Digging in Deeper: Amos 4:11

“I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick snatched from a fire, yet you did not return to me – This is the Lord’s declaration.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We don’t like to hurt. And that makes perfect sense. Pain is no fun. It is a signal that something is wrong. We don’t like facing up to the fact that something might be wrong…especially if it’s our fault. What’s even harder for us to reckon with, though, is the idea that God might have caused our pain. Yet that is exactly what we find here in the next part of Amos’ prophetic record. Let’s talk about what God was doing and what it might mean for us.

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Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 12:11-13

“No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Do you know why most people don’t exercise the way they should? Because they don’t want to. I rushed that, didn’t I? You were getting all of your excuses ready to start listing off in defense of your lack of exercise, and I cut your short. But the truth is, at the end of the day, we don’t exercise as much as we should (and I’ll let you define “should” in a way that makes you comfortable) because there are other things we’d rather do more. We have time for all of the things we most want to do. Period. Of course, the reason we don’t want to exercise as much as we want to do other things is because exercising is hard. We don’t like doing hard things. But sometimes, hard things that hurt us in the moment help us in the long run. This is an important thing to keep in mind in the next part of Hebrews 12 here. Let’s take a look at this together.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 12:9-10

“Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is wrong with us? That’s a nice, big question to start off the day. It’s also a question with a list of potential answers that would need a whole series of books to answer in a manner that is even remotely adequate. Still, there are perhaps a few things we could point to as particularly acute problems whose effects can be traced to a fairly wide swath of our culture’s current list of troubles. One of these is a lack of committed, involved fathers. Fatherlessness is a terrible blight on our society. It lies at the root of just nearly every social malady sociologists measure. With all of the language and illustrations of God using fatherhood as their starting point we find in the Scriptures, our culture’s lack of fathers also makes passages like this one harder for many folks to understand and appreciate than perhaps they should be. Let’s dig in a bit this morning and see if we can make some sense of what the author of Hebrews is saying here.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 12:7-8

Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline – which all receive – then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We live in a culture that hates feeling bad. We don’t ever want to feel badly…about anything. More than that, we don’t want to make someone else feel bad. Well, that’s not totally true. We don’t want to make someone else feel bad when our name and reputation are attached to it. We’re happy to make people feel bad on social media where we usually feel safely anonymous all the time, but that’s a separate issue. And living like this in the abstract sounds really good (it’s not, of course, but it sounds like it). But when you take this kind of cultural movement and bring it into the world of parenting, you are going to run into problems sooner or later because parenting is the art of making kids feel bad at the right time, in the right ways, and the right amounts. And God is a good parent. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 12:3-6

“For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you heard the story of Nicholas Vujicic? He is an Australian man who was born with a rare genetic disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome. TAS results in children being born without arms or legs. While it would be totally understandable for someone like Nicholas to live an angry, bitter life, instead, driven by his faith in Christ and a calling to share the Gospel, he travels the globe as a popular motivational speaker, using his hard situation to encourage others to make the most out of their circumstances whatever they happen to be. There’s just something about people overcoming incredibly hard circumstances that can inspire us to persevere in our own. Let’s talk about what Jesus endured and how that can encourage us in our own efforts at faithfulness.

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