Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Devotions: Shared Compassion

Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, While he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, And he maintained his fury forever. So I will send fire upon Teman And it will consume the citadels of Bozrah.”
Amos 1:11-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The people of Edom were the descendants of Esau, brother of Jacob. They were cousins to the Jews and should have been first in line to help them in times of need. Instead, they ridiculed the Jews when they were captured and even helped the enemy defeat them. They betrayed their kinship. They stifled compassion. For that offense, God wiped them out. Their lack of compassion caused God to no longer have compassion on them, even though they too were descendants of Abraham and Isaac. God is full ready to give compassion, but He will not have compassion on those who have no compassion for others, just as He will not forgive those who do not forgive others. He has already shown compassion to us. He sent His Son to die for our sins, paying the debt we owe when we could never earn or deserve it. That alone is greater compassion than we could ever warrant. We have a choice; to accept His compassion and show it ourselves, or to reject His compassion by not showing it to others. We are no better than any other. No one deserves it. Who are we to withhold it from anyone for any reason? Are we better than God?

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Devotions: Pride Or Compassion

He prayed to the Lord and said, “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.”
Jonah 4:2-3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Jonah had been sent by God warn the people of Ninevah of impending doom because of their sin. They responded to his prophesy with genuine repentance and God withheld His wrath. These verses are Jonah’s reaction to their deliverance. At first glance, he seems pretty selfish and unjust, but we have to understand the context. The people of Ninevah were horrible. Not only had they persecuted the people of Israel repeatedly but they were brutal as well. (They actually perfected the “art” of skinning people alive.) These were the sins that God was going to punish them for, but He relented because they repented of them. To be honest, I can sympathize with Jonah. Those people were awful, they didn’t deserve to be saved, they deserved to be punished. The thing is, we don’t deserve to be saved either. We deserve to be punished for our sin. Nothing we go through on this earth is as bad as we deserve. God’s grace makes us forget who and what we truly are. When we start to compare ourselves to others and say we deserve it but they don’t we are putting ourselves in the place of God. That pride might actually be worse sin than the rest. The Bible says that no one is righteous, not one, not me, not you. God has compassion when we repent. We should rejoice as much when this happens for others as when it happens for us. We cannot have both pride and compassion. Which will you choose?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Devotions: Real Compassion

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.
Joel 2:12-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

When it says to “rend your heart and not your garment”, God is saying to tear the heart instead of clothing. It was Jewish custom to tear one’s clothes in a time of deep mourning or distress. But God wants our hearts, He wants inward repentance, not outward shame. He wants true worship not ritualistic service. That is why He says to return with ALL your heart. He doesn’t want halfhearted love. He wanted them to come with fasting, weeping and mourning because they needed to express, to really “feel” how wrong they had been. They needed to truly mourn over their sin. That is true repentance. Many are afraid to do this because it would mean losing face, humiliation. Some also are afraid of God’s wrath, which is legitimate, but true repentance turns away His wrath. If we will come to Him openly, wholeheartedly, truly remorseful over our sin, He will relent, He will have compassion. He will forgive. Return to genuine faith. Make it “real.”

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Empty Pursuits

 There are many common pursuits in life. Wealth, fame, happiness, pleasure, possessions, beauty, youth, control, power are all things our world tells us we should have and seek. The Bible has a very different list, but it also has a different take on the pursuits of the world. The Bible reveals something very interesting about the true nature of our pursuits in this life, something subtle that many never realize.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Devotions: Compassion And Discipline

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight. Though he flourishes among the reeds, An east wind will come, The wind of the Lord coming up from the wilderness; And his fountain will become dry And his spring will be dried up; It will plunder his treasury of every precious article.
Hosea 13:14-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Just because God has great love and compassion does not mean that He ignores the sin and wrongful actions of His children. The Bible says in several places that He disciplines those He loves, those who are truly His children. Discipline is not meant as cruelty, but as correction, to teach the child how to behave. As children mature they need less harsh discipline. So as we mature, God uses less stern measures to correct us. The more open our hearts are to correction, the more gently He corrects us. These verses are talking about the tribe of Ephraim, which needed severe discipline because they would not listen, they would not change. Don’t be like them. Don’t harden your heart and stiffen your neck so that God has to turn to more drastic measures to teach and correct you. Determine to listen to God, to learn from God, to live a godly life that reflects and glorifies Him.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Devotions: Compassionate Call

