Hide and Seek. What a classic game! Did you ever play the youth group version of this game? We called it “sardines.” It was reverse Hide and Seek. In this game whoever was “it” hid and everyone else would seek him. When someone found the original “hider” that person would hide there with that person. As more and more people discovered this hiding place, they would stay there and hide. The group would get larger and larger. Everyone would cram into one small hiding spot until everyone was found, hence the name “sardines.” We played this for hours and hours in my church youth group. We have many fun memories of hiding in a broom closet or the back corner of a Sunday school classroom. What fun memories!
As we take a look at God's word today, we will see Him encouraging us to engage in a similar act to this ever-popular game of Sardines. Let's look at today's Scripture together found in Hosea 10:12.
Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Ho 10:12
As I've spent time wading thru the intense dialog in Hosea, I am encouraged by this verse. I encourage you to read through Hosea this week; I think you will find that your reading will make this verse come alive. We are in the tenth chapter of Hosea, and it has been a long journey here. God's people have become wicked, rebellious and arrogant. They no longer obey, and have broken their covenant with God. In the previous chapters and in chapter ten, Hosea is communicating the word of the Lord to God's children, and it is not a pleasant message. They are learning about the wrath of God that is about to take place because of their disobedience. But tucked into this grim passage is one verse of hope! Even though they have been disobedient, even wicked, God calls them back. He offers a promise to them: If you sow righteousness, then you will reap unfailing love! God never gives up on His people. He has to discipline them, but even in the midst of telling them that they are about to be taken into captivity by Assyria, there is still hope. He uses a very clear word picture in His plea for their hearts.
“Sow for yourselves righteousness” Sowing or planting is an active verb. It is something you and I have control over. Here God is asking His children (you and me) to do something. He says plant righteousness. In other words, be active and intentional in the way you live. Pursue a right relationship with God and with man. This is our responsibility! This is our call.
God is amazing that He often includes a promise with His instruction. Here He says if you pursue a right relationship with Him and with His children, then you will reap the fruit of unfailing love. Couldn't we all use an extra dose of unfailing love? I would love to be able to love others as God loves them, and I would love for others to love me the same way. It is possible. This passage is a doable passage. It is not a lofty ideal, but a practical how-to guide. If we desire to love unfailingly, we can begin by pursuing a right way of living with others and with God. Is that encouraging to anyone!?!?! I love it!!!
The next part of the Word picture is actually the first step in the process. Here's how it breaks down. If we want unfailing love, then we must pursue righteousness. But before we can pursue righteousness, we must “break up the unplowed ground,” in other words, “REPENT.” If you have ever planted anything, you know you don't just walk outside and throw some seeds on the ground. First you have to prepare the ground, break it up so that it is soft and ready for roots to grow. Spiritually, we can't just jump into the act of right living. First we must deal with the reality of our sin. We must repent. We must have a change of mind…we must turn 180 degrees away from our sin and walk in a new direction toward God our Father. Repentance is the first step to sowing righteousness and reaping unfailing love.
As we keep reading we realize that we can't wait for the right time to come along to make changes in our lives, but rather the time is NOW!! God's children are told, “It is time to seek the Lord, until he come and showers righteousness on you.” NOW is the time! Don't wait for tomorrow to come, or until you get back to church on Sunday. Make the choice today to deal with sin and to pursue righteousness. Seek the Lord. Not just today, but just like His word says, seek Him “until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” As you prepare your heart and deal with will, and as you begin to pursue a life of right living, HE will show up in mighty way and rain down His unfailing love on you! Amen?!?! You are His precious child, and He longs to shower His righteousness on you!
Just like we sought out the “it” person in Sardine’s many years ago, let us commit to seeking the Lord, and let us do it TODAY!!! To begin, let’s take time to reflect on these questions:
What sin do I need to deal with in my life?
What choices can I intentionally make today that move me forward in my pursuit of righteousness?
What practical steps can I take today to seek the Lord?
As you honestly answer these questions, take time to write a letter to your heavenly Father, expressing your heart's desire to Him, and asking Him to reveal the sin in your life that you might deal with it and pursue righteousness.
You are so amazing to allow us to have a personal relationship with you. Lord, I pray today You will begin to reveal areas of sin that we need to turn from. I pray that as You reveal those areas, we will repent, not next week, not in a month or a year, but today! And that today, we will pursue a right relationship with You knowing that You will fulfill Your promise and rain down righteousness and unfailing love on us. Thank you for being a God of unfailing love. Let us press on to know You that we may look more and more like You each day and that the world will see Jesus in us and be drawn to You.
In your amazingly awesome name we pray! Amen.