Sunday Devotional: Zechariah 7:8-10

“The word of the Lord came to Zechariah:  “The Lord of Hosts says this: Make fair decisions. Show faithful love and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor, and do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.”  (Zechariah 7:8-10)

Zechariah was a prophet of the Lord.  He was given the task of sharing the words of the Lord to the people after their return from exile in Babylon.  Some of these words are in the passage here.  The Lord wanted the people to remember these things.  To be fair in their decisions.  To have love and compassion for one another.  To not be oppressive to those hurting or those in need.  And to not plot evil against one another.

These words, written down thousands of years ago, still hold true today.  God still wants those that love and worship Him to do these things.  He wants us to “make fair decisions”.  He wants us to “show faithful love and compassion to one another.”  He wants us to “not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor” and to “not plot evil” in our hearts towards one another.

We see today much anger and hurt and sin around us.  There was much anger and hurt and sin in Zechariah’s day.  But just as God called the people in Zechariah’s day to this standard of fairness, compassion, love, grace and mercy, we are called to do the same.  So this week let us not be about anger and hate and division.  But let us be about fairness and love and compassion and hope.  And we are able to have those things because of Jesus Christ.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 15:1-7

“All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

So He told them this parable:  “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,  and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’  I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7)

This was the first of three parables Jesus shared to the crowds after hearing the Pharisees and scribes complaining.  This one dealt with a shepherd who had lost a sheep.  He had the 99 out in the open field safe and sound but one was missing.  The shepherd went and searched for it and eventually found it.  When he did, he brought it home.  Not only that, he called all his friends and neighbors to let them know what had happened.  The shepherd was joyous that all 100 were back in the open field again.

There is that same kind of joy that happens when one sinner repents and follows Jesus.  There is great celebration that takes place.  One was lost but now is found.  We should celebrate like that when we hear such great news.  We should be sharing that good news so that others who are lost can be found.  This week let us share that joy and share that good news of salvation to a world that needs it.

Thursday Quote Day: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

This week’s “Thursday Quote Day” features another quote from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

Sunday Devotional: Luke 24:44-49

“Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And look, I am sending you what My Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)

These words from Jesus are the last ones recorded of Him speaking in the book of Luke.  They were said to the disciples around the time of Jesus’ ascension.  He was returning to the Father but before He did, Jesus did two things.

One, he taught them.  He “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”  He helped them to understand and relate those passages in the Old Testament (Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms) and how they relate to Jesus.  And not only that, how Jesus fulfilled those promises and prophesies.

Two, he instructed them.  He told them that he would be sending them someone that the Father promised.  That someone is the Holy Spirit.  They were to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes to empower them in sharing the Gospel in which they were witnesses.

We have that same message and we have that same Spirit inside of us.  We have the Scriptures are able to understand them through the Holy Spirit.  And because of that same Holy Spirit, we are able to go and share the message with others.  This week, let us be about that.  There is a world out there that needs some good news.  We have that good news in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sunday Devotional: Romans 8:1-4

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering,  in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)

This week in the news brought a reminder to the truth about condemnation.  We all apart from Jesus Christ stand condemned before God.  We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God.  On our own, we are unable to be considered righteous.  However, this is not thankfully the end of the story.

Paul in his letter to the Romans reminds them that because of Jesus Christ there is hope  Those who are in Jesus, who follow Him, are saved from that condemnation.  He has set us free from sin and death through his life and work on the cross.  The law shows that our righteousness is not good enough.  However Jesus Christ met all of the law’s requirements and through His righteousness we are made whole.

This week, let us share that good news.  That there doesn’t have to be condemnation but through Christ there is salvation and hope.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 24:13-32

Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.  Together they were discussing everything that had taken place.  And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus Himself came near and began to walk along with them.  But they were prevented from recognizing Him.  Then He asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

The one named Cleopas answered Him, “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”

“What things?” He asked them.

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him.  But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened.  Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb,  and when they didn’t find His body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.”

He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken!  Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

They came near the village where they were going, and He gave the impression that He was going farther.  But they urged Him: “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.”

It was as He reclined at the table with them that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:13-32)

This is one of the encounters that happened following the resurrection of Jesus.  There were two followers of Jesus who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They were distraught.  They were discouraged.  They had lost their joy, their hope.  And here comes Jesus.  And for the longest time, Jesus did not reveal Himself to the two.  Instead, He makes this a teaching opportunity.  He spends about seven miles sharing about all that was revealed about Himself in the words of Moses and the Prophets (the Old Testament).  And only at the end of the day when they were breaking bread together, did He reveal Himself to the two.

I think we all have those times like the two followers.  We have our struggles and doubts  We lose hope and faith in the midst of hard times and struggles.  But like those two, we need to be reminded again of the truth.  That Jesus is alive.  That He did rise from the grave.  That is has all authority.  And He loves us and wants us to keep being faithful.

This week, let us be reminded of the hope that we have in Christ.  And let us keep being faithful in following Him on the road that we are walking on.