Beautiful Stranger
    Hosea has always been one of my favorite books because it so powerfully displays the heart of the Father unto people.  It is a story of a God who watches as a people He created for Himself, resolutely go about living lives that day by day are destroying themselves.  In His grief, He says in one part of the book, "My heart turns over within Me," over the waywardness of His people Israel.  To what degree might our actions, choices, paths, be bringing about the same response within His heart for us?  In 2:6, He says, "My people are being destroyed because they don't know Me."  He doesn't say that they never entered the doors of His "church" or that they didn't believe in Him.  He says, and continues to say, that they, we, don't know Him.  And the result of this lack of knowledge is always going to be our own destruction.
     Something we so easily overlook in the spiritual collapse of the nation of Israel, is that they never stopped "going to church," or observing the rituals of worship.  They were very religious, they met in their local synagogues, made the journey to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, and paid their tithes.  Yet the Father said that their worship was all "pretense."  They acknowledged Him outwardly, but in the real matters of life, they relied upon themselves, their wisdom, their understanding.  The Father said that they'd be "destroyed, for they refused to understand."  The destruction would not come as His punishment, but rather as the fruit of lives lived apart from Him, and unto themselves.  His heart is heard through Hosea's plea, "Come, let us return to the Lord."  Is this a plea that He may well be directing towards yours or my heart today?  Towards your church fellowship or mine?  Does His heart turn over within Him over us?
     God is not interested in our being religious.  He yearns for something more than our church attendance, the giving of our tithe, and the keeping of His "rules."  He yearns for us.  In 6:6  He says, " I don't want your sacrifices.  I want you to know God."  We may know all the words that He has said, that Jesus has said, but we know little or nothing of the heart and person who has spoken them.  We are not strangers to Him, but He remains a stranger to us.  He's the Beautiful Stranger.  We know so much about Him, but we don't know Him.  And the result for us is destruction, and it's on every level, emotional, physical, and most of all, spiritual.
     Today is April Fool's Day, and one of the central desires of all practical jokes of this day is to get one to believe something that isn't true.  Our scant personal knowledge and experience of the Father has gotten us to believe so many things about Him, and so about others and ourselves that is not true.  As a result, we more often end up living life as if there is no God.  Few of us would say we believe this, but the results would show otherwise.  David said that only fools say there is no God.  Living lives that show so little knowledge of Him always makes fools of us all.
For such, every day is April Fool's Day.
     In Hosea 7:16 God says of the people, "They look everywhere except unto heaven and the Most High."  How true is this of you and I today?  The Beautiful Stranger stands before each one of us, each of our fellowships, of His church, and of all people, and invites us to come to Him.  Come to all of Him, with all of ourselves.  He'll still be beautiful, but He'll be a stranger no more.

Blessings,
Pastor O
 
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