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 31:1-7
1 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. 2 And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul. 3 The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. 4 Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. 5 And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell upon his sword and died with him. 6 Thus Saul died, and his three sons, and his armor-bearer, and all his men, on the same day together. 7 And when the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley and those beyond the Jordan saw that the men of Israel had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their cities and fled. And the Philistines came and lived in them.
As I read through this passage and imagine Saul taking his final breath, I can’t help but think of my grandmother who died last month. My mother told me of my grandmother’s final moments. She was weary from a long life and from battling illness but absolutely at peace. She lay in bed, listening to hymns (“Precious Lord Take My Hand” to be exact) as my mother and father held her hands and prayed her into the presence of God. In prayer and worship she breathed her last.
I’m also reminded of a story told by Tony Campolo about the death of his father-in-law. He’d not been speaking at all because of his health condition, but one morning at 6 am he shot up in bed and said, “O grave, o death! Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory? Praise be to God who giveth me the victory!” And then he repeated it a second time a little louder. And then a third time he shouted these words, “with full triumph in his voice” and “laughing at the satanic forces…” Then he leaned back in bed and died. In shouts of triumph he breathed his last.
Saul didn’t die in either of these ways. He was fearful and calculating to the last moment. He died the same way he lived – by his own hand.
These stories should sober us. Few people walk around with the imminence of death at the forefront of their mind. We get married, pursue careers, have children, spend money, spend time, plan out our lives, even serve the Lord as though tomorrow is promised. But it isn’t. The question then becomes, will we live life in such a way (with eyes fixed on God and life spent building His Kingdom) that our death is one of peace and triumph? Or will we live by our own hand (eyes fixed on ourselves and life spent building our own kingdom) and find that we die in the very same way? The choice is ours.
Lord, help me to live well so that when my day comes to leave this earth I can die well too. Help me to live each moment knowing that the next isn’t promised. Not in fear or anxiety, but in a fervent commitment to the only thing that will last – Your Kingdom. May I make choices today that position me to breath my last breath in a way that honors You.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 28
Lunch Break Study
Read James 4:13-17.
13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
Questions to Consider
- In what ways do you “boast in your arrogance” as it relates to how you spend your time and plan your future?
- How might the truth of verse 14 change how you approach each day?
- How would it look for you to live with the mindset James prescribes in vs. 15? What would you do differently?
- Believers should live in light of the fact that Jesus will return. But instead, much of what we do and how we think is based on the present world and things we can see. This manifests in different ways for each of us.
- All our plans and choices should be in light of our complete dependence on God (even for the gift of life itself).
- Living for eternity will look similar for all of us in some general ways, but different for each of us in more specific ways. We might prioritize prayer over TV or missions over excessive vacationing or allow the things of God to direct our next move instead of our plans for career advancement (not that these things are necessarily mutually exclusive).
Working with the young adults in my church, I’ve come to learn that the biggest reason people move from one city to another is because of their job. I think this is OK (I’m guilty of this myself), but what if as Christians our primary motivation for how we spend our time and even where we live was our desire to participate in the Kingdom of God? Spend some time reflecting on what motivates you and what priorities govern how you structure your life. Ask God to give you a heart that seeks first His Kingdom (and trust that all the other necessary and important things that we need and even want will be added) and a vision of how that might practically look in your life.