Editor’s Note: The AMI devotional from October 26 –November 1 are provided by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry Church.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. 2 The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them.3 The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs. 5 The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.
Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, started publishing a student magazine at the age of 17. Three years later, he founded Virgin as a record mail order company, and soon opened his first store in London’s Oxford Street. In 1972, he formed the Virgin Records music label, which grew to be one of the world’s top six record companies in the 80s. Since then, the Virgin brand has expanded into flights, rail travel, retail, internet, drinks, hotels and leisure and finance; presently, it’s up to 400 different companies. Richard Branson is a good example of someone who has learned to take small beginnings and expand them into greater horizons.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Never take that first step for granted, no matter how small it might seem. What are the small beginnings in your life? What could be the small beginnings in your life? God’s will is that you expand from where you are. God will always give you a bag of seeds—the opportunities and possibilities of life. But when you do not despise the day of small things and rejoice in the future of great things, there lays the blessings ahead.
In Nehemiah, we find the story of the Israelites rebuilding Jerusalem after returning from their exile in Babylon (which was due to their sin). The wall around Jerusalem was the first project for the people. This was the first line of defense against their many enemies. The first part of the rebuilt wall was the Sheep Gate. This might not sound like a priority, but to the people of Israel, it was of the utmost importance in their worship of God.
The Sheep Gate was the gate the sheep were led through as they came to the temple to be slaughtered for the sins of the people. In essence, their first project was to bring proper worship back to Jerusalem. We are no longer called to offer up animals as sacrifices for worship, but we are called to offer our lives instead (Romans 12:1). Just as the Israelites knew there were walls that needed to be repaired for proper worship, there are walls in our lives that have been destroyed by sin that need to be repaired before we can offer our lives completely for worship. These walls must first be rebuilt before our lives can be offered as a proper sacrifice to the Lord.
Don’t despise the small things of prayer and daily Bible study. Don’t despise the small acts of service to your local church, by which God is glorified and people encouraged. Don’t despise the small things like putting sin to death, by which you are responding to the victory Christ has won for you. Don’t despise the small things like working hard at your job or school every day, for in these things you show that there is something more profound, more powerful at work in you. Or it may be speaking of Christ to others, by which unbelievers may come to trust and treasure Jesus.
Bible Reading for Today: Haggai 2
Lunch Break Study
Read I Samuel 15
And Samuel said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the LORD.  Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt.  Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”  So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah.  And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley.  Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.  And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt.  And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword.  But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.  The word of the LORD came to Samuel:  “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night.  And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.”  And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the LORD. I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”  And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?”  Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”  Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the LORD said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”  And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel.  And the LORD sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’  Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”
Questions to Consider
- This practice of “imposing the ban” (v. 3) meant that all living things—men, women, children, and livestock—were to be killed. What would be the purpose for such a ban?
- In verse 11, we are told the Lord regretted that he has made Saul king. How do we reconcile that God does not make mistakes, and yet seems to be regretting a decision that He has made?
- The small act of disobedience and justification led to Saul’s downfall. What are some things you are being a bit too careless with before the Lord?
- To stop the spread of the “abominable practices” of paganism—that they don’t become a temptation for God’s people; this shows how serious we are to be about removing sin.
- Regret, in this case, means that God felt genuine sorrow when contemplating Saul’s sin. But it does not mean that God thinks His decision to make Saul king was a mistake in the overall course of His plans for history.
- Personal answer.
“Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.” – Elisabeth Elliot