Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! (Hosea 14:1)
Oh, what a word of comfort we have before us today! The Lord God says, “Return!” No matter how far we have wandered, no matter what we have done or have failed to do, our God calls to us, “Return!”
When I was still a spiritual toddler in my walk with the Lord, someone said something that I have never forgotten: “Sin will take you further than you want to go and leave you there longer than you want to stay.” We all know this is true by way of personal experience. We who are called the sheep of God are all prone to wander stubbornly and foolishly away from the safety and security of our Great Shepherd. When we do that, we are deprived of our delight, sapped of our strength, and robbed of our rest.
But fear not! We cannot be held captive for long, because our Lord paid too high a price for our redemption. We have been bought with the precious blood of God’s only beloved Son, and He will not give up on us. If we will but listen, we will hear His cosmic cry, “Return!”
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)
Think about it this way: If the Lord says, “Return,” is it not presupposed that we actually can return, regardless of what has taken hold of us? The Lord never gives us something to do without supplying the necessary strength in which to get it done.
Perhaps, like the Prodigal Son, you have been long in the far country, squandering your birthright, eating husks with the swine, and starving spiritually. Fear not! You are never too far gone, for eternal love cries out, “Return!” And do you remember what awaited the Prodigal when he did return to his father? His father did not even wait for the son to come all the way home, but while he was still a long way off, the father saw him and ran to him, hugged him, kissed his neck, put the best robe on his body, a ring on his finger, and sandals on his feet (Luke 15:11-24). The Prodigal Son was welcomed home with love and celebration.
Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember your Redeemer’s cry: “Return!” He is waiting to receive you with open arms and nail-scarred hands that will never, ever push you away, no matter where you go or what you do. For He has promised us, “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!