So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, None at all exalts Him. How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath.
Hosea 11:7-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is a wonderful chapter depicting God’s longing for His people. It shows the depth of His love and affection for them, even though they are determined to turn away from Him. Even though He knows they will reject Him, He will continue to call to them. Unlike so many lovers who are driven away by their spouse’s unfaithfulness, God cannot be driven away. His love is so much stronger, His compassion so much greater than anything we could imagine. This affection and love applies to all of His children, not just the Jews. If you have a saving faith in Jesus, you are His child and He loves you with this same depth and affection. He is not a selfish lover that wants to punish you for the hurt you have caused Him. He longs to be good and kind to you, to lavish His love on you. Will you let Him?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Devotions: Compassionate Ending

And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, And they will respond to Jezreel. I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!’
Hosea 2:22-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is a beautiful prophesy of God’s plan to restore His people! They had turned away from Him and had been punished accordingly. But it didn’t last forever! In the end, He restored them. He brought them back to Himself and to their land and made them more prosperous than before. God’s love and compassion are greater than His anger and wrath. His restoration is greater than His discipline. If you are tempted to think that He is cruel, heartless, or will always be angry at you, remember those things are against His nature. It is impossible for Him to be like that. You may experience His discipline for a time, but it will not last forever if you repent and turn to Him. God is love. He will always love you no matter what you do. Don’t let your sin or circumstances drive you away from Him.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

What World Are You Living For?

Many stories have been told of people visiting other “worlds”; traveling by some (usually unknown) means to another planet, universe, dimension etc. Usually, their time in that other world changes them, and often they try to find a way to return. Their life in this world is lived in light of that other world. What world are you living for?

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Devotions: Faithful Compassion

In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety. I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.
Hosea 2:18-20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Adultery is possibly one of the most heartbreaking sins. It takes what should belong solely to one person and gives it to another. It desecrates the sacred covenant between two people and breaks apart what God has made. That is what happens when we are unfaithful to God through sin. Marriage is meant to be a symbol of our relationship with God, which is why Hosea was ordered by God to marry a prostitute, to show the Israelites just how serious their sin was. But God doesn’t stop with the picture there. Most people would understandably want to permanently reject their unfaithful spouse, but God doesn’t. In due time, He brought them back to return to Him, to return to their covenant relationship. No matter how unfaithful we are, God is not. He will always take us back if we repent. That is just another example of how great and loving our God is. Yes, He may have been angry, He may have punished, but He will also forgive and restore. He will have compassion. Don’t be afraid to return to Him. Don’t be afraid to renew your relationship with Him. He will take you back!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Devotions: Return To Compassion

Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.”
Hosea 1:6-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Hosea was a prophet before the fall of Israel. His initial prophecy, indicated through the names of his children, is sorrowful. God had decided to permanently reject Israel. The northern kingdom had utterly turned away from God and refused to repent. King after king led them further into idolatry and heinous sin until God could no longer stand it. Israel was conquered and the nation never returned. Judah, on the other hand, while still enduring punishment for similar sin, was not entirely rejected. The tribe of Judah was punished to be sure, but only for a time. After 70 years, they obtained compassion from their captors and were allowed to return and rebuild. The difference between the two nations was that while they both sinned against God, Judah’s history was not one of continued, unrepentant sin. Judah had periods of repentance and revival initiated by godly kings. This shows that God does not always judge and condemn. He is not harsh or unjust. Israel had utterly broken itself off from God and was rejected as a result. Judah was more faithful and so was disciplined as a child and later restored. Part of this also stems from God’s promise to David that his line would endure. Unless you have utterly turned your back on God and renounced your faith in Him, He will not reject you. No one is beyond reach, even those who seem beyond hope. If you are willing to return to Him, He will restore you!

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