Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals for July 20-24 are provided by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 King 20:1-6, 29-30: Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it. 2 And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad: 3 ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’” 4 And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.” 5 The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.” 6 Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’
. . . And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day. 30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left. Ben-hadad also fled . . .
Human history is littered with ill-advised sayings of men. For instance, at the launch of the Titanic (1911), an employee of the White Star Line quipped, “Not even God himself could sink this ship”—but a mere iceberg proved him wrong. Charles Holland Duell, as the United States Commissioner of Patents at the end of 19th century, allegedly said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Say what? And during this year’s NCAA basketball tournament, we were once again reminded of the truth of Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise.” A West Virginia freshman player, before facing the undefeated Kentucky squad, cracked, “Tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1.” Oops, Kentucky won by 39 points!
Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, was no different from the aforementioned clerk, commissioner or hoopster—full of hubris (extreme pride) and so confident of the unknown. The victory was already his even before the first blowing of the trumpet: “May gods deal with me, be it ever severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful” (v.10). He felt so entitled to everything that Israel owned: “Your silver and gold . . . wives and children are mine” (v.3). Little did he realize that God had Israel’s back, as a prophet informed the king of Israel: “Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord” (v.13).
Keep this in mind the next time you feel invincible and invulnerable about yourself because of your possession, ability (knowledge) or accomplishment: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). Stay low, heads bowed, and think carefully, in light of who you are (a creature) before your Maker, before opening your mouth. Remember, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).
Perhaps, even more important lesson is this: If you ever feel like you can’t reach your goal that is good and noble because no one believes in you, remember this: “I can do all this through [Christ Jesus] who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13). Work hard (Prov. 14:23) and prayer harder.
Dear God, I must confess many foolish things I’ve said about myself, thinking only of my strength in light of other people’s weaknesses. How comical it must be to You and how tragic for me! Thanks for your forgiveness and “forgetfulness.” Remind me to watch what I say so that I may not be a fool. Help me to say only those things that would edify others. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Amos 4
Lunch Break Study
Read Luke 14:7-13: Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
James 4:13-7: 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.
Question to Consider
- One chose the place of honor while the other confidently planned for his future. In what sense are they cut out from the same rock?
- What perspective or attitude is needed to avoid seeking the place of honor and planning our future with self-assuredness?
- How is your heart? Are you making any statements about your ability and future that may place you in the Hall of Shame of all the ill-advised things men have said about themselves?
- These were men of presumption: the former thought of himself as superior to everyone else, which led him to think that he deserved better, while the latter thought that he, not God, was sovereign. Both of them badly miscalculated by overestimating their status and ability.
- To avoid falling into the pitfall of presumption, we must cultivate the mind of Christ, which is, “in humility count[ing] others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). Subsequently, we are to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (v.4). We must also always remember how fragile we are and how unpredictable life can be, which leaves no recourse but to depend and rely absolutely on God (2 Cor. 1:9).
- Personal response.
If someone had observed you throughout the day, would that person conclude that you were trusting in yourself or God? Be reflective and critical about yourself. Make changes, if necessary, so that you won’t be embarrassed, or worse –be destroyed. This is a serious matter. Pray.