Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. He is perfect love, abounding in perfect love, slow to anger. He is the, according to Exodus 34, 6, and 7, I am who I am. I am that I am the God who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, but who by no means will simply equip the wicked.
That's who he is. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear the teaching today in the series Word and Spirit, The Beauty of Balance, as presented at Reynolda Church in North Carolina. Now, if you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire program, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. So, as you listen to today's message, go deeper as we send you this resource, today's special offer. Contact us at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org, or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. More on this later in the program. But now, let's get started with today's teaching. Here is Alan Wright. Are you ready for some good news?
Yes. God is righteous, and God is loving. He is holy, and He is merciful. He is committed to doing what is right, and He is committed to doing what is perfectly loving.
How can both be possible? I turn you this morning to Hosea, one of my favorite prophetic books in the Old Testament. You turn to the middle of your Bible and just find Psalms. Go to Isaiah and Jeremiah. You'll find Hosea to the right of that, and we come today to chapter 11, in which you'll see a dialogue here in which God is... If you could say such a thing of God, which you can't, but you would say God is wrestling within His own heart. So I take you in many ways into a journey into the heart of God.
If there could be such a thing as a dilemma in the divine heart, you see it in Hosea chapter 11. When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more they were called, the more they went away. They kept sacrificing to their baals and burning offerings to idols, yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they've refused to return to me.
The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels. My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, He shall not raise them up at all. How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboim? My heart recoils within me. My compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger. I will not again destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst.
I will not come in wrath. They shall go after the Lord. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord. There was a woman. She loved her husband, and she became sick, and after a long illness, she died, and she went to heaven, and she got to the pearly gates, and there was Peter, and she saw how beautiful it was. She said, what must I do to come in? And he said, you need to spell a word. He said, what's the word? She said, what's the word? He said, love. She said, oh, l-o-v-e. He said, come into glory, and so she goes into heaven.
Some years after that, one day Saint Peter said, I need to run a little quick. Aaron, and he told the woman, he said, would you stand at the pearly gates and just take over for a little while? And while she was there, her husband, a former husband, he appeared before the gates. He had died, and she saw him, and she said, well, there you are. He said, well, there you are.
Well, how have things been since I was gone? He said, oh, he said, it's been amazing. He said, you know that young, beautiful 24-year-old nurse that was taking care of you while you were sick? She said, yeah. She said, you know, I married her.
So, and then next thing you know, I won the lottery. I mean, I know we had a humble little house while you were there, but boy, we had a beautiful house. In fact, we had three other houses.
We got one in the mountains, one at the beach, and one on the lake. Said, we have traveled the world, stayed at the finest hotels, eaten the finest food. Said, as a matter of fact, we were at our ski lodge, and I had an accident while skiing, and that's why I'm here. He said, how do I get in? She said, you have to spell a word.
He said, what's the word? Czechoslovakia. You know that little part of you that kind of likes that punchline to that story because, you know, the guy deserves a little, okay, maybe we'll let him in, but you got to spell Czechoslovakia first, you know.
I mean, that little part of you that just kind of likes that, you know what that is in you? Justice. Every one of us, in one way, see, that's this crazy thing in this world where we've got this idea of moral relativism, like everything's just relative, there's no really right or wrong. Yeah, these people hadn't driven in traffic and have somebody pull in front of them.
Just let somebody steal your pocketbook. You'll find out, right? There's something inside of us that just instinctively knows wrong needs to be punished and right needs to be rewarded. That's justice. But at the same time, every single one of us has experienced at least at some level love and knows that what we need ultimately is love and it's what we want to give. And yet there's an unbelievable dilemma when love and justice are both equally real and equally important in this world and we see it in our human relationships when there's a wrong that suffered.
What do you do about that? Where there's love and you want the love to prevail, but you can't just turn a blind eye to wickedness either. And so it is with God. God is, as the creator of the world, the one who has designed it and that's the way we feel, the way we feel.
We need justice and we need love. And yet how can the two coexist? I want to talk to you about the most beautiful part of the balance of God. And when we say balance, we're not talking about this safe little middle place of the road where we don't have any extremes. We're talking about what real balance is, is that you can have the fullness of grace and the fullness of truth. You can have expansive life in seemingly opposite directions which are held in dialectical and dynamic tension and this is the nature of God. And so we come to Hosea chapter 11 where you see God in the throws and maybe we have to see it through sort of a human portrait because we can't really comprehend his godness. But you see into his heart that his people are idolatrous.
They run after other gods. They disobey him though they promised that they would obey him. And God is in deep distress inwardly about what to do about this because they should be, they must be like all sin punished and yet he loves them. He can't seem to even have the thought of letting go of them.
What will he ever do about this dilemma? Because he must be just and not be made to be a liar and he said that sin must be punished. And on the other hand, he is perfect love, abounding in perfect love, slow to anger. He is the, according to Exodus 34 6 and 7, I am who I am. I am that I am the God who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love but who by no means will simply acquit the wicked. That's who he is.
