When God Roars Like A Lion

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Series: God – in Good Times and Bad

Sun am 13 July 2014 – Justus Swart

Hos. 8:14a; Hos. 1:2; Hos. 3:1-2; Hos. 11:1-11; Ps. 23; John 10:11-15; Matt. 6:25-34; 2 Cor. 1:3-4

Israel would often chase their own desires and were notorious for abandoning God and running to the gods of the other nations. God loved Israel but Israel continuously messed up, made mistakes and ran away. In those times, God used to send a prophet to remind them that they had forgotten God and to bring them back to their roots. God gave Hosea a very specific assignment so that He could reveal a part of His nature and character. God is not unaffected by what we do and how we treat Him (Hos. 8:14a). God needed to speak to His people and to let them know how much He loved them. God asked Hosea to go and marry a prostitute (Hos. 1:2). Hosea did what he was asked to do and married Gomer and had children with her. Later she went back to her adulterous lifestyle and sold herself back into prostitution. Imagine the emotion Hosea had to go through in this situation. He must have walked in the shadiest, darkest alley ways that you can imagine to find his wife. She was stripped of all her dignity, unable to help herself; Hosea actually paid to get his wife back (Hos. 1:2). God not only wanted him to bring her back, but also to love her. The agony he must have gone through! This story is a type and shadow of what happens in the New Testament. Jesus comes and pays the ultimate price to get back those who already belonged to Him. This story helps us understand a tiny piece of the immeasurable love that God has for us, even when we abandon him or turn our backs on Him (Hos. 11:1-11). God had nothing but burning compassion for Israel. God shows us that His heart is to walk with us. He wants to guide us through life, but when we deviate from the path He will roar like a lion and we will come running back to Him. He may use very uncomfortable situations in our life to get our attention but it is mainly because we have not left Him any other option.

When we look at the story of Joseph, even in the most difficult times when it seemed that all was lost, everything had gone wrong, God was there with him. Even when we turn our backs on God and run in another direction, like in the story of Hosea, God is still there. He has never given up on us; He has never abandoned us even though we turn away from Him. His love is so powerful that He can never abandon us and leave us to our own devices. For so many of us, God has used situations; we are going through things and God is roaring in our lives. There is a Lion that is roaring in our lives and calling our attention. He is using situations and circumstances to make us realize that we need Him more than we would like to admit. Some situations make us feel we are okay, we can stand on our own two feet, then God roars like a lion and we come running. However, there is this awkward space we find ourselves in, because once we have experienced the call of God, we are still left to discern what we have to do, and what is left for God to do. In that space there is a desire for self-preservation that creeps in. That is the desire to be number one. This comes in the darkest situations and waves its flag right in front of our face and says, “Hey, what about you? You have not thought about yourself. Take care of yourself.” When you are going through tough times and all I can say to you is that God is with you, it does not pay your bills or put food on your table. Encouragement does not change your situation. We are all human and have instinctive urges to protect ourselves from obvious pitfalls. What are the limits to our responsibility when God has come and reached into our lives? What do you have to do and what is God going to take care of?

In Psalm 23 we have an exchange between God and David. God does not just take care of everything while David sits back and relaxes. It is a partnering together, a working together. When those tough situations happen and you feel so alone and scared and you do not know where to turn, God is not going to just save you from of that scenario, He wants to walk with you. He wants to guide you and He wants to be beside you.

In Ps. 23 David is actually outlining a very clear distinction between what is up to us, and what is up to God. When God calls you back and puts you under His wing, He does so under the condition that you accept Him as Lord, as the Good Shepherd; that He takes that sole place in your life that you do not argue nor contest with, but submit to. We have to surrender the control of our lives to Him. No more fighting for control of the wheel and no more trying to do things your way. He is your Shepherd and He is taking control and direction of your life. That is the only way you can find purpose and direction in your life. This, as many of us have learned, is a non-negotiable with God. You do not draw up a list of demands and expectations. You have just surrendered your life into the hands of the Good Shepherd. He is going to take good care of you. He is going to love you.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11-15). That is a good and safe place to be, in the hands of the good Shepherd. The hired hand runs away but God has paid a price for you.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing”, those two thoughts are fused. If you say God is your Lord, then you say, “I lack nothing.” Learn to be content with what you have and what God has given you. We live in an age where nothing is really enough. Thankfully, God loves us enough that He does not answer all our prayers. Our first task then after surrendering ourselves to the good Shepherd, is to say, “Lord, I am content, thank You.” Learn to be thankful, learn to practice thanks giving. Thanksgiving should be a part of your life, of your day. It relieves stress to say, “thank you”. Contentment is a way of living your life. I shall lack nothing! (Matt. 6:25-34). This is something we have to live by. Although life may give us a ton of reasons to be anxious and stressed out, we need to recognize that only God can restore our soul. It does not mean we should ignore practical advice about relieving stress. Anxiety, depression and stress have serious effects on our body. You cannot neglect your responsibility to manage your stress, but we need to intentionally seek God’s presence, always pursue the leading of God that takes us to those quiet waters. He wants us to live our life not ruled by our stresses. Even though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you fear no evil. What are you doing in the valley of the shadow of death? You are walking! You are not there to stay the night; you are there to walk through it. It is so tempting when you go through tough times to protest and pout. It is our responsibility to keep walking, keep moving. The valley is not your home; it is something you are just passing through. That is not where God wants you to be, but while you are there, you are not alone. His protection is your comfort. His rod and staff are talking about discipline.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Cor. 1:3-4). We come to Him and receive comfort and are restored and then we go out and comfort and restore those around us.

David is convinced that the only one who can give him validation is God (Ps. 23:5). Validation is a big issue, because the valley is a very lonely place and it is easy to feel abandoned even by those who are close to you. We feel neglected and feel that nobody cares. He will anoint you and lift you up! When we are alone we are the most exposed and vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. David is convinced that God will be his deliverer; He will prepare a table in the midst of his enemies. There is something deeply significant about the validation of God. You will never be pushed to the point of retaliation; it is a quiet confidence that prevails within you that keeps you from becoming cornered. You do not feel the need to attack and defend yourself because you have this rest in God. He has validated and anointed you in the midst of your enemies.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Ps. 23:6). Do not be confused, goodness and love may follow you, but they may not precede you. You may walk into situations that are not characterized by goodness and love, but once you leave, you should have transformed that situation into a situation of goodness and love because you are led by the Good Shepherd. Every experience you have with other people should leave an unmistakable mark of goodness and love on them. Goodness and love is your new shadow, because it is a calling God has put on you. God is not promising you an easy road, but He is promising that wherever you go, you leave goodness and love behind you.

We have Joseph and we have Hosea as examples, when we are going through tough times, running away from God, God is there and loves us, He wants to be with us in tough situations. God wants us to surrender our life to the good Shepherd; He wants us to live a life that lacks nothing and be thankful. Goodness and mercy will follow us the rest of our days.