Sliding doors

Today’s readings are Hosea 11:12-12:14 and Luke 12:13-21

In the movie sliding doors, two  alternative scenarios are played out in parallel regarding a woman’s relationship with her husband. The movie creates a “what if” scenario.

The passages before us this morning create a similar feel – particularly when read together.

In Hosea, we read about a nation judged for their evil… and we wonder “what if?” What if they had been obedient to God? What if they had lived in covenant faithfulness? What if rather than chasing the wind and pursuing dishonest gain, they had pursued the Lord God? Imagine the regrets…

In Luke we find a parable about a rich man who pursued selfish gain during his bumper harvest but was never able to enjoy the life he had prepared for himself as his life was taken from him that night. Imagine the regrets… From Jesus’ comment on the parable (v21), we can take it that the scenario would have ended differently had the rich man made a different decision regarding the bumper crop.

Today will be full of sliding door situations for all of us. Sometimes they are little decisions, sometimes big. Life is the cumulative effect of our decisions. The point is not to be overwhelmed by them, but to live in obedience to God in even the little decisions. Under God, the “what if” then becomes irrelevant. As Proverbs 16:9 reminds us

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

As we approach today’s sliding doors, may we live with humble obedience such that we have no regrets come the days end.

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Shameless audacity

Today’s readings are from Hosea 6-7 and Luke 11:1-13. For more on Hosea 6, here’s a sermon preached in 2016.

Audacity is not something we generally view positively. The audacious one tends to get people offside, even if they do get what they want along the way.

In instructing his disciples about prayer, Jesus uses a story to encourage persistent, bold prayers… even tending to the point of disrespect. It’s not hard to empathise with the homeowner in the story (v5-8) whom is waken from his sleep by a “friend” asking for bread. We are meant to empathise – the point is that the even the friendship won’t get the homeowner out of bed to give his friend bread. Rather, it’s the shameless audacity that will bring about not just the 3 loaves of bread (v5) … but as much bread as he needs (v8). It prompts the question… how much “daily bread” do we want from God? Are we prepared to keep on knocking until the door is opened( v9-10), confident that our shameless audacity won’t result in our Father responding badly, but rather in him generously giving good gifts (v11-13)?

If only Israel in Hosea’s day took the shameless audacity approach. Hosea knew that if they had returned to him they would be met with kindness and restoration (v2) (restoring on the 3rd day – hmmmm); that like the homeowner, the Lord God would come to them – as surely as the sun rises or the winter rains come (v3). Yet, rather than behaving with shameless audacity, their rebellious behaviour was simply shameless (Hosea 7 – pick a verse).

Wherever you find yourself this morning, whatever situation is currently on your mind, whomever burdens your heart -Jesus invites you to shameless audacity. Take it to God, over and over again. Knock on the the door with faithful vigour and wait expectantly of the good gifts of your loving heavenly Father.

 

Fickle props, broken people and living with integrity

In our Old Testament reading today we hear a harsh rebuke of God against the priests, the royal family and Israel more generally. Hosea does not mince his words and likens the hearts of Israel to prostitution, turning to their own ways and forsaking their savior and God. Even in the face of judgement…

Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah his sores,

They STILL refuse to turn to God and instead…

turned to Asssyria, and sent to the “great king” for help.

But this is a fickle prop that does not result in relief of their afflictions. It appears that Israel continues to refuse to turn to God… until they have hit rock bottom

In their misery they will earnestly seek me

This scripture certainly rings true in my experience. Sometimes we have to be broken before we can acknowledge our need of a savior. Perhaps you, like me, have attempted to prop up your life with things that don’t give answers, don’t satisfy and only aggravate our ‘misery’. For me, I attempted to prop up my life with possessions, relationships, ever more extreme experiences, a sense of belonging – always searching for something more. It took till I was broken beyond my ability to recover to acknowledge my brokenness and turn to Christ.

 

In our gospel reading several things stand out for me.

  • We gain a glimpse of the spiritual world beyond the physical one. Jesus demonstrates his absolute authority over the spiritual realm

I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not

 

We are reminded to take our role as Christ’s ambassadors seriously.

  • We are to humbly walk in the world and with our brothers and sisters in Christ

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and servant of all

  • We are to extend hospitality and look after those entrusted to us

Whoever welcomes on of these little children in my name welcomes me

  • Our lives are to reflect our saviour with all integrity

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?

 

What stands out for you?

I pray as we reflect as a nation today regarding the sacrifices made for us in war that we would also reflect on the ultimate sacrifice for us in Jesus

The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise