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: Psalm 126

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.”

The Israelites had several experiences where they were in bondage, away from their home.  Each time they were in sorrow and each time God was faithful in delivering them.  When they returned, they were joyful and were again reminded of God’s faithfulness to them.  They had reason to shout “The Lord has done great things.”

We go through seasons where we weep, where we sow in tears.  There are seasons where we struggle in depression and hurt.  But God is faithful, there will come a time when we will “reap with shouts of joy”.  God will deliver us through to the other side.  And we will shout out “The Lord has done great things for us.”  This week let us encourage one another with these words.  Let us remember God’s faithfulness in those seasons when we sow in tears and be grateful when reaping with shouts of joy.

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.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 11

“I have taken refuge in the Lord.
How can you say to me,
“Escape to the mountain like a bird!
For look, the wicked string the bow;
they put the arrow on the bowstring
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in His holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes watch; He examines everyone.
The Lord examines the righteous and the wicked.
He hates the lover of violence.
He will rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked;
a scorching wind will be their portion.
For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds.
The upright will see His face.” (Psalm 11)

There are many times when we’re struggling and when we’re hurting that we want relief.  We seek refuge from the pain and suffering.  We can find refuge in the Lord.  He is always there.  We can go to Him and find refuge in Him.  He is always there watching over us.

The psalmist here knows well where to go and who to trust in such tough times.  This week, let us remember the One who cares for His people.  Let us find refuge in Him.

Sunday Devotional: John 15:11-17

“I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.  This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you.  I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.  This is what I command you: Love one another.” (John 15:11-17)

Right now in this day and age there is a lot of hate and sadness.  A lot of pain and despair.  But we have hope.  We have joy.  We have love.  We have this through Jesus.  Here in this passage in John, Jesus is speaking to the disciples.  He encourages them that they have joy and they have love.  And not only do they have love but they are to share it with others.  He commands them to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  They are able to love this way because of Jesus.

This week, let us love one another.  Let us share with others the good news of Jesus and how He gave His life for us so we can be made whole.  And that He chose and loves us.  As we’ve been greatly loved, let us go and love others.

Sunday Devotional: Romans 15:5-7

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

We live in a world with a lot of discord and disharmony.  There is a lot of division.  Sin divides us.  But Jesus brings us together.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome and reminded them of this.  On their own, there is division and strife.  But with God, there is unity.

God gives us the endurance and encouragement.  He gives us the hope to come together united.  This is possible through the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, is able to bring together people from all walks of life.

The other big thing in this passage is accepting.  Paul is not saying we are to accept sins but we are to accept sinners because we all are sinners.  But through the grace and glory of God, we have been accepted by the work on Jesus Christ and we can repent and turn to Him.

This week let us encourage one another.  Let us live in harmony and let us show love and acceptance to others and as we do point them to Jesus.