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DAILY DEVOTIONAL – Monday, November 24, 2014
In The Upper Room today’s story is written by Eduard Khegay (Moscow, Russia) and I am sharing the “Thought for the Day,” “Prayer,” and “Prayer Focus” with you.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY – What opportunities to share the gospel can I find in today’s obstacles?
Prayer: Great God, help us to see the opportunities in obstacles. Lead us by your Holy Spirit that we might act boldly like the apostle Paul. Amen.
Prayer Focus: THOSE FACING UNEXPECTED OBSTACLES
To read the entire story in The Upper Room, click on the following link: http://devotional.upperroom.org/
“The rest were made unresponsive” was God’s punishment for their sin. It was a confirmation of their own stubbornness. In judging them, God removed their ability to see and hear and to turn from sin; thus, they would experience the consequences of their rebellion.
Some of these verses describe the punishment for unresponsive hearts predicted by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6:9-131). If people refuse to hear God’s Good News, they eventually will be unable to understand it. Paul saw this happening in the Jewish congregations he visited on his missionary journey.
Paul had a vision of a church where all Jews and Gentiles would be united in their love of God and in obedience to Christ. While respecting God’s law, this ideal church would look to Christ alone for salvation. A person’s ethnic background and social status would be irrelevant. What mattered would be his or her faith in Christ.
But Paul’s vision has not yet been realized. For the most part, Jewish people have rejected the Good News. They have depended on their heritage for salvation, and they do not have the heart of obedience that was so important to the Old Testament prophets and to Paul. Once Gentiles became dominant in many of the Christian churches, they began rejecting Jews and even persecuting them. Unfortunately, this practice has recurred through the centuries.
True Christians should not persecute others. Both Gentiles and Jews have done so much to damage the cause of Christ, whom they claim to serve, that Paul’s vision often seems impossible to fulfill. Yet God chose the Jews, just as he chose the Gentiles, and he is still working to unite Jew and Gentile so they become a holy temple where God lives by his Spirit.
Paul was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles. He reminded his Jewish brothers and sisters of this fact, hoping that they, too, would want to be saved. The Jews rejected God’s offer and, thus, Gentiles were being offered salvation. But when a Jew comes to Christ, there is great rejoicing, as if a dead person had come back to life. (NLT)
Romans 11:7-16 – So this is the situation: Most of the Jews have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the rest were made unresponsive. As the Scriptures say, “God has put them into a deep sleep. To this very day he has shut their eyes so they do not see, and closed their ears so they do not hear.”
David spoke of this same thing when he said, “Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble. Let their eyes go blind so they cannot see, and let their backs grow weaker and weaker.”
Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! His purpose was to make his salvation available to the Gentiles, and then the Jews would be jealous and want it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the Jews turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when the Jews finally accept it.
I am saying all of this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I lay great stress on this, for I want to find a way to make the Jews want what you Gentiles have, and in that way I might save some of them. For since the Jews’ rejection meant that God offered salvation to the rest of the world, how much more wonderful their acceptance will be. It will be life for those who were dead! And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their children will also be holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too.
For more Helpful Inspirational Material:
FOLLOW, FOLLOWING: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/follow-following/
OBSTACLES: see BARRIERS: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/barriers/
SEEK, SEEKING: https://helpfulinspirationalblog.wordpress.com/seek-seeking/
1 God told Isaiah that the people would listen but not learn from his message because their hearts had become hardened beyond repentance. God’s patience with their chronic rebellion was finally exhausted. His judgment was to abandon them to their rebellion and hardness of heart. Why did God send Isaiah if he knew the people wouldn’t listen? Although the nation itself would not repent and would reap judgment, some individuals would listen. God explains his plan for a remnant (holy seed) of faithful followers. God is merciful even when he judges. We can gain encouragement from God’s promise to preserve his people. If we are faithful to him, we can be sure of his mercy.
Isaiah 6:9-13 – And he said, “Yes, go. But tell my people this: ‘You will hear my words, but you will not understand. You will see what I do, but you will not perceive its meaning.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Close their ears, and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn to me for healing.”
Then I said, “Lord, how long must I do this?”
And he replied, “Until their cities are destroyed, with no one left in them. Until their houses are deserted and the whole country is an utter wasteland. Do not stop until the Lord has sent everyone away to distant lands and the entire land of Israel lies deserted. Even if only a tenth—a remnant—survive, it will be invaded again and burned. Israel will remain a stump, like a tree that is cut down, but the stump will be a holy seed that will grow again.”
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