Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Times for March 19-27 are provided by Cami King of Journey Community Church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Samuel 28:15-19:
15 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” 16 And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the Lord has turned from you and become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. 18 Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day. 19 Moreover, the Lord will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me. The Lord will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”
Dr. David Jeremiah, in Turning Point Daily Devotional, tells of a man who set out to steal gas from a motor home. He attached his siphoning hose to the tank and went to work. But when police arrived on the scene, the man lay writhing on the ground because he’d unintentionally attached his hose to the motor home’s sewage tank. The point: sin always has unintended consequences.
As comical (and disgusting) as that story may be, there is nothing funny about sin and its consequences in our lives. But taking a look into my own heart and reflecting on the few years I’ve done ministry in the church, I’m not convinced that many believers have a real concept of the consequences of sin.
Most of us are spoiled by grace. We are highly aware of the grace God offers in Christ, the forgiveness of our sin, but easily lose sight of what Jesus actually had to overcome to make that grace available to us. Sin has real material and spiritual consequences. And without this awareness of sin, we cheapen the grace of God.
As Saul’s life comes to an end, we see a clear picture of the effects of rebellion against God. Saul’s rebellion resulted in his demise as the king of Israel and eventually the loss of his life. The Bible tells us that all sin leads to death (James 1:15). And while the consequences of sin may not manifest in our lives as literally as they did in Saul’s, the end is still the same.
If someone told you that your choices and behaviors would surely bring about your death, wouldn’t you be hard pressed to take an alternate course of action? But that’s precisely what the Bible tells us about sin, and yet we struggle to will ourselves to change course. May we not fall victim to the unintended consequences of sin. Every good thing we desire and pursue in sinful ways will always evade us. All life and every good thing are only found in persistent submission to the Lordship of Christ.
Lord, so often I choose to do things my own way, oblivious to the end result of my choices. Please forgive me. Help me to surrender to You and Your ways so that I can enjoy the abundant life You offer in Christ.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 27
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 6:20-23.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Questions to Consider
- How would you answer Paul’s question in verse 21? What has been the fruit of your own sinful habits (try to be specific)?
- Elsewhere, the Bible says Jesus has set us free (e.g. John 8), but here Paul talks about us being slaves to God. From this passage, how can both be true?
- Spend some time reflecting on v. 23. What can you learn from this verse?
- The fruit of our sin is death – both physically and spiritually – that can come in the form of broken relationships, missed opportunities, wasted resources, regret, shame, etc.
- Most of us define freedom as choosing to do whatever we want, but true freedom is choosing to do what enables us to do what we want (there is a difference). Sin leads to bondage, where we are enslaved to our patterns of sin whether we want them or not. But choosing to submit ourselves to the Lordship of Christ (even though it looks like slavery) leads to freedom from sin, so that we are able to choose what we want to do and what’s best for us and enjoy abundant life.
- In the economy of sin, we work our whole lives only to receive a “pay check” of death. Death is what our sinful efforts earn for us. But in Christ, we are given a free gift of eternal life. We don’t work for it and earn a “pay check” from God. We simply receive.
In C. S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters, an older demon counsels a younger demon about how to lead humans away from God. He explains, “It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to keep the man away from the Light.… Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
Take some time to reflect on this quote and what it means in your life. Are there any “small” sinful practices in your life? Are there brief but habitual moments of rebellion? Spend sometime offering these things to the Lord and ask for His help in choosing a different course.