Return to the Lord

(Update of a devotional from 1998)

Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure. The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept. Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth, and to the house of Judah like rottenness. When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Jareb; yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound. For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. – Hosea 5:9-15.

Many young people at the Falls Creek youth camp in Oklahoma recommitted their lives to the Lord last week. I remember some periods in my own life when I was far away from the Lord. Once you have experienced the fellowship of God, to live life without His fellowship places upon you a sense of great emptiness. God told his people in Hosea that He would withdraw from them and it was for the purpose of their realizing their need for Him.

I like what the people say in the first three verses of Hosea chapter six as they decide to return to the Lord: “Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.”

In the same way when we turn again to the Lord He begins to restore us. What has been torn down over a period of time is not instantly repaired. But as we begin anew to walk with our Lord we see that new life is breathed into our relationships, new life is breathed into every area of our lives, and we can once again hear that small, still voice of God.

As we “follow on to know the Lord (As the KJV puts it in Hosea 6:3) – then His presence, restoration, and blessings in our lives will be like the rain. As we serve Him and follow Him, He will continually rain His Spirit upon us beyond our imagination. As we “follow on to know the Lord” we walk deeper and deeper into that river of His love. We walk ankle deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, and then there are waters to swim in (Ezekiel 47).

Where are you now? If you have walked away from God, He is calling, “Come and return to me and I will restore you.” If you are walking with Him, then He is still calling you – He is calling you to a deeper and deeper relationship with Him.

(Once you have experienced the fellowship of God, to live life without His fellowship places upon you a sense of great emptiness.)

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