The Upper Room Devotion for Friday, October 6, 2023, was written by Monica A. Andermann of New York.
1 At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
2 Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, 3 the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you. 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall take your tambourines,
and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. 5 Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall enjoy the fruit. 6 For there shall be a day when sentinels will call in the hill country of Ephraim: “Come, let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” 7 For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.” 8 See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, those with child and those in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here. 9 With weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back, I will let them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. 10 Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.” 11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall become like a watered garden, and they shall never languish again. 13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. 14 I will give the priests their fill of fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty, says the Lord.
Jeremiah 31:1-14 NRSV
Early in our relationship, my husband gave me a card with a beautiful love note. After many years of marriage. I don't need the note to know how much he cares. It's evident in the things he does and the way he acts toward me every day. Even though we sometimes don't come to terms in certain situations or have a disagreement, I know his love for me is steadfast and certain. I find great comfort in this.
God's love for us is like the steady love my husband shows me, only greater. At times, like when I lost my job of twenty years, when I faced grief, or when I heard the words of a freightening diagnosis, I shook my fist at God wondering where God's love had gone. Yet, it was there all along: in the kindness of a friend, in the skilled hands of a doctor, in the sunrise of a new day, in the blossoms that hearld the promise of a new season. These are God's love notes to each of us. Do we recognize them?
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
God offers us reminders of how much we are loved, little messages of hope and encouragement to help us endure. We can view these reminders as "love notes" from God, signs that God journeys with us. Yet, how often do we return God's gestures of love with "love notes" of our own? How many times do we share the kindness God shares with, with others? How many times do we encourage others amidst hardships, sorrow, and grief? How many times do we place God's purpose above our personal preferences, so that others feel seen and heard? Our love for God is demonstrated through broadened minds, opened hearts, selfless service, and transformed lives. When was the last time you gave God a "love note?"
Gracious God, your love is at work in our lives at all times. May we be instruments of this love, sharing it at every chance through kind thoughts, words, and deeds. Amen.