Devotional for Thursday October 29th

Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “You are loved”
Our Bible verse for today: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” Jeremiah 31:3 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “God loves the black sheep too.”
I have some things going on in my personal life right now that have caused me to get behind in some work projects. For one thing, I have a small pile of mail on my desk which needs some attention. It includes three letters from prisoners with whom I correspond and with whom I have a mentoring relationship. As I’m sitting here grieving the recent loss of my own child, it occurred to me that these men in prison are someone’s son, brother, nephew, cousin. Each of them has made bad decisions for which they’re now paying a painful price, and they have also damaged relationships with family members. They are the black sheep in their families.
Do you have a “black sheep” in your family? Someone who is different from the rest, someone who is often hard to love? Most families do. Perhaps you are your family’s black sheep. Sadly, some families shun or cast out their black sheep. If the person doesn’t conform, or if their behavior is unacceptable and they won’t change, some families refuse to have anything more to do with the individual. Personally, I think that’s the wrong approach. I also don’t think it’s Biblical because it’s not how God deals with us.
The entire history of the nation of Israel is one of being in right relationship with God but then drifting away from Him and suffering terrible consequences, followed by repentance and coming back to Him, only to be followed by another period of bad behavior. The books of Judges, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and all the Old Testament prophets were about that very thing. Israel was the ultimate black sheep. And yet, God never gave up on them. True, He always dealt with them in ways appropriate to their conduct, and that often resulted in punishment and temporarily broken relationships, but the door was always opened for them to come back to Him. As the book of Jeremiah reveals, He was unhappy with their conduct but He never stopped loving them.
There’s a lesson in that for us – especially as we deal with our own black sheep. We need to maintain as much of a relationship with them as their conduct allows. We don’t want to excuse or enable bad behavior, but at the same time we need to make sure our love for them is never in doubt and that they know the door is always open to come back into right relationship with us once they’re prepared to behave properly. God’s love for you is unconditional and everlasting. That’s true even when your behavior is bad and you’re acting like a black sheep in His family. If that’s how God loves us, and if He never gives up on us, then that’s how we need to treat others.
Don’t shun or cast out your black sheep. Certainly, don’t excuse or enable their bad behavior. But at the same time, do what you can to maintain the relationship, communicate your continued love for them, and keep the door open so the relationship can eventually be restored. That’s how the love of God is expressed in situations like that.
God Bless,
Pastor Jim
Copyright © 2020 Oak Hill Baptist Church, All rights reserved.

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