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
“How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not destroy Ephraim; For I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. They shall go after the Lord; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt; and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares the Lord. Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, and the house of the Israel with deceit, but Judah still walks with God.”
In my early 20’s, I was going through a very difficult season while dealing with depression. Although I was attending church, I wasn’t necessarily looking for God. Instead, I sought comfort in all the wrong places; in fact, I rebelled against God in every way imaginable. But one Sunday, I found myself at a prayer meeting and God met me in a way that left no part of me untouched. And for the first time in many years I felt whole again. This was the beginning of a journey that continues even to this day. You see, this is a picture of grace—God’s undeserved favor bestowed upon someone who not only didn’t deserve it but wasn’t even looking for it!
In Hosea 11, we find a similar story. The chapter begins with a heartbreaking depiction of God’s relationship to Israel. He likens it to a son dismissing his own father through a series of betrayal and rebellion. And like many fathers would, God responds with judgment and discipline: the Assyrians will be sent to destroy Israel. If this were the end of the story, we would say, “What a fitting end; they deserve it!” However, in a surprising turn of events God does the unimaginable: He promises a day when they will be called back and be made His own forever. This is a perfect picture of grace—God saving a people who deserved nothing less than to be eternally exiled.
It bears repeating: God’s grace can reach anyone. Many feel as though their sins are too great for God to love them. Some of us struggle with an immense amount of guilt and believe that God has given up on us. But understand that no sin is too grievous or disturbing that God will forsake us. Just as He said to Israel, “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?” He says to us, “How can I give YOU up?” The rest of the Bible tells the same story of God’s relentless love bestowed on us in His Son Jesus. Through the outstretched arms of Christ, God’s grace reaches out to even the most distant sinners. So let us approach the throne of God with boldness today because we can trust that His grace is greater than our sins, and that we are never too far from His love!
Precious Savior, thank you for remaining faithful to me despite my sinful ways. Help me to understand more of your grace and love in a way that will bring transformation to my character and boldness in my relationship with You.
Bible Reading for Today: Philippians 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Romans 5:8: “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Questions to Consider
- Why is the word “while” very important to this verse?
- How did God show us His love for us?
- The word “while” is important because it shows us that our salvation is never based on performance. God didn’t show us His love after we stopped being sinners but even as we were rebellious towards Him. This is an important point to understand. This is the crux of the Gospel message.
- God shows us His love through the sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate demonstration of God’s grace, offering us eternal life and communion with Him in spite of our sinful ways.
Our culture is obsessed with performance. From the outset of our lives, we are taught that everything needs to be earned, whether it’s the relationships we want or the promotions we strive after. Many times this way of thinking bleeds into our relationship with God, where we feel the need to earn God’s love. Do you struggle with accepting God’s grace and love? Do you find it hard to approach God after you’ve sinned? Ask God to reveal His amazing grace to you, that you would be able to experience the freedom that only God’s grace can give!