Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from Sept. 28-Oct.2 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 King 25:8-12, 21b
In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 And he burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. 10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 11 And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile. 12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen. . . . 21 So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.
No one really criticized the San Antonio Spurs— leading by 5 points with 28 seconds left in the 6th game of the 2013 NBA Finals against Miami—for overconfidence as they prepared to celebrate their win. Stunningly, what many saw as an insurmountable lead, quickly evaporated as the Spurs somehow lost that game and the next—they returned home as losers.
In much the same way, the Jews in Judah believed that they held an “insurmountable lead” that couldn’t be squandered. Although Jeremiah warned that “a besieging army is . . . raising a war cry against the cities of Judah” (Jer. 4:16) to inflict “terrible destruction” (v.6), they couldn’t believe God would permit it since His glorious temple stood tall in their midst. They felt that no matter what detestable things they did, as long as they “come and stand . . . in this house, which bears [God’s] name, and say, ‘We are safe’” (7:9-10), everything would be okay. But God disagreed, saying, “Do not trust in deceptive words and say ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!’” (v.4). What did He mean by that? Unless “you really change your ways and your actions” (v.5), no “lead”—including the presence of the temple—is ever safe with God when we deceive ourselves into believing that faith without deeds (James 2:26), that is, “merely listening to the word” without “do[ing] what it says” (1:22), is okay.
The Spurs, by squandering the lead, merely lost the championship; they would get another crack at it the next year. However, for Judah, the final curtain fell in 586 BC when the third Babylonian invasion ended the Davidic dynasty and annihilated the temple. Tens of thousands of Jews were deported to Babylon and would die there while yearning to return home. It would take 70 years before the Jews would be allowed to return home.
What makes us believe that we are okay with God? Impressive family pedigree (“My dad was a pastor”)? Faithfulness in the past (Ezk. 18:24)? Or passionate first love for God (Rev. 2:5)? None will do apart from loving and obeying God in the present. How is your love for and obedience to God?
God, I don’t stand a chance if I’m trying to earn your approval by what I do. While I’ve tried to love and be faithful to You, my effort has been inconsistent and utterly inadequate. Lord, I’m banking on my trust in your Son to make me right before you. Thank You for your grace. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Philippians 1
Lunch Break Study
Read John 8:39-40: They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.”
Col. 1:22-23: he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Rev. 2:4-5: But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Question to Consider
- What made the Jews believe that they were right with God? Do you do the same?
- We are saved by grace and our adoption into God’s family is secure in Christ. But, to the extent that we are talking about sanctification (becoming free from the power of sin in the present), how do verses like Col. 1:22-23 and Col. 18:24 help us in that process?
- What is John warning against in Rev. 2:4-5? Does that apply to you? If so, what are you going to do about it?
- They were banking on their ethnic and theological heritage: “We are categorically okay with God since Abraham, the one with whom the Lord established His covenant, is our forefather.” That’s like saying, “I am okay with God since I agree with the teachings of Calvin or Wesley.”
- The key phrase is, “if indeed you continue in the faith”; that is, if you have stopped working out your salvation (Phil. 2:12) in the present, all the work done in the past toward sanctification may not matter since presently you are either spiritually lazy or living in sin.
- He warns against those who used to love God but now have other lovers. In that case, we must identify these other lovers (e.g., career, family, romantic interest, hobby, etc.) and must reduce their role or significance in our lives so that God, once again, becomes the sole object of our love. For some, a momentary fasting (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:3-5) may be in order.
How was your day? In the midst of meeting deadlines, screaming children, and other urgent matters, we often fail to remember that there is a God who loves and cares for us. Think about a meaningful way to show your appreciation for the Lord tomorrow. Don’t be religious; be real!