Editor’s Note: The AMI Quiet Time Devotionals from December 27-31 are provided by Pastor (intern) Andrew Kim who serves at Tapestry Church (Los Angeles).
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars.
The conclusion of a nationwide survey conducted in the early 2000’s by sociologist Christian Smith, who attempted to gauge the spiritual DNA of Americans, was unsettling: Most Americans believed in what he coined as moralistic therapeutic deism, meaning the goal of life is to feel good about oneself and that God exists to serve us. This shouldn’t surprise us since we live in a time when church services aim to entertain rather than to challenge; it’s more about keeping people in the pews happy, rather than challenging them to follow Christ regardless of the cost. Consequently, we’ve produced consumers, not disciples. So then, why did God save us?
Here, in Hosea 10, we find the prophet pronouncing a scathing judgment upon the nation of Israel for exactly the same reason—they were a self-serving people. At first glance, when Hosea writes that “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit,” it seems to be a compliment. However, in the original language it would be better translated as, “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit for itself.” And this was a serious offense. God as the vinedresser had planted Israel as a vine that would one day bear fruit for others. But instead, they chose a self-centered path. It was all about them!
Israel failed to remember that when God had promised Abraham the nation of Israel in Genesis 12, its primary purpose was to bring blessing to all nations. They were supposed to be a nation that shared God’s blessings with the surrounding Canaanites who served territorial gods that scorned other nations. But unlike Israel, we must not forget why we exist as a community.
The church has been instituted, not as a means to primarily serve our own needs, but to be a conduit of God’s blessing to those around us. This means that God has given us the church, our jobs, finances, and abilities as a way to share God’s love and blessings with others. Consider today what God has given you, and begin wrestling with how you can use it all for His glory and for the building up of others. It’s when we live this out that we are most fulfilled and happy!
God, help me to see beyond my own needs and desires. Give me a heart full of love and generosity that will allow me to use the gifts and resources You’ve given me for the sake of others and ultimately for Your glory.
Bible Reading for Today: Philippians 1
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 28:16-20: Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
Questions to consider
- What is the commission given to the disciples before Jesus ascends?
- What does it mean that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus?
- How have you done lately in regards to living this commission out? Do you share the love of Christ or keep it for yourself?
- He commissions us out to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This means that the church has the responsibility of sharing who Jesus is with the world around us. This prohibits us from making church all about us. It challenges us to look outside of our own spiritual state and to be broken for those who do not yet know Jesus.
- Before His risen state, Jesus was a penniless preacher. But now, the situation was much different. No longer did the limitations of the incarnation apply to Him. He now possessed full authority in heaven and on earth. And this is good news because we would not be able to fulfill our commission unless the Jesus who promises to be with us until the end has all authority in heaven and earth. He is the only reason we can accomplish what we’ve been sent to do.
We live in a culture where giving is not our default posture, and it’s easy to constantly think about ourselves more than ever. How can you work on becoming more other-centered? What are some areas of greed in your life? Do you reflect the generosity and the giving posture of the God we serve? Or do you reflect the self-serving pattern of our world? Take some time to assess the way you live your life in regards to these questions.