December 12 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall!” ~Hosea 14:1

OLD TESTAMENT

Before they entered the land of promise, God warned the people about the temptation of prosperity. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deut. 6:10-12).

God gives a word of caution to those He blesses because He knows the vulnerabilities of the human heart and the temptations that arise from prosperity. Unfortunately, Israel ignores the warning. Many generations have passed when Hosea takes up the story, and the people are settled in the land. Now “Ephraim [Israel] boasts: I am very rich; I have become wealthy” (Hos. 12:8). Now they are proud. Now they are deluded, “With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin” (Hos. 12:8). Now they are comprised, “The merchants use dishonest scales” (Hos. 12:8).

The lesson from the passage is one we’ve seen before. We need to be careful with God’s blessings! Blessings from God can lead us away from God if we prize them more than we ought. How many times have we seen this very thing? A person blessed by God gradually disappears from worship gatherings as his weekends fill with other things. He becomes careless, proud, and self-sufficient. No one can confront him about anything because he thinks himself an exception to whatever rule or guideline he’s being challenged over. He hangs out with new “friends,” friends who value money and pleasure and influence.

Don’t shrug off the warning. Don’t assume it can’t happen to you. Most of us aren’t in danger of becoming fabulously wealthy, but all us who have experienced God’s blessing—even if in a small way—are vulnerable. Have you been blessed? Pause right now and count your blessings, then worship the One who has blessed you. Commit yourself to loving Him above all things, even above the blessings He has given you.

NEW TESTAMENT

It is so easy to become deluded. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, blind and naked”  (Rev. 3:17). Sometimes people can’t see the true condition of their own hearts. It’s like being in imminent danger but not knowing it!

Keep yourself safe by opening your heart and mind to the loving rebukes of those who care about you. God stands at the door of our hearts and knocks wanting to come in and talk with us about our failures and restore us from our sins. But we must open the door. His voice may come to us through the words of a friend, a pastor, a mentor, etc. May God help us to see our own need and to be open to the changes we need to make for our good and His glory!


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.