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Devotional - week of November 11, 2007


THERE IS HOPE IN SPITE OF ...

 

And Shechaniah said to Ezra, "We have trespassed against our God, and have taken pagan wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel in spite of this.  Ezra 10:2

 

The first group of Jewish exiles returned to their homeland in Judah from their captivity in Babylon. They set out to rebuild the temple. Later Ezra brought back a number of exiles to reestablish the worship of God in the temple.

 

Ezra learned soon after his return that some of the Jews who had returned earlier had intermarried with the Gentiles—a thing God had forbidden. Ezra was in a state of deep grief. Shechaniah, a friend of Ezra, said to him, “…there is hope in Israel in spite of this.”

 

According to studies of church life, many of the churches of our day need the same message of hope Ezra received. There is hope. Consider what Jesus said to the church at Ephesus.

 

I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place--unless you repent.  Revelation 2:4

 

Even though she was on the verge of annihilation here was hope for Ephesus if she would repent.

 

A man said to a pastor, “When your church called you to be pastor, some people believed that the church would have to disband.” However, there was still hope and God revived the church to new spiritual life and a fruitful ministry.”

 

Some churches and believers are discouraged because God has not used them in the way they visualized—even though they have given their very best. Yet, in spite of the discouragement, there is hope.

 

One significant act of change that would turn things around for churches and individual Christians who are discouraged about their fruitfulness in the Kingdom would be to give up human strategies and capabilities to be dependent on God.

 

In spite of fruitlessness and despair, there is hope if we turn to dependence on God by turning to the life of grace.