That's Alan Wright and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. Some traditions emphasize the spirit. The path to real Christian growth is the fullness of both word and spirit. As someone once said, all word, no spirit, you dry up. All spirit, no word, you blow up. Both word and spirit, you grow up. When you make a gift of support this month, we'll send you Alan Wright's newest audio album on CD or digital download titled Word and Spirit.
It's about the beauty of balance. Embrace the fullness of God's word and his spirit and grow like never before. With word and spirit, you'll grow up and you'll be helping someone else grow as well. And remember, when you partner with Alan Wright Ministries, you'll be broadcasting the love of God to thousands every day. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860 or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues. Here once again is Alan Wright.
In order to understand Hosea 11, you need to be familiar with the story of Hosea himself. This has been a remarkable week for me because my family and I, we went to Waco, Texas out to Baylor. Our son Bennett is a senior and he had a big surprise plan that we knew about and his girlfriend's family knew about it, but his girlfriend Amy didn't know about it. And our son who had met Amy three years ago at Homecoming at Baylor, and they have a huge, huge bonfire out in what they call the Fountain Mall Lawn, the big quad, a huge bonfire out there at Homecoming and all kinds of special things going.
They have fireworks and rides, big, huge parades, big, big deal at Baylor. That's where they first met, and they've been seeing each other ever, ever since. And so Bennett had a big, big surprise all planned since it was Homecoming weekend.
And their favorite restaurant, the first one they ever had to date, BJ's Restaurant there in Waco. And so he took her out to BJ's for supper. And then at the end of supper, he said, you've got a different ride. And he excused himself and hastily jumped in his car to drive over to Cashion Building, which is the one real building that's got a big room with glass on three sides where you could see out over the Fountain Lawn where they have the big bonfire. And he had gone to great lengths to get in touch with a person who would give him permission to have that room for the night.
And he set up one little table with some chocolate-covered strawberries. And a limo came and picked up Amy from the restaurant and drove her over to Cashion Building, where she made her way out of the limo. And there, to her surprise, was our daughter Abby standing at the door saying, what are you doing here? And Amy was like, what are you doing here? And she says, there's somebody waiting for you on the fifth floor. And so they go into this fifth floor where they had first met watching this bonfire. And the first dance they ever went to was in this ballroom where they were. And he got down on one knee and he asked her to marry him. So we have a new daughter-in-law soon to be, June the 3rd, in Waco, Texas. And then afterwards, Amy didn't know it, but we had come and her family from San Diego was there.
And about 30 friends or so had all gathered back at their rental house. And we had a big, big surprise party. And so they are engaged.
And it's just been a happy week. And a proposal is a wonderful thing. But our story today is a very different kind of proposal. I once conceived of Hosea thinking what it really must have been like for him as a young preacher of the word, an up and coming prophet. And like all young Jewish men had looked forward to the day that God would have a bride for him.
He grew up in a culture in which marriage was prearranged. And this was going to be the ultimate prearrange because he just knew God would speak to him about it when it was time for him to be wed. And can you imagine the day the Lord comes to him and said, Hosea, I've got the wife for you. I can just imagine him saying, oh, who is it, Lord? Is it Susie in the choir, that one who sings like an angel?
I've had my eye on her. And the Lord said, no, it's not her. Is it Samantha, the one who just knows the Torah so well, who prays with such faith?
Is it Samantha? No, Hosea, it's not her. And Hosea's mind runs through all of the women that he might have conceived that God would have for him to marry. And so finally, the Lord says, it's none of those, Hosea. Well, who is it, God? He said, well, I want you to go down into the bad part of town on the other side, across the railroad tracks, a place where you would never even go as a man of God.
You wouldn't want to be seen there. That's where I want you to go, Hosea. And there I have a woman who I've picked out for you. The ESV text says it plainly in Hosea chapter one, I have picked out for you a wife of whoredom, a wife of unfaithfulness, an adulterous, a prostitute. And so it was with breathtaking obedience that Hosea married Gomer.
I wonder what it was like. And I imagine that Gomer, when she said yes to this godly man who would take her into a life that she could have never imagined living, I would imagine that at first, when she made her vow, she really meant it. We do mean our vows when we say them so earnestly, so eagerly, just like the people of God after Moses came before them as their mediator and said, the Lord God says that if you will obey me, you will be my treasured people. And the people of God all said, yes, we will do everything the Lord has told us to do. God's people have always been eager to make their vows to God.
I imagine Gomer was just like that. Yes, I will marry you. Yes, I look forward to coming out of this life. Yes, I look forward to a whole different way of being.
I never thought that a man like you would even be interested in a woman like me. But yes, I don't know what it was like, how scandalous it was for the community. I don't know what it did to Hosea's reputation.
