Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals from July 6-12 are provided by Cami King, who serves on the church staff of JCC, Raleigh.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Kings 13:1-6
1 By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”
4 When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. 5 Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the Lord.
6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the Lord your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.” So the man of God interceded with the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.
God’s message through the prophet in this passage is one of judgment. He is rejecting the sacrificial system the king has put in place because it is wicked and idolatrous. Israel had been divided into a Northern and Southern Kingdom (as a result of sin of the former king), with Jerusalem (the place where God’s people worshiped Him) now located in the Southern Kingdom. In fear of losing the allegiance of the people and control over them whenever they went to the South to worship, King Jeroboam erected idols in the Northern Kingdom, called them god, and encouraged the people of God to worship them (in lieu of traveling to Jerusalem to worship). For this he was condemned.
But what exactly did King Jeroboam do wrong (other than the obvious idolatry of constructing golden calves)? He knew it was important to worship God, but he did it in his own way – ignoring the way and even the place God called His people to worship Him. It’s easy for us to think of wickedness as something malicious and sinister – an active and intentional rebelling against what we know to be right or an outright abandonment of the things of God. For most of us, however, wickedness is as simple as doing things our own way, instead of God’s way; that is, doing what seems good to us and right in our eyes, instead of conforming to the thoughts of God and trusting what He says is enough to follow in obedience. It is possible to try to do the “right” things the wrong way.
As we understand our lives as “worship” to God, we want to make sure we are doing things God’s way and not our own way. There are reasons God calls us to live in certain ways – He knows far more than we do and can see consequences and results of our actions that we can’t predict. He is also pure in heart; whereas we are not. When we do what we think is right in our own eyes (especially in opposition to what we know God would have us do), even if we are not outright rejecting God, we are certainly not pleasing Him and will often find ourselves in trouble. May we be eager to honor the Lord fully – doing things His way, because we trust that He truly knows what is best for us.
Prayer: Gracious Father, help me to do things Your way. Help me to know the ways You would have me to walk in any given situation and to trust You enough to obey fully. At work, in my family, in my leisure time, as I make plans for my future – through prayer and knowing Your word – help me to walk in the ways You would have me to go, not merely trying to do good things my way, but truly doing good as I follow You in obedience.
Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 1
Lunch Break Study
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Questions to Consider:
- What is the result of leaning on our own understanding?
- What do you think it means to be “wise in your own eyes”?
- Why is the fear of the Lord important in what Solomon calls us to do in these verses?
- Our paths will be crooked. We will not experience true success in our endeavors or the abundant life that God makes available to us when we lean on our own understanding. Because we are so limited in our vision and understanding, we have to completely trust God in our hearts and in our actions.
- Solomon uses this phrase a lot through the book, and it points to our tendency to do things our own way, thinking that we know best. If we trust that our way is best, especially in opposition to what God prescribes, we will always find ourselves in a bad spot.
- If we truly fear God – have complete reverence and awe for who He is – it will put us and our ways into perspective. It almost seems silly to rely on our own understanding and trust ourselves more so than we trust the all-knowing and all-powerful God who loves us and will good for us.
Are you a person who understands what it means to fear the Lord? Do you see Him in His greatness and yourself in a proper perspective as a result? How does this reality of who God truly is affect your willingness to do things God’s way in your life? Reflect on the areas in your life where you really struggle to do things God’s way? Pray and ask the Lord to help you fully submit these areas to Him as you learn to fear Him and trust that He not only knows better than you, but only wants the best for you.