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Today’s Bible Reading: Hosea 6-9:17; 3 John 1:1-14; Psalm 126:1-6; Proverbs 29:12-14

Old Testament

We’ve all had a dentist fill a cavity or perform some other procedure like a root canal. The process was painful. But the pain was necessary to fix the problem. The dentist had to hurt us in order to heal us. The same is true of God (Hosea 6:1).

I used to be a fitness trainer. The phrase “no pain no gain” is certainly true when it comes to body building. Our muscles must be strained in order to become stronger. The same is true when it comes to our character. If we all lived on easy street we’d be as mature as infants. But God wants more for us so He sends trials and pain into our lives not to hurt us but to make us stronger and better people. How we react to these events determines how much our character grows.

Not many people realize this truth. They try to avoid pain at all costs. We see this in society at large when rather than embracing difficulty and growing from it we take people to court because we think life should be trouble-free. But James and Peter both told us to embrace trials because God works in our lives through difficulty. Without a knowledge of how God works, people are doomed. That is why we must make an effort to know God (Hosea 6:3).

God wants to give us the best of the best but our own behavior prevents that. We are so sinful and disobedient that God spends most of His time trying to get us back on track (Hosea 6:11-7:1). Its easy to imagine that God is very frustrated with us (although He really isn’t – He’s incredibly patient and kind).

Sadly, whenever something happens to us that we didn’t expect or think we don’t deserve, we go crying to the judicial system or ask a friend for advice. What we should do is ask God for help (Hosea 7:7). He is always willing to rescue us from the mess we’ve created.

God does not impose a heavy burden on us (Matthew 11:28-30). Those who are working so hard to remove God from our culture do it because they think the Bible keeps people in bondage and influences society too much. But actually the heaviness and weariness we experience in life isn’t due to having too much God in our lives but too little (Hosea 7:9).

All the false gods we worship – career, financial security, popularity, etc – put way more pressure on us than God will. But Satan has tricked us into thinking the opposite. I don’t know anyone who says their life is easier now than it was just a decade ago. The people I know who are a generation older than I am testify that life was more relaxing 50 years ago, when God was allowed into our lives. The evidence is clear: we create more problems when we jettison Jesus.

But the worst is yet to come. Its bad enough for us to turn our back on God. Things are really going to deteriorate when God turns His back on us (Hosea 9:12). This is going to happen and the book of Revelation will give us the details. God doesn’t want to do this. But sometimes its the only way people learn.

Many of us have had a loved one who was involved in something nefarious, like drugs or crime. We try to love them out of it. But if they won’t listen, we have to leave them alone and hope they come to their senses. When it comes to sin, this is exactly how God treats us.


New Testament

Our physical and financial health and material comfort are important but not more important than our spiritual health (3 John 2). God can bless us in many ways – financial, materially, etc. But often those earthly blessings interfere with our spiritual maturity, which is what God is more interested in.

John writes that he is happy that his friend Gaius was living according to God’s truth (3 John 4). This is certainly cause for celebration. But notice that John received this information second-hand. Gaius’ faith and devotion to God were known to others. His life reflected this relationship – he didn’t keep it a secret. When believers live the way God wants us to, people notice.

John praises Gaius for being a good example of how God wants His children to live (3 John 5-8). On the other hand, he rebuked Diotrephes who was more interested in serving himself than serving others (3 John 9-10). Many people have been mentioned by name in the Bible for the faithfulness they have shown God. How sad to be mentioned in God’s eternal book for the opposite reason.

Its easy to let sinful people influence us. They seem to be getting ahead in this world. But such thinking is a trap. We should rather follow the example of those who are walking with Jesus (3 John 11).


Psalms

No matter how unfaithful we’ve been God is always willing to take us back and restore our fortunes (Psalm 126:1, 4). Please pray that the United States would turn back to God so He can do this for us.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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