April 20, Thursday

The AMI QT Devotionals from April 17-20 are provided by Jabez Yeo.  Jabez, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania, is currently working in NYC and serving at TRPC-E.  He hopes to become a missionary.  His devotionals are based off material from Serge’s Sonship program. You can click here for more information.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

“Repentance as God’s Children”

Hosea 14:1-7

Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” 4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; 6 his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.7 People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine—Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.”

One movie that I was thoroughly surprised to enjoy was Zootopia, which centers around a world where predator and prey peacefully coexist. The protagonist, Judy, Zootopia’s first rabbit police officer, enlists the street smarts of a fox, Nick, to help her discover the cause of some predators returning to savagery. Unfortunately, Judy hurts Nick tremendously when she suspects a biological cause for the predators’ behavior, as Nick has fought prejudiced ideas about foxes his entire life. It is only when Judy tearfully admits her wrongdoing and helplessness without Nick that they reconcile and uncover Zootopia’s secret conspiracy.

Yesterday, we discussed Israel’s false repentance in Hosea 6, for they desired pain relief from sin’s suffering rather than restoration of relationship with God.  Thankfully, in Hosea 14, we see a different repentance: Israel does not give a shallow confession but delves deep into their heart sin—faith in people rather than in God. The Israelites admit that they have trusted in human might—whether theirs or Assyria’s—to save them instead of God. They confess that they have committed idolatry by attributing divine qualities to what their hands have made. They not only focus on their sin but their motives behind it.

Oftentimes, we live a lifestyle of remorse and resolution when we sin. We feel exasperated that we fell and promise to do better next time. However, this approach ignores what the Bible says about our hearts: they are deceitful and beyond human fixing (Jer. 17:9). We falsely believe that we have the power to change ourselves through obeying the law, giving it power that only the Holy Spirit has.

The only alternative is to realize and repent. To realize is to correctly discern our true spiritual condition, that without the Holy Spirit in us we are capable of any atrocity. To repent is for us to admit to God that He is our only hope; that we are powerless over our sin and that our lives are unmanageable without His control over our lives. Let’s come to God in that way today.

Prayer: Father, it’s so easy for me to gloss over my heart motives and want false relief. Help me to realize right now that my sin indicates the reality that I am incapable of doing anything good without You. May the bad news in my life lead me to the Good News, that through faith in Christ, the same power that conquered the grave lives in me. Help me to fully depend on Your Spirit to live out the righteousness You have already given to me. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 12


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Questions to Consider

  1. How would you describe Paul’s demeanor in this passage?
  2. Why do you think Paul describes himself as the worst of sinners?
  3. Unlike Paul, you may not be a murderer, but how have you murdered people in your heart (Matt. 5:21-24)? How have you been a blasphemer and a violent person in your inner life?

Notes

  1. Paul is extremely grateful (v. 12), knowing that he has been shown incredible mercy, which he cannot repay (v.13 and v.16). He knows that his life is but an example of Christ’s faith and love (v.14), as well as His patience (v.16).
  2. While it is true that Paul was a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent man (v.13), it could be said that others in history have committed worse atrocities on a greater scale. Thus, a reason for this supposed hyperbole could be that Paul truly understands his spiritual condition, that for every wrong action he took, there were other instances where he may not have committed the action but the same sinful motives were acted on in his heart.
  3. Personal response.

EVENING REFLECTION

Has God revealed a “new” sinful habit of yours? Like strong medicine, such revelation can be really tough to swallow, but it is ultimately for our good, as there is no Good News without bad news. Ask God to help you understand the gospel in a new and different way as a result of this revelation—this is a prayer that He would never refuse!

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