Unfailing Love

Sunday_Psalm 119_76a_Unfailing Love

Noting comforts like the unfailing love of God!

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Still Hope

Ezra 10_2_Still Hope

As the saying goes, “drastic times call for drastic measures.”  Certainly the measures taken by Israel upon their return from exile in Babylon were drastic.  But then again, so were the times.

Decades earlier, Israel had been deported because of their idolatry against the Lord.  God knew Israel would follow other gods once they entered Canaan, so He forbid His children to intermarry their neighbors. Yet they didn’t obey, and before long the idolatry (and subsequent exile) began.

King Xerxes eventually released the Jews and many, including the prophet, Ezra, returned to Jerusalem.  Upon his return, Ezra discovered that the remnant of Israel – those who stayed behind – had fallen right back into the sins for which the nation was being disciplined.  They continued to intermarry pagan wives and worship foreign gods.

In response to what he observed, Ezra wept before the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and called together the leaders of the people.  One of the priests summarized the situation well:

We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. (Ezra 10:2)

Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, there was still hope!  IF, they drastically changed their ways.  The change they agreed to?… Sending their non-Israeli wives and children away from Israel (v.3).  Radical wasn’t it!?  I simply cannot imagine the scene.

Please hear me – I’m not advocating splitting up families, etc.  However, I want us to see a couple of things here.  1.  There is always HOPE – in spite of our worst sins!  2.  We can’t play around with those sins.  We need to pull them up by the roots and throw them out!  The more damaging the sin, the more drastic the action that may be needed to rid ourselves of it.

Have any life-damaging sins?  There’s hope – but it may require drastic measures to see that hope! –Dave

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From Darkness to Light

Esther 8_16_From Darkness to Light

I smiled as my head hit the pillow.  Due to a change in my morning schedule, my time in God’s Word was relegated to bedtime.  Ordinarily, I prefer to read in the morning so I can focus on what I’ve read throughout the day.  Yet that night I was glad the verse below was the last thing I saw before turning out the lights.

For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. (Esther 8:16)

No, I’m not Jewish, and it wasn’t my people who were saved from Haman’s plot.  Yet I love the verse because it reveals the heart of our God.  You see, the Jews were subjects in Persia due to their idolatry.  Because God loved them, He disciplined them; loving parents do that to wayward children.

While in captivity, the Jews faced extinction had it not been for the intervention of Queen Esther.  Even today, the Jews celebrate Purim to commemorate the deliverance God brought about in those days.  On the very day that the Jews were to be killed, God turned the tables and it was Haman who was killed instead.  That very day…the day in which Israel faced death as a result of their unfaithfulness, God turned into a day of happiness and joy, gladness and honor!

Folks, that’s what the forgiveness of God does.  It turns our darkness into light.  While our actions deserve captivity and death, God doesn’t want that for His children.  Through Christ, He offers genuine forgiveness – and when we fully grasp what He has done for us, even our darkest times become times of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.

Struggling to find happiness, joy, gladness or honor?  Spend a few moments reflecting on the forgiveness God has granted you.  Celebrate that He has turned your darkest hours into times of joy. –Dave

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A Purse With Holes

Haggai 1_6_A Purse with Holes

You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. (Haggai 1:6)

Man, who hasn’t experienced the truth of that verse?!  Many people know the discomfort of having way too much month left at the end of their paycheck.  Money often just seems to sprout wings and take flight!

Sometimes, it’s a short-term problem that arises from unforeseen hardship or bad luck.  Other situations, however, arise because we’ve bitten off more than we can chew; we consistently spend more than we bring in. Righting that ship may require cutting back by making some difficult decisions.

Yet the situation Haggai wrote about wasn’t related to bad luck, overspending, or poor budgeting.  The children of God were working hard, but they weren’t fully benefiting from their labor.  As the verse says, their wages seemed to slip through their fingers.  And perhaps even worse, the food and drink that once brought them satisfaction no longer did so.  They ate and were still hungry; they drank and were still thirsty.

The surprising culprit in Israel’s case? – their lack of attention to the house of God.  They were living in paneled houses (fancy for that day), while God’s house remained in ruins (after being destroyed by the Babylonians).  Until they chose to give the proper time, treasure, and attention to the things of God, all their money and possessions simply weren’t going to go far enough or bring any real satisfaction.

