October 19, Monday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from today are provided by Kate Moon, an AMI missionary in East Asia.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Ezra 7:9-10:  9 [Ezra] had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him.  10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

19Why do we pray for people when they travel?  Statistics say that a person is more likely to die in a car accident than in a plane crash; they also say that a majority of car accidents happen closer to home rather than farther away.  This seems to suggest that we’re in more danger when living our everyday lives than when we travel; yet still we pray, for our loved ones, for traveling mercies, because traveling is hard.

We ask God to watch over and protect traveling friends, and when we hear that they have reached their destination safely, we thank Him in acknowledgment.  Ezra does the same when he writes this account of his journey, attributing his safe arrival in Jerusalem to “the gracious hand of his God” being upon him (v. 9).  In the following sentence, however, he also interestingly credits a second contributing factor.

Verse 10 begins with “for,” meaning “because,” and the logical connection it seems to be making appears odd.  That Ezra had had a successful journey because God was with him is relatively easy to understand, but is verse 10 really going on to say that another reason his trip was successful was that he had devoted himself to studying and obeying God’s word?

If we were in Ezra’s shoes, it may have made more sense to us to credit God’s gracious hand and our careful planning—or God’s gracious hand and the help of friends.  Studying and obeying God’s word doesn’t seem all that relevant when it comes to ensuring a good trip; but what it is essential for is staying connected to God.  God’s gracious hand was the most important factor for Ezra, but the very reason that Ezra could experience this grace was his devotion to God’s word.

What are we devoting ourselves to knowing more?  The latest news in technology or sports?  A reality show star’s most recent escapades?  There is a pursuit more rewarding.  An abundance of God’s grace is available to us, but are we willing to devote ourselves to His word that we might experience it more?

Prayer

Lord, You are so willing to pour out Your grace.  Why am I so unwilling at times to position myself to receive it?  Help me to devote myself more to studying and obeying Your word.  I want to stay close to You and experience all that You have for me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Lamentations 5

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Lunch Break Study

Read Joshua 1:8-9: 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Questions to Consider

  1. In this passage, God is giving instructions to Joshua as he gets ready to go into and claim the Promised Land. What does God tell Joshua to do?
  2. What will happen when Joshua does these things?
  3. Why do you think God gives Joshua instruction on this topic rather than something more practical like battle strategies or leadership principles? Do you really believe that if you do everything God tells you to do, you will be successful in life?

Notes

  1. To keep His word close to his heart, studying and obeying it carefully; He also tells Joshua to be strong, courageous, unafraid, and not be discouraged.
  2. He will do well and experience success.
  3. This is actually the most practical instruction. The true reality is the spiritual reality, and battles won and lost in this realm are what really affect our daily lives.  Sometimes we don’t obey because we don’t truly believe what He is saying here; we don’t take Him at His word.

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Evening Reflection

As you tried to meditate on God’s word throughout the day today, obeying it carefully, did you experience success?  In what ways did you experience His grace today?  Thank the Lord.

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