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 8:21-23: “There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.”
Have you ever made a boast that you lived to regret? Or even simply said you could do something only to find out later that it was a lot harder than you thought, and now you’re stuck? If so, you have some idea of Ezra’s predicament here.
I love how honest Ezra is about his reasons for proclaiming the fast, how human he shows himself to be. Often, when we think about Bible characters declaring faith in God before people who believe in other gods, we think of bold stances taken: Elijah who challenged the prophets of Baal, having full confidence that God would come through; or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who told King Nebuchadnezzar they believed God could rescue them from the fiery furnace, but even if He didn’t, He would still be God to them.
Ezra’s situation was somewhat different in that when he said what he did, it wasn’t in the immediate context of having God prove Himself. Ezra may have just been explaining about what God was like to the king. And yet now here he was, caught by his words, finding himself in a situation where he had to place his trust in God though it may not have been his original intent. When Ezra says that he was ashamed to ask the king for the protection of his army, we can imagine the subtext: “Ah, if only I hadn’t said anything, I totally could have asked him for the horses and soldiers!”
Our faith can be so unheroic, almost reluctant at times. Yet, it seems God can sometimes allow us to get ourselves into these situations so that He can prove himself, even when we had no intention of taking a leap of faith or making a stand so that He could receive glory. Is there an area of your life where you feel God is asking you to trust in Him today? Even if your faith feels as small as a mustard seed, turn to Him – turn and see what He can do.
Lord, I confess that most of the time, I’m not in the mindset of taking these great risks for the sake of Your Name. Most of the time, I’d rather play it safe. Lord, help me to believe in You for greater things, in spite of myself. For your glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joel 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 17:19-21: “Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’ 20 He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”
Questions to Consider
- How does Jesus describe the faith required to do a miracle (v. 20)?
- What does this say about just how little faith the disciples had (vv. 19-20)?
- What does Jesus say can be done if we have faith (v. 20)? Is there something that you’ve written off as impossible that God may be asking you to reconsider today?
- As small as a mustard seed.
- It wasn’t just “not enough;” if it wasn’t even as big as a mustard seed, it was next to none.
- Anything. Sometimes, daring to believe in God for something makes you vulnerable as there is fear of disappointment. But take heart; He wants to do more in our lives than we think.
As a result of meditating on God’s word throughout the day, was your outlook more hopeful?