Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals for today are provided by Christine Li.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“[Hagar] gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’ “
Every year, TV advertisements seem to be funnier and cleverer during the holiday season. However, this is also the season for my least favorite ad, the animal cruelty commercial with the forlorn animals. While I don’t disagree with its necessity, I find myself annoyed every time it comes on because my mood is ruined –the heaviness is not what I am looking for during my Christmas programming.
During Christmas, every greeting we have echoes an expectation of celebration: the holidays are happy; Christmas is supposed to be merry. However, our over-emphasis on celebration can leave the impression that it is inappropriate to have any grief, sadness, or longing. We might find ourselves at a loss to reconcile our inner struggles with the call to rejoice, though many of us have wounds and pains that simple “Christmas cheer” cannot heal.
Here, we can find great help from Hagar’s story. In her grief, she had run away, but in the desert, God met her. By speaking directly to her and giving her a promise of hope, God showed Hagar that He was with her – that He was, in her words, “the God who sees.” In that revelation, she was able to return to her mistress, not because God had changed her situation, but because she had met Him and knew that His eye was upon her.
At Christmas, we can remember that the same God is present with us. We can take comfort in this secure and firm hope, that into a broken and dark world, the living Word of God, Jesus Himself, came to us. His eye is always upon us and He sees our every circumstance. He came to bring us near to Him, and He has promised to be with us until the end of the age. Surely, He will also give us His comfort and peace for all eternity.
Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your son to rescue us from the darkness, and thank You for bringing us near to You. Thank You for the reminder in Christmas that You are with us always and that You triumph over all darkness in our lives. Help us to worship You in every season.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 9
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 8:31-33
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Questions to Consider
- This famous rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men,” must have stung. What did Peter’s initial rebuke insinuate to deserve this rebuke?
- What are the things of God, and how should we set our minds upon them?
- The passage says that Jesus plainly spoke that elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law would reject Him and that He would be put to death. Peter had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, so Jesus’ words would be shocking, since He was saying that respectable, well-regarded religious leaders would be unable to recognize Him and even want to kill the Messiah! Peter’s rebuke was based on an idea that those leaders were above reproach and should not be slandered thusly.
- “Things of God” in this context show that God’s plan often operates in a way that would be different from our understanding and perception. In every decision we make, we can ask Him for greater wisdom and discernment, and we can ask for greater trust when God takes us through routes we do not expect.
On this Christmas, let us take some time to assess what brought us the greatest and deepest joy today. Is it rooted in Christ and something that we can enjoy for all eternity? Ask God to help you cling onto the sure and firm things that come from Him rather than the joys of this world. During Christmas, let us not just cherish material giving and familial presence but also His gift of salvation and His eternal presence.