The AMI QT Devotionals from May 22-28 are written by Phillip Chen, college pastor intern at Church of Southland. Philip, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology. He is married to Esther.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
“Listen and Obey”
Revelation 1:1-3 (ESV)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
As a teenager, I had a bad habit of leaving the lights on when I left a room—and my mom would constantly remind me of this. I certainly heard her say it—in fact, I can still hear it in the back of my head—and definitely understood why it was important to do so. But for some reason, it was in one ear and out the other, and I continued to forget to turn the lights off. In our passage today, John is writing this letter to the seven churches in Asia with specific instructions from the Lord. He starts out by reminding them that it’s not only important to hear these instructions, but to keep them. On a larger scale, we also must be reminded that it’s not only important to hear God’s Word, but also to earnestly obey what He has commanded us.
For the Jewish mind, there is no differentiation between listening and obeying. The Hebrew word Shema means to listen, but it could also mean to obey. However, as the Jews were scattered in the Greco-Roman world, they began to further divorce the abstract from the practical. The conceptual was split from day-to-day living so that they could mentally assent to something and yet disobey. Isn’t that why James has to remind us that faith without works is dead? If we’re honest, we can often read the Bible and hear God’s word, but we don’t really listen; we don’t obey—in fact, it has become natural for us to do so. We can agree that we shouldn’t gossip or slander, yet we still talk about others behind their back. We can believe that sharing the gospel is important, but we just don’t feel like doing it. We all struggle with this, and it’s not a problem that will disappear, but I believe that we can take steps towards bringing the abstract and reality closer together. We can choose to listen and obey, and experience the blessings God has for us. Furthermore, the phrase “The time is near” or “The Day of the Lord is near” is used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a well-known phrase that is used to command obedience from the listeners and to awaken those who were slumbering. John must have really wanted his listeners to pay heed to the Word of God!
Today, we are reminded that we shouldn’t just hear, but we need to keep what is written in it as well. Let’s ask ourselves this: How do we approach the Word of God? Do we read it and keep what is written? Let’s remember that the time is near, and so we should not only hear the word of God but seek earnestly to obey what is written in it.
** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KQLOuIKaRA << Helpful word study on “Shema”
Prayer: Father God, help me to not only hear Your word but also to obey them. Soften my heart so that my life is daily renewed by Your very word. I desire to live a blessed life, walking in faith as Your word guides me. Help me in my weakness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 17
LUNCH BREAK STUDY
Read James 1:22-25 (ESV): But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Question to Consider
- What does James compare a person who hears the word only but does not do it?
- Why does James use the mirror and the law of God interchangeably in this passage?
- What is one thing that you have recently heard and been convicted of but have not yet done anything about it?
- He compares it to a person who looks intently into a mirror and notices his or her unkemptness but walks away forgetting and doing nothing about it.
- Simply put, the Word of God is a mirror to our soul. Through the word, we see all of the imperfections and the ways we fall short of the glory of God. We see our true self as we look into the Word of God.
- Personal reflection.
In a society that places a high premium on knowledge and intellectual pursuits, perhaps we have spent too much of our energy in trying to know more and hear more. We can spend so much time reading different articles and listening to different sermons, but maybe we need to spend more time just being obedient in the simple things. Write down a few things that you want to be obedient in and start there.