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Hosea is one of the minor prophets…this doesn’t mean he was under 18 or unimportant but only that his prophecy is shorter in length than Isaiah’s or Jeremiah’s, etc.
One Pastor was preaching a series on the prophets and one of the members asked him, “when are you going to get to the ‘meaner’ prophets?” As you read the minor prophets you’ll agree that their messages were rather bombastic and full of judgment.
Our text is in v. 9 – “yet he knoweth it not”
A few weeks ago I turned 40…I’ve climbed and topped the hill, and now I’m…well, you know! I'd rather be over the hill than under it! Kimberly will tell you I don’t depress easily, but it was a bad day for me…a day of retrospect and looking forward to the future. [The good news is I’m now the exact age the average church member says is ideal to be their pastor!]
And the new year should be a time of looking back and then looking forward. It’s good to stop and think about what we are accomplishing or where we may just be meandering, and it’s a good idea to set some goals and try to build a better future.
Some of you recently in your supportive, considerate way, have pointed out that I have a few gray hairs appearing on my head as well as my chin. Usually when a man’s hair turns gray or white it speaks of a milestone…a compliment of wisdom, perhaps, but it’s also indicative of a decline in his physical life. But, I guess hair turning gray beats the alternative of it “turning loose!” [cure for baldness: persimmon juice...it won't grow hair but it shrinks your head to fit the hair you've got!]
What we have here in our text is an evidence of a spiritual decline. Hosea has much to say about backsliding. Here is a danger that faces every one of us who are Christians: spiritual decline. Here’s the question we need to ask ourselves on this day: “Am I turning gray spiritually?”
The first time some of you found a gray hair you attached it to an index card and still have it. Some may still be in denial, and some may attempt to camouflage it! [how many color away their gray? How many know someone in the room who should have raised their hand?!]
Spiritual decline always begins inwardly. The prodigal son backslid at home alone, long before he backslid in a far country.
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
So, what about these gray hairs mentioned in our text? There are 6 of them:
1. The gray hair of falsehood
I must ask, am I guilty of this? Are you? The last thing any of us are willing to do is to admit failure. We grow cold spiritually and we do everything possible that we know to do to keep up the appearance that all is ok. Like trying to color away our gray and feel better. We say amen when we’re right w/ God but say it even louder when we’re out of fellowship w/ Him. Is that to throw others off the trail or to deceive ourselves and make us feel better?
Or, we don’t go to the altar when a negative is preached on [what might others think?] but run down there if the preacher says, ‘come to pray to be closer to God’ or ‘to overturn Roe V. Wade.’ How easy it is to ‘profess’ more than we actually ‘possess’!
ego = what I think of myself
reputation = what others think of me
character = what God knows about me
Oh, that we would focus on the latter of those 3 this year! Our Lord is the only One we should try to impress!
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
You say, “this will never happen to me. ” Remember what Paul told the Corinthians, “take heed lest ye fall.” No matter how far we’ve grown in grace, it is no guarantee we won’t decline spiritually. Any of us can and do backslide at times! I'm a prime example.
 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
A person who is cold seeks heat, and one who is hot seeks the cold…but a lukewarm person is satisfied. We want our coffee hot, and our iced tea cold…but not lukewarm…that makes you sick! And a lukewarm Christian makes God sick.
That’s the gray hair of falsehood…
2nd gray hair-v. 4
2. The gray hair of adultery
Hosea said “you love other gods rather than Jehovah God.” It’s spiritual adultery. We have the idea that because we don’t have idols of wood or stone that we aren’t guilty of idolatry. Oh, but we are! Americans have idols, but they are just shaped differently.
1 John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Some say, “Preacher, don’t tell me how to live!”
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way…
-People want their own way, but what they need is a shepherd.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
Lot was fine as
long as he was with uncle Abraham, but when alone, he saw
Simon Peter cut off that soldier’s ear in the garden. He boasted that he’d go w/ Jesus ‘til death, and in a matter of hours he was warming himself w/ the enemy and cussing like a sailor, denying Christ.
Paul spoke of Demas who forsook him, loving this present world. It’s amazing how many Christians today are unseparated, and unsanctified.
v. 8 “cake not turned”
Do you like pancakes? Imagine eating one that is raw on one side! Are you a half-baked Christian? Riding the fence? How long halt ye between 2 opinions? Are you both hot and cold? Then as a whole, you’re lukewarm! The most miserable people on earth are Christians who try to have it both ways. They have just enough Jesus in them that they can no longer fully enjoy the world, but they hold onto enough of the world that they can’t enjoy Jesus, or ever live the victorious life of fulfillment He wants for them so much!
