God’s Patience

Do you believe that God could not possibly love you because you have done some terrible thing, because of who you have become? Or, perhaps you wonder how a good God can ‘send people to Hell’?

Both thoughts miss the heart of God by a mile! I read in the writing of Hosea this morning. He was that preacher who married a woman who left him for other lovers. She fell far and fast, becoming a street prostitute, unloved, without hope. True story! Hosea found her, brought her home, and loved her back to life. His life was a living lesson about God’s patient and enduring love for His people. Yes, He loves us that much. When we wander, chase other loves, abandon Him, He does not give up on us.

Hosea speaks with God’s voice in another illustration of the depth of His love and the length of His patience. “When Israel was a child, I loved him as a son, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the more he rebelled, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols. It was I who taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.

“But since my people refuse to return to me, they will go back to Egypt and will be forced to serve Assyria. War will swirl through their cities; their enemies will crash through their gates and destroy them, trapping them in their own evil plans. For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me.

“Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? … My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows. No, I will not punish you as much as my burning anger tells me to. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal. I am the Holy One living among you, and I will not come to destroy.” (Hosea 11:1-9, NLT)

What a tender picture. God is a father whose heart is broken by a rebel son who has shown him nothing but contempt and disregard. He points out how He loved His people, how He helped them, fed them, cared for them … and their response?  They loved other gods, they rejected Him. Does He hate them? He does not. Oh, He feels anger, He feels sorrow in His knowledge of the inevitable consequences of their rebellion. But, His “compassion overflows!”

Are you concerned that you have gone too far to come home;  that you have exhausted His patience, tested the limits of His love? That is a deception of the enemy of your soul, not the truth of God. Hosea’s God is our God. He stands ready to meet our prayer with forgiveness and restoration in abundance. The choice of life or destruction is ours, not His. He declares that the “wages of sin is death,”  we earn our own spiritual destruction by our choice to reject Him.  The rest of the story says  “but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NLT)  He gives us what is beyond our reach – LIFE!

His amazing grace is a consistent theme of the Bible. Yes, He is a just God, a holy God, and a jealous God. He does not ignore when we are willful, excusing our behavior like a mother who cannot admit the folly of her beloved son. The world He created for us and in which we live has laws of harvest that promise that “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV) The Cross of Christ stands before us offering love and forgiveness to any who will turn to Him.

Hear the invitation of a patient God today in the word from the Word. “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7, NIV)

__________________

O The Deep Deep Love Of Jesus

O the deep deep love of Jesus
Vast unmeasured boundless free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me
Underneath me all around me
Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward leading homeward
To my glorious rest above

O the deep deep love of Jesus
Spread His praise from shore to shore
How He loveth ever loveth
Changeth never nevermore
How He watches o’er His loved ones
Died to call them all His own
How for them He intercedeth
Watches over them from the throne

O the deep deep love of Jesus
Love of every love the best
‘Tis an ocean vast of blessing
‘Tis a haven sweet of rest
O the deep deep love of Jesus
‘Tis a heaven of heavens to me
And it lifts me up to glory
For it lifts me up to Thee

Samuel Trevor Francis © Public Domain

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