English Standard Version (ESV)
The Lord’s Love for Israel
11 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
4 I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
9 I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
There are no limits on the unconditional love that rains down on us from the heart of Jesus. Mercy is offered equally to those who follow the Master, those who condemn him, and those who run away in cowardice. We do not draw it down by our actions or our disposition. No, God freely offers it out of his own generosity, out of his own inexhaustible riches.
We human beings are much more guarded with our love than God is. We have trouble believing anyone really loves us fully. We worry that if they ever discover our secret faults, they will change their minds! We also know that love makes us vulnerable to hurt, so we are reluctant to spend our time and affection on someone who is unlikely to reciprocate. As a consequence, we persuade ourselves not to expect too much, so that we won’t be disappointed.
But in the midst of this bleak assessment, the prophet Hosea suggests one situation where we come close to experiencing the same kind of unconditional love that God has for us: parenthood. When we become parents – or when we come into close contact with an infant, for that matter – our hearts are stirred with a sense of love that is unique for the innocence, and purity. We love this tiny human being simply for himself, not because he can do anything for us, not because of her achievements, or even her potential. Somehow, this little child brings out the best in us.
Like God our Father, good parents love their children no matter what their situation. Yes, children will sometimes disobey and disappoint – they may even cause their parents great suffering. But that doesn’t stop their parents from coaching them and hoping for the best for them. They will never disown or stop loving their children. and neither will our heavenly Father stop loving and caring for us!
Let down your guard so that the love in Jesus’ heart can flood over you. Welcome this love, and let it teach you how to love as well.
God, how wonderful it is to awaken to a new day and new mercies. Today, in this world of instant gratification and hurry-up-and-wait mentality, we as a people are always in a hurry. Let us remember that peace and salvation are found only in you. Teach us to stop, listen, and be quiet in order to hear your voice. Be peace through me, this day, in the world in which I travel. In the matchless name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
John 16:12-15 (ESV)
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
“I have much more to tell you” (John 16:12)
Manu of us are familiar with the television commercials that tell us, “But wait; there’s more!” Jesus has more for you too, and you don’t have to pay any additional shipping or handling charges. More knowledge, more wisdom, more understanding, more love – he wants them to be yours!
When Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, he knew that they were anxious and worried about the future. He had just told them that he was going away. He also told them that after he had gone, they would experience increased opposition and persecution. It was a lot to take in. All that they had learned from Jesus and experienced for themselves seemed insufficient as they faced the prospect of life without him.
Don’t you feel that way sometimes too? We all face times when we wish Jesus were right here with us, guiding us as he once guided the apostles. How encouraging , then, is his promise that the Holy Spirit will guide us in the truth!
The next time you feel that way, close your eyes and listen as Jesus tells you, “I may not be with you physically, but here is Someone who will keep speaking my words and revealing my love to you. Listen to him.”
Of course, very few of us will hear something as clear as a voice ringing in our ears. We will most likely experience the Spirit whispering in the privacy of our thoughts.
Perhaps today you will experience peace about a decision you are making. That could be the Spirit. As you consider a difficult situation or stressful conversation, you might suddenly think of a line from a hymn that lightens your heart. That could be the Spirit. A Scripture verse at worship might strike you as something that could help one of your children. That also could be the Spirit. A friend might offer a word of advice that pierces your heart. Again, that could be the Spirit.
You are a unique creation of God, and he will tell you “more” in ways that fit the way he made you. Words, pictures, friends, feelings: there’s none to the ways the Spirit speaks!
Holy Spirit, open my ears and heart, thoughts and imagination, to hear you today. Amen.
Worship: In Need of Worshipers
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.—Acts 6:4
Well, we have great churches and we have beautiful sanctuaries and we join in the chorus, “We have need of nothing.” But there is every indication that we are in need of worshipers.
We have a lot of men willing to sit on our church boards who have no desire for spiritual joy and radiance and who never show up for the church prayer meeting. These are the men who often make the decisions about the church budget and the church expenses and where the frills will go in the new edifice.
They are the fellows who run the church, but you cannot get them to the prayer meeting because they are not worshipers….
It seems to me that it has always been a frightful incongruity that men who do not pray and do not worship are nevertheless actually running many of the churches and ultimately determining the direction they will take.
It hits very close to our own situations, perhaps, but we should confess that in many “good” churches, we let the women do the praying and let the men do the voting.
Because we are not truly worshipers, we spend a lot of time in the churches just spinning our wheels, burning the gasoline, making a noise but not getting anywhere. Whatever Happened to Worship?, 16-17.
“Lord, make the men in our church, especially the leaders, men of prayer and worship. Please don’t allow us to try to lead others where we have not been; don’t let us spin our wheels because we are not worshippers. Amen.”