Are you growing in Christ? While we don’t earn God’s love through good works or stay in His graces because of them, a life that has truly been changed will produce different fruit. In fact, Jesus said, you will know a tree by its fruit (Lk. 6.44). The amount and quality of our fruit is often a good indication of our spiritual maturity. Today’s New Testament reading talks about some of that fruit.
Hosea 1 & 2
1 John 3
We have finished the “Major Prophets”—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Now we are beginning the “Minor Prophets”—Hosea through Malachi. In the New Testament, once we finish 1 John we have only three epistles (letters): 2 John, 3 John and Jude, before we begin the book of Revelation.
On to the Word …
Are You Growing in Christ?
1 John 3:
We Shall Be Like Him
1 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (vss. 1-3).
Think about that, “we shall be like Him.”
Jude said it this way:
“Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault” (Jude 24).
God who saved us and declared us righteous is working in us in the present. He is using the “all things” of Romans 8.28-29, to help us become progressively more and more like His Son. But one day, when we stand before Him, He’ll finish the work He started in us (Phil. 1.6) and cause us to stand before Him without a single fault!
In the meantime, we need to read and study and memorize and meditate on God’s Word (Ps. 119.11; 2 Tim. 2.15) and with His help seek to become more and more like Him by obeying His commands. Jesus said the greatest of those commands is to love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40).
Verses 16-18 of today’s reading:
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
Let’s ask ourselves: How am I doing in that process of spiritual growth? Am I loving others sacrificially? Am I “laying down my life”—willingly giving up what my sinful heart desires to do what is best for others? Am I loving, not only “in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth”? Am I becoming more like Christ?
Today’s Other Readings:
Hosea 1 & 2:
Adulterers and Adulteresses
In this rich little book, the prophet is commanded to marry a prostitute so he would be a living example of God’s love for His people in spite of their spiritual adultery.
That didn’t mean they wouldn’t suffer consequences for their idolatry. Just as Hosea’s wife, Gomer, would sell herself into slavery to sin, God would allow His people to be taken into captivity. But just as Hosea would buy Gomer back, God would buy them back from slavery. He would redeem them and send them back to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity (though that captivity would last 70 years), and someday He will completely redeem his people Israel.
We, too, were adulterers and adulteresses (Jas. 4.4) yet He bought us back from our slavery to sin (Rom. 6.17), and made us His bride. The price was the precious blood of His Son. He has redeemed us, both believing Jews and Gentiles. And someday, Jews and Gentiles alike, we will be with our Bridegroom at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Savior or Judge?
Verse 6, “Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.”
While we were still lowly sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5.8). But those who pridefully reject God, He knows from afar, as Creator and Judge, not intimately, as Savior and Friend.
“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul.”
Parenting children biblically is hard work. It takes time and prayer and consistency, but the result is being able to rest in God. It’s not a guarantee that our children will always go God’s way, but we can rest in the fact that we were faithful to do our part.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll talk about false teachers, friendship, judgment, the Rapture, the Tribulation, and discuss the question, “How we can turn the world upside down like the disciples did in the first century?”
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Getting ready for 2018 with a Chance to Win a Bible & Journal
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading and prayer an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible and to sign up for my daily encouragement. This year I’ll be adding Scripture-based prayers to each day’s post. If you sign up before December 15 you’ll have a chance to win a MacArthur Daily Bible and a journal to record your thoughts and those Scripture-based prayers. Email subscribers will also be automatically entered into a drawing for monthly giveaways throughout 2018.
I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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