Today’s Bible Reading: Hosea 10-14:9; Jude 1:1-25; Psalm 127:1-5; Proverbs 29:15-17
One of the dangers of material wealth is that we will put too much trust in it and forget about God (Hosea 10:1). Better to have a little with God than to have a lot without Him. When we have much we tend to ignore God which leads to sin which leads to trouble. So, in such a case, success actually leads to failure. I think that is exactly what is happening in the United States. We became a very successful nation and at some point attributed this success to our own talents. This led to a denial of God’s existence. We then started kicking God to the curb while we adopted all kinds of sinful behavior (pornography, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc). In the past few decades we’ve experienced all kinds of problems including a lower standard of living than just a decade ago. That is not a coincidence.
Just like hard, dried out soil has to be broken up in order to be seeded and produce crops, our hard hearts need to be humbled before we can receive God (Hosea 10:12). Living without God leads to callousness and self-absorption (Hosea 10:13). Notice that God won’t remove these traits from our character – it is up to us to do it. We have to open our minds and hearts to God’s message. God isn’t going to force it upon us.
One way we can change our hearts is to be humbled by all the things that God has done for us, much of it we don’t even realize (Hosea 11:3-4). It was not because of our own strength, intellect, or military might that we achieved success (Hosea 12:7-8). Our good fortune is a result of being blessed by God.
Some object to Jesus being God, including some widespread religions like Islam and Mormonism. But many verses confirm that they are indeed one in the same, including Hosea 13:4. Here God calls Himself the “savior” of Israel. We know that Jesus is the savior of Israel, and of all mankind. So this verse is clearly equating God and Jesus.
Today we read the short letter of Jude. Jude identifies himself as the brother of James (Jude 1). What he fails to state is that he is also the half-brother of Jesus. Despite what the Catholic church teaches, Mary did not remain a virgin after Jesus was born. She and Joseph had several children together, both sons and daughters, some of whom are identified by name in the Bible. We read about these siblings when we read the Gospels earlier this year.
Jude’s purpose in writing this letter was to exhort his readers to stand up for their faith because there were many who were preaching a false gospel that denied Jesus as Lord of all (Jude 3-4). Certainly this happens today. People don’t want to humble themselves before God. If they do believe in a god usually their “god” is really themselves.
But history, both inside and outside the Bible, is filled with people whose ideas were simply wrong. One example of this was the Israelites in the desert of Egypt. They believed lies from their own heads rather than the truth God had told them, and they paid the price (Jude 5). Also, the angels who rebelled against God in heaven bought into lies rather than God’s truth (Jude 6).
The problem is that most people believe they can create truth in their own minds (Jude 8), making themselves an authority unto themselves. Rather than seeking to understand that which they don’t, they reject it (Jude 9). This is because they think they know that which they don’t.
Such people are dangerous because they are only interested satisfying their own needs and wants (Jude 12, 16). These people, who let their natural, sinful self direct their thoughts, seek to create divisions among people rather than seeking to unite them (Jude 18-19). Pretty much describes our culture today, doesn’t it?
The antidote to such people is to constantly be learning God’s truth, praying according to the Holy Spirit (not according to our own needs), and focusing on the ultimate return of Jesus (Jude 20-21). These false teachers who don’t know what they are talking about – and they are ubiquitous in our world – are really no threat to us if we cling to God (Jude 24).
For those who trust in God, we will enter God’s presence as if we are perfect (Jude 24) because our sins have been paid for by Jesus’ death on the cross (Jude 25). Only perfect beings can enter heaven. And those of us who have accepted Jesus’ death as atonement for our sins are viewed as perfect by God because our slate has been wiped clean… He will never hold our sins against us.
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