Monday, December 21, 2009

Take Words and Return

As we approach this Christmas season with all the joy and celebration that it brings....can we be honest about the challenges that sometimes occur within our closest relationships? The more our hearts are invested, the greater can be the opportunity for offense. Let's be alert to be tenderhearted and quick to forgive. If we offend others, let's take words of humility and peace and try for restoration. If you will be with someone who is extremely difficult and self-centered, ask God to be a shield for you to deflect their barbs. If we run into the shelter of His love for us, we will find the acceptance and understanding that we will find no other place. May the Prince of Peace guide you in this and every season.

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips. Hosea 14:1-2 NASB

In April of this year I wrote these words from Hosea down in my journal. I was arrested by God’s desire that Israel return (which is an action) to Him with words of repentance and words of sacrifice. I am a person who typically thinks before I speak and evaluates what I read or hear. I pay attention to words as well as actions. If they had just said they were sorry and yet did not return to Him their words would have been shallow and meaninglessness. And yet God wasn’t satisfied merely with their return. He wanted words of repentance, restoration, (receive us) and the worship He was due.

The prodigal son comes to mind as a beautiful picture of what repentance looks like. Not only did he return but he took with him words, “I have sinned against heaven, and against you.” His father ran with great joy to meet him and the relationship was graciously restored.

Forgiveness can be given with or without an acknowledgement on the other person’s part, but true restoration on a human level takes work. I have wrestled with this because of a broken relationship in my life that was superficially restored. The only way I knew they were sorry was because someone else told me they regretted their actions. There were no words of repentance or request for forgiveness. We just picked up and went on. It wasn’t healthy, and the result of a superficial restoration has been a superficial relationship that lacks depth, honesty, and real intimacy.

This morning as I walked and prayed, I asked God to help me to come to Him with words of repentance, and praise. I ask Him to help me to humble myself before others and ask their forgiveness when I have acted badly or thoughtlessly. I don’t want to stroll back presuming that all is well and all is forgiven. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. I don’t want to live on the surface with the Lord or others.

Do you need to take with you words and restore a relationship with your Father or others? Pray about it. Take action and take words.

MY PRAYER: Father, I have been the Prodigal and walked into your gracious arms. Help me not to be superficial with you or others to protect my pride. Help me to be real and biblical in my interactions with You and others. Help me to know when I need to take with me words. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: You have taken away our iniquity, You have received us graciously, we present to You the fruit of our lips. I stand on Your Word!

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