Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from Nov. 16-22 are provided by Pastor Jason Sato of Over the-Rhine Church (Cincinnati).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Nehemiah 11:1-2 (ESV)
Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem. And the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem the holy city, while nine out of ten remained in the other towns.  And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem.
When you consider where to live, what factors are important? A good school system? A hip restaurant scene? Plentiful job prospects? I would imagine that an abandoned ruin destroyed by war would not be high on your list of options—but this is the state of Jerusalem. Imagine a war torn city in Syria or Yemen and you’ll get the idea. Now Jerusalem is not experiencing active war, but the enemies of Israel are waiting for an opportunity to strike, the city itself is in great need of repair, and the people are still struggling to provide basic necessities for their families. Yet the city must be repopulated at great cost and great risk to the families who participate. Why?
More is at stake than the glory of a capital city—God is fulfilling His promises to His people. After enduring a devastating exile, the people have returned with the hope of a restored relationship with God. In the Old Testament, the temple is the center of worship and God’s presence. An empty Jerusalem—and thus an empty temple—is a sign of a curse, not a blessing. Therefore, the Israelites must repopulate the city.
Leading from the front rather than the rear, the leaders of the people commit to live in Jerusalem (v.1). The rest of the people remain reluctant, so lots are cast and one of every ten are called to live in the city. How would you feel if your family was called to move into Jerusalem? What would you have to risk? Safety? Comfort? Finances?
But what would you have to gain? The people called to live in the city have a front row seat to the promises of God being fulfilled. They live in the place in which God’s presence particularly dwells. They can see with their own eyes whether God’s Word is sentimental, wishful thinking—or rock-solid, certain truth. Would we all be so blessed!
Father, You have blessed me so abundantly. May I never be afraid of what I might lose when I risk for You, but give to me faith that gaining You is better than gaining the whole world. Help me to not give in to my fears that I might follow You and know from experience that every promise in Your Word is true.
Bible Reading for Today: Malachi 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 10:29-31 (ESV)
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,  who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Question to Consider
- What types of things may we need to leave for the sake of Jesus and the gospel?
- What rewards are received by those who leave such things behind?
- According to v. 31, “many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Considering what Jesus has said in our passage, why might that be?
- Good things – homes, family members, and land.
- Jesus promises a hundredfold return in this time of homes, family members, and lands. In addition, the faithful will receive persecutions in this life, but they can look forward to eternal life in the age to come.
- The end of v. 29 indicates that sacrifice in and of itself is not what Jesus is looking for but sacrifice for His sake. We may gain the respect of our peers, as well as other rewards in this life for self-centered sacrifice, but in the age to come, only that which is done for Jesus will matter.
Take a moment to reflect. What priorities have guided your decision to live in your particular nation, city, or neighborhood? How does Jesus provide those things for you in a way that a physical location never can?