Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from October 18-24 are provided by Kate Moon who serves as a missionary in E. Asia.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Ezra 7:11, 14, 25-26: “This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest and teacher, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the LORD for Israel: . . . ‘You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand . . . And you are to teach any who do not know them [=God’s laws]. Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished . . .’”
Recently, in my free time, I’ve been working on putting together a set of MP3s (in the olden days called “making a mix”) to give as a gift to my sisters this Christmas (shhh, it’s a surprise). There were these songs that we used to hear on the radio when we were little – we never fully caught or understood the lyrics; all we knew was that we thought they were hilarious – and we would sing along, dance around, and laugh and laugh: “Fernando” by ABBA (we liked the name), “Abracadabra” by Steve Miller Band (“I wanna reach out and grab ya” was the rhyming line), and “Sandy” from the Grease soundtrack (“Why-ay-ay-ay…”).
While it’s been fun to reminisce, as these songs have started getting stuck in my head, sometimes playing on endless repeat throughout the day, I’ve also been reminded of how we are called to be in the world but not so influenced that we get lost in it. In today’s passage, it is challenging to read these words of a Gentile king who seems more interested that God’s law be kept than the people of Israel themselves had been. The people of Israel had lost their nationhood precisely because they had continually disobeyed God’s law. The law’s intent had been to set this people apart from the nations around them, but when they failed to keep it and remain distinct, God allowed them to be conquered and absorbed into those very surrounding nations.
Even in exile, though, some, like Ezra, made an effort to stay set apart. It must not have been easy, living in an environment where the majority had no reason to care (what reason would Persians have to eschew shellfish or not work on the Sabbath?), yet Ezra was devoted to preserving his people’s identity in this foreign place, making sure they didn’t forget who they were. Our hearts today, are our antennas more attuned to signals from the world around for keeping up, fitting in? Or are they set on receiving from the Lord as we remember we belong to Him?
Dear God, it is such a privilege to belong to You, to be one of Your people. Help me to value being set apart for You, to treasure the commands that ask me to live differently. Help me to love Your word more, to devote myself to obey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joel 1
Lunch Break Study
Read John 17:14-17: I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
Questions to Consider
- How can the world view those who have the word of God (v. 14)?
- What comfort can we receive from how Jesus describes his followers (vv. 14,16)?
- What effect does God’s word have on His people (v. 17)? Have you experienced this? In what ways is it better than being affected by the world?
- The world can hate us. Good to be reminded so that we are not caught off-guard when we encounter opposition as we try to live by the word God has given us.
- In not belonging to this world, we are like Jesus. When we are rejected by the world, it is comforting to remember that it is only to be expected because we are not from here. Why should we try so hard to belong to a place that is not our true home?
- God’s word purifies His people, cleansing them from sin. God’s word is truth, and the truth sets us free from sin and the lies of the Enemy. The rules of this world, on the other hand, bind and enslave us. Let’s proactively seek the freedom there is in living according to God’s word.
How was it today, living in this world? What ideas was I exposed to? Are there any I need to conscientiously reject because they are counter to godly principles? Do so at this time, rejoicing in the knowledge that by doing so, you are maintaining the freedom that is yours in Christ Jesus.