Judah: The Backslidden Nation, Pt. 2

Hosea exposes the nation’s backsliding…

Hosea 9:3… Ephraim goes back to Egypt and eats unclean things. In other words, people go back to doing the things that God has delivered them from.

Hosea 9:16… Ephraim is stricken, and not only that, his roots dry up. His fruit (children) are murdered (v. 13) and many others are aborted in the womb. Hosea may have also seen our day and our nation.

Hosea 11:7… Ephraim was bent on backsliding. The word “bent” means “determined.” He still had a love for the Most High, but refused to exalt Him. Most backsliders care about the Lord but they love their evil ways too.

Hosea 12:1… Ephraim feeds on the wind and follows the east wind. The east wind is the doctrine that came from Babylon. “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves [fruit] of our lips” (Hosea 14:2, KJV). Our nation knows that it is doing the same as ungodly societies that are all around them. Very few prophets stand before our politicians and prophesy the word of God.

Hosea 12:8… Ephraim prospers financially because he became crooked in business and said, “I did nothing wrong.” Many giant corporations have fallen because of this same attitude.

The prophets called for Ephraim and Judah to return. The countries were determined to backslide. Yet, God, in Hosea 11:8, says, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim?” (KJV. God says that He chose mercy, because He is God and not a man.

Hosea calls for the nation to return to God…

Hosea 14:1… God lays it on the line. “You are fallen and a backslider because of your own iniquity. You have no excuse, you can’t blame others; you made your own decisions.” The nation needs to call sin, sin, and not bad habits or something that you will get over. Our jails are full because of sin. Our medical costs are rising because of sin. Sin without repentance can rob Christians of their power against evil.

Hosea 14:2… God shows His concern. “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves [fruit] of our lips” (KJV). The Lord wants to help the backslider by giving him the right vocabulary. Often the sinner doesn’t know what to say. Our nation knows that it is doing wrong, and it doesn’t know what to say. Repentance has its own vocabulary. What does God want to hear from the backslider? “Take with you words.” Say to God, “Take away my sin, cleanse me, forgive me.” Hosea is saying, “Acknowledge your sin before God. Ask God to receive you again.” “Take me back, Lord.” Worship vocabulary comes after repentance. The backslider (v. 3) must recognize that the world (Assyria) can’t help him. You don’t repent by coming back on a “show horse”; i.e., making a big thing out of it. Repentance involves humility, remorse, being sorry, and often weeping. You don’t return carrying any good works that you may have done while you were backslidden. You are saved by God’s grace and by God’s mercy, not by your own works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Hosea tells what God will do for the returning nation…

Hosea 14:4-9… He heals them, loves them, and removes His anger from them. He refreshes them, He causes new growth, and He strengthens the nation’s roots. God enlarges them, gives them a new fragrance, brings a reviving into their life, brings a revival in their jobs and families, and brings new joys. He removes their desire to serve sin. They receive fresh prophetic direction. They are exhorted and shown that the way of the Lord is right. “You have been restored. Now walk in God’s ways.”

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

Judah: The Backslidden Nation

Hosea 14:1-7… “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him . . .” (v. 2, KJV).

Hosea wrote about Ephraim, who represented the nation of Israel and her spiritual downfall. He says in Hosea 4:1,6, “There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land . . . My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee” (KJV). Lack of knowledge was destroying the people of God. “Lack of knowledge” refers to forgetting the law of God in word and practice. In our terms it would be not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. God wanted to do mighty things in their midst, but they were backslidden. Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:19-21 that every Christian should have knowledge of the wide range of the love of God, and they should know that it is God who will do above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. Hosea 4:14 says, “Therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.” This may be the reason why the power of God is absent in today’s churches. The text says, “Bring your confessions, and return to the LORD. Say to him, ‘Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises’” (v. 2, NLT). I heard in my spirit the words, “My people do not know how to repent.” Think on it… many do not know how to say, “I am sorry, Lord.”

“Backsliding” means “turning from God, defection, apostasy, without adherence to God or to His word, stubborn, rebellious, bent on sinning, failure to grow in the knowledge of God.”

Hosea exposes the nation’s backsliding… These same signs are in the church today.

Hosea 4:17… Ephraim is joined to idols. In other words, divided loyalties were in his heart. There is danger in incomplete separation. Our nation is full of idolatry. People have made idols of other people, big homes, money, fancy items, big churches, big business, positions, and status, among others.

