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 9:3-6: “When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard . . . And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God and prayed: ‘O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.’”
I remember the first time someone told me their favorite T.V. show was “Modern Family.” They were describing it to me, and it just sounded so sad that this was what was being promoted as being definitive of what families are today. Then I watched it, and I understood the point the show was trying to make, appreciating its depictions of warm moments between family members. And I found myself trying to minimize what had been disturbing to me at first so that I could just enjoy the show for what it was. At the same time, I also found myself wondering if this was the new standard to which I had to become desensitized in order to enjoy any kind of entertainment these days—and whether this was worth it.
Becoming more open-minded as a society has mostly been a positive change—we’ve come to accept one another’s differences more, embracing multi-culturalism, and fighting violence stemming from prejudice. Yet in the name of tolerance and understanding, have our hearts become dull when it comes to looking at sin? Ezra’s reaction to the discovery of sin among the people was a strong and emotional one. When was the last time we got emotional about finding sin, in others’ lives or our own? Not counting being angry or upset because someone has sinned against us, or depressed because we are suffering the consequences of our own bad judgments, but genuinely upset because God was being so wronged.
Ezra felt appalled, ashamed and disgraced, and we should take note. When our hearts have grown so calloused to sin, seeing this man’s reaction is a refreshing reminder of what it is like when someone truly loves God first, taking His side before anyone else’s. After all that He had done for his people, this was how they treated Him (vv. 8-10). Ezra not only saw things the way God did, through the lens of His word, he felt them with His heart. What is the state of our hearts today?
Lord, I am kind of appalled at the state of my own heart. There is much that I am not bothered by anymore, in my own life, in others’. Forgive me and sensitize my heart once again. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Bible Reading for Today: Habakkuk 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Ezekiel 11:19-20: “ I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.’”
Questions to Consider
- When people receive a heart of flesh, what will this new heart cause them to do?
- What does this say about what it means to have a “heart of flesh” in this context?
- In contrast, then, what kind of heart is a heart of stone? On a scale of 1-10, how much would you say your heart is calibrated towards God’s standards and commands, moving you to live by His ways?
- Move the people to live life by God’s laws.
- A “heart of flesh” doesn’t just mean one that is “soft towards people” or “warm and loving.” In this context, it is related to responsiveness to God’s laws and His ways.
- A heart that rejects God’s laws and does not move the people to live by them.
What values did I encounter in the world today? If you felt any godly distress, take a moment to take this to the Lord in sincere repentance on behalf of others or even yourself, and receive His mercy and grace.