Due to inclement weather, the 9 a.m. service for Sunday, Jan. 20 has been cancelled. We will have one morning service at 10:45 a.m. as road conditions improve.

Knowledge is Power

by Mary Ellen Black

“Come, return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now He will heal us. He has injured us; now He will bandage our wounds. In just a short time He will restore us, so that we may live in His presence. Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of the dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”
Hosea 6:1-3

I recently did a Bible study called “Faithful Love” which focuses on the book of Hosea. Hosea is actually one of my favorite books of the Old Testament and I have read and studied it often. However, this time things hit me a bit differently, perhaps because it has been a while since I’ve studied it, or maybe because I’m using a different study method. One of the things that captured my attention was Hosea’s prayer in chapter 6. I don’t remember noticing before what great words of wisdom Hosea prayed over the people in verses 1-3. In the first three weeks, as I read and studied through the first five chapters which describe God’s people chasing after other gods, God’s anger with His people for their idolatry, and their refusal to return to Him – it has been quite easy, or at least tempting, to convince myself that I do not have idols or practice idolatry. Of course, according to the definition of idolatry, this would mean that I never devote myself to anything more than I devote myself and time to God.

The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God.
In reality, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to at least consider a few things – people, pleasures, foods, time, etc. – that I sometimes, if not often or regularly, tend to place before God.
So, on the day when my Bible Study time included the passage from Hosea 6:1-3 along with Lamentations 3:22-24, and 1 Peter 5:6-7, it was an eye-opening reminder to not be fooled. Just because we’ve dressed our idols up in the 21st century, allowing them to become commonplace – so much so that many are widely accepted in homes and communities and even churches – doesn’t mean they are any less of an idol.
Maybe this doesn’t hit you the same way that it hits me – maybe you have all possibilities of idolatry under control – but if I’m honest – I don’t. I have – through the nearly 60 years of my life - struggled from time to time with the issue. So, I find myself thankful that, like Israel, even when I have turned to other “gods” – I am, by God’s grace and mercy, invited to return to the Lord with the assurance that He will respond. James said it like this in chapter 4, verse 8 –  “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”

The testimony of Scripture is that God alone is worthy of worship. Idol worship robs God of the glory that is rightfully His, and that is something He will not tolerate (Isaiah 42:8). Idolatry extends beyond the worship of idols and images and false gods. Our modern idols are many and varied. Even for those who do not bow physically before a statue, idolatry is a matter of the heart—pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions, and ultimately rebellion against God. Is it any wonder that God hates it?

“Whoring after other gods”, a phrase used many times in the Bible,  seems like a harsh and awful statement – but it is nonetheless what God said His people were doing in Hosea’s day, what James warned against in the New Testament, and sadly what I know I have been guilty of at times. Thankfully, as the author of Lamentations pointed out, God’s love is Faithful and His mercies are new every morning. This has been one of my life verses since I was 28 years old and I’m still clinging to it today. The thought of it fills me with hope, for I know because of God’s great love I am not consumed! Instead, I am invited into His presence. I’m given the gift of His Word and His Spirit and entreated to know Him more, and I have learned that knowledge is power. In this case – it is power against sin, as indicated by David in Psalm 119:11 where he wrote, “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

One thing I have realized in my fight against idolatry, if I am busy pressing forward to know God more, I am less likely to turn away to other ‘gods’.   MefromtheNsideout.com

God’s Word isn’t just power against sin though, it is also the knowledge of what pleases Him and it offers us the power to see sin, turn from it, and do what is right. Consider the words of Paul to Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT

Oh, how I pray for faithfulness to Him – a faithfulness that imitates His faithful love to me, leads me closer to Him, keeps me mindful of what is right to do, and quickly repentant of any sin. May I heed the words of Hosea and be quick and faithful to turn back to God and press on to know Him more and more. Why? Because of these words from Hosea chapter four – “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge … and a people without understanding will come to ruin”.  Hosea 4:6 and 16
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