Exhale, I’m not going to ask you for a penny.  But, I will gently challenge you to take God up on the one thing He says we can test Him on – giving to God’s house via a tithe (Malachi 3:10).

Dissatisfied with all you have?  Are the ends just not meeting?  Have you possibly ignored giving to the things of God? –Dave

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Broken Down Love

Exodus 23_5_Broken Down Love

If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him. (Exodus 23:5, ESV)

It’s an easy verse to overlook because donkeys just don’t fit our times.  However, everything else about it still applies.  Are there people today who don’t like us?  Absolutely.  Do some downright hate us?  Sadly, I fear some do.

It is about those select few – those whom we KNOW hate us – that God says, “Extend kindness.”  “But Lord, they HATE me!  You can’t expect me to be kind to them, can You?”

When we know another person hates us, the typical response is to hold them at arm’s length.  We may even begin to match their hatred for us with our own hatred for them.  I mean, if they hate us, what use do we really have for them anyway?

That’s the normal, human response. In fact, God acknowledges it in the verse above.  Yet we’re to refrain from what we naturally want to do – leave the man to deal with his trouble alone – and strive for the better response God wants from us.  Instead of passing by and pretending we don’t see the need, God says we’re to stop and solve the problem WITH the person who hates us.

The primary objective here isn’t to get a donkey (or a car) back on the road.  There’s a much higher purpose for this command – and I believe it’s this – to demonstrate that the LOVE of God is greater than any hatred, any time!  Who knows?  Perhaps our act of kindness will change that person’s mind about us.  Maybe it won’t.  Either way, we’ll have the satisfaction of knowing we chose love over hatred.

If you saw your least favorite person standing beside their broken down car, what would you do? –Dave

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Leaky Love

2 Cor 2_15_Leaky Love

We leak what we love; I wanna leak Jesus. (Bob Geoff)

It’s common sense I suppose.  We fill ourselves up on the things that we love, and what we’re full of will inevitably spill out.  What’s inside comes tumbling out when the pressures of life hit home.  But what’s inside comes out in other ways as well.

For example, it’s not long into a conversation with a new acquaintance before we bring up the things that we’re most passionate about.  It might be our job.  It could be our spouse or children.  Or maybe it’s a hobby.  Whatever it may be, that which fills us up spills over.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were so full of a love for Jesus that we “leaked” Him everywhere we went?  What would happen in our families, schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods if a genuine love for others emanated from us?  What impact might Christ-like gentleness, compassion, and humility have on our relationships?

As Goeff stated in his book, Love Does, we live in a dry and parched land that is withering away from a lack of the Living Water. The wonderful news is we have that living water flowing within us – but does it fill us enough that we ooze Jesus everywhere we go?

Give it some thought.  Do you “leak Jesus” on a constant basis?  If not, what can you do to be filled to the brim with Him?  We leak what we love….what are you leaking? –Dave

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

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No Satisfaction

Esther 5_13_No Satisfaction

But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate. (Esther 5:13)

Haman was quite a guy.  Only King Xerxes had greater power in all Persia.  Haman had great wealth, many sons, and the king had elevated him above all of the other nobles and officials in the land (5:11).  Yet as verse 13 states, he found no satisfaction in any of it.

Why?  Because one man – only one, Mordecai – refused to bow down to him.  This so enraged Haman that he devised a plan to kill not only Mordecai but all of Mordecai’s people, the Jews.

He had it all, yet it wasn’t enough.  Primarily, I believe, because his pride and a faulty perspective prevented him from seeing all that he did have.  Instead of counting his many, many blessings, he chose to focus his attention on the one thing he lacked.

It’s easy to shake our head at such thinking, but I know I’m guilty of it as well.  I remember buying a new HDTV and shortly after removing it from the box I noticed there was one dead pixel in the lower, left-hand corner of the screen.  One dead pixel out of millions, yet my eye was naturally drawn to it.  It seems we’re wired to see the negative and our pride tells us we deserve better.  Together, this flawed perspective and our pride blind us to all that is so good in our lives.

Have you allowed pride and a flawed perspective to blind you to your many blessings?  Beginning today, why not focus on all that you DO have, instead of what you don’t? –Dave

(To receive these free daily devotions via email, subscribe at:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/blogs—daily-devotions.html. For more information about the ministry, or to order the devotional books, visit:  http://www.theteachableheart.com/books.html).

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