Hosea 5:3… Ephraim has defiled himself through immoral practices. Proverbs 12:28 says, “In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death” (KJV). Sex is a big business in our nation.

Hosea 5:11… Ephraim, because of oppression, cannot make sound judgments because he willingly did wrong things. How can our leaders make sound decisions when their conscience tells them they are doing wrong? We are no different.

Hosea 5:13… Ephraim went to Assyria for help. Assyria represents taking a step in a wrong direction. The trip did nothing for Ephraim. The United Nations will never be the answer for our nation.

Hosea 7:1… Ephraim’s iniquity made an opening for the enemy to come in so that the enemy could strip him of his wealth.

Hosea 7:8… Ephraim brought mixture into his life. He was cake that was half-baked. Partial holiness is not good enough. The Bible has been compromised. The truths that the nation was founded upon have been watered down. Half-holiness will bring you death, not life.

Hosea 7:9… Ephraim was not aware that strangers were devouring his strength. So also in our nation–people who are alienated from God are bringing much damage. Spiritual deterioration comes in silently.

Hosea 7:11… Ephraim is pictured as a silly dove, i.e., senseless and confused about what direction he should take. God was silent; His counsels are refused.

Hosea 8:11… Ephraim made altars to sin. He was devoted to a false thing. Today, people love their SUVs and their big houses.

Hosea 8:14… Ephraim (Israel) had forgotten his Maker and built temples of false worship. Meanwhile, Judah multiplied its fenced cities and isolated itself behind walls. The church world divides for various reasons. A group splits, leaves a church, and starts their own church, giving it a spiritual sounding name to cover up their act. No splinter group ever calls their new work “We Split Life Center,” or “We Dislike One Man Leadership Fellowship,” or “Legalism Tabernacle.” Judah put up walls of exclusiveness around itself and acted as if they only had God in their midst.

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
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Empty Talkers

Amos 3:4… “A lion in the forest does not roar unless it has caught an animal; it does not growl in its den when it has caught nothing” (NCV).

Titus 1:10… “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision” (NASB).

Do you brag about what you are going to do before you do it? There are many leaders in ministry who like to “prophesy” about their big plans, about the mountains they will climb, about the victories that are coming. These goals are never reached, and the braggers lose their credibility and people leave the church. It’s good to be optimistic and confident, but success should never be boasted of before it is achieved.

I have heard preachers say, “We have a project for our church, and by such and such a date the funds will come in.” But the funds did not come in. An old saying goes, “Until the fish is in the boat, it’s not caught.” Many preachers lose their reputations for not delivering on what they have prophesied. Too many promise more than they are able to deliver. “Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?” (Amos 3:4, NASB). Empty talkers, who never follow through or see the results of what they have prophesied, are like the lion who roared when it had caught no prey. Proverbs 12:14 says, “People will be rewarded for what they say, and they will also be rewarded for what they do” (NCV), or rewarded for what they have accomplished. Leaders need to establish a reputation for reliability for what they announce to the people. Then when the lion roars, people will listen.

Proverbs 13:11… “Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it” (NASB).

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
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The Dangers Of Being Lukewarm, Pt. 2

Matthew 12:43-45… Here, we see the lukewarmness of leaving one’s heart empty after being cleansed of demons, sins, and bad habits. In this passage, the demons and sins returned when they saw a man doing nothing to fill his heart with good things. The man rejoiced when the demons were emptied out, but Jesus condemned what the other man rejoiced in. Jesus condemned him for staying empty. The man’s life ended up worse than before. If Jesus has cleansed your heart from habits, sin, and devils, then it’s up to you to be filling your life with spiritual things (i.e., the Word of God, church fellowship, and a hunger for more of God). Jesus is glad to deliver people… But saints, fill the gap. Do it at home through prayer and Word study. In the years ahead you will see good people staying home from church because of lifeless Christianity. Discover for yourself the joys of hearing the voice of the Lord speaking to you. Jesus sees your heart. He sees the lukewarmness of an empty heart.

