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
All rights reserved

Frustrated

Psalm 46:10… “Cease striving and know that I am God” (NASB).

Frustration is striving. It is a defeat, a failure, a bafflement. It is being flustered. There are many reasons for frustration. Impatience is one of the reasons. Some days, it seems that you are at loose ends–a letter didn’t come, a telephone call that you were expecting never came, the work you expected to be done was not done, or perhaps your speech before a group flopped. You felt cheated, robbed, and dissatisfied. When you feel like this, your condition is one of unbelief and rebellion. Unbelief, because you didn’t trust God and rest in His ability to help you, and rebellion, because you quarreled inwardly with God. All your frustrations and praying will not yield one ounce of blessing more than what God has decreed your portion to be for today. Let God’s portion come to you and not the portion that you demand.

There is nothing that can stop or delay the blessing that God has planned for you today. There is no “Delayed Blessing Office” in God’s economy for His people. I wonder if the word “delay” is even part of His vocabulary. If anything seems delayed, it may be that this was not in His will for you today. Why fret? Why get frustrated? God’s portion arrives in His time. Why be miserable when you can be joyful? Why fear that God may refuse to give you your demands? Psalm 84:11 reads, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (KJV). Rest in this. Be calm. Be at peace within yourself. In Habakkuk 3:17-19, the prophet experienced some frustrations. He trembled on the inside, his lips quivered, and then he said with faith, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Frustration… it’s not worth keeping. Let it go… 

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2011 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

Moments Of Truth: Fruits Of The Flesh

Galatians 4:22-31… In these verses, Paul is teaching truths concerning two kinds of births. He calls it an allegory. An allegory is one in which the characters and events stand for a different application. For example, Isaac represents the “birthing” of the Spirit. Ishmael represents things birthed by the flesh. One birth leads to freedom and liberty, the other to bondage and servitude. Paul also said, “the desolate [Hagar] hath many more children” (v. 27), referring to the truth that flesh gives birth to a lot of problems. When the Lord gave Abraham the promise of a son (Isaac), He was laying a foundation for a proper birth. It was improper conception that produced Ishmael. The folly for this lay at the feet of Abraham and not God. What is the fruit of an “Ishmael”? What kinds of trouble does the flesh give to people? To answer this we must look what Ishmael birthed. Ishmael had twelve sons, and they give us a picture of what “flesh” is and what it will do for you…

Genesis 25:12-18… “Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah” (KJV).

Nebajoth… “to germinate, to make increase, to flourish.” Flesh always births something that will increase and take root. Not necessarily sinful, but weak, limited, and subject to temptation.

Kedar… “dusky, desert-dwelling nomads, to be heavy in spirit.” Flesh never settles down. Many Christians are like this–nomadic in their Christian life, no abiding spirit, always on the dark side of things. Their life is joyless…

Adbeel… “chastisement, corrections of God.” The truth is that flesh never seems to learn righteousness. Many Christians never see the importance of right living, or living under the rules that God lays down. They are always under chastisement.

Mibsam… “a spicy aroma is emitted, odorous.” Flesh does not produce a good fragrance. Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us that Jesus gave Himself as a sweet-smelling savor to God. To put it bluntly, flesh stinks. Jeremiah 48:11 tells us how Moab never changed his scent.

Mishma… “stretching, distortion, perverseness, iniquity.” Flesh stretches the truth, distorts it, perverts it, lies about it, and commits iniquity. Many believers have been caught up in lies and ended up doing wickedness. The Bible calls it “believing a lie.”

Dumah… “to be dumb or silent, figurative of doom and death, without response and inability to understand.” In contrast, walking in the Spirit produces life. It has a voice. It has a response. It has illumination and understanding. Flesh has no voice. It is dead and doomed.

Massa… to be burdened as an ox, a load on your back.” Flesh puts a weight on you. Your problems weigh you down (Romans 7:24). Flesh gives something to carry, burdens that only Christ can lift off you.

Hadar… to swell up, to honor through crooked means.” In other words, flesh cheats you and is prideful. It seeks position and honor at any cost, even at the cost of righteousness and holiness. Flesh avoids the honor that comes through humility.

Tema… desert, dry.” Flesh produces dryness, unfulfilled desires, loss of direction, withering, and no spiritual growth.

Jetur… an enclosed wall.” Flesh walls you in, keeps you in confinement, and keeps you from enlargement.

Naphish… to breathe upon, a current of air that refreshes.” Flesh is always looking for something new, a fad or fantasy that will relieve boredom. Flesh is never satisfied.

