Sermon by Nnorom Azuonye | Welling Methodist Church 24th July, 2016
We read two passages today; Hosea 1:2-10 which introduces us to the family of Hosea and Luke 11:1-13 on the Lord’s prayer and God’s faithfulness to grant what we ask. With the words from these passages in mind, I would like us to discuss; (a) our faith in God and how this defines our relationship with him and (b) the consequences on our lives.
In Hebrews 11:1 we find a Biblical definition of faith:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (NRSV)
For Christians today, this would be the hope of being with our Lord in Glory eternally in God’s kingdom and the complete belief that God is really up there, though we can’t see him, and that the heavenly place that Christ has gone to prepare for us exists.
The truth is that if we don’t believe that Jesus is Lord and that he rose from the dead, having paid for our sins, and has gone to prepare a place for us so that where he is, there we shall be also, then we are wasting our time.
We must also believe completely that God is looking after us, taking care of things in our lives in the ways that are best for us. He might not do this the way we want, but he is God, he knows what is best for us.
Naturally as human beings, there will be times things just keep going wrong and we find ourselves asking if he is really there. Those times when we have that question rising in our hearts is when we must be most vigilant and more prayerful because those are the times we are likely to fall into temptation and descend into sin.
Recently, I asked a family member to read at one of my services, and he said he would gladly do so if the passage was not from the Old Testament. So, I asked him why not the Old Testament and he said it was because the Old Testament always portrayed God as angry and vindictive.
Sin annoys God, and when we sin and sin and not repent from our sins, it goes without saying that he will be angry and will show his anger. To have a little understanding of this, think of your relationship with your child or your relationship with your father. Do you enjoy the constant disobedience of your child, or does your father feel honoured by your disobedience?
In our Hosea passage today, God instructed him to marry from a house of whoredom and have children of whoredom. Because Israel had become like a house of whoredom because of their disobedience and unfaithfulness to God.
I wondered why God would ask that of Hosea. I also wondered, if Hosea’s wife, though from a whorehouse was faithful in the marriage, why would their children be deemed children of whoredom? The more I thought about this I began to understand the thinking behind God’s instruction. If any of us married a prostitute or maybe not even a prostitute but somebody known to be promiscuous, would we ever have peace of mind?
Do you know, I take the Southeastern train to work every day and there has hardly been any day those trains have not been delayed. If my wife did not have total trust in me, with the sheer number of times I get home late, we would be fighting on a daily basis.
A man who marries a known promiscuous woman would be uncomfortable and will even not believe his children are his children until he has had a DNA test.
This is the way God felt about the house of Israel. For a people he had done just so much for, faithfulness was just not in their nature.
This verse stands out for me in the Hosea passage:
Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” (Hosea 1:10. NRSV)
Let us reflect on that verse for a moment. These are words that define full and complete restoration of a people. The unfaithfulness of the people of Israel and just how many times they forsook God is mind-numbing. There are so many instances through the Bible that God turned his face away from them in shame. But when they realised their error, and sought forgiveness, our just and faithful God always forgave and restored them. It is the same with us all. We are human and we sin, and we are separated from God, but by the special sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, we can all have redemption and can be fully restored by God also.
And we should, like God, also learn to forgive those who sin against us.
In our second reading from the gospel of Luke 11:1-13, we heard Jesus teach his disciples how to pray. We say this prayer almost every day not just because it was given to us by Jesus Christ himself, but because it is the perfect prayer that incorporates the love of God and our neighbour.
In this prayer, there is adoration; recognising God for who he is. “Hallowed be your name / thy kingdom come / thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
There is supplication: “Give us this day, our daily bread”. May I say that our daily bread is not just food, but everything else we need from day to day to live well – housing, health, friendship, love. / …and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
The aspect of this passage that I would like to anchor this message is that if we trust the faith we have in God, it will work for us. Because we have faith in God to be there for us always, and not just when things are perfect, but moreso when things are bad and challenging our faith. The Lord says in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God!”
Jesus says to us in Luke 11: 9-10 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Friend, let us remember this and take it with us as we renew our faith in Christ Jesus, and when trials come our way as they must, let us remember the charge we have in Mark 5:36 – “Do not fear, only believe.”
Trust your faith in God,
know that you have the greatest ally;
you have the highest power on your side
who or what can succeed against you?
Walk with your head high,
looking up to Jesus,
crush your problems in life one after the other
with the heel of your foot.
And for those times that doubts will rage with storms of despair, I leave you the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
May the word of God bear fruit in our lives through the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
©2016 Nnorom Azuonye