Luke 8:11-15… Here, we see the lukewarm attitude of sowing good seed into bad soil (hearts). Many Christians do nothing with the word given. Four men received a word from the Lord. These were not bad men. They put themselves in a place to hear. They received the Word in their minds, but their hearts were out of sorts. One man couldn’t hold the Word given, so the Word didn’t take root. Another received the Word with joy, but when trials came because others spoke against his acceptance of the Lord and His Word he lost his joy. He paid more attention to the word of others rather than to the Word the Lord gave him. The third man heard the Word, but he let the cares of this world and the making of money take priority over the will of God for his life. Wrong priorities choked out the Word of God. Jesus sees how you receive His directives. It is useless to ask God for a word if you are not going to act righteously upon it. Lukewarmness produces no fruit.

What did Jesus see that we are not seeing? Jesus saw good people falling into a place of lukewarmness. He condemned them because they did nothing. The Bible says in James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (KJV). The Gospels tell of Jesus warning others about hell and outer darkness because of what they did not do. In Luke 16, the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a good example. The man did not help the beggar, Lazarus. The rich man died and went to hell because of what he did not do. Matthew 25:31-46 tells of the Son of Man gathering nations; the charge that condemned these nations was that they did nothing. They were not charged for some great immoral sin (and that’s bad enough), but for what they did not do. In Matthew 25:14-30, one man was given a single talent. He hid this talent and accused his master of demanding too much of people. This good man was called a slothful servant (useless and good for nothing) and was sent into outer darkness… for doing nothing.

One of the worst charges brought against these people was that of lukewarmness. Jesus hates it. In Mark 2:23-27, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing nothing on the Sabbath. The purpose of the Sabbath was to rest, to sustain and maintain the souls of people. The Pharisees were lukewarm in their actions. Jesus came and met the needs of people on the Sabbath. Jesus rebuked the uselessness of a Sabbath that wasn’t meeting the needs of people. The Sabbath was made for man, to enrich men’s souls–to be a blessing and not a burden. Like the Pharisees, many today make the Sabbath a burden and not a blessing. It’s time to press home this question… Are you a lukewarm and useless Christian, a do-nothing believer? If so, you can change. This message was heavy on my heart. I really did not want to write it, but the Lord wants to change your life. Many changes are coming in the years ahead. Why not be changed? Come to Him now in prayer and with open heart and ask Him to change you.

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
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The Dangers Of Being Lukewarm

Revelation 3:15-16… “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (KJV).

Jesus sees things in our lives that we usually do not. I want to briefly share with you about the dangers of lukewarm living. The word “lukewarm” describes the state of one who is indifferent to the word God says–one who is indifferent to the needs of the local assembly, one who is indifferent to one’s own soul, one who travels life’s pathway with no definite decisions in regards to eternity. The word “lukewarm” is an old adjective meaning “to be moderately warm or tepid; one who is tasteless, good for nothing, fluctuates between apathy and fervor, or is half-backslidden.” Lukewarmness deals with the matters of the spirit in the Christian life. Those matters are indifference, ineffectiveness, impotence, lacking in enthusiasm, the state of being asleep and not being alert. The Lord was saying to the Laodicean Christians, “You are totally ineffective and half-hearted in your faith. I will spew (vomit) you out; I will reject you with extreme disgust.” The word “spew” is a figure of disgust and rejection. Jesus does not tolerate such behavior in Christians. They are like the salt that has lost its savor. Lukewarmness refers to the concept that tepid water tends to produce an irritation in the stomach and results in an inclination to vomit. In other words, lukewarm Christians irritate the stomach of Jesus. That’s a strong word that Jesus gave. Jesus wants you to be a “hot” Christian. Let’s look at a few examples of lukewarmness.

Matthew 5:21-24… Here, we see lukewarmness in bringing a gift to the altar (praise, worship, tithes) while degrading a fellow believer through name-calling and unforgiveness. In this passage, Jesus talks about a man wanting to be on good terms with God. That’s wonderful and the right thing to do, but Lord saw something else–the man was not right with his brother. He was an angry man, using words like ”Raca,” meaning “the empty one, worthless.” He called the man “fool,” meaning “dull, stupid, blockhead, moron.” Over the years I have found that when people start vilifying another it is because they themselves caused the alienation in the first place. Rather than doing the right thing, they try to get “spiritual” in a hurry, wanting to please God through some gift of service. It’s a lukewarm spirit. God wanted this man to get out of religion and into relationship. Many ministries act like this man.