Kedemah… to precede, to project, to run before, to hasten.” Flesh is always in a hurry. It runs ahead of God. It bypasses the rules that are established. Flesh does not wait for the right timing. Flesh says, “God is too slow.” Flesh says, “I want it now.”

Ishmael had twelve sons. Twelve is the number of government.  The twelve sons of Ishmael are the foundation of all works of the flesh. It all started with improper conception by Abraham; i.e., Ishmael was never God’s will for Abraham. Anything that is not God’s will, will give birth to something that becomes a burden and not a blessing. The works of the flesh described in Galatians 5:19-21 are the increases from Ishmael, but Christians are born again to walk free in the Spirit.

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2011 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

The Devouring Lion, Pt. 2

(Part 2 of 3)

Psalm 80:13… “The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it” (KJV). Israel had departed from God, and the wild boars wasted the field and devoured the crop. Three tribes are mentioned in this chapter, Ephraim (the name refers to fruitfulness), Benjamin (sonship, son of my right hand), and Manasseh (causing to forget, forgiveness). Israel had been prospering. In their prosperity, they forgot God. Now they were praying, “Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved (v. 7). A sign of being devoured is seen in the meaning of the names–loss of fruitfulness, loss of relationship with God, and lack of forgiveness. The devil has a lot of “boars” waiting to devour you. Repentance will save you. Prayer will restore you, if it is genuine, and if there is a right motive in your prayers. If you have no forgiveness in your heart, the devil lurks near you ready to devour.

Proverbs 30:14… “There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men” (KJV). The poor of the land are devoured by the greed of businesses and owners. When there is a breakdown of ethics and honesty in commercial enterprises, it’s the poor who feel it first. This verse fits the generation prior to Christ’s second coming (James 5:1-8).

Isaiah 9:12-14… “The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day” (KJV). This chapter prophesies of the birth of Christ. It also prophesies of Israel’s rejection of Him. Israel was devoured quickly by a hostile nation. The “Syrians” speak of pride. The “Philistines” speak of wallowing in self. It’s always wallowing in self and in pride that prevents the rising of Jesus within us. Israel thought that because they were the Lord’s people, no enemy could devour them. In one sense that is true, because they have survived after nations had devoured their land. But for two thousand years, they were without a homeland. There are so many things that the Lord by His Spirit wants to do in us, but we are devoured by our pride and our wallowing in self .

Ezekiel 7:15… “The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him” (KJV). Pestilence (sickness) devours people, and lack of nutrition devours people. This happened when the sanctuary was defiled. The sanctuary is more than just the church–it is your physical body too (1 Corinthians 3:15-16, 6:19-20).

Ezekiel 20:47-48… “And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. And all flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it: it shall not be quenched” (KJV). Rebellion devours people. Israel was reminded of their rebellions in this chapter. When people rebel and refuse to serve God, they will be given over to serve sin (Romans 1:21-32). Some of the troubles in our nation have come because our nation has rebelled against God and God has given the nation over to serve sin. If righteousness is put out, sin will enter and devour.

Ezekiel 34:28… “And they shall no more be a prey to the heathen, neither shall the beast of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid” (KJV). The Lord had been talking in this chapter about the wrong shepherds who scattered the flock and how the wild beasts outside of the assembly devoured the Lord’s flock. The Lord said in verses 1-6 that the shepherds fed themselves; i.e., they looked after their own interests (visions) first, and they did not feed the flock. They did not heal the sick and the wounded. They were hard on the people. They did not seek or find out the reasons why the sheep left. They didn’t care… They just didn’t care.

Amos 2:5… “But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem” (KJV). Transgression devoured Judah because they didn’t keep the words that God gave them. Many saints and many churches have no trouble with the words of the Lord. It’s the obeying that they have trouble with. Years ago, I was praying over a situation and the Lord spoke to me saying, “It doesn’t embarrass me one bit to shut a church down if it is not doing My will.” God said to Judah, “I will shut you down and your palaces will be devoured.” God will, and has, shut down many pastors and churches. Many saints have been shut down in areas of usefulness because of sin.

