Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from August 31-Sept. 4 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 King 14:8-14
Then Amaziah sent messengers to Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz, son of Jehu, king of Israel, saying, “Come, let us look one another in the face.” 9 And Jehoash king of Israel sent word to Amaziah king of Judah, “A thistle on Lebanon sent to a cedar on Lebanon, saying, ‘Give your daughter to my son for a wife,’ and a wild beast of Lebanon passed by and trampled down the thistle. 10 You have indeed struck down Edom, and your heart has lifted you up. Be content with your glory, and stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you fall, you and Judah with you?” 11 But Amaziah would not listen. So Jehoash king of Israel went up, and he and Amaziah king of Judah faced one another in battle at Beth-shemesh, which belongs to Judah. 12 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 13 And Jehoash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Jehoash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and came to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for four hundred cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 14 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.
A hungry python, upon seeing a large porcupine, ate it—but later died because he couldn’t digest its final meal. Since the snake had probably eaten bigger preys before, he didn’t think much of swallowing the porcupine, not realizing that this one came with quills that would lodge inside the digestive tract. Ouch!
Likewise, King Amaziah of Judah felt unstoppable and invincible after knocking off “ten thousand Edomites . . . and captur[ing] Sela in battle” (v. 7). Then, brimming with confidence, he challenged Jehoash, the king of Israel, who responded, in effect: “Enjoy your little victories but don’t bark up the wrong tree.” But Amaziah didn’t back off— he should have because Jehoash finished him off in the first round. The victor then bullied his way into Jerusalem and took “everything but the kitchen sink.” In the end, both the python and Amaziah dearly paid for having bitten off more than they could chew.
We love slogans that imbue confidence such as “the sky is the limit” or “I can do anything if I put my mind to it.” But God’s word is more measured, for Romans 12:3 states: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” In short, recognize your God-given limits and don’t overestimate your ability.
Our tendency, however, is to set limits for ourselves without even trying to find out the talents and gifts God has given us. A while back, a young woman aspiring to be a writer spoke to me about something I had written for Korea Times newspaper. At that time she was writing technical manuals, a job she disliked, and when I exhorted her to work on stories that could be published locally, she said, “I’m afraid of being rejected.”
While we shouldn’t bite off more than we can chew, we should certainly chew all that we can— meaning, we ought to diligently develop all that God has given us to serve the body. As we get better at it and people appreciate our effort, we should be content that unbelievers are finding Christ and the believers growing spiritually.
Lord, how great is thy Name and how wonderful are thy works! God, show me my limits, weaknesses and inadequacies; then show me Your infinity, strength, and adequacy. Give me wisdom to rely on You and not on myself to live this life to the glory of your Son Jesus Christ.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Acts 19:13-16: Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Matt. 20:21-22: Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
2 Thess. 3:10: If a man will not work, he shall not eat.
Question to Consider
- How are the sons of Sceva similar to King Amaziah and the python? What did they fail to understand?
- How are the sons of Zebedee similar to King Amaziah and the python? What did they fail to understand?
- What is often the problem for many people who want something but end up biting more than they can chew?
- I suppose casting out evil spirits from demonized people looked easy to the sons of Sceva and impressive as well; therefore, they simply imitated what others did to their great embarrassment. They didn’t take the time to understand the spiritual dimension involved in doing something like this such as praying, holiness, authority of Christ, etc.
- The sons of Zebedee, clueless about what kind of kingdom Jesus was about to establish, took it for granted that they were the best administrators in what they thought was a literal kingdom of Israel. They, no doubt, thought that whatever the cup represented was something they could easily handle; little did they know that it was going to bring martyrdom (James would die young) and exile (John to Patmos).
- Many of us aren’t willing to work hard to be able to do God’s work—we want everything to come easy. Yes, it is by grace and the Spirit but there are plenty of things we need to do—like developing a habit of prayer, depositing God’s words into our minds, understanding the spiritual authority in Christ, learning a new language well if you are a missionary, etc.
How is your self-esteem? Is it based on impressing people with your ability or commitment? One reason we bite more than we can chew is to impress people as a way of dealing with our insecurity. How did you fare today? Did you engage in self-boasting or exaggerating your glorious past? Our security comes from our deep relationship with God in which we sense our worth in God’s infinite love toward us expressed through putting His own Son on the cross to redeem us.