October 20, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from October 16-22 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston. Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny; and they are the proud parents of their first baby Tyler.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Impossible Odds”

Genesis 14:11-16

So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way. 13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

I have always enjoyed movies where the good guys are few in number and facing impossible odds, with large and intimidating forces coming to destroy them. It’s inspiring to see how brave, resourceful, and cunning the underdogs are, as they repel their foes and beat the odds. I’m not fully sure why I like these kinds of stories so much, but maybe there’s something about them that makes me wonder if I would have what it takes to overcome in the face of overwhelming odds.

In Genesis 14, it’s easy to overlook the magnitude of what Abram does. Abram’s nephew Lot had been captured by an alliance of four kings and their armies from the east. This alliance of kings had handily defeated the armies of five kings of the Jordan Valley, and we can assume they had a massive and menacing force. What did Abram have? He had 318 men to fight. Just like one of those movies with a small group of good guys taking on impossible odds, Abram is unimaginably victorious. Not only does he defeat his enemies, but verse 14 tells us that he led his army and pursued the enemy “as far as Dan,” which would have likely been over 200 miles away from Abram’s home. His enemies were running for their lives—and all of this because of just 318 men. How was Abram able to not just overcome such impossible odds but decisively conquer his enemies? Because Abram knew the promises of the God that was with him.

God had made a covenant with Abram that He would be with him and make him a great nation. And while at this point in Genesis, this promise had yet to be fully fulfilled, Abram knew the God who was with him, he knew what the outcome of his life would be, and he did not fear the seemingly impossible odds before him. In our world, we seem to have impossible situations: divisions, war, scandals, immorality, poverty, racism, etc. And in our own lives, we face overwhelming circumstances: trials, sicknesses, depression, difficult relationships, sin and brokenness. But in the face of such difficulties, like Abram, we can remember the promises of the God who is with us and has promised to be with us to the very end of the age. Whatever circumstances we face, we know what the outcome will be, and that gives us strength and courage to face impossible odds.

Prayer: Jesus, I thank You for the promise of Your presence with us always. I pray that in impossible situations, I will understand more and more that victory is assured in You. I will trust in You. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 11


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 8:31-37: What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Questions to Consider

  1. What does it mean to be “more than conquerors”?
  2. How do we know that victory is assured?
  3. How does understanding the victory we have in Jesus affect your life today?

Notes

  1. Paul specifically tells us that we are more than conquerors over tribulation, distress, persecution, etc., because of Jesus who died for us and rose from the dead. Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we can overcome and conquer any and every obstacle that we face in life.
  2. We know that victory is assured because God so freely gave up His own Son for us; and we know that He will also graciously give us all things that we need. God is the only one who can condemn or judge us, and yet it is God Himself who justifies us through Jesus, so our victory is assured.
  3. Personal reflection question.

Evening Reflection

Abram overcame impossible odds in Genesis 14 with great victory. What “impossible odds” are you facing today? Are you feeling defeated in any area of your life? Close out this day remembering the presence of God and His promise of victory.

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