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 8:14 (ESV): For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces, and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; so I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour her strongholds.
The purpose of Thanksgiving Day is to give thanks and be content. For Christians, it is to remember the faithfulness of God, as He is the source of every blessing. Yet the tragedy of Black Friday is that not even a day later, many who supposedly gave thanks and were “content” end up being consumed by greed and selfishness. Now, we might look at these people and think that we are not like them, but we are all similar to a certain degree. Although Thanksgiving was less than a month ago, I can already think of the many times I have forgotten the faithfulness of God. We all are guilty of forgetting His goodness.
So why did Israel turn from God even after He had demonstrated His faithfulness time and time again, from leading them out of slavery into the Promised Land? Perhaps this passage serves as an explanation of why we often turn to other idols and worship them alongside our God. We suffer from a condition called gospel amnesia—that is, we forget God’s faithfulness and love towards us. This is not something that is unique to Israel, as this is a constant trend in the relationship between God and man. Whether it is the Israelites wandering through the wilderness, grumbling at every turn even as God was providing for them and showing them signs and wonders, or our own grumblings today of where God is when we need Him the most, we all forget God’s faithfulness to us.
We forget, and that is why the Lord specifically reminded His people not to forget, lest when they have “eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them… then their hearts be lifted up, and they forget the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt” (Deut. 8:12-14). Too often we live a life that says to God: “What have you done for me lately?” We can be grateful in the moment when we see the direct correlation of God’s blessing in our lives, but we forget Him soon thereafter. When we forget who our God—our Provider and Sustainer— is, then we start turning to our own strength and idols, and to finite and trivial things (money, success, relationships, knowledge) to fulfill our needs. Today, remember the faithfulness of God in your life—He is the true source of every blessing.
Lord, how easy it is for me to forget Your goodness towards me. In the visible and invisible ways You are moving in my life, I give thanks and desire to remember Your goodness and faithfulness. Forgive me for the times I forget; and even when You strip things away from my life, help me to understand that it is so that my gaze might be directed back to You.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Deuteronomy 8:11-18 (ESV): Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Question to Consider
- What is the context of this passage, and why does God need to remind them to remember Him?
- Why was the wilderness experience good for the people, according to the Lord?
- From this passage, what is the biggest temptation for us when we are in a time of comfort and prosperity?
- God led Israel out of Egypt from slavery, through the wilderness and times of hunger and thirst, and leading them into Promised Land. Here, they were about to cross the Jordan to enjoy the riches of that land. He was preparing them so that they would know it was God who had blazed the trail for them into the Promised Land.
- Often, wilderness seasons are meant to strip away things—particularly identities that we should not hold so tightly on to. For the Israelites, they needed be stripped of the spirit of slavery and learn how to live as inheritors of the promises of God. For others, like Israel in the time of Hosea, it might be a time to strip off the arrogance and idolatry that they were holding on to so that they might once again turn towards the true God. We all go through seasons of wilderness because we need realignments for our identities.
- We might be tempted to say in our hearts that it is by our own power and might that we have become accomplished and have become wealthy. Let us not deceive ourselves, but know that it is the Lord our God who has even given us the strength to have what we have—He is the source of the fruitfulness of our lives.
It’s extremely important for us to have methods that work for us in remembering the goodness of God. Do you need to set reminders in your calendar? Maybe you need to get away on a personal retreat and reflect on His goodness? Or you need an accountability partner, a friend, a spouse—someone that will re-direct your gaze to the source of blessing? Whatever works for us, we need to have tangible means of remembering the faithfulness of God so that we might attribute the blessings in our lives correctly.