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
When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling; he was exalted in Israel, but he incurred guilt through Baal and died. And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of them, “Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves! Therefore they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away, like the chaff that swirls from the threshing floor or like smoke from a window. But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior.”
Growing up, there was no one I idolized more than Michael Jordan, who played with a certain type of artistry that separated him from the rest. This made him arguably the greatest basketball player of all time (sorry, Kobe fans!). One reason for his success was his otherworldly work ethic. Although he was naturally gifted, he practiced as if he had to earn every ounce of it. And this obsession made it apparent to everyone that he lived for basketball. But here’s the depressing part: according to an ESPN article, even with all the accolades and success, Michael Jordan still remains dissatisfied and restless about his life. What he believed would one day bring him fulfillment failed to deliver—and now at the age of 52, he’s still searching. In other words, the idol he set up for himself had only brought profound disappointment.
In the same way, the people of Israel worked hard and skillfully to fashion together their own idols. Maybe they put so much effort and time because they believed that it would someday bring what they had hoped for. But just like Jordan, they found out the hard way that all idols fail to deliver and are full of empty promises. Instead of finding peace and joy, they found themselves sinning more than ever and on the brink of destruction.
Many of us need to pay close attention to these cautionary tales. Although we don’t worship literal statues, there are many of us who have set up our own idols in the form of relationships or jobs. Maybe we’ve worked our entire lives to skillfully craft a certain kind of marriage or to build ourselves a name—all in an effort to find that elusive sense of fulfillment. If there is anything we can learn from the story of Hosea, it is that only God can bring to fruition all our hopes and dreams. Hosea 13:4 says, “Besides me there is no Savior”—meaning, only He can save us from the emptiness of our hearts. I encourage you today to assess your lives. What are you living for? Where have you placed your hopes? If it’s not in God, I pray that you would begin the journey back to Him today!
God, I pray that You would help me to place my hopes and desires in You. Help me to trust that what You have for my life is indeed the very thing my heart is looking for. Give me the strength to keep my heart and eyes focused on You alone!
Bible Reading for Today: Philippians 3
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Questions to Consider
- What type of people is Jesus inviting to come to Him?
- What does He offer these people?
- Do you find yourself tired and burdened by life?
- Jesus is inviting those who have labored and are tired from life’s burdens. I love that there are no qualifications for approaching Him. Anyone who is hurting, burdened, and tired is invited to His presence. It almost seems like this invitation is for those who’ve tried to find rest and happiness in other things but have found it only to be tiring and unfulfilling.
- He offers them true rest that’s not found in the cessation of work but in receiving the proper yoke. The metaphor of a yoke was used by the rabbis to speak of the expectations of the law. Although they spoke of this yoke as one of delight, it was something that no single person could bear—just like the yoke that our society places on us. Jesus offers another type of yoke, one of grace. Grace is the only thing that can provide true rest because it depends on the person of Christ and not ourselves.
- Personal response.
How we live our lives reveals to us what we place our hope in, and what we truly live for. Take some time to review how you have spent your time. What preoccupies your thoughts? What takes up the most time in your schedules? Where does most of your money go? If someone examined your life, would they believe you if you told them that you live for God and put your hopes in Him?