Summary: God leads us through stages; for some, the stages are smooth, for others, rough. It depends upon our disposition.

The Rough Way to Maturity

(Hosea 11)

1. You know you are getting old when:

• You hear your favorite song on an elevator.

• You watch the Weather Channel.

• You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

• You try to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks and discover you aren't wearing any.

• When you say something to your kids that your mother said to You, and you always hated it.

• The pharmacist has become your new best friend.

• You sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.

2. But old age and spiritual maturity are not the same thing. You can be fairly young and somewhat spiritually mature or be old and a spiritual infant. God's agenda: our maturity.

Main Idea: God leads us through stages; for some, the stages are smooth, for others, rough. It depends upon our disposition.

I. INFANCY: Being Adopted By God (1)

A. Specially LOVED

1. God loved Israel as a "son" in a way he did not love other nations

2. I enjoy working with the youth in the summer, teaching AWANA kids and camp, but there is no one like my own daughter and son…

3. I altered my plans around them, poured myself into them that does not mean I do not care about others, but like my own children.

B. Became sons by ADOPTION


• A correspondence between the common idea of "sonship." (do not elaborate)

Exodus 4:22-23, "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”

2 Samuel 7:14, "I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men…"

Matthew 2: 14-15, So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 'OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.'

Galatians 4:4-7, But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

• Collectively, Israel is God's adopted son.

• Individually, every believer has the status as a son of God

• Jesus Christ, however, is the unique or only-begotten Son

Application: Are you part of God's family, and are fellow believers your spiritual siblings. You enter this family through the New Birth. Are you born again?

II. The TODDLER Years: Learning to Walk (2-4)

A. Not responding to parents' CALL (2)

1. Shopping mall, "wrist leashes"; Some obey voice of a parent, some do not…

2. Israel was a toddler who ran away faster the more his father called

3. He ran away to the Baals, competing gods

B. God trained Israel to WALK (3-4a)

1. The "cords" are apparently some sort of harness

2. Do you remember when you first learned to walk?

3. Probably not; neither did Israel…

C. God stooped down to FREE Israel (4b)

1. Do you remember your parents feeding you baby food? minced it

2. God took complete care of Israel, but Israel had no memory of it

Application: Are you a toddler who wanders off? Have you learned the basics of the Christian walk, simple discipleship? Have you read through your Bible? Do you know how to pray in a group, how to witness, basic doctrine? Are you walking yet?

III. Adolescence: REBELLION and Independence (5-9)

• At checkout counter in Louisville, mother talking about her 12 year old daughter

• For some, the teen years are fairly easy, for others, horrid… Israel: rebellious

A. Foolish choices mean CONSEQUENCES (5-6)

1. Israel's rebellion—consequence – conquest by Assyrians

2. Parents who save their children from consequences do not teach them

3. Consequences can help foolish youngsters become wise adults…

4. I have been in ministry 32 years; I see patterns and long-term outcomes, but I am often powerless because people have to learn hard way…

B. A STUBBORN determination to assert their own way (7)

1. It is one thing to make poor choices, another to stubbornly repeat them

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