Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from Dec. 21-3 are produced by Pastor (intern) Phillip Chen who oversees the college group at the Church of Southland.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Hosea 7:8-10 (ESV): Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not; gray hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not. The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek him, for all this.
Have you ever tried to live life in a way that you could get the “best of both worlds”? That’s what I tried to do when I was a freshman in college: While I absolutely loved the fellowship of my Christian community, I also loved the newfound freedom of being away from home by partying and partaking in many unwholesome activities. In my mind I wanted eternal life, but I also wanted to have the fun college life that the media portrayed—I wanted the best of both worlds. But by the end of the year, I was confronted by the futility of my thinking and knew there was no way I could straddle both worlds. God was calling me to either choose to follow the way of the world or the way of the Lord.
This passage is God’s indictment upon His people who mixed idol worship with the worship of their God. Hosea, who was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom leading up to their fall to Assyria, was likely referring to idol worship that was rampant in their land, as King Jeroboam had established idol worship as a political act. On the one hand, Israel held claim onto their rich heritage as God’s people, but on the other, they worshiped idols. They did not know that their strength was being devoured and gray hairs sprinkled upon them (essentially that they were on a path towards death).
Jesus speaks out many times against this wishy-washy attitude as well. The one that we are most familiar with is His indictment against the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3. But before we declare ourselves guiltless—let’s think again. Many of us try to worship God while worshiping idols, thinking that we can fit God into our own agenda while serving ourselves. When we do this, we are like a cake that is not turned: half burnt, half raw, and completely unfit for consumption. God cannot and will not be second in our lives—we cannot hold on to God and other gods at the same time. Granted, we may take three steps forward and two steps back in our journey towards God, but make no mistake about it: the way of God and the way of the world are at odds with one another. So stop trying to hold on to both. Choose Jesus—and experience the abundant life that follows!
God, open my eyes so that I might see the emptiness of the riches of this world and the fullness of the riches You have for me. Cause the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ to increase in my life, so that I might see You rightly in the midst of the temptations in this world.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 16:24-26 (ESV): Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Question to Consider
- What does it mean to deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and to follow Jesus? What does it mean for you personally?
- How can someone gain the whole world and forfeit their soul?
- We have fleshly passions that we need to put to death. In fact, James 4:3 tells us that we often ask for things from God with wrong motives simply to spend on our (fleshly) passions. But denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Him means that we put to death the passions of the flesh that belong to our old man; and we remind ourselves that we are a new creation in Christ with new passions and new purposes. When that happens, we are able to follow Him with fervor and passion.
- When we forget that we are spiritual beings who are heaven bound, our priorities are tainted. When we forget our destination, our treasures, our home, then we are unable to place the correct value on things in this life. Then, we will place way too much emphasis pursuing things of this world which are destined to fade away. C.S. Lewis says, “Aim at heaven and you will get Earth thrown in; aim at Earth and you will get neither.” Live for eternity.
It’s important to constantly assess whether certain things have become idols in our lives. Oftentimes, when idols pop up in our lives, they continue to show up in different forms; but as we mature as believers, we are able to spot them easier. What are some idols in your life that you find so difficult to let go of? Ask God to give you strength and devote it to complete destruction so that you might continue in your journey of faith with complete steadfastness.