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: Matthew 13:44-46

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless[ pearl, he went and sold everything he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)

Jesus here shares two short parables to the disciples and the crowds gathered to hear him.  Both of them involved talking about the kingdom of heaven and how precious it is.  He uses first a treasure.  It is not mentioned as to exactly what the treasure is but is valuable enough that the man who found it sold everything he had to buy the field where he found it.  The second was a priceless pearl, one so fine that the merchant who found it sold everything he had to buy it.

The kingdom of heaven is that and so much more.  To be in fellowship with God is to have the finest treasure, the most priceless pearl.  It is something that should be desired above all things.  Because with God there is life, true life, everlasting abundant life.  And through Jesus Christ, we get to participate in that.

This week, let us be mindful of the treasure that we have as followers of Jesus.  Let us tell others of the priceless joy and hope we have. And may we never grow tired of sharing that good news with others.

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: 2 Timothy 2: 1-7

“You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” (2 Timothy 2:1-7)

This passage is part of one of the last letters that Paul wrote.  He was writing to Timothy, one of his spiritual children and fellow minister.  Paul wanted to encourage & exhort his young friend and co-worker.  Here Paul shares with Timothy the importance of passing on what he had learned.  We are to make disciples who make disciples.  This means pouring our lives into others who then in turn pour their lives into others.

This is not easy.  Paul uses the analogy of a solder, an athlete & a farmer to get this point across.  It will be hard work, there will be suffering, there will be hard times.  Yet we are called to the work, to do it with all our heart and mind and body, to do it until our time is done.  But we also know that we are not alone, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us.  And we also have fellow believers alongside.

This week, let us continue in the work of loving, of sharing, of teaching and of spreading the word of Jesus Christ.

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: Lamentations 5:1-5

“Yahweh, remember what has happened to us.
Look, and see our disgrace!
Our inheritance has been turned over to strangers,
our houses to foreigners.
We have become orphans, fatherless;
our mothers are widows.
We must pay for the water we drink;
our wood comes at a price.
We are closely pursued;
we are tired, and no one offers us rest.”  (Lamentations 5:1-5)

Lamenting is a part of life.  We all have times in our lives when we weep and lament.  Jeremiah was one who knew all to well about lamenting.  He wrote an entire book on it.  His life and ministry was one of seeing suffering and hard times.  Seeing God’s people suffer and lament made Jeremiah cry out to God for mercy.  Jeremiah cared for the people and called out to God for mercy in such trying times.

Today we forget sometimes that it is a part of the life of God’s people to lament.  As long as we are on this earth, we will deal with suffering and pain.  We will be worn down and feel crushed by the weight of this world.  But we have the option and the ability to cry out to God in those times.

Whether this week we are going through physical suffering, emotional suffering, spiritual suffering or a mix of them, we can cry out to God.  We can tell Him our pains and hurts.  We can share our sufferings with Him.  If we are struggling with that this week, let us call out to Him.