Following the Good Shepherd – Do I value God’s gifts or God’s favor?

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God’s Favor or God’s Gifts?

“6 My people will be destroyed,
because they have no knowledge.
You have refused to learn,
so I will refuse to let you be priests to me.
You have forgotten the teachings of your God,
so I will forget your children.
7 The more priests there are,
the more they sin against me.
I will take away their honor
and give them shame.
8 Since the priests live off the sin offerings of the people,
they want the people to sin more and more.
9 The priests are as wrong as the people,
and I will punish them both for what they have done.
I will repay them for the wrong they have done.”. Hosea 4:6-9 NCV

Hosea the prophet calls out God’s priests in this chapter of his book. God’s priests, and His people were turning away from Him because they were becoming self sufficient. God had blessed and provided for the priests and rather than humbly receiving the blessings of God, they took His blessing for granted. They valued the gifts that God gave, more than they valued His favor in their lives. The blessings of God are a double edged sword. While it is great to experience God’s blessings and gifts, it also comes with a greater accountability and greater opportunity to fall into sin.

In Hebrews 2, the Hebrew pastor shows that Jesus did not gain God’s favor by praying, God hearing His prayers, and God blessing (which is often how I view prayer to work). “.

“But we see Jesus, who for a short time was made lower than the angels. And now he is wearing a crown of glory and honor because he suffered and died. And by God’s grace, he died for everyone.”. Hebrews 2:9 NCV.

Hebrews 2, shows me that God’s blessing was upon Jesus, not because He simply asked for it, but because Jesus valued and sought God’s favor in His life, more than He sought to live a life that others thought was “blessed”.

The Holy Spirit is saying to me as I sit and wait at Queen’s Hospital at 2:00 am, in the morning this July 5, 2011, for the love of my life to be taken to brain surgery to have a portion of her brain removed, that for God’s blessing to really be upon us, I need to value His favor more than I value His gifts. While His gifts are great, His favor is far greater.

I like how Hosea ends chapter 4.

“Don’t make promises,
saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives . . .’
16 The people of Israel are stubborn
like a stubborn young cow.
Now the Lord will feed them
like lambs in the open country.“. Hosea 4:15-16 NCV

While cattle can feed in open fields because they are not easy victims to prey upon, stubborn lambs who stray from their shepherd to feed in open fields are easy prey for predators.

I like that. Hosea is straight forward in saying, “if you want to be stubborn like a cow, don’t expect to be blessed like an obedient lamb!”. He is reminding Israel to stay close to their true Shepherd. As I wait on surgery for Laura, this is a great reminder for me to stay close to my Shepherd too.

Lord forgive the many times that I am more like a stubborn cow and less like an obedient lamb. Empower me to seek Your favor more than Your gifts today. Amen.

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