Mark 5:1-17… Here, the area of lukewarmness is seen in not helping to deliver others during their time of need. Fear can block people from doing the right thing. Many people, in the town of Gadara knew about the demon-disturbed man living in the cemetery, but they had no strength nor desire to deliver him. Jesus never went anywhere without finding someone who needed help. He delivered this man who had cried out for help, but the people who knew this man were afraid of the man’s insanity, and when Jesus loosed him they were afraid of the man’s sanity. They requested that Jesus leave their town. God sees whether we care or not. He hears the cry of hurting hearts. Many Christians are afraid of people in need. God sees Christians who are lukewarm when it comes to helping others.

Luke 10:30-37… Here, we see the lukewarmness of being “in the ministry” and passing by on the other side when one sees someone who is hurting. The thieves who robbed the man on his way to Jericho were cruel and heartless and lukewarm. The priest and the Levite did not hurt this man, but neither did they help him. They were cruel and heartless as well. They refused to get involved. They missed an opportunity to be useful. The Samaritan (an unbeliever in Christ) came and ministered life to the wounded man. Jesus sees lukewarmness in the Christian who does not act mercifully and has no compassion or grace towards the hurting.

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

God Says, “Quit Meddling”

Psalm 49:7-8… “No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him–For the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever” (NASB). In other words, quit meddling in other people’s lives when God is dealing with them. God does not need our interference. How many times have you interfered with what God was saying and doing in another’s life by saying, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” or, “I would do it this way?” Peter interfered in Matthew 16:23 when Jesus had indicated that He was facing the cross. Peter jumped in and tried to block it. Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). God will not allow our hands or our mouth to interfere with His will. In John 21:21 (after the resurrection), Peter was more concerned about John’s future than his own. Jesus said, “What is that to thee? follow thou me” (v. 22, KJV).

Often our interference seems right to us, but our discernment is wrong. Too often we can’t see the delicate movements of God in the lives of others. We have a tendency to rush in and push people into something God is not saying or doing. Our text says that we cannot redeem our brother or bribe God into changing what He is doing. We interfere by meddling. The word “interfere” means “to conflict with, to be a hindrance to someone or something, to get in the way, to frustrate, to butt in and tamper with another’s doing, to pry into a situation you have no business in.” In the Old Testament, God gave Israel manna. Some wouldn’t eat it until they had cooked the manna in oil and the taste of it was of fresh oil. Many people interfere and makes someone else’s life “oily” (fishy). Many people interfere with new converts by feeding them strong “meat.” These new converts become “oily.” Years ago, I remember a man who came forward and accepted Christ. A week later, he came to me and accused me of teaching false doctrine. Someone had meddled and filled him with teaching that confused him and his stopped his growth. “Meddling” is not listed as a gift.

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

When God Gets Weary

Isaiah 1:12-16… These verses tell us that God got weary of Israel’s sacrifices. “They are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” (v. 14b, KJV). Does God ever get weary of our present-day church meetings? This word came into my spirit, so I thought maybe I should see if this is so. Isaiah 40:28 tells us that God never gets weary. “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?” The word “weary” as used here means “to gasp, to be exhausted, to tire, to faint.” It refers to physical fatigue. God never gets worn out physically. Yet Isaiah 1:14 tells us that God grew weary of Israel’s temple services. The word “weary” as used here refers to mental fatigue; it means “to be disgusted, to tire mentally, to grieve in spirit, to loathe, or to have one’s forbearance worn out.” The worshippers had been bringing profane sacrifices into the courts of the Lord, and God abhorred it.

Notice what God said. “I can’t stand the evil you do in your holy meetings” (1:13, NCV). This deed caused God to say, “I have had enough . . . I am not pleased” (v. 11). “They are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” (v. 14, KJV). This is strong language. Does God ever feel this way about our meetings? Does He get mentally exhausted of the doings in the church today? Has our lukewarm Christianity wearied God? To weary God is a serious matter. It can mean life or death to your prayers and intercessions. Note v. 15, “When ye make many prayers, I will not hear.” Many churches pray a lot (intercession), but is God listening? Has God broken off communication? Psalm 66:16-20 tells us that if iniquity is in the heart, the Lord will not listen. Psalm 109:7 tells us that some prayers become sin. Proverbs 28:9 tells us that if you turn your heart away from hearing the Word, your prayer becomes an abomination. When we weary God, we are aborting the blessings that God wants to give to us. Our prayers should not become wasted air.

Isaiah 1:16-17 tells us what removes God’s weariness: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (KJV).

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2012 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved