“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, ‘Take away all iniquity.’ I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely… I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall…flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon… From me comes your fruit.” “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” “They should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” Hosea 14:1-2,4-8; Luke 3:3,8-9; Acts 26:20
God’s gracious call for us to return to Him from wherever and however we have strayed is laced with a promise so enticing, how can we resist? What iniquity could be so captivating that we would choose to continue in it over confessing it and receiving the Lord’s free and measureless love and all its fruit and fragrance? Of course, it is the nature of sin to blind and deceive us, and even to be pleasurable for a time before it bites, but the awaiting mercy of God beckons us to lay down its allured ultimate death for flourishing and pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11; Hebrews 11:25)
“ Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:19-26
Returning to the Lord with words is naming all our filth, our fakery, our flesh indulgences, and turning them in for fruitful replacement. When we drink in the dew of forgiveness, we practice kind words instead of criticism, patience over complaining, faithfulness instead of deceit, uplifting truth over degrading gossip and insult. We fall in stride with the Spirit and put down strong roots that bear lush, aromatic blossoms in the fertile ground He has restored. When our lives, with new power, so bloom, others are drawn to hear and see and smell and savor the Spirit of the Lord emanating from us.
Are there places of stumbling I have kept quiet or hidden from the God Who beckons me return? Or have I fallen into complacent barrenness with the generous promises He gives? What evidence is there that I have been redeemed?
Lord, You died so I could live for You. May I ever bear much fruit in keeping with the freedom You have, by your grace, lavished on me, so others may taste and see that You are good. (Psalm 34:8; John 15:16; 2 Corinthians 5:15)