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2011 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

Getting And Regretting

THE WASP… A story is told of a young lad of three years was always fretting and demanding things, and his nurse was doing everything in her power to satisfy him. The boy’s mother was taking her morning beauty nap and was startled by the yelling and screaming of the boy. “What’s the matter with the lad?” said the mother to the nurse. The nurse replied, “The lad screams because he can’t have his own way in regards to things that can hurt him.” The mother, not fully hearing the nurse, said, “Give him what he wants.” A couple of minutes later the lad screamed and yelled and again disturbed his mother. Now angry, the mother said, “I told you to give him what he wants.” The nurse replied, “I did as you ordered, ma’am, and that’s what’s the matter with him. You see, he screamed because he wanted the wasp that was flitting about on the window. He got it and then screamed because he got it and the sting that came with it.”

The moral of this story is… that people scream and grasp at things they insist on having, and when they get them, tears flow. Groans are heard because the very thing they grasped for and insisted on became trouble. They got their wasp and the sting that went with it. People see pretty things flying around… the wrong boyfriend, the wrong girlfriend, smoking, alcohol… and covet them, crave them, pursue them. They catch their wasp… and the sting that came with it. Whoever pushes on in life and insists on a course plainly visible as against the laws of God is bound for trouble. Like the child at the window, they get their desires… and with the wasp they get the sting that came with it.

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2011 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved

Amos: Prophet Of Justice, Pt. 18

(Part 18 of 21)

Amos 7:10-13… When the plumb line showed up it stirred up the Amaziahs of the land. Amos was rejected and lied about to the political authorities and governmental officials. “The land is not able to bear all his words” (v. 10, KJV). It’s no different today. All Amos did was to prophecy the words of the Lord that said, “Return to the Lord or face judgment.” Many of God’s preachers and prophets are rejected when their message becomes God’s plumb line. We need a few more plumb line messages today. Amos was told, “Go back to Judah and prophesy there; eat your doctrines there. We don’t want your plumb line messages here” (v. 12). It’s very dangerous to rebuke Amos-like prophets with, “Don’t prophecy in our church. This is my territory. Stay out of our business.” Amaziah may have been trying to prevent the king from hearing the truth. It may be that the king would have repented and changed the course of the nation. Amaziah would have been smarter to procure an audience for Amos with the king, but Amaziah would have lost his religious leadership had the king repented. Perhaps he was trying to save his living. Chasing away plumb line preachers will not solve the problems of the unrepentant.

Vv. 14-15… Amos testifies about his call and appointment from God. He tells Amaziah that God sent him on a mission and that he was obeying his God. “God gave me a prophet’s ministry; I was faithfully following the flock when the Lord took me into His service.” That’s the key to being called upon by God for the work of the ministry.

Vv. 16-17… Because Amaziah was in direct rebellion against God, in a priestly office forbidden by God, and because he rebuked Amos the prophet, Amaziah would go into captivity, his children would be killed, and his wife would have to resort to harlotry to survive. God has tough words for those who rebuke His prophets.

Amos 8:1-3… The Lord reassesses… and continues His conversation with Amos. God was saying to Amos, “Israel was as the last fruit of summer; the harvest is over. What do you see, Amos?” “A basket of summer fruit,” says Amos (v. 2, KJV). God tells Amos the end had come; there was nothing left to preserve. There were no more stays of judgment. “The harvest has passed, the summer is ended”… and the nation had not returned to God (Jeremiah 8:20). Sin, when it is finished, brings death (James 1:15). The nation had pressed God and provoked Him for too long; now the time limit for repentance had come to an end. Joy was now turned into terror. The nation was not able to speak because of the horror they were seeing. Their songs were now songs of wailing. Previously they had sung songs of blasphemy; now they sung songs of death. In our nation, God has been rejected by the Supreme Court. Prayer and Bible reading have been banned in schools. The Ten Commandments have been taken down off the walls of our public buildings and the nation is paying heavily for its sins. Terror is on the streets. We are living in a new age,” said a former vice president in a speech. Yes, that “new age” now consists of unsafe streets, drugs, pornography, abortions, homosexuality, crime, and scandals.

Vv. 4-6… These verses describe how the populace received Amos’ words. Their attitude was, Well, Amos, we heard what you had to say, but now we must get back to our business.” They were anxious to get back to business, wishing the Sabbath was over so they could go back to buying and selling and cheating–all of this without regard to the pending judgment of God. Today, in our nation it’s “business as usual” with no thought about God or the coming judgment. Market days are more popular than the Sabbath. They would rather conduct business than worship. The nation loathed the Sabbath (worship days) because it made them feel guilty for their sins. Vv. 4-6 tell how the nation conducted its business. People raced against each other to be the first to cheat the poor. God sees it all.

(To be continued…)

Pastor George Belobaba

Copyright © 2011 by Scripture Nuggets Ministries
All rights reserved