Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals from Nov. 3-9 are written by Pastor Yohan Lee of Radiance Christian Church (S. F.).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Now there arose a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, “With our sons and our daughters, we are many. So let us get grain, that we may eat and keep alive.”3 There were also those who said, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards, and our houses to get grain because of the famine.” 4 And there were those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our fields and our vineyards. 5 Now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children are as their children. Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards.” 6 I was very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 I took counsel with myself, and I brought charges against the nobles and the officials. I said to them, “You are exacting interest, each from his brother.” And I held a great assembly against them 8 and said to them, “We, as far as we are able, have bought back our Jewish brothers who have been sold to the nations, but you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us!” They were silent and could not find a word to say.
What are the things that make you angry? Here is my list: having to repeat instructions to my children multiple times, rude or incompetent customer service, spending money at those uppity brunch spots that don’t take reservations but makes you wait for like 90 minutes before seating you (especially when my wife makes me go there when IHOP is right around the corner). The list goes on to overregulation and overspending by our government, taxes—and I haven’t even gotten started on people at church (just kidding).
Notice what is not on that list: when people get taken advantage of, homelessness, poverty, human rights violations in other countries (and ours), terrorism, etc. Okay, it’s not that these things don’t get me angry—when I think about them, they truly do upset me—but the truth is, it’s the trivial things—like why my favorite football team cannot play defense—which upsets me more often than real injustice in the world. In fact, I would say that 90% of my angry time is spent on unimportant things versus real issues. Normally, I’d be ashamed to admit this, but I know that most of us are like me.
In today’s Bible passage, we see that Nehemiah was angry because the poor and underserved Jews were being exploited by the nobles. This is what I would consider righteous or justified anger; in fact, I would call it a godly anger. Ultimately, loving the things that God loves and hating the things He hates (like injustice) is one of the tell tale signs that we are becoming more and more like Him. I know that this is might sound unnatural, but let’s be conscientious and try to “feel” the things that God feels in appropriate measure, knowing that as we do so, the Holy Spirit will change us from the inside out.
Lord, give me a heart to love the things You love and to hate the things You hate. Give me eyes to see the world around me the way You do and to emote accordingly.
Bible Reading for Today: Zechariah 8
Lunch Break Study
1 John 3:11-24
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[c] that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[d] and God[e] in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Questions to Consider
- John says that if you do not love, you abide in death (v.14). What does it mean to “not love”?
- What are some signs that we do love (vv. 16-18)?
- What is the correlation between obeying and loving God? How are you doing in this area?
- Many of us know that hating or being angry at another is akin to murder (Matt. 5:21-26). But the Christian call is higher—we are called to the highest calling of love. Thus, John says that not abiding in love (general apathy) is abiding in death. It’s a sobering thought.
- Sacrificing or laying down your life for others. This could and often presents itself in the form of giving material possessions.
- You cannot say you love God if you do not obey His commands; thus, obedience is love. Therefore, we must evaluate if we are truly following God in obedience in order to assess our spiritual well- being.
Spend a few minutes praying for something in this world that is important, but that you know you don’t pray nearly enough about. Additionally, did you have an opportunity to obey God today? Did you take that opportunity? Did you feel God’s love in that moment of obedience?