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Wednesday, February 22, 2023


"Sowing Righteousness or Wickedness"

Note: All this week we are considering gems from the Book of Hosea. Hosea prophesied to the northern kingdom just prior to its destruction by the Assyrians about 2,700 years ago. Today's message is a bit longer than usual but we felt both texts needed consideration and study.

Message summary: Let us ask ourselves this vital question: Am I sowing seeds of righteousness or wickedness? It's always time to seek the Lord, in every season of our life!

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"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. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors" (Hosea 10:12,13).

Plowing fieldUp the road from our house our Amish neighbor Chris has already plowed one of his fields in preparation for spring planting.

His farming chores demonstrate living history in using methods more similar to those used in the Bible.
He uses a plow much like his great grandfather would have used pulled by a team of horses. Farming technology may change but the basic fundamentals of soil preparation, sowing and reaping remains the same, as well as the spiritual lessons we can learn.

The daily verse from Hosea lists three verbs related to crop farming; sowing, reaping and breaking up. It’s interesting to me that he doesn’t list them in the order we would expect (that is, plowing, sowing and reaping). As I contemplated and studied this I believe there is a reason:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness.” In this case the interest is in personal or individual sowing which indicates a responsibility God has given to us regarding our own spiritual growth and development. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Galatians 6:7-10).

“Reap the fruit of unfailing love.” When farmers sow, regardless of how rewarding the sowing may be, they have a purpose and a goal. They want to reap a bountiful harvest! Our farmer friend Galen and his son Darrel will be very busy sowing corn and soybeans. They do so in confidence that they will reap a good harvest in September or October.  As we sow righteous seeds over time our spiritual harvest will result in "the fruit of unfailing love".

“Break up your unplowed ground.” Our lives can get hard like unplowed soil. We need more than surface work; we need the Holy Spirit to do some heavy-duty digging, turning over, refreshing and reaffirming our purpose for living. Hosea uses the metaphor of “unplowed ground”. Farmers know that a well-prepared field is essential to a good crop. Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower about the seeds that fell on the hardened path. These seeds never had a chance to take root because the birds came and devoured them.

Let us consider a reason Hosea may have placed these three elements in the order he chose. We need to work the soil in an ongoing way so that we keep our hearts soft and pliable to God’s truth. Even after reaping we need to break up the fallow ground. It’s a cycle that will continue all through life since there are many ungodly forces at work in the changing seasons of our lives that contribute to spiritual hardness, thus  the continual need to break up our unplowed ground. Today let’s welcome the Holy Spirit to do His work in our lives. Let us invite Him to “break up our unplowed ground” and sow righteousness so that we reap His unfailing love as an ongoing cycle in life.

The verse continues, “For it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you". This is just as applicable in 2023 as it was some 2700 years ago when Hosea lived. Jesus reinforces this in His Sermon on the Mount when He directs His listeners: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). It’s always time to seek the Lord, not only because we have opportunity to bless Him, but also for the bountiful favor we receive in doing so, for “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

But this is immediately followed by this sad contrast: “But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception".

Notice the parallelism: God’s will in verse 12 is that His people sow righteousness and reap the fruit of unfailing love. Instead they planted (sowed) wickedness and reaped evil.

In the New Testament Paul perhaps is alluding to this verse when he wrote, "A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please the flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7,8).

When we examine the current mess our nation and world is in; whether it's individual lives or so many families, whether it's our nation or worldwide, is it any wonder as we consider the Scriptures and the massive amount of planting wickedness and thus reaping evil?

The final phrase that particularly grips my attention and explains so much about what is happening: “You have eaten the fruit of deception". The very first friuit of deception was in the Garden of Eden.

What a striking contrast to God's desire that we "reap the fruit of unfailing love" as a result of obeying His commands.

Deception is misrepresentation, misleading falsehood and it abounds like never before. I firmly believe deception will increase as mankind continues with a passion to reject God’s commands. One of the final cautions Jesus directed to his disciples was, "Let no one deceive you" (Matthew 24:4).

Paul has a solemn warning concerning deception in Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ".

Today we need to guard ourselves against the many, many forms of deception that we encounter, particularly spiritual deception that pummels at us like the flaming arrows from our enemy. It can lead us astray from the truth and rob us of our future eternal home in heaven, the ultimate fruit of unfailing love.

Following our confession of sin and accepting Christ as our Savior and Lord several disciplines are required to guard against deception:
  • A personal, growing relationship with Christ so that we learn spiritual discernment
  • A firm and growing knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation
  • A sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and obedience to God
  • A solid foundational knowledge in theology (study of God), church history and world history
  • An accountability to others in the body of Christ, particularly our elders
  • A discerning wariness of the "new"*
The final phrase in the text is a timeless explanation and caution for all of us: " Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors". May we all depend on God's strength!

So when I fight I’ll fight on my knees
With my hands lifted high
Oh God the battle belongs to You
And every fear I lay at Your feet
I’ll sing through the night
Oh God the battle belongs to You

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father,

Daily prayer: Loving Father, I confess to You that my heart can easily become like unplowed ground. Often destructive attitudes that I don’t deal with right away remain in my heart and cause me to be hardened toward You and others that I love. I invite the work of Your Holy Spirit to cleanse, renew and refresh me as I yield my heart to the searchlight of Your Word. As I seek You, Lord, You will come and shower Your righteousness and blessing upon my life as the fruit of Your unfailing love flows out to those around me. I can do all things through Christ who enables me through the power of Your Holy Spirit. I pray that You will help me to sow for myself righteousness, so that I will reap the fruit of Your unfailing love. Break up the unplowed ground of my heart that is stony and hard so that I acknowledge my sins, receive Your forgiveness, and look to You for discernment and guidance. When no one else stands for righteousness help me to be bold and courageous as I stand for that which honors You. I want to follow hard after You so that You shower Your blessings upon me. Amen.

* Discerning wariness of the “new”*  We have seen so many new things come along that go from unthinkable to bizarre to tolerated to accepted to normal then perhaps even celebrated in a very short time. The next step, and we are there, is demanding that others approve. Eventually that which was once normal may even be reckoned by some to be abnormal!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Revive Us Again"  Video  Gaither Vocal Band

"Revive Us Again"  Video  Phil Wickham

"Battle Belongs"  Video  Phil Wickham

Pat and Laverne at Crackerbarrel
Following an early morning chaplain visit yesterday in Lebanon County we headed over to Hamburg, PA to have a meal with Stephen brother Pat and his wife Laverne at the Crackerbarrel. Both are in their mid-seventies and still very active in ministry.

Moselem Farms Mill, Berks County, PA
Afterwards we stopped by an interesting place housed in Moselem Farms Mill called "Found Objects Of Industry".

"SUV" in Berks County PA
This vehicle was parked in front of the mill several years ago, piquing my interest making me want to stop sometime and see inside. It would surely get a lot of attention and it was for sale! Perhaps it was sold since it wasn't there yesterday.

Found Objects Of Industry
Since 1972 the owner has pioneered saving architectural masterpieces from buildings being demolished in New York City and has them in several buildings. However they were very pricey, but I suppose if you just have to have something you're not going to find anywhere else this is the place to go! If you go just don't say anything about "American Pickers" to the man!

Weber couple photo 7/3/22
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