Hosea's reputation. But in a very real sense, by being willing to marry Gomer, he took Gomer's shame and she got his honor. And at first, I imagine things were okay. Honeymoon, they had a son and everybody in that ancient culture rejoiced at the birth of a firstborn son. What a delight it was.
It was wonderful. But then Hosea chapter one quickly goes on to tell us of two other children that are born. And from the reading of the text and from the context that we learn in chapter two, it seems likely that the next two children were not Hosea's.
What we learn in chapter two, she'd gone after other lovers. I also wondered what it was like the first time that Hosea came home to an empty house because his wife was off being unfaithful. Gomer, where are you, darling?
Gomer! And somewhere in the stillness of that hollow moment, perhaps God spoke to his prophet and said, Hosea, how do you feel? How do you feel to take everything of your reputation, put it on the line and make a commitment to a woman who didn't deserve you only to have her now run after lesser loves? I want you to know how this feels because what I'm doing is I'm giving you a gift, Hosea. I am giving you a glimpse into the heart of the Almighty. This is what the heart of God feels, he says to Hosea, when my people run after their idols and their ba'als and they make their golden calves and they cannot trust the one who delivered them out of their bondage in Egypt. The ones who were so eager to make their commitments and their vows and say yes to obey everything that I ever told them to do and yet cannot seem to contain themselves from running after that which is vile and inadequate and less than everything that I could offer them. Do you see what this feels like, my prophet? Do you see what this feels like? I want you to know what it is like to be married to someone that you love and you're committed to and yet she breaks the covenant over and over and over. I want you to feel this because there is an unbelief in you.
Because there is an unbelievable dilemma that happens when you love somebody and you have committed yourself to somebody and he or she breaks your heart or does something of great offense and everything within you knows I cannot simply be tread upon as if this didn't matter because I'm not co-dependent. I'm not gonna just be walked on. I can't just turn a blind eye to this. I can't just say okay to this. There's got to be some kind of justice and yet there's love that overtakes me.
Anybody's ever felt any of that. You've got a little picture of the heart of God and what's taking place in Hosea chapter 11 is in a mysterious way. God is talking to himself. When Israel was a child I loved him. He's now shift the image out of a father for a love for a child. Any parent knows what he's talking about.
I called my son and the more they were called he said the more they they went away. He said verse three but yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up in the arms.
It was a picture of a father taking his toddler's arms who's learning to walk and walking by holding his little arms up because he knows that without him he would fall. He's I taught them how to walk. I taught my people what it is like to be free. I showed them love. I showed them grace. I just wanted them to be able to grow up at the end of verse three but they did not know that I healed them. They didn't know what I'd done for them. They didn't know all the mercy and I was like God I understand that. They're people. They're human. They can't have the mind to be able to understand in the same way that a father is not too disappointed that his little toddler doesn't understand what daddy did that day to go out and make a living so that little one could have some food. It's all right but I do not want you to reject my love. They didn't know what I had done for them. I led them verse four with chords of kindness. Alan Wright and that's today's teaching justice and mercy. Part two is on the way in the next broadcast in this series the beauty of balance and Alan Wright will be back here in the studio with us in a moment with additional insight on this for your life and a final word if you've ever thought that being filled with the holy spirit meant shutting off your mind you're in for a wonderful surprise God's word and God's spirit were never meant to be separated word and spirit always belong together the key to abundant life in Christ isn't knowing your bible the secret isn't being filled with the spirit the answer is both word and spirit though some traditions emphasize studying scripture and some traditions emphasize the spirit the path to real Christian growth is the fullness of both word and spirit as someone once said all word no spirit you dry up all spirit no word you blow up both word and spirit you grow up when you make a gift of support this month we'll send you Alan Wright's newest audio album on cd or digital download titled word and spirit it's about the beauty of balance embrace the fullness of God's word and his spirit and grow like never before with word and spirit you'll grow up and you'll be helping someone else grow as well and remember when you partner with Alan Wright Ministries you'll be broadcasting the love of God to thousands every day the gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries this broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support when you give today we will send you today's special offer we are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries call us at 877-544-4860 that's 877-544-4860 or come to our website pastor alan.org all right Alan this seems to be the big one this seems to be the one where we see justice and mercy and sometimes we think they have to be separated but but our father has done this for us in such an amazing way and even when you think about it in courtroom terms it is the most amazing and marvelous and joyous news that Christianity has to offer is that God at the same time is both just and justifier that through the cross God is bringing about justice because he said sin would be punished yeah but he is demonstrating his mercy and his infinite kindness towards sinners by dying in their place so the justice and the mercy of God seem to be to the natural mind something that would be in conflict and irreconcilable but instead the gospel oh how beautiful it is brings justice and mercy together so God's wrath and his mercy meet in the cross of Jesus Christ today's good news message is a listener-supported production of Alan Wright Ministries
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