point, was a divided kingdom (think U.S. at civil war time), and the northern half called Israel still…southern half was called Judah
It was a turbulent time that Hosea lived in
6 kings reigned in 25 years (four were murdered by their successors while in office)
The people were incredibly UNfaithful to God
Hardly anyone cared about their faith…doing their own things (trying to find life in their possessions, their family, their money, and even other gods)
And then, Samaria (capitol of northern kingdom) was captured by Assyria in 722 BC  (many were killed, many were exiled)…and just like that, that was pretty much the end of their kingdom
So, Hosea is trying to bring God’s Word to the people in an incredibly intense time of history, and not to mention an incredibly rebellious time in terms of people’s relationships with God.  
They just weren’t paying Him any attention any more

So, in order to get their attention, God does a number of things
Some of them painful, some of them interesting, and some of them eye-catching
And the first thing he does ask Hosea do something that no one was probably expecting
(Hosea 1:2) – NLT
2 When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”
So you have this group of people, the Israelites, who’ve been completely ignoring the one true God
And in fact, it’s even worse than that.  Not only are they ignoring Him, they are cheating on Him.  Worshipping their own finances, own lives, own sin, and sometimes even literally other gods.  
And God gets their attention by saying, “Hey, look at the life of my prophet Hosea.  This is what you’re doing! You are my bride. We’re married to each other. We’re in covenant together.  And you’re cheating on me”
It gets even more intense
(Hosea 1:3-9) - NLT
3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the Lordsaid, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. 5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”
6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.”  
8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. 9 And the Lordsaid, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God.
And we begin to see the jealous anger of God.  
God is not a lovey dovey hippie
And he’s not some stoic with no emotions
But he is passionate being
And so also is He passionate for you.  
He’s jealous, He’s angry when He watches us ignore Him.  When He watches us trust in our own riches, in our ideas, in our own self, and even sometimes in other gods, horoscopes, or who knows what we sometimes get ourselves entangled in  
He’s a God of intense feeling, and are we supposed to pretend that He feels nothing but smiles?  

But his passion comes out of love.  Everything stems out of Love.
And so he tries to bring us back.  Unfortunately for us, we’re stupid.
We don’t listen when we hear someone say, “God is better.  Just trust in God. Just live for God.”
So we continue to live our own way
If we would just turn back and follow Him, it would be easy…it would be a whole lot less painful, but unfortunately, we don’t choose that way.  
And because God is SO UNBELIEVABLY PASSIONATE about returning you to Himself, it sometimes hurts when He brings you back
We’re like a kid in a candy store who won’t let go of a massive bin of candy
(Explain metaphor)
And God begins to say to his people Israel in this passage (while continuing to speak in metaphoric terms concerning Hosea’s wife) that His love might be tough sometimes
Sometimes bringing us back (because He loves us and knows it’s right for us) is painful because that’s the only way He can get us there.  
Let’s read on (and due to the length of this chapter, there are few parts I’m not reading, which I highly suggest you read on your own this week)
(Hosea 2:6-8) - NLT
“For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.
     I will block her path with a wall
     to make her lose her way.
7 When she runs after her lovers,
     she won’t be able to catch them.
  She will search for them
     but not find them.
  Then she will think,
  ‘I might as well return to my husband,
     for I was better off with him than I am now.’
8 She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has—
     the grain, the new wine, the olive oil;
  I even gave her silver and gold.
     But she gave all my gifts to Baal.
Sometimes to regain our attention, God temporarily takes our idols away from us
Somehow or another he takes the things we feed off of away from us
Whether that’s money, or praise, or even an addiction (drugs, sex, you name it)
And in those moments, when we feel fenced up (something’s changed in our lives), we’re unable to get what we’ve been feeding off of, the hope is that we realize that the true gifts in life (love, family, the meaningful things we have) those are from God
God even goes as far as saying, “grain, new wine, oil” (in Palestine major commodities…late he mentions wool as well)…these material things, He says, are even from ME!
I’m giving them to you.  I love you!
And you turn around and you give them to other gods.   
Just as we in turn give what we’ve been given to almost anything but Him
So sometimes, He tries to isolate us from our issues, so we would stop for a moment and say, “Hey.  You are the giver of good things. Not these other things.”
And if you’re there right now, turn to Him.  Turn back to Him.
Because if we continue to sin, He’ll keep coming after you.  He’s in love with you. He won’t stop till he can have you. It’s just that, if you don’t give in now, it only gets more painful
For example, I think of people who struggle w/ intense drug addictions
Intervention.  Rehab.
And that is painful.  It’s physically painful. It’s mentally painful.  It’s emotionally painful.
But you better believe that that pain stems from love.  The love of that person’s family.
And sometimes God works that way too
God continues speaking to Israel using the metaphor of Hosea’s prostitute wife
(Hosea 2:9-13) – NLT
9 “But now I will take back the ripened grain and new wine
     I generously provided each harvest season.
  I will take away the wool and linen clothing
     I gave her to cover her nakedness.
10 I will strip her naked in public,
     while all her lovers look on.
  No one will be able
     to rescue her from my hands.
11 I will put an end to her annual festivals,
     her new moon celebrations, and her Sabbath days—
     all her appointed festivals.
12 I will destroy her grapevines and fig trees,
     things she claims her lovers gave her.
  I will let them grow into tangled thickets,
     where only wild animals will eat the fruit.
13 I will punish her for all those times
     when she burned incense to her images of Baal,
  when she put on her earrings and jewels
     and went out to look for her lovers
  but forgot all about me,”
     says the Lord.
I can’t get over how “en vogue” it is for Christian to now say that God would never cause any pain.  “Oh we know that God would never cause that!”
And no, you can’t look at a situation and say, “God did that.”  That’s dangerous. You don’t know that. He’s in control. But it might have had a lot to do with our sinful nature.  Or with the devil. Or we don’t know.
But let’s not pretend that sometimes God doesn’t mess up our lives a little bit to get our attention.  
The Bible calls it discipline.  
That’s parenting 101 right.  
Sometimes we discipline our kids, and that’s painful for them I suppose.  But we do it because we love them.
And God works the same way.  
And it all comes back to the fact that He loves you so much.  He wants to be with you so much.
Are you getting this?  Are you hearing LOVE?
He will do ANYTHING to love you!
But listen to what these people are doing in the passage.  They are sinning greatly. As a matter of fact, they are literally worshipping other gods!!
Yet, God is saying, Come back to me!  I love you!
Listen, God is so in love you.  I DO NOT Care what you’ve done. He’s in love with you.  
He continues speaking through Hosea
(Hosea 2:14-16) – NLT
 14 “But then I will win her back once again.
     I will lead her into the desert
     and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
     and transform the Valley of Trouble[f] into a gateway of hope.
  She will give herself to me there,
     as she did long ago when she was young,
     when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
     “you will call me ‘my husband’
     instead of ‘my master.’[g]
(Hosea 2:23) – NLT
  At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
     and raise them for myself.
  I will show love
     to those I called ‘Not loved.’[h]
  And to those I called ‘Not my people,’[i]
     I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
  And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”
And then, to show that God understands that our lives aren’t a storybook ending, meaning:    If you fall into some sin (maybe it’s not a serious thing…faith gone cold), and come back (maybe easily, maybe not), it’s not as if it reads, “And then the people said ‘You are my God’ and never sinned again.”  Yeah right.
We keep sinning.  Even still.
But the Bible shockingly says this:
(Hosea 3:1) – NLT
  1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.”
We sin, he brings us back, only for us to run back to another lover yet again…And he still loves us and takes us in.  It’s unbelievable.
That’s why they call Grace “UNDESERVED FAVOR”