Adultery is the desire for “something else.” [materialism / ambition out of balance]
We may have to fellowship w/ unsaved people or work with them, but we shouldn’t keep company with them of our own accord. We shouldn’t frequent their places either. “Love not the world.”
The gray hair of adultery…
Another is found in v. 7
3. The gray hair of prayerlessness
This is a fundamental cause for all spiritual decline. Just think back to when you first got saved and recall your prayer life.
D. L. Moody – “All my failures are prayer failures.” In other words, prayerlessness is an ‘umbrella sin’ under which all our other sins can stay safe and protected, never brought out into the open!
In the midst of our busy schedules today, and all our service for the Lord we just don’t ‘have time’ anymore to commune with Him. Maybe we have allowed our prayer lives to be crowded out. Let’s fix it in 2011!
If you could live your Christian life over would you read your Bible more or pray more? Reading the Bible is God talking to you, but prayer is you talking to Him. And both are vitally important.
But in Luke 11:1 Jesus is asked by the disciples, “teach us to pray” [not how to, but “to”]. They didn’t ask Him to teach them to preach, but to pray. And then the Lord gave them a model prayer.
How long has it been since you asked God for something definite and He answered your prayer definitely? We pray in vague generalities. Then the devil says, “Oh, that would have happened anyway!” Let's get specific!
The gray hair of prayerlessness…
4. The gray hair of weakness
v. 9 “Strangers have devoured his strength.” It’s a lack of fruitfulness…like a tree that is standing but bearing no fruit. Is real fruit resulting from your Christian service? How many have you seen saved? How long have you been saved? It ought to be as natural as bringing babies into this world is to a young couple. [mirror]
But we’ve become weak and unfruitful. We have no strength. So, question is, where should our strength come from? Physically, from food…and spiritually, from the Word of God! The strangers in v. 9 are other people and other things which take the place of what is to be our spiritual nourishment. We feed the flesh, we feed our eyes, we feed our pride…but we should be starving our mortal selves and feeding our spirits!
“2 natures beat within my breast…1 is cursed and 1 is blessed.
1 I love and 1 I hate, and the one I feed will dominate!”
We have fed our flesh a good bit, esp. during the ‘Holidays”. Let’s feed our spirits this new year!
…I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain…
We often work for the Lord in the energy of the flesh, for praise and glory of man, instead of in the energy of the Spirit for the praise and glory of God.
How many of you have ever gone out and broken off a cluster of grapes from a vine and chowed down, raise your hands? Aha! I tricked you!
The grapes grow on the branches, not on the vine. Jesus doesn’t bear fruit unless He does it thru us!
Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Next, look at v. 11
5. The gray hair of empty formalism
A dove is a beautiful bird, but “w/out heart” suggests a silly, vain creature.
– like an iceberg, most [9-tenths] of our spirituality should be beneath the surface, where only God can see it! [not for show]
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
– Christianity should be an inner reality, not just an outward appearance!
Solomon told his love she had dove’s eyes. What a line! That kind of pickup can work if you back it up with loving actions…more than words!
6. The gray hair of rebellion
Satan was the first rebel, and we're never more like him than we we are rebels! Disobedience is the essence of rebellion. It’s complaining against God. Often we become bitter over His dealings w/ us.
Or, we rebel at a message such as this one, and excuse ourselves from coming to the altar and doing business with God [see #1-Falsehood!] We need to do business w/ God here at the beginning of the year. We need to get rid of these stubborn gray hairs…and how do we do that? Don’t color them, because then they’ll still be there…we have to yank ‘em by the root! That can be painful. I’ve yanked a few and it hurts, let me tell you…esp. the ones in the nose or ear! Even worse is when one in the ear is connected to one in the nose!
These are a few of the gray hairs indicative of spiritual decline.
Why are these gray hairs unobserved by us? Why are we so blind to our own faults? I’ve already mentioned that we don’t like to admit failure.
We are experts at examining others but not ourselves. We take many long, hard looks at others, but not ourselves!
We don’t look into the mirror often enough. [God’s Word.] James 1:22-24
Also, we don’t heed the advice of others, or respond to preaching!
“Preacher, what do I do?”
Wash away the gray in 3 simple steps:
Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
[Paul – “forgetting those things which are behind…”]
v. 2 “take with you words and turn to the Lord…”
v. 4 “I will heal their backsliding…”
[this idea and outline came from Jack Greene at a recent meeting of NC preachers where my father-in-law was present. Bro. Jack is the surviving brother of Oliver B. Greene, under whose tent ministry my father in law was saved many years ago.]
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