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Sermon 10/8/06
  Walking  - Hosea 11:3-4

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Walking

I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them” (Hosea 11:3-4)

The seasons of life are so interesting. When we are little we struggle to walk, but then most learn to walk with confidence. Then there are those times, as it was for me as a boy, when we lose that ability. But I received the gift back again, and learned to walk once more. Children learn to walk through personal desire, through the encouragement of a parent, and in other cases we learn to walk with the help of a physical therapist. What we usually don’t see is the helping hand of God in all that we can do. It’s time to know that He enables us to walk and to become grateful for all that our God has given us.

The man “Ephraim,” in our Scripture for today, was the younger of Joseph’s sons, by his Egyptian wife, Asenath (Genesis 41:50-52). Ephraim, along with his brother, Manasseh, was given a blessing by his grandfather, Jacob (Israel), who adopted the boys as his own. Tribes in Israel were named after both of them.  Over Joseph’s objection, Jacob gave the blessing reserved for the eldest son to the younger one, Ephraim, whose name can be translated as “double fruit.” You can read about the blessing in Genesis 48:1-22. God gives to whom He wills. If you can walk, it is because God has taken you by your arms and lifted you up, though you did not know it. If you cannot walk, He has something better in store for you. He heals us in a variety of ways, but for the most part, we do not know that He has healed us. We are drawn by and to Him “with gentle cords, with bands of love.” We see those “bands of love” in the person of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself up so that we might live. It is an old custom to thank God for our food, but most do not thank Him because they do not see the relationship between Him and what they eat. When you walk or drive to your place of employment, you are able to do so because God gave you those legs and He enables you to walk or drive. The brain we have that enables us to think is not a “given” – we have what we have because of God’s love. We have food on our table because we have income to buy it; but we have income because God gave us the ability to get it. As He says, “I stooped and fed them.”

God is teaching you and me to walk right now. He’s not only teaching those who have descended from the tribe of Ephraim, He’s teaching us all! God told Abraham: “in you ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). We are not only descended from men and women, but we are also God's little ones, under His care. The kind of walking we need to learn, by the way, is more than we expect, for there is much that we must be taught. Here are a few descriptions of the ways in which you and I must learn to “walk” in the sight of God.  We are to:

  • Walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • Walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16)
  • Walk in love” (Ephesians 5:2)
  • Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8)
  • Walk humbly with (our) God” (Micah 6:8)

Our friend, Char Sims, has been struggling with cancer for many years now. She has lost much and she suffers a lot, not only from the cancer, but also from the treatments that are intended by the doctors to cure it. Her career ended with her cancer and now she needs help in order to continue to live. But those who lose because God allows it are offered more than they have lost. He brings Char images of His love that bless and comfort this woman who looks to Him. The other day He compared her to a “snowball.” That doesn’t sound so good, but here’s how He told it to her: “Char, your life is like a snowball. It’s cold and hard in your hand, and you want to drop it, because to hold it is painful. And as you look at the snowball, it’s melting and running through your fingers. But look down and see that the water from it is falling on a blossom, the blossom of a flower. The little flower is lovely and it contains a beautiful fragrance. Your life has accomplished something. You meant something….” God loves Char. If anyone could complain, it’s her; but she knows she is loved by her heavenly Father and she is blessed by her God.

We are all crippled from the sin that fills this world and cannot “walk” without aid. We are afflicted with cancer of the soul and need help in order to live. We are children, though we pretend to ourselves (as we did when we were little) that we are grown up. We are being taught to “walk” the right way, which is “by faith,” “in the Spirit,” “in love,” in the “light” (which means we don’t hide who we are anymore), and to “walk humbly” with our God. Have you ever seen a little child walking with his or her trusted grandmother, in a store or along a sidewalk or path? The little one is telling their “Nana,” their “Grandma” – everything! The child is talking about friends at school; what he or she wants to be when they grow up. The little one tells everything – holding nothing back. Such a child TRUSTS the grandma and loves her. The child is open with that special older friend and relative, revealing everything and embellishing nothing.

When we place our faith in God through Jesus Christ, we have the potential to at last become like that child. For years when I was a child, I could not walk and was either in a wheelchair, in a bed, or was carried by one of my parents. Then, years later, the doctor said it was OK now, and slowly, I began to walk once more. Look around you. Look at who you are. We have been crippled by the sin of this world; and rendered unable to effectively see and walk with God our Father, who is by our side. When we place our faith in Him, He gives us His Spirit, and our trust begins to grow. Our eyes open and as we “see” Him, the healing begins and we start to “walk” once more. We fall in love with Him, no longer hiding who we are. We walk “humbly” with Him, for He is strong and He knows what will help us in – everything! And He does help because He loves you and me.

Let Him draw you “with gentle cords, with bands of love,” today. Open your heart to Him that He may heal you from the sin that so utterly fills and ruins this world. On the Cross of Christ, God took the “yoke” of slavery from your neck and mine. He is next to you right now, listening to needs inside your heart that even you don’t know about. He, your Creator, KNOWS you and loves you without limit. He longs for the time when you will look up from the pain of this world, and find Him who will take you by your “arms,” and heal you through the love of God in Christ Jesus. Will you trust in Him now?

Lord, forgive me and heal me. Teach me to “walk” in the Spirit that I may live in Your sight and become useful to others. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
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Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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