I want to show you a video (from another ministry) that I think speaks very well to God’s faithful grace.  It’s a video inspired by this passage in the Bible
(show video)  

God is good.  
Some of you…have walked a long ways from God over the years.  Maybe it’s been a long time
You have to know, that that is his heart for you.  
Not the iron fist.  But love. Everything comes from love.  He loves you so much
For others, if you’re honest (and please be honest this morning because this is an honest church…if you’re one of those people that thinks you’re better than everyone else and more religious than everyone else, “this ain’t the church for you”)
Because if you’re honest, we cheat on God
It hurts to say it.  But we do.
He gives us so much.  But we mostly live our lives either mostly ignoring Him or trying to find life through our own sin (pride, hate, lust, unforgiveness, you name it we do it)
AND YET…despite all that…despite the joke of a life we sometimes offer Him in return…despite the unfaithful life we offer in return…he says… “You, you are my bride.  And no matter what you do…no matter where you go…and no matter who else you give your heart to…
“I will search for you, I will still love you, and I will forgive you.  Again, and again, and again, and again.”
And ultimately, that is what Jesus Christ dying on the cross is about.  
That if you have accepted that gift of grace, that you are forgiven now and for always
Do you believe it?  
That He loves you that much?
That He will forgive you that many times?
That He has forgiven you that many times?
That you could possibly be shown that much grace?  That much undeserved favor over and over again?
Well believe it!  Because it’s true. And God is that Good!  Amen?
Let’s pray.  

If you look under your chair right now, you should see a connection card and a pen.  Go ahead and pick those up.
One of the things we do every week at Renovation Church, is fill out these connection cards.
It’s a way for you to connect with us and for us to connect with you.  

We are going to take an offering as we get back into worship
It’s a way for us to give back to God who is the one giving us gives
If you’re a visitor, feel free to let the offering cans just pass you by
As the offering goes by, you can stick your connection card in there as well
Let me say as well that this has been, as you know, a tragic week for our world as Haiti has suffered immensely due to the earthquake that hit there
We are SUCH a brand new church that we don’t have relationships in place quite yet with organizations that we can immediately support, etc.
But I think this is a time where we as Christians can step up with above and beyond giving to make a difference
I want to encourage you to give on your own to organizations like the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, and World Vision
Maybe we can’t be there, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something
So I want to encourage you to be a generous person.  We’ve been, circumstantially, pretty blessed as an American people, and I think we can help.  
Let me just pray for our offering and for the people of Haiti as well.  
Let’s pray.  

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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